Introducing Ford’s 2nd Annual Thirty Under 30 Class of Fellows

Ford’s second annual Thirty Under 30 program is underway, this time connecting a new class of young employees with nonprofit partners focused on issues of food insecurity.

The Ford Thirty Under 30 program is an innovative corporate leadership course that empowers young employees to work with and learn about philanthropic organizations.

The program, a yearlong course run by the Ford Motor Company Fund, was announced last year by Executive Chairman Bill Ford in an effort to develop young employee leaders who also serve their communities.

 “This program is unique in that it allows our employees to harness their creativity and passion for helping people in a way that’s relevant today,” said Ford.  “I’m so proud of what the inaugural class accomplished and, at the same time, excited to see how this newest group of employees will continue that same culture of caring.” 

The Thirty Under 30 class is made up of 30 diverse U.S. employees under the age of 30 selected from more than 300 competitive applications across the country. They take time away from their jobs as Ford engineers, financial, marketing and IT professionals to not only learn what it takes to run a charity, but also how to develop strategies to help nonprofits connect with younger generations who represent a future donor and volunteer base.

This year’s Thirty Under 30 fellows are: Caroline Wells, Chanel Jeon, Mackenzie Fankell, Alex Kewney, Matthew Mckenzie, Michael Orr, Casie Ocana, Lauren Morrison, Sarah Perry, Kelsey Schmitz, Natasha Reed, Chris Craft, Andrew Steinman, Austin Thind, Boratha Tan, Clinton Mejias, Erin Taylor, Hannah Bailey, Kelly Bedro, Khalid Ahmed, Kimberly Barr, Kyle Ness, L’Nard Tufts, Michael Riffenburg, Nihala Thanikkal, Toni Davis, David Root, Christopher La Boo, Cory von Achen and Nicole Kruse. Click through the gallery below and watch their videos to the right to learn more about them.

Over the year of the course, fellows will learn civic engagement and leadership skills with a focus on philanthropy and volunteerism. They’ll be paired with employees of nonprofits, giving both Ford and participating charitable organizations the opportunity to learn from one another.

This year’s nonprofit partners focused on food insecurity include Gleaners Community Food Bank, Crossroads of Michigan, Yad Ezra, Fish & Loaves and Ford Mobile Food Pantry.

Throughout the program, the Thirty Under 30 participants will learn about “design thinking,” a human-centered strategy that places an emphasis on empathy and truly understanding the needs of others. The design thinking curriculum was developed through a partnership with Henry Ford Leadership Institute.

In the inaugural class, Thirty Under 30 fellows worked with nonprofits that address basic needs. Their projects included:

  • A team supporting the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries whose idea was to create and empower an overarching board organization comprised of millennials – called the Next Gen Board – to come up with sustainable solutions within the modern world of nonprofit work.
  • A team supporting the United Way for Southeastern Michigan whose idea was to create a mobile platform for direct project giving.
  • A team supporting The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division who organized sandwich-making events to feed the hungry.

Several of Ford’s senior leaders who had employees among the 2016 fellows attended the final report-out last fall, and were encouraged by what they saw.

 “I think what was exciting for me was having these very young employees work together in cross-functional teams and learning the design-thinking process,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford group vice president of Global Purchasing “It’s a really interesting approach, and it’s just a fantastic leadership opportunity for them very early in their career.”

Thirty Under 30 Class of Fellows

The Ford Thirty Under 30 program is an innovative corporate leadership course that empowers young employees to work with and learn about philanthropic organizations. Click through the gallery to learn more about this year's class of fellows.

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