FLINT, Michigan — DeAndra Larkin was recently nominated and selected as a '40 Under 40' by the American Association of Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC). Each year, the association recognizes 40 women under the age of 40 from community colleges who are consistently exceeding expectations.
Going over and beyond for her community is embedded in Larkin as she currently serves on several boards in Flint, including the Community Foundation Board of Trustees, the Flint River Watershed Coalition Board of Directors, and the Hurley Medical Center Board of Managers.
She also finds time to serve on the Flint Women and Girls Fund Committee at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint
, an act of service that helped shape her outlook on the significance of organizations geared towards girls and women.
Larkin recently spoke with Flintside about how it feels to be named a '40 Under 40' by the AAWCC, what inspires her to continuously serve her community, and what she wants the future leaders of Flint to carry with them on their journies.
Flintside: How does it feel to be named a '40 Under 40' by the American Association of Women in Community Colleges?
: "It's an honor. I was absolutely elated when I was notified that I was nominated and selected. I had no idea so it was a pleasant surprise."
Flintside: When and how were you notified about the nomination?
: "I was initially notified the first week of November by my MCC colleague Rebecca Gale-Gonzalez. She represents the College's MCC AAWCC Chapter at the national level. She contacted me after the National AAWCC leadership meeting to let me know that I had been selected as a member of the Women Under 40 class of 2022. I then contacted Mott Community College's President Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea and thanked her for her support and recognition of my contributions to the College. Shortly thereafter, I received an official notification from the national board directors congratulating me."
Flintside: In addition to your role at MCC, you also serve on the Flint Women and Girls Fund Committee at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. What initially inspired you to join? And could you tell me a little about your role?
: "In 2016, I was contacted by Wanda Harden who was then a member of the Flint Women and Girls Fund Advisory Committee. I had great respect and admiration for Ms. Harden (still do) and didn't hesitate to take her call. She knew of my passion for volunteering with organizations focused on women's empowerment and closing equity gaps, as I was heavily involved with Zonta Club of Flint
during that time. Wanda spoke with me about the committed women on the committee representing different professional fields who were passionate about making a huge impact on women and girls in Flint & Genesee County.
At the end of our conversation, I knew it was a philanthropic committee I wanted to be on, and was delighted when my nomination to join was supported by the Flint Women & Girls Fund Committee and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint Trustees.
Being on the committee throughout these years has shaped my view on the importance of philanthropy for nonprofit organizations whose missions are focused on women and girls. Our role as committee members is to stay abreast of issues concerning women and girls, advocate for the Fund, and give and get others to give to support our grantmaking efforts.
The grantmaking meetings are my favorite because I learn so much about the nonprofits in our community striving to improve the quality of life and increase the opportunities for our women and girls. I love knowing that I have an active role in supporting that. I was able to serve as Chair of the committee from 2019-2021 which was an excellent opportunity to lead in a space that I am dedicated to seeing continue to grow. That leadership opened the door to me becoming a Board Trustee of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint."
Flintside: Your dedication to your career and community is truly inspiring. How do you find time to add value to multiple organizations?
: "Thank you! I am intentional about making the time. As the saying goes, "Service is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth." I try to find alignments with my personal passions and where I see a need in the community. Equitable and quality access to health care, making Flint & Genesee County an attractive place to live, work and play, access to quality education, and resources for women and girls are all reflected in the boards I am involved in or organizations I volunteer for and support. It also helps that throughout my career, I've been fortunate to work for organizations that value my commitment and service to the community."
Flintside: Who is someone that inspires you to keep doing the work in your community?
: "This is tough. I would normally go on to list a number of people who have poured into me through mentorship and who were trailblazers to set the stage for my leadership. However, I am going to say that, right now, [I am] tremendously inspired by the youth in our community. They are so creative and talented with the energy to match. I love seeing how they are wasting no time using their voices to make sure they're heard, experimenting with business ideas, and using social media to collaborate and support one another. I want to make sure that the work I'm doing now opens up unimaginable doors of opportunity for their future success!"
Flintside: What is one piece of advice that you would like to give to the future leaders of Flint?
: "I would tell future leaders to be patient with themselves. Every journey is unique and will not look like someone else's. And more than anything, they deserve to feel the joy of going after their dreams!"
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