Keenan Covington currently serves as an integrated marketing specialist at Crain's Detroit Business, a weekly business magazine that provides business leaders and influencers must-have news and information that can't be found anywhere else. In his role, he manages several day-to-day marketing functions for the publication. His work also affords him the opportunity to collaborate with an internal team that aims to get more young professionals engaged with Crain's through events, membership and partnerships. Before joining Crain's, Keenan served in the workforce development arm of the Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit focused on the restoration of Detroit's tree canopy and environmental sustainability. In his spare time, he volunteers as a tutor at the Downtown Boxing Gym and doubles as an unabashed Detroit booster.
Keenan in one word: Determined
Favorite leadership read: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Favorite Detroit hangout: The Riverfront
In his own words:
1. What’s your most important career accomplishment to-date?
My most important career accomplishment to date is being able to positively impact a young person and it leading to a mentoring relationship. During my time at the Greening of Detroit, I had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of young adults on a daily basis over the summer. These interactions helped foster close relationships and I always offered to serve as a resource. A young adult took me up on the offer and I've been blessed to be able to mentor her for four years. She always tells me she looks up to me, but I'm often in awe that someone as talented, intelligent and humble as her looks at me that way. As a black professional, it's important for us to help provide guidance and resources that we always don't have access to.
2. How have you redefined leadership through your professional success?
I've redefined leadership through my professional success by helping provide a platform for other young professionals to be recognized for their successes. I think an important part of leadership is giving others a chance to shine. A large part of my work is helping manage recognition programs that do just that. This has given me the opportunity to connect hundreds of ambitious young professionals that are also helping redefine leadership. At the end of the day, it’s a gratifying feeling to play a role in highlighting individuals that will have a positive impact on our region for years to come.
3. Why is civic engagement (volunteerism) important to you?
Volunteerism is important to me because it's a gesture of humility that can help pull you beyond your own selfish desires. Volunteering also gives you the chance to make a positive mark on your community.
4. How have you disrupted the idea of traditional leadership? How do you express leadership?
I would say that I've disrupted the idea of traditional leadership by continuing to show that young black people from Detroit are perfectly capable of thriving when given the opportunity and don't have a pathological slant towards not wanting to achieve. I would be remiss to acknowledge the millions of others who show this, but its of ever-increasing importance to demonstrate that we aren't complicit in any perceived narrative of the sort. Furthermore, I think that I've also shown that you don't have to be in the spotlight to be a leader in the work that you do and that, oftentimes, output is the most important factor.
5. What is a blue sky goal that you would like to accomplish in your career?
A blue sky goal for me would be to open an establishment in my original neighborhood that employs residents in the area and adds to the vibrancy of the community.
6. Why did you choose to pursue your passion/profession in Metro-Detroit? How do you intend to impact the region through your work?
I chose to pursue my profession in Detroit because I would rather not be anywhere else and I'm invested in playing a part in uplifting our wonderful city. It sounds a little cliche, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel that way.
Meet Keenan at the Vanguard Awards! Click HERE to join the celebration!