Vice President for Real Estate and Development at the Mexicantown Community Development Corp. Garry has been at the CDC since 1997. Her primary responsibility is to build the Mexicantown International Welcome Center and Mercado, generating 185 jobs and 90 businesses, reconnecting the two sides of Mexicantown now split by I-75, and help transform the image of the city of Detroit and Michigan for people entering the United States on the Ambassador Bridge.

WHERE BORN: Royal Oak, at Beaumont.

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “Certainly, my first answer is my mom and dad. They set me up with strong values, a strong home, and enough education and opportunity to make me think that everything is possible. But the second answer is whoever it was who championed Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in educational programs that receive federal aid. The biggest impact that it had was on athletic programs, and while I wasn’t a star athlete, I learned lessons in competitive sports that have never left me. I learned how to play as hard as I can, give everything I have, and that I wasn’t a second class citizen because I was a girl.”

LAST BOOK READ: “I read Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine, a National Book Critics Circle award-winner. It’s a novel about two Native American families on a reservation somewhere in the northern Midwest. It has fascinating characters; it is funny; it has a spirituality to it that very much took me away from my day-to-day experience.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Passionate. Determined. Effective. When you work for a not-for-profit organization you kind of get viewed as somebody who wants to help other people or the planet, and while that’s true for me, I get way more enjoyment from figuring out how to get things done when the chips are down. I’ve heard entrepreneurship defined as the pursuit of opportunity without regard to the resources currently under one’s control. That is my life here in Mexicantown and Detroit. That’s how we make things happen here. We go after what we don’t have.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “Community economic development has taken a very long time to gain a foothold in Michigan. It’s an international industry but across the United States as population in cities declined, city governments were less able than suburbs to create strong incentives for investment in neighborhoods. Housing and business development are as important for urban families as schools, safety, health, and recreation. We’re now starting to see success on the ground in Detroit. I expect that the Mexicantown International Welcome Center and Mercado will not only provide jobs and economic opportunity, but also will continue to raise the profile of what groups like the Mexicantown CDC can accomplish. I hope it will raise expectations of what groups like ours across the state can accomplish.”


FAVORITE PLACE: “Belle Isle when it’s quiet and sunny and summer and I have the day off.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “I just bought a 90-year-old house, so right now it’s scraping wallpaper. In a couple months, it’ll probably be carpentry.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “Cheese. All different kinds. The best nickname I ever had was ‘Mouse.’”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I can usually figure out the quickest, easiest way to get there from here.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “As somebody who did some good, and did it well.”