Alexandra Mills

“...education alone will not lift communities out of poverty.”

Alexandra Mills is driven by a vision of building thriving communities for the most marginalized among us. Alexandra grew up with a strong sense of gratitude and responsibility, instilled in part by her parents, who each worked two jobs to ensure she would have opportunities they never did. A first-generation college student, Alexandra went on to become a teacher, motivated by her belief in the transformative power of education.

While proud of her contributions as an educator, Alexandra came to realize that “education alone will not lift communities out of poverty.” She then transitioned into economic development on one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in the country, Port Covington. In her new role, Alexandra hosted recruitment events for more than 300 minority- and women-owned businesses, wrote a grant that resulted in $100,000 in funding for three low-income communities, and launched six resident-led committees. As a result of her excellent leadership, Alexandra was selected for Next City Vanguard, a program for rising urban leaders working to improve cities.

Alexandra quickly saw how development and real estate work had the power to transform communities. But she also realized the urgent need for Black developers and investors: without ownership, Black communities cannot equitably benefit from neighborhood investment, putting long-time residents at risk of displacement. Guided by her continued vision of making the world a better place for Black families, Alexandra is now pursuing a dual master’s degree in business administration and urban and regional planning, building the skill set to tackle the complex challenges of equitable development. Alongside her studies, Alexandra has also been working with a developer in Detroit to establish a community investment fund. In the future, Alexandra intends to launch a firm that invests in real estate and businesses in Black communities as a vehicle for economic development, community revitalization, and generational wealth building.

Recognized for her “brilliant intellect”  and “deep and abiding concern for social change,” Alexandra is sure to change communities for the better. CEW+ commends Alexandra’s vision and names her a Margaret Dow Towsley Scholar.