Urban Alliance announces Chief Development Officer and first Detroit Executive Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Urban Alliance, a national youth development nonprofit, today announced two new senior staff appointments: Julia Kent as Chief Development Officer and Sherri Davis Chisholm as the first Executive Director of the organization’s newest region, Detroit.

Kent comes to Urban Alliance from a background in development for international nonprofits, most recently at CARE, where as Strategic Partnerships Director she led resource mobilization efforts for humanitarian response, prevention of gender-based violence, and economic empowerment for women and youth in the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. Originally from Northern Virginia – one of the five regions Urban Alliance serves – Kent is a graduate of Emory University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Denver. With over 15 years of leadership experience in resource-building, Kent will lead Urban Alliance’s growing development operation.

“We are excited to welcome Julia to Urban Alliance’s national team,” said Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance. “Julia’s comprehensive development background will be invaluable as the organization continues to expand and provide more underserved students with the exposure, opportunity, networks, and training needed to succeed in adulthood.”

“After spending the past four years based abroad in Jordan and much of my career focused globally, I am thrilled to return to the Washington, D.C. area and work on issues that are close to my heart and home,” said Kent. “Urban Alliance’s work to help young people build self-sufficient futures is inspiring, and I am delighted to be able to contribute to this important mission.”

In fall 2018, Urban Alliance expanded its flagship High School Internship Program – which provides paid, professional internships, job skills training, and mentoring to economically-disadvantaged youth – to Detroit. Sherri Davis Chisholm will lead the nonprofit’s work in Detroit as the region’s first Executive Director. Chisholm takes the helm as the program gears up for its second program year in which it is expected to add additional students and employer partners.

Chisholm comes to Urban Alliance after nearly a decade in senior leadership roles at national nonprofits and major school districts driving transformation through strategic planning, organizational effectiveness, and leadership development, most recently as founder and CEO of FreeSpace Consulting Group where she worked to guide and support districts and nonprofit organizations seeking to effect positive change in public education. Chisholm is a Detroit native and University of Michigan graduate, and holds a Master of Education with a concentration in public/private partnerships from Harvard University. As Detroit Executive Director, Chisholm will lead regional strategy, development, and operations, while actively collaborating with leaders across the city to support and build Detroit’s next-generation workforce.

During its first year in Detroit, Urban Alliance has provided 41 underserved high school seniors with year-long, comprehensive youth workforce development programming, in partnership with the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the Quicken Loans Family of Companies, The Skillman Foundation, Bank of America, and the Detroit Public Schools Community District. Urban Alliance is expected to expand to more local schools, serving more than 250 students over its first four years in the city. The program’s goal is to open the door to new possibilities for Detroit students, and ensure that every intern is on a pathway to self-sufficiency – whether that be college, living-wage employment or vocational training – after graduating high school.

“Sherri’s deep roots in Detroit and her decade of leadership in guiding school districts and educational initiatives to success make her uniquely qualified to lead Urban Alliance’s work in our newest region,” said Smith. “We are pleased to welcome her to the team, and confident that she will hit the ground running to continue our work with the entire community to expand economic opportunity for Detroit youth.”

“The future of our city lies with our youth, and it is our responsibility to help them reach their full potential,” said Chisholm. “I am honored to serve my hometown as the first Executive Director of Urban Alliance Detroit, and proud to join a team so committed to creating pathways to workforce opportunities for the promising young people who will be this community’s next leaders.”

With more than 20 years of experience providing workforce opportunities to thousands of economically-disadvantaged students in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Northern Virginia, and Detroit, Urban Alliance has improved post-high school outcomes for underserved youth. A recent six-year study found that completing UA’s High School Internship Program had a measurable impact on young men attending college, mid-GPA students enrolling in four-year colleges, and students’ retention of professional soft skills.

100 percent of UA students graduate from high school; over 90 percent are accepted to college, and 80 percent enroll in college. A further 80 percent of enrolled alumni persist to a second year in college, and 80 percent of all alumni are connected to a college, career, or career training pathway one year post-program.