Julie Wainwright

Director of Operations

Detroit Food Academy

About the Organization: Detroit Food Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that works to inspire young Detroiters (ages 10-24) through culinary arts and food entrepreneurship. From cooking delicious healthy meals for friends and family to facilitating complex conversations with community to developing artisan food projects from scratch to market, students learn by transforming their ideas into reality. Through this process, they grow as holistic leaders who are healthy, connected, and powerful to affect change in our communities and beyond.

Tell us a bit about your educational and professional trajectory

I received my Bachelor's of Education in 2009 from Ohio University. I moved to Detroit in 2013 and began working with Detroit Food Academy as a volunteer. I am so invested in the work and mission of our organization I never left, and am now the Operations Director here.

Tell us a bit about your projects (in which you worked with UROP students)

UROP students have assisted our organization in long term storage of our clients' (youth and families) data. Additionally, they have supported our day-to-day programming needs by interacting with youth, leading activities and designing curriculum. They have enriched our community partnerships by communicating with sites, mentors and professionals in the field - visiting, documenting and learning alongside our Detroit partners.

What attracted you to working with this organization and in your field?

Detroit Food Academy brings the perfect recipe of youth development and leadership along with education around living a more healthy lifestyle; teaching young people how to better engage with the food world they live in.

What led you to become a mentor to undergraduate students?

I truly appreciate the experience of symbiotic learning to, from and with the undergraduate students we have worked with.

How do students contribute to your work?

They bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to the work we do. They are often very relatable to our high school aged youth because they are close in age and interests.

What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned mentoring undergraduate students?

Passion and interest in the work we do often play a larger role than experience in the field.

What do you think is the key to a successful mentoring relationship and/or what is your favorite thing about mentoring?

Humor, flexibility and transparency. I am not a typical "professional" and I think the students I've worked with have very much appreciated that.

What advice do you have for current UROP students?

You have a paintbrush - paint your future!

Any additional things you'd like to share with the UROP community?

Thank you for all of your support over the years!