This Q&A is the fifth in a series of profiles of Data Driven Detroit staff members.
When Project Manager Jeffrey Bross joined the team at Data Driven Detroit, he was already very familiar with the work of our organization from his classmates, Assistant Director of Projects Erica Raleigh and GIS Analyst David Mieksztyn. Jeff is a jack-of-all trades at D3; he analyzes data and manages projects utilizing a variety of tools. He has also been working closely with the Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD), providing technical assistance in Northeast Detroit and Brightmoor. On his off time, Jeff enjoys PC flight simulation games and once had the opportunity to fly a full motion training simulator at a Boeing factory. According to Jeff, “It was a rough landing, but everyone survived!”
Where did you grow up?
I spent my entire childhood in Bloomfield Township living in a home near the Franklin Cider Mill.
Where did you go to school?
I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan – Dearborn and my graduate degree from Wane State University
What is your degree in? Why did you choose your degree?
I pursued a master’s degree in Urban Planning for many of the same reasons. With the economy spiraling downward, I made the decision to pursue a graduate degree in 2009. At the time, discussions about Detroit’s future were beginning to take center stage in the nation media, and the Detroit Residential Parcel Survey was underway. I realized the time had come for me to play a role in shaping Detroit’s future, so I enrolled in Wayne State’s Urban and Regional Planning program.When I began my undergraduate studies, I planned to pursue a MBA. I switched my major to political science shortly after 9/11. While I always enjoyed politics and public policy from the cheap seats, the events of 9/11 moved me to become more than just a spectator of local, national and world events. Fortunately, I was too old (and out of shape) to join the military, so a poli-sci degree seemed like the next best option.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us?
While I love technology, I cannot figure out how to properly program our DVR. That is my wife’s domain. I am equally challenged in the operation of firearms and power tools. I do, however, make fantastic omelets.
What is your history with Detroit?
As a child, I spent a lot of time in the city at my father’s drug store (Northeast corner of Lindsay and 7 Mile Rd. – it’s still there but no it’s longer the family business). My father grew up in the city, and while we lived in the burbs, he made sure that I knew my hometown was Detroit. He always looked for opportunities to bring me in to the city through birthday dinners at Lelli’s and Carl’s, sporting events and trips to Lafayette Coney Island.
What did you do before working at D3?
I was pursuing completely different career track before I earned my undergraduate degree. During my pre- college years, I worked in sales, purchasing and even enjoyed a brief stint as a repo-man. After college, I worked in politics as a grassroots activist and in the non-profit world as an event manager.
What do you like about working at D3? How do you think the work you are doing benefits the city/region?
I have the privilege of working with a diverse group of highly intelligent and professional colleagues. While our work doesn’t always take center stage, I know that our work is part of the decision making process for large and small organizations.
What is your favorite D3 map or data visualization?
The Detroit Residential Parcel Survey produced some very compelling maps.
What is your favorite type of data?
I like data that are fully documented.
Who or what inspired you to take the path to Detroit, data or both?
My first mapping project came about by accident several years ago – long before I knew anything about GIS or Urban Planning. While researching potential event locations for a local non-profit, I came across Microsoft MapPoint. I spent hours mapping every possible condition that could help the organization make data-driven decisions about new locations.