Archive: Jan 2016

  1. Welcome Madalyn: Brand Strategy Manager


    We’re so thrilled to welcome fellow Build graduate Madalyn Knebel to our Build team as our Brand Strategy Manager! She will handle all design, marketing, and social media needs for our organization to keep us looking our best. Get to know Madalyn a little bit more in this Q&A.


    Where were you born and raised?

    I was born in California, raised in Michigan, but I’ve grown the most in Detroit.

    What made you want the position of Brand Strategy Manager at Build Institute?

    Five years ago when I moved to Detroit I discovered D:hive and loved how friendly and helpful the organization was. I wanted to produce design work for them as soon as they were on my radar. I thrive in alternative education and since childhood I wanted my own design firm, so when Build Institute developed within D:hive I couldn’t wait to take a class. The thrill of my work serving a greater purpose of strengthening the community is an honor to be a part of.

    What do you like most about your current job at Build?

    There are so many things I love about my job at Build, and I’ve only just officially started! I am very thankful to have the opportunity to grow everyday personally and professionally, independently and within our evolving team.

    Madalyn arranging food for a photoshoot. Photo by FYT Productions

    What is your design background?

    I’ve been creative since I was young and initially had aspirations of being a fine artist, but that field is intimidating. Architecture sparked my interest because of its impact on the human experience so I initially pursued that at Lawrence Technological University. While studying at LTU I explored graphic design, film photography, and sustainable design. After a few years I stepped back from those studies to shift my gears towards Product Design at College for Creative Studies, but again ultimately wasn’t satisfied with that path. I realized I loved typography and graphic design and started independently educating myself and taking on small projects. Then about two years ago I started diving into set, prop, and food styling for commercial photography. Like graphic design it allows me to use my eye to compose compelling stories and share information. No matter what medium I use I’ve always desired to honor both form and function through design.

    Do you own a small business?

    Absolutely! I am the one-woman show at Madalyn Knebel Design – a boutique creative consulting and brand identity firm. I help small businesses and organizations tell stories through graphic design and photography. Though my business is comprised of only me, I am fortunate to have a network of creatives I collaborate with for client and portfolio-building projects.

    Madalyn’s food styling for her Chromatic Cornucopia series. Photo by FYT Productions

    What do you like to do in your spare time?

    I am passionate about quite a few things… organic gardening, food and mixology, swing dancing, ballet, yoga, visiting museums, cruising on my bicycle, hunting for vintage treasures, and exploring Detroit’s underground music scene.

    What do you love so much about Detroit?

    This city has allowed me to challenge myself independently in so many ways. I am curious by nature, and I’ve been able to engage with new cultures, experiences, political issues, and more that has shaped my worldview. I value diversity, culture, and history – Detroit encompasses all of that and allows us the opportunity to assess those topics and challenges so we may be a global model of a successful, inclusive urban environment.

    Madalyn and the rest of her Build 37 class

    What is your favorite business-related quote or piece of advice?

    F | false
    E | evidence
    A | appearing
    R | real

    This doesn’t sound like business advice, but let’s be honest; we all struggle with fears and their sometimes crippling effects. Keeping this in mind has helped me re-train my brain when self-doubt, unhealthy comparison, and other negative thought patterns have plagued me personally and professionally.

    What are some of your big goals for 2016 with Build?

    I look forward to further developing and refining Build’s brand identity, internally and publicly. Fellow Build grad Andy Kopietz of Good Done Daily did an astounding job with the initial branding. Mastering the art of Build’s social media campaigns to grow our network and impact the community is very important – I’m not simply after collecting more likes and followers that don’t yield true results. Though I love Build’s website, I would like to work on making it more consistent and mobile-friendly. One of the biggest projects this year will be gaining national and global press for our organization and graduates and I look forward to the challenge!

  2. Get to Know Nikki: Alumni Coordinator

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    Though she’s been assisting us since 2015, we’re thrilled to officially welcome Build graduate Nikki Pardo to our Build team as the Alumni Coordinator! She will manage communications with Build graduates to keep them engaged in our community. Get to know Nikki a little bit more in this Q&A.


    Where were you born and raised?

    I was born in Detroit and raised in Lathrup Village, Michigan. However, my heart will always be with Southwest Detroit, where I lived for several years.

    What made you want the position of Registration and Recruitment Coordinator at Build Institute?

    I wanted the position as the Alumni Coordinator because having been a Build graduate, I remember the day after graduation, thinking, “Ok, so what’s next?” So it was a natural progression that I throw my hat in the ring. I knew it would be a perfect fit because I wanted to be able to provide resources, support, and help empower my fellow small business owners while on their journeys as well.

    What specifically brought you to Build?

    A friend who participated in one of the first classes told me about the Build Institute, and I am forever grateful to her. The entrepreneurship world can be pretty lonely, and it was also the first time I felt comfortable actually saying, “Hey, I’m an entrepreneur!”

    What is your education background?

    I have a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice, a Masters in the Science of Administration (International Administration), and a Masters in Business Administration (Leadership Development). I am such a nerd.

    Do you own a small business, if so, tell me about it and your motivation for starting it?

    I am the very proud owner of Global Alliance Solutions, a diversity training and consulting company. I worked for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) for almost eight years, and investigated over 350 allegations of discrimination. After leaving the MDCR, I worked for a company that actually discriminated against me. The irony, huh? After going through the EEOC mediation process and settling, I vowed I would dedicate the rest of professional career educating companies and people on ways to avoid discrimination-related lawsuits, grievances, EEOC federal and state charges, etc.

    Any recent accomplishments?

    Working for the Build Institute! I also recently secured another amazing contract with an agency in Detroit as the Organizational Development Consultant, and helping them build a social/human program. I have several diversity trainings coming up, including one at Build Institute this month. I also returned to my law enforcement roots and assembled a focus group as I currently work on my Cultural Awareness Training for Law Enforcement for sworn officers.

    What do you like to do in your spare time?

    Spare time……hmmmmm. What in the heck is that?

    What do you love so much about Detroit?

    I love the resilience of Detroiters. After the recession of 2008, thinking about the revitalization of the city gives me goose bumps just thinking about it! I love that Detroit rebound from the collapse and now talent and small business are helping drive the city’s recovery and resurgence right now. I never thought I would see this type of Detroit, and us not be automotive-industry driven.

    What are your goals for the future?

    Right now there are way too many oars in the water to mention. Stay tuned!