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Janell O'Keefe 

Program Officer for Michigan Initiatives 


877-542-4842 ext. 23

Janell O’Keefe serves as the Program Officer for Michigan Initiatives at the Center for Community Progress, a national nonprofit focused on helping communities develop solutions for vacant and deteriorated properties. At Community Progress, Janell leads the organization’s place-based work in Flint, MI, primarily providing technical assistance, education, and policy work for local partners. Before joining Community Progress, Janell co-founded and worked at Keep Growing Detroit, an organization dedicated to promoting a food sovereign Detroit. At KGD, Janell led internal program evaluation efforts and provided gardeners and farmers with land acquisition and ordinance compliance technical assistance, along with supporting the organization with a variety of planning and policy related tasks. In addition to her work at KGD, Janell also worked at the University of Michigan School of Social Work Technical Assistance Center, where she piloted the successful Real Estate Essentials program (now known as “Better Buildings, Better Blocks”), which equips Detroit residents with the basics of real estate development and empowers them to become neighborhood based real estate developers. The program was a 2017 Knight Cities Challenge Winner.


Janell earned her Master in Urban Planning and Master in Social Work degrees from the University of Michigan. She also received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Psychology from U of M. Janell is a licensed residential Realtor in the State of Michigan.