In 2012 the Detroit Charter underwent significant changes. While many of the 2012 revisions to the Charter may have been a necessary response to the political climate at that time, this round of revisions is an opportunity to be forward thinking about a vision for Detroit over the next 5-10 years.
While I plan to engage with Detroiters to take their lead on what changes the would like to see in the Charter, one aspect of the Charter that I would like to focus on are ways in which individual voters have greater input on actions of city government, such as reinstating the local Citizen District Council’s and providing them with training and funding to be effective.
My main goal as a commissioner would be ensure that process of reviewing and proposing revisions to the charter is transparent and inclusive. This process is an opportunity for the commission to educate Detroiters on the charter and why it is important. It is an opportunity to engage residents so that they feel empowered to participate in city government.
I have been effective and successful in leading initiatives in my neighborhood to protect the character of Brush Park and believe that I can use those same skills and experience to lead an effective initiative to educate and engage Detroit residents around the charter and to only implement changes that are necessary and forward thinking.
Please learn more about my background in the biography below.
Karissa is a proud Detroiter who began her legal career at Wayne State University Law School after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from the University of Michigan. During law school she participated in clinics representing small businesses and nonprofit organizations, as well as assisting low income clients in obtaining Social Security disability assistance. During law school she became the founding editor of the inaugural edition of the Midwest Black Law Students Association Law Journal. She earned her Juris Doctorate in 2008, graduating with honors. She also earned a Masters in Business Administration from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business in 2017.
Karissa currently serves as in-house counsel at Rock Ventures. Prior to that position, she served as in-house counsel at DTE Energy Company. Karissa takes an active role in encouraging the Companies for whom she employed to be a good partner in the communities they serve. While at DTE she was awarded with a Sarah Sheridan award, the highest award presented to company employees for demonstrating exceptional community service, for her efforts in organizing a half day event to help more than Junior Girl Scouts from over 30 Michigan communities earn their business owner badge.
Karissa is also passionate about improving her community. She has been a home owner and resident of Brush Park since 2012. She was elected by the residents of Brush Park to the Brush Park Citizens’ District Council (currently the Brush Park Community Development Corporation) in 2013. She currently serves as secretary of this board and is leading initiatives such as establishing residential permit parking in Brush Park. She was appointed by Detroit City Council to serve on the Neighborhood Advisory Council for the District Detroit development (Little Caesar’s Arena). In each of these roles, she ensures that her and her neighbors have an active voice in transformational change happening in their neighborhood.
Karissa previously served Board Chair and President of Detroit Young Professionals where she helped attract and retain young professionals in Detroit and provide them with opportunities to connect with each other and give back to Detroit through various service projects. Through her engagement efforts, she was able to expand the reach of DYP’s network from 15,000 to more than 45,000 young professionals in the area.
Additional past community service positions include Board Member of Wolverine Bar Association, Chair of Wolverine Bar Association Minority Bar Passage Program, and Member and Mentor for Wolverine Bar Association Summer Clerkship Program.
Karissa has been recognized for her accomplishments and community service by Michigan Chronicle (40 under 40), Michigan Lawyers Weekly (Up & Coming Lawyer), Detroit Bar Association (Community Impact Award), and Crain’s Detroit Business (40 under 40).