By Lori Atherton
Katy Locker, ’02, likes being part of the conversation about making a difference in her community.
And she gets to do just that as the Detroit program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which provides grants for ideas that promote quality journalism and media innovation, engage communities, and foster the arts. Since 1960, Knight has invested approximately $172 million in Detroit, $60 million of which has been donated in the last five years.
Locker focuses specifically on community engagement and providing grants for opportunities that “bring vibrancy to Detroit and enhance its quality of life.” Her grant-making initiatives are an extension of her work with the Hudson-Webber Foundation, where she served as vice president of programs for five years before joining the Knight Foundation in September 2013.
Locker’s role brings her in frequent contact with civic leaders and government officials who are working to revitalize Detroit, including Mayor Mike Duggan, ’83, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, ’83, and Deputy Emergency Manager Stacy Fox, ’83.
Working side by side with her MLaw peers to transform the city has been a positive outgrowth of Locker’s job. “It’s great that Michigan Law grads are coming together to put a stamp on Detroit that hasn’t been seen in a long time,” she says.
A Midland, Michigan, native, Locker left behind California and an associate position at the law firm McDonough Holland & Allen PC to return to Detroit in January 2004. A policy analyst before law school, Locker worked at Community Legal Resources, the Wayne County Corporation Counsel, and the Coalition for a Detroit Land Bank. She held a consulting role with Detroit Renaissance before joining Hudson-Webber in 2008.
Outside of the Knight Foundation, Locker is involved in community service; she serves on the board of directors for Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan and chairs its Governance Committee, and she previously served on the board of directors for the Detroit Artists Market. These opportunities, Locker says, have enabled her to become a “true part” of her community and to engage with others who share her drive for revitalizing Detroit.
“For me, the real value of Detroit—which I couldn’t have known until I came to live and work here—is that it’s a really passionate community where people are supportive of each other,” she says. “The partnerships that I’ve made in my 10 years here make the difference and keep me going, even in difficult times.”