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Broad Spartan leads efforts to address youth homelessness in Detroit

By Haley Tran, student writer
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Meagan Dunn headshot

Meagan Dunn (MBA ’15), executive director at Covenant House Michigan

Many Spartan alumni love working and living in Michigan, where they can contribute their talent and bring their impact right back to where they started.

For Meagan Dunn (MBA ’15), community impact is best delivered in her own hometown. A true born and raised Detroiter, Dunn currently lives in the city with her husband and their three children. Last year, she took on the executive director role at Covenant House Michigan, overseeing all areas of its operations and leading the organization to serve its mission of combating youth homelessness.

“I have always been interested in mission-based organizations,” she said. “I understood from a very young age how important it is to give back to our community. That has always been at the forefront of everything I do.”

A gratifying career path

Throughout her career thus far, Dunn has accumulated extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, emphasizing community every step of the way. She spent 10 years at Henry Ford Health Systems, where she was director of community outreach and partnerships. Dunn was also vice president of programs at the YWCA Kalamazoo before stepping into her current role. At YWCA, she was responsible for providing leadership for the agency’s programs centered on advocating for systems change, fighting social injustice, empowering women and strengthening communities.

Dunn is also a passionate advocate for vulnerable youth and economic empowerment with a focus on bettering the lives of marginalized families across Michigan. She has successfully managed community health programs that provide affordable housing and workforce development, which ultimately determine health outcomes for marginalized groups.

“Everything I have done in my career has led me to my next position, and I am so grateful that I have been able to help many people in the process,” she said. “Using my skills and abilities to support people in need is a wonderful cause, and that’s why my career has been so fulfilling and satisfying.”

Becoming a leader — and a Broad Spartan

While working in her field, Dunn realized her skillset had the potential for growth. She chose the Broad College’s Executive MBA program for its reputation and flexibility.

“I decided to pursue an MBA because I knew that in order to progress further in my career path, I need to be a well-rounded leader,” Dunn said. “The Executive MBA program at MSU, with its impressive alumni stories, seemed like the perfect choice for a working professional like me. I was able to complete the degree in 24 months while working full-time and applying my coursework directly to my daily job.”

Dunn recalled how much she enjoyed the experience: “Going back to school after 10 years in the workforce, I didn’t anticipate how much more valuable the experience would have been. I came in with a more intentional and mature mindset, and still, I was surprised with the amount of knowledge I was gaining every day from not only my professors but also my classmates.”

“There is no doubt that the EMBA program through MSU has helped me get to where I am now, doing things that I love and helping many young people in the state of Michigan.”

Dunn said she enjoyed studying alongside professionals from all walks of life, many of whom were in different industries than her own and who she still keeps in touch with today. Her favorite classes in the program were on business strategy and strategic leadership; she still refers back to them in her current position.

“There is no doubt that the EMBA program through MSU has helped me get to where I am now, doing things that I love and helping many young people in the state of Michigan,” she said. “The program taught me how to lead a business and organization and helped build up my confidence to be a stronger leader.”

Delivering community impact close to home

Even before joining Covenant House, Dunn had been inspired by its cause and what it had accomplished in western Michigan. “When I was approached about leading the organization, I was honored and knew right away it was the natural next step for me in my career. I was moved by its philanthropic mission, and seeing firsthand how the staff interacted with the young people they serve really cemented it for me. They truly treat these young people like family.”

Covenant House Michigan, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, serves over 80,000 youths ages 18 to 24. The organization is headquartered in Detroit and has a second location in Grand Rapids, providing services designed to prevent crises that often lead to youth experiencing homelessness and protect them from dangerous living situations. It offers emergency shelters in both Michigan locations, as well as youth education, professional training and other residential programs.

One of Covenant House’s key programs is the two-year independent living program, giving young adults the opportunity to further their education, save money, learn how to manage their time and finances and gain additional life skills. Its outreach teams frequently patrol the streets of Metro Detroit and Grand Rapids to find youth suffering from homelessness and provide assistance.

For Dunn, the biggest reward is being able to continue making a difference for people in her hometown.

“Growing up in a loving family, I love Detroit with my whole heart and have so many fond childhood memories here with my family. I could have moved out of state and worked in different industries for higher pay, but doing what you truly love for a living is far more rewarding than mere financial satisfaction. Leading Covenant House is enabling me to do what I am most passionate about: giving back to people in the city of Detroit and Michigan as a whole.”

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