Our Mission

The mission of Local Circles is to facilitate youth-led research in which young people pose their own questions and conduct research to inquire upon social issues that are meaningful to them.

Our Purpose

Local Circles leverages young people’s interests by engaging youth in research that addresses their questions about the world around them. We give youth an engaging space to learn how to think about multiple perspectives, ask questions that are not being asked, imagine possibilities, and bring those possibilities to actionable outcomes.

By engaging with issues that are relevant to their lives, youth can find the power to act on those issues, thereby learning critical thinking skills and increasing youth leadership.

Our Principles

  • Youth-Led

    Young people are in charge of creating research questions and, with adult allies, determining the research methods for investigation.

  • Participatory

    Learners engage in all aspects of the curriculum including teaching and learning, analysis, content, evaluation and action

  • Learn by Doing

    While we may not currently have the skills required to complete an action, we realize that we can gain the skills by doing the action

  • Inclusiveness

    All identities and kinds of folks are welcome

  • Anti-Oppression

    We will engage in activities, dialogue, and thinking that works against oppression in all forms

  • Inquiry

    Youth are encouraged to ask questions and seek out answers

  • Time and Space

    We recognize that people learn at various paces. Young people will be reviewed on their mastery of a skills when they are ready

  • Employment

    Young people’s research benefits their community in many ways. In addition to providing youth the opportunity to learn job skills, it also puts young people in the position of creating knowledge that can be shared with their community. Therefore, young people will receive a stipend to conduct research

  • Prevention

    Young people at risk of being pushed out, dropping out, or becoming unemployed can find a place to encourage their connection to developmental social institutions


Nicole Jurek
Founder and Executive Director
Nicole Jurek is the founder of Local Circles. Nicole has over 15 years of experience in youth development, including the oversight of mentoring programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Chicago. She most recently served as Program Director for the Detroit office at buildOn, an international service learning organization.
Maya Castleberry
Program Coordinator

Board of Directors

Contessa Rudolph
Board Chair
Contessa Rudolph has worked in public and community health for the last 25 years in metro Detroit. Her passion is in prevention of disease and illness through education and lifestyle choices. This led her to gain experiences working with every age group from newborns to centurions. She is currently the director of administration, Community Health, Equity, Wellness and Diversity at Henry Ford Health. Contessa attended Central Michigan University where she received her bachelor’s in science degree in Health Education and Promotion and master’s in science degree in Health Services Administration. As native Detroiter she understands the challenges faced in accessing healthy options in food choices, safe physical activity and environmental pollutants and urban stressors. Contessa and her family spend their free time volunteering for local non-profits and community organizations.
Ashly Jurek
Ashly Jurek is the Accountant for the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, a nonprofit in Detroit. Previously, she worked in public accounting at UHY Advisors. Ashly obtained her BS in Accounting from Michigan State University, her MBA from Oakland University and is a CPA in the State of Michigan.
Kyle Krukowski
Kyle is the Director of Internal Audit and Financial Planning for the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. He is a CPA and a highly qualified finance professional with experience in both the public and private sectors of accounting, internal audit, process design and improvement, and project management. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Accounting from Central Michigan University and his MBA from Walsh College. Kyle has participated and led charitable organization initiatives over the last 15 years.
Sarah Walsh
Member at Large
Sarah is a member of the faculty at Eastern Michigan University and has more than 15 years experience working with non-profits and philanthropic organizations to improve public health. She holds a PhD in health promotion and behavioral science from the University of Louisville.
Taylor Davis
Member at Large
Taylor Davis has almost a decade of experience in youth development. She has a passion for serving youth, especially middle school youth, as a guide through their education and a support to their self-growth as they transition into adulthood. Taylor is a graduate of University of Michigan where she majored in Sociology with a concentration in Women & Gender Studies. She currently serves as a Site Coordinator for Eastern Michigan University Bright Futures, an out-of-school education program. When she’s not working with youth, you can find her hosting a few podcasts—For The Dubb Podcast and SkinFolk—discussing DEI, womxn rights, social justice, sports, entertainment, and culture.
Jen Zahorchak
Member at Large
Jen Zahorchak is Senior Director of Ticketing for Live Nation Touring. Jen is a qualified ticketing professional with over 18 years of industry experience, and has worked with some of Live Nation’s largest touring clients. Jen earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Speech Communication from Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Ohio.
Patrick Hannon
Member at Large
Patrick is a Wealth Advisor at Planning Alternatives, an independent Registered Investment Advisor firm. He provides clients with comprehensive financial planning and helps with on demand problem solving. He completed his undergraduate degree in Personal Financial Planning at Central Michigan University. Patrick also obtained his Certified Financial PlannerTM designation in 2011. Patrick doesn’t have experience in the nonprofit sector, but he is passionate about helping people succeed, finding new perspectives to solve problems, and a firm believer in Detroit.
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