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.
Zahra Chevannes
Program Coordinator
Zahra is a Black Caribbean community organizer, educator and advocate for Black & Brown communities at the intersections. Zahra first joined Local Circles in 2019 as an Intern during her Master of Social Work program at the University of Michigan where she focused on policy, program design, community-based research & popular education.

Board of Directors

Amanda Ruud
Board Chair
Amanda Ruud has held many roles in service of the youth development field for over ten years. Amanda's work has focused primarily on extended learning opportunities for youth from undeserved communities. She currently holds a position with the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, a division of the Forum for Youth Investment, where she supports youth work professionals engaged in continuous improvement practices.
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.
Maria Williams
Maria Williams is the Head of Adult Services at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, Michigan, where she has worked as a public librarian since 2013. Prior to that she worked for Growthink, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Comcast Cable, and Cambridge School of Languages in Quito, Ecuador. Maria holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a Master of Library and Information Science and Graduate Certificate in Information Management from Wayne State University.
Kayana Sessoms
Member at Large
Kayana Sessoms has 15 years of experience facilitating developmental programs for people of all ages. She currently serves as the Program Director at Osborn Neighborhood Alliance. She is a co-founding member of Action by Presence, an organization which increases understanding and mutual respect among people of different socioeconomic backgrounds. She also co-founded Kidz Heart Art, an art therapy program for youth in Sierra Leone. Her past experience includes working directly with youth at buildOn and Common Ground.
Arv Reddy
Member at Large
Arv has no experience working in the nonprofit or youth development sectors. He does have experience with many different businesses including chemical production, home building, banking and computer programming. He lost on Jeopardy and is now trying to fill the void by providing people with memorable phone numbers. He is currently a partner at Ignition Toll Free in Royal Oak, Michigan, the city in which he also resides.
Alex Plum
Member at Large
Alex directs the development and innovation team at Henry Ford Health System's Global Health Initiative. He finds innovative healthcare models from low- and middle-income countries and adapts them to improve the health of vulnerable populations in Detroit. Alex earned his Master of Public Health degree from Emory University and has ten years of international development and nonprofit management experience.
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.
Dr. Dominque Perry
Member at Large
Dr. Dominique Perry is a courageous servant leader who believes that a simple smile goes a long way. Dr. Perry is a Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the corporate offices of an automotive company in Metro-Detroit. Dr. Perry has worked in Human Resources for over 10 years in several positions across various sectors, specializing in multiple focus areas including business partnership, diversity and inclusion, talent acquisition, learning and development, and employee relations. Additionally, Dr. Perry has experience in social services, as she has worked with youth and young adults in many programs in Michigan and Ohio.
Kyle Krukowski
Member at Large
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.
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