People First Economy/Local First
When Hanna Schulze took over leadership at her organization, things were looking good — for about a month.
Then the pandemic hit and everything Schulze thought she knew about leadership was put to the test.
“I was appointed president of People First Economy, best known for programs Local First and Good For Michigan, in February 2020. Within one month of this appointment, the world shut down — and as an organization tasked with supporting our small, independently owned businesses, our work was more important than ever,” she said. “I am proud of how I led our team — taking care of my coworkers’ physical and mental health and making the tough calls. I was able to maintain all of our workforce without laying anyone off. We created new programs to directly serve business owners with financial needs and grew our membership substantially. During this time (2020-2021), I was able to create relationships statewide that have allowed us to expand our services to over 33 cities across the state of Michigan.”
Schulze also is president and board chair of the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association, where she helped raise more than $400,000 for a new water feature in Garfield Park, applied for and received $40,000 in funds to disperse directly to vulnerable neighbors most impacted by COVID-19, and hosted vaccination clinics and educational events in the park weekly during the summer.
“I feel strongly that when crisis finds our communities, women are the ones who rise to the occasion to lead with compassion, resiliency and strength, and nothing has exemplified this more than these last few years.”