Sources within the Albion College President’s office confirmed to The Pleiad this week that Reverend Faith Fowler, ’81 alumna, would be this year’s commencement speaker. Fowler is a community organizer and religious leader in Detroit, and runs a holistic community service and support organization called Cass Community Services.
Fowler’s path after graduating from Albion tells a tale that seems especially pertinent as the College makes efforts to reach out to the community. Fowler, who trained as both a minister and a public administrator, is both a pastor at Cass Community Methodist Church and the executive director of Cass Community Services. In her dual role as spiritual and community leader, she has made great strides in inspiring her community to solve challenges on its own using the resources available to it.
Cass Community Services are distinctive in their committment to the neighborhood they serve. In addition to providing shelter to over 300 homeless men, women, and children, Cass offers educational opportunities and a free weekly medical clinic.
In 2007, Fowler found a sustainable way to both solve one of Detroit’s pressing environmental problems and create jobs in her community. Fowler hired people in the Cass Community to collect car tires that had been scattered around nearby neighborhoods. Then, the tires are cut up and woven into doormats and sandals emblazoned with the gothic Detroit “D.”* The project, called Detroit Treads, has created 80 part-time jobs in her community.
When asked how it felt to return to her alma mater, Fowler had this to say: “It’s a thrilling time to be involved with the college. Momentum is building. Already we are seeing evidences of a redeveloped downtown and a more diverse campus. I am personally elated about the creation of the Build Albion Fellows and the Inside-Out courses.
“I was surprised and honored to be asked to speak at this year’s commencement. Given the pivotal role Albion College professors and friends have played in my life, I accepted immediately.”
*full disclosure: editor-in-chief Spencer White owns a pair of the sandals.
Photo by Eddie Visco