Chief Strategy Officer, Communities First Inc.

Chair, Flint-Genesee County Continuum of Care

Essence Wilson has an ambitious but attainable vision to end homelessness in Flint. Driven by a genuine passion to empower residents and build community, her work is human-centered and responsive to evolving community needs.

Her commitment to Flint and the people who live here radiates through her work, which includes over a dozen affordable housing projects and millions of dollars in development. As a Flint resident, Wilson empowers community members to be instrumental agents of change. She works tirelessly to remove barriers and strategize solutions for those experiencing homelessness. Her holistic approach sees the need for affordable housing development and supportive services.

As chair of the Flint-Genesee County Continuum of Care, Wilson is challenging 20 years of practices to re-envision the homeless service system, engaging cross-sector partners to move more efficiently toward ending homelessness. Supported by an executive committee, governance council and general membership, she introduces new ideas, develops strategic frameworks and is literally rewriting the local handbook on ending homelessness.

Both personally and professionally, Wilson is a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion. She was selected as an American Express Social Justice Leadership Fellow, and was chosen by students as the diversity speaker two years in a row at Kettering University. In her role as governance chair for the Flint Institute of Music, Wilson was instrumental in the adoption of the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) Committee as a standing committee instead of an ad hoc work group.

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