Support for Detroit Arts Education: An Interview with Dr. Rita Fields

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Valentine’s Day is not normally a holiday I celebrate. In my relationship, every day is a chance to show one another love and appreciation, so it’s not a an extra special time for us. But this year, I got the chance to spend some time talking with Dr. Rita Fields, SHRM-SCP. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Fields, get familiar.

Born and raised in Detroit, Dr. Fields overcame extreme adversity, including street homelessness. Though she experienced what some might call set-backs in life, she didn’t allow that to stop her path to success. Today, she’s dual CEO of both 313 Industries, a CNC machining and milling corporation and Copper Phoenix Consulting, LLC where she offers expertise on talent and operations management. She is also a professor at the school of management at the University of Michigan, a healthcare administrator at Central Michigan University, and a dissertation advisor in the PHOD Program at Assumption University in Bangkok, Thailand. In addition, she sits on several boards including the South Oakland Shelter and Coalition on Temporary Shelter, is a mother, and all around black excellence. So imagine my excitement when I got to spend my Valentine’s afternoon speaking with a truly inspiring human.

After initially discussing our respective backgrounds and experiences with hardship, the millennial perspective on success (do more, be better), and living a life with gratitude and reflection, we got into the heart of why Dr. Fields is a supporter and sponsor of Living Arts.

KCR: Can you describe yourself in 5 words?

Dr. Fields: I am living on purpose. Yeah…I think that’s exactly how I’d describe myself.

KCR: I love that! I’m going to adopt that if you don’t mind.

Dr. Fields: Not at all.

KCR: So, let’s dig in. How did you become involved with Living Arts and what has your involvement looked like over time?

Dr. Fields: I connected with Alissa [Executive Director, Alissa Novoselick] a year ago. We went to one of my favorite places to talk and we connected. She invited me to be on the steering committee for last year’s event [An Evening For Living Arts]. I don’t really do that sort of thing, but I’m pro-Detroit and pro-children of Detroit. And I just think the work Living Arts does is absolutely incredible.

KCR: What motivates you to support the work of organizations like Living Arts? Why did you choose to support Living Arts as a business sponsor for An Evening for Living Arts?

Dr. Fields: Like I said, I’m very invested in Detroit, and the children of Detroit especially. I just think that the work Living Arts does in schools, in the community, is so important, so I felt it was important to support the work.

KCR: What makes you passionate about the arts and arts education?

Dr. Fields: Almost all of my life, I’ve been business focused and linear. I’m pretty new to the art world and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an expert. But I started working with arts education organizations and really started to see how art transforms people. And I started to read business articles about how being creative makes you better at business. Art is so expansive and adds a more vibrant side to living.

KCR: Where do you see the work of Living Arts making a bigger impact in the community?

Dr. Fields: Living Arts will make a bigger impact when more people know about it. I think Living Arts should tell its story and let the children tell their story. This upcoming 20th anniversary celebration will show just how meaningful the impact Living Arts has on the community.