New Life Directions Director Named

Life Directions Executive Director Danielle Hilliker.

Fr. John Phelps is pleased to announce that Danielle Hilliker has joined Life Directions as Executive Director in Detroit. “We’re delighted to welcome the experience, enthusiasm and energy that Danielle brings to our organization,” he said. “We’re building on our 44-year legacy, growing our organization and enlarging our footprint in the communities we serve.”

Fr. John, president and CEO of the nonprofit organization, said that Danielle “provides a great boost to our efforts as we continue to move our organization forward.”

At the helm in Detroit, Danielle assumes responsibility for progressing Life Directions through community and resource building to deliver programs that exemplify the mission, vision and values of Life Directions, a peer-to-peer motivation and mentoring program for at-risk young people.

“I am humbled and excited to be a part of an amazing organization that holds a deep-rooted legacy in Detroit, impacting thousands of youth through self-direction and mentoring,” she said.

Before joining Life Directions, Danielle consulted with and led various nonprofit organizations through strategy and growth. Hilliker served as the VP of Development and Communications at the Center for Success Network, Director for Read to a Child, Area Director of Special Olympics of Michigan and Executive Program Associate for the Michigan Woman’s Foundation. In the role as Area Director, Danielle gained an expertise in strategically forming programs to gain public awareness and increasing program funding.

In her time spent with the Michigan Women’s Foundation she was awarded a national fellowship with Cross Generational Women Leaders in Washington D.C., a program that partners young and senior women leaders on key issues within state and national levels. A very prestige accomplishment funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the fellowship only accepts five applicants a year.

Danielle also served as a board member for Teen Hype (Helping Youth by Providing Education), an organization targeting educational development, solid peer, and community relationships and on the Diversity and Inclusion Council for Troy School District.

With the passion to build strong communities, she stands firm in believing that reaching youth everyday can have a positive impact and build future leaders for generations to come. Danielle holds a Master of Science from Spring Arbor University, concentrating in Management Organizational Development and is currently pursuing her PhD in Public Policy and Administration focusing on international NGO’s.

Recent Life Directions participants.

Life Directions was born out of the issue of violence. In 1973, Detroit was called the “Murder Capital” of the United States. On average one young adult was dying every twelve hours. The founders of Life Directions — Redemptorists Rev. John Phelps, C.Ss.R., Rev. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., Sister Rosalie Esquerra, O.P., and Alex and Judith MacDonald arrived at the intuitive understanding that it was necessary to “get to the cause of the violence.” The dynamic of “Peers Inspiring Peers through Forgiving” was forged through a series of neighborhood discussions directed at determining its root causes with people who were experiencing its effects.

Life Directions first response was to design the Focus Life Weekend for training and developing young adult peer leaders. The process centered on engaging the values that give direction to actions through forgiveness. The young adult leaders then entered into three public arenas — Neighborhoods, Public High Schools, and Churches — to awaken peers to be a part of the solution to the violence of their peers.

Life Directions efforts, in Detroit, through continuous improvement, were formed into the three interconnected programs that exist today — the Neighborhood Enrichment Program, the Peer Motivation Program, and the Peer Mentor Program. Life Directions has expanded its work to Chicago, New Orleans, San Antonio, Tucson, and Marion County, OR. To date over 130,000 young adults, ages 13-35 have partnered with Life Directions to inspire their peers to embrace the values and virtues that make life grow.