Phaedra Wainaina

Phaedra Wainaina

Detroit Workforce Leadership Academy, Class of 2020, Economic Opportunities Program

Executive Director, Vehicles for Change-Detroit, Detroit, Michigan

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Phaedra Wainaina, JD., is a serial innovator and a proud Detroit native, Phaedra presently serves as the Executive Director of Vehicles for Change- Detroit. Phaedra’s Wainaina’s strong desire to serve is rooted in her belief that the social welfare of any community begins with service. Prior to her current role, Phaedra served as the Director of College and Career Readiness of the Pontiac School District from 2014-2018. In her current role, Phaedra aligns the complexities of re-entry reform, urban revitalization, and community investment to create continuums of support to improve the well-being of Detroit’s most under-served communities. As the Executive Director of VFC-D, Wainaina has had the opportunity to impact Detroit’s workforce development sector through directed advocacy, development of a holistic stakeholder engagement strategies and leadership that changes how workforce and skilled trades education development is viewed and operates in the city of Detroit. Phaedra is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and currently serves with the Detroit Alumnae Chapter. In efforts to continue to improve workforce development across the region, Phaedra currently serves as an advisory board member for Renaissance High School of Detroit, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy of Detroit and Horizons Upward Bound of Bloomfield.  Phaedra’s greatest role and accomplishment is being a mother to her daughter, Robyn.

Phaedra Wainaina is a member of the Detroit Workforce Leadership Academy Class of 2020, one of several Workforce Leadership Academies in localities across North America.

The Workforce Leadership Academies are part of the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network, a network of leadership and fellowship programs run by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Within this Network, EOP connects national and local leaders from across sectors — nonprofit, government, business, philanthropy, academia, and more — to advance policies and practices with the potential to help low- and moderate-income Americans thrive in today’s economy. Learn more at

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