Kimberly Dowdell works for the Housing and Revitalization Department in Detroit, her hometown. She currently oversees several projects focused on revitalizing downtown, midtown, and other high-potential neighborhoods throughout the city. Dowdell's team aims to partner with private and philanthropic organizations to revive the commercial corridor, incorporate new multifamily housing units into appropriate neighborhoods, design and build effective landscape interventions on vacant lots, demolish homes that can't be salvaged, and renovate the vacant homes that are salvageable with a goal of getting them back on the city tax rolls.
Previously, Dowdell was director of marketing for the real estate project management firm Levien & Company, and then attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her experience at Harvard was augmented by her fellowship in the Center for Public Leadership, where she was in the first cohort of Sheila C. Johnson Fellows.
Dowdell is also the cofounder of Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED), an organization dedicated to building and supporting a culture of civic responsibility and engagement in the built environment and the public realm. She founded SEED while working as an intern at the U.S. General Services Administration during her undergraduate years at Cornell.
Dowdell says her work with developers in Detroit has been aided by relationships formed as an undergraduate at Cornell, and her current position on the AAP Advisory Council. "Having the AAP connection makes it easy to pick up the phone and renew those relationships," she says. "Former classmates and current council members are working in companies that could really have an impact on the work we are doing in Detroit."
In the future, Dowdell hopes to develop strategies to revitalize not just areas of Detroit, but other cities across the country and around the world.