By Gina Cavaliere, Chief Community Impact Officer and BIZ Director
Interview with Jimmie Howard, 2020 BIZ Ambassador of the Year
February 10, 2021
Interviewer: Gina Cavaliere
How did you become an Ambassador?
I was recommended by Cindy Pasky [Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) Board Chair and Founder, President & CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions]. I’ve been on the team for six years and I’m thankful this is my life. This program is outstanding. I get up, I put my hat on and I’m running Downtown. I couldn’t do what I do without my team.
What do you enjoy about being an Ambassador?
This is the perfect job for me. My picture is on the van. I feel like I have a duty. I used to keep to myself. I didn’t speak a lot. Now I’m a chatterbox. Now I engage and I see the same in other Ambassadors. We are Downtown’s troubleshooters. My actions represent me as an Ambassador. They call me “the General.” I try to have a game plan and to know my team so that I deploy people to leverage their strengths. I like input from the team and to be counted on. I’ve learned a lot from people who taught me and am trying to pass it on. I have a talent in motivating people to work – I earned “Ambassador of the Year” with my team.
What positions have you held on the Ambassador team?
Most of them – Team Leader, Special Projects, Nighttime Power Washer, Trash Truck Driver and Ambassador.
Besides working with your team, what is your favorite part of the job/favorite memories?
You see the smiles on people’s faces when you help them out. I have given people’s cars jumps, helped when they run out of gas. You get to interact with people who you have helped out. I’m passionate about engaging with the homeless. Interacting and asking if help is needed. In my first medical situation assist, a nurse fell on the Riverwalk. I was panicking inside while I maintained composure. She talked me through delivery of the help that she needed and said I did a great job. I’m a part of Downtown’s growth and get to watch it happen. I’m watching a building growing right out of a hole that was once Hudson’s and I’m seeing growth in my own neighborhood.
Did you grow up in Detroit?
I’m an East Sider. I live in the home that was my mother’s near City Airport. It’s the same neighborhood where my grandfather was a schoolteacher. I worked at my grandfather’s gas station on Gratiot and Fisher as a kid. That’s where I first learned leadership skills. Downtown is improving and my neighborhood is improving and I’m a part of it.
What do you miss most being Downtown during the pandemic?
Putting your arm around someone when you talk to him. It makes a connection. I think Downtown is one of the safest places to visit during the pandemic. We are keeping everything clean and sanitizing touchpoints. People are wearing masks. There aren’t that many people. I miss the hustle and bustle.
What is your favorite spot Downtown?
COBO (TCF Center) is my favorite spot. It will always be “COBO” to me. I worked in that area for Cindy Pasky before becoming an Ambassador. I saw the Ambassadors working and got to know them before I joined the team.
Anything else you want say/share?
I want to thank Cindy Pasky for bringing me aboard. I know I’m the only person she has directly recommended. I hope I’m putting my best foot forward for her. I think I’m a perfect fit for the Ambassadors and the Ambassador team is a good fit for me.