Students Serve on DDA Board

Berkley High School students Margaret Gabel and Eli Hurwitz serve as student reps on the Downtown Development Authority board of trustees, where the two are gaining valuable insight on how to run a successful business.

“They are our future leaders, business owners and residents, plus they bring a fresh perspective to the table,” DDA Executive Director Vivian Carmody said. “They’ll get some great hands-on experience through the DDA by learning about government, partnership making, entrepreneurship, marketing, business development and a whole slew of other things.”

Berkley High School visual arts teacher Stefanie Coburn, who coordinates the school’s Student Leadership Program, encouraged the two students to serve on the DDA board.

“I know the board was looking for students with leadership qualities,” said Coburn. “Both students have an interest in arts, and they seem to work really well together – almost like a business partnership. They represent a fresh creative voice, and they’re great at sharing their ideas.”

As student reps, Margaret and Eli are non-voting members on the board. But the two sophomore students are part of a team on the DDA helping to design crosswalks in the downtown to make the business district more pedestrian friendly.

“There are a lot of cool things you can do with them,” Margaret said about crosswalks. “You’re trying to balance safety and aesthetics, so there’s a lot that goes into it.”

Eli said serving on the DDA board is helping him gain an understanding of how to run a small business.

“It’s been great,” he said. “I was kind of lost at the first few meetings, but now I feel like I’m really contributing in the discussions.”

Created in 1993, the DDA was established to help facilitate commercial improvements in the downtown business district. Funding for DDA projects comes from commercial property taxes within the business district. The 12-member board of trustees consists mainly of business or property owners along Coolidge and 12 Mile Road.


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