Name:  Venessa Collins-Smith

Title: Compliance Specialist II

Department:  Community Investment

How long have you lived in Kalamazoo?

Approximately four years.

What is your favorite thing about Kalamazoo?

I enjoy riding through the historic district. It reminds me of back home.

What neighborhood do you live in?

I currently live in Kalamazoo Township. However, I am in the process of purchasing a home and my first choice is finding a bungalow with a lot of character within one of the six core neighborhoods.

What is your educational background/work experience?

My undergrad is from Savannah State University where I obtained my Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. I obtained my Master’s from Walden University in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Policy.

What projects are you working on that are related to Imagine Kalamazoo?

Current projects relating to Imagine Kalamazoo that address our Master Plan’s citywide priorities and neighborhood focus are:

Citywide Priorities -> Climate Action Plan

  • Weatherization

Neighborhood Focus ->Attainable Housing Strategy

  • Working with area non-profits in providing affordable housing for lease purchase and home ownership:
    • Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing (KNHS - lease Purchase 2017)
    • Fair Housing  of SW Michigan  (lease Purchase 2017)
    • Kalamazoo Valley Habit for Humanity (KVHH - Homeownership 2018)

Complete Neighborhood - > Equity

  • Fair Housing of SW Michigan

List a few of your hobbies.

  • Event Planning

  • Public Speaking (to inform and or actuate)

  • Rehab/Interior Decorating

What animal matches your personality and why?

The Snow Leopard is my animal match. It is known for its beauty and elegance. It is purposeful in its congregating and is unapologetic about embracing solitude.

Everything I do has to have a purpose, whether it is to speak words of joy, peace and happiness into the lives of those I encounter daily, helping the less fortunate, giving back to my community by volunteering  or having a career that affords me the opportunity to truly bring about positive change in the lives of those I serve.

In my solitude my visionary side allows me time to think, plan, develop and determine how I will implement.  I try to always look beyond what is in front of me and see its potential for a greater cause.