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Meet Shaquan Smith, the new project manager for Your Voice, Your Choice

Shaquan Smith recently moved to Seattle from Detroit, Michigan. In mid-April, he joined the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods team and now coordinates the Your Voice, Your Choice: Parks and Streets participatory budgeting program.

Get to know a little bit more about Shaquan below:

Where did you grow up?
Flint, Michigan

What neighborhood do you call home?
Beecher/Mount Morris

What makes your neighborhood special?
The neighborhood is unique to my family as it is the same home and community where my parents grew up. Many neighbors from their childhood are still around or have had children that my siblings and I have grown to know. The neighborhood has become a second family to my own, and I find it fascinating to have a place that my family and I have all shared throughout time, but we all have our own unique experiences connected to it.

What did you do before joining the Department of Neighborhoods? What excited you about the work?
I worked for a non-profit in Detroit. I was coordinator of a program to help engage and create sustainable neighborhoods in Detroit, focused on climate protection, equity, and resilience. I later acted as a manager in a partnership with the local utility company to educate low-income residents on energy efficient practices, while also providing free appliances such as refrigerators, furnaces, and water heaters to help them save on their energy/gas bills.

What made you want to work at the Department of Neighborhoods?
The potential to make a positive impact in communities. And, the City taking the initiative to house a diverse department committed to doing equitable community engagement helped influence my decision to take this position.

What’s your favorite place in Seattle and why?
Being new to Seattle, with so much to still explore, I wouldn’t say I have found a favorite place just yet. However, I am a big ‘foodie’ who spends a great deal of time at the Plum Bistro restaurant and Frankie & Jo’s ice cream shop. It has been a delight to have vegan restaurants with food that actually tastes good…not because they are vegan, but because they know how to create exceptional food for any palette.

What are you passionate about??
I am passionate about community, sustainability, and creativity. Within any capacity of work I may do, I feel that these three components allow me to authentically represent who I am as a person through my work, enjoy the work I do, and put my best foot forward to finding a solution. I thrive on using creative lenses to provide equitable and sustainable resources to underrepresented communities. To tackle the issue of sustainability, we must look at sustainability from all angles to develop a well-rounded approach. A strategy for one community may not work for the next, and access to opportunity is not the same for everyone. Once that has been realized, we are then able to think outside the box and create more efficient solutions that are adaptable for all or many rather than a few.