There are two words that describe Laura Grannemann perfectly: inspirational and influential. Grannemann, vice president of strategic investments for the Quicken Loans Community Fund, is a powerhouse of passion, education, dedication and kindness, and she pours herself into her work to make a difference for people throughout the country.
Grannemann attended Georgetown University. She had plans to travel the world and saw her future-self landing in China. However, as she looked at the big picture, she found that the passion she had to effect change in an international setting could be put to work domestically and something drew her back.
“I expected that I would leave East Lansing and go to China. We had taken a trip when I was 15 and I fell in love with the country,” Grannemann said. “I thought the space was incredible, and I wanted to pursue my career there. As I learned more about international development, though, I realized that the same dynamics existed here and that I could make more impact where I had a community to support me.”
And create an impact she has. Since joining Quicken Loans four years ago, Grannemann and her team have been able to enact real change in Detroit neighborhoods. Through programs run by the Quicken Loans Community Fund, 100 homes have been rehabbed, over 15,000 households have avoided tax foreclosure and the city has seen 500 new homeowners in just a year and half of the fund’s existence.
“I got into this work because I am incredibly passionate about simplifying the complex systems that undermine our ability to realize equal opportunity,” said Grannemann. “Many of the challenges that Detroit faces like tax foreclosure, the job market, and the education system, are examples of the types of systems that need to be broken down through innovation and, eventually, policy change.
“In my opinion, there is no better place to engage in innovative public-private partnerships and equity-building work than from a business perspective.
We can bring so many resources to bear – team member time and talent, financial resources, technology, policy advocacy, and even our ability
to hire local residents, ” she added.
Grannemann and the Quicken Loans Community Fund show no signs of slowing down, she’s only just begun her journey to create change and maintain it. While philanthropic work often gets categorized as a Band-aid solution, Grannemann believes more people should see it as an opportunity to address an issue at its core.
“We don’t invest in a superficial way and we aren’t just writing checks. You can’t solve any of these problems in a silo. It takes nuanced communication and collaboration, some level of policy expertise and creative solutions,” Grannemann said. “We run into challenges, but we are committed to finding the best solution, and we focus on that.”
Grannemann credits her experiences growing up for her deep-founded belief in community development and change making. She uses her experiences and education to fuel her as she seeks new ways to motivate her team and create lasting impact for the communities she serves.
“East Lansing was a fascinating place to grow up. It’s such a diverse area with a really interesting mix of people. And being around that really fueled my passion for building equity and creating platforms for all voices to be heard,” Grannemann said. “Our trip to China gave me a whole new perspective on how big the world is. It gave me a passion for learning language and working to understand other human beings and other perspectives. It made me think differently. I still use that today.”
At just 26 years old, Grannemann has already made quite a name for herself. She works diligently to make sure that issues, rather than her age, take center stage and offers advice to those who may be in the same position.
“My age has posed challenges, but I have worked hard to build relationships internally and externally and project the way I’d like to be treated. I would tell those who are in a similar position to be prepared. Know what you want to get out of a conversation and be the most knowledgeable person in the room,” Grannemann said. “In many cases, you have to prove that you should be taken seriously and work to build that reputation and those relationships. Don’t let it deter you. It will pay off in the long run.”
Grannemann doesn’t take her role in effecting change – or her role as a leader – lightly. She works to empower others and influence the outcome, and through her efforts and her selfless work she has seen incredible results, but this is only the beginning.
“I think the definition of success to me is two things. First, understanding and addressing the root of the challenges we face as a community,” Grannemann said. “Second is empowering others to do the same.”
Laura Grannemann will be joining the Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine team at this year’s Inspiration and Influence Awards as the keynote speaker Oct. 18. To hear more about her incredible story and passion for community development, purchase your tickets at cawlm.com.