2020 40 Under 40 award recipient: Ciarra Adkins

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Ciarra Adkins Courtesy 616 Media

Ciarra Adkins, 31

Equity analyst and attorney
City of Grand Rapids

Ciarra Adkins has many heroes, and one of those heroes is Tonya Adkins-McKeever.

Adkins-McKeever became a mother of three at the age of 21. One of her children was born with a disability and doctors said he would never walk or talk, so she should put him in a home for disabled children.

“She raised him and for several years of her career she took on the Detroit public school system to fight for inclusive education as an advocate,” Adkins said. “She spoke before leadership in Lansing and Congress in her efforts to make systemic change. I am so inspired by her personal resilience and dedication to making the public education system better for not only her son but all disabled students. Today, her son is walking, talking and a graduate of Cornerstone University.”

It is that inspiration that Adkins leans on in her mission of pursuing equity in Grand Rapids. She is the equity analyst for the city of Grand Rapids’ Office of Equity and Engagement.

She ensures that equitability is the focus in all drafted policies, contracts and documentation related to the Grand River rapids restoration initiatve. She also engages with micro local businesses and businesses owned by people of color and partners with non-city organizations through contract and budget reform.

Along with affecting change on a public level, Adkins also is doing that on a personal level. She is an attorney and she dedicates 25% of her practice hours per year to help small businesses to get started and provides them with free legal advice and services.

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