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Q&A: Amanda Lewan and Why This Leader Wanted to Attend the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference


Each year, the Mackinac Policy Conference invites a small yet powerful group of bright individuals to serve as its Mackinac Future Leaders, and this year’s group has more than a few impressive names and resumes attached.

The program, sponsored by Bank of America, brings a diverse set of business, community and non-profit leaders to Mackinac Island for the 2018 conference. These men and women represent organizations from Southeast Michigan including Lyft, Plante Moran, Playworks Michigan, the Skillman Foundation, the cities of Detroit and Ferndale as well as Van Dyke Horn Public Relations

The Mackinac Future Leaders not only attend the main conference and its events, but they also enjoy special events tailored toward them and developing their professional skills while on the Island.

BambooThey are problem solvers. They are leaders. They are rising young (and some not-so-young) professionals.

One familiar name hopped out immediately from this year’s list: Amanda Lewan. To me, she is a great example of someone who cares deeply about Detroit, who thinks of others as well as the needs of her business and develops strong relationships with everyone she meets.

Amanda is Co-founder and CEO of Bamboo, a company that builds collaborative work spaces empowering people. Bamboo is home to more 3oo diverse businesses and is a hub of technology, startup, and business resources and events in Detroit. She has nearly a decade of operations and marketing experience, helping startups all the way up to fortune 100 companies.

Also, Amanda is a talented fiction and essay writer. She writes character driven stories in a lyric style. Her storytelling and writing has been recognized and published in NPR, Entrepreneur Magazine, ABC’s 20/20, The Nation, Rust Belt Magazine and Belt Publishing, The Journal of Americana and has been anthologized twice. Her writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Here are her thoughts on being a Mackinac Future Leader.

Q: Why did you want to attend the Conference — I know you’ve been there before and have seen some of the events that go on.

A: In the past I’ve gone as media, but this is my first year going for our business Bamboo. Bamboo has tripled in size the past year, and I will be going on 20,000 square feet of shared office space, programming, and support for startups and corporations coming into the Detroit market. I knew it would be a good opportunity for us to network with leaders and share our insights on entrepreneurship and business in Detroit. We can represent our members, and make sure they have a voice at the table in front of leaders who influence our policy.

Q: How do you think this will help your work at Bamboo? As an individual?

A: From Bamboo’s perspective, helping to give a voice to our members who are often startups, small businesses, and companies beginning to land and expand into the Detroit market. We can help share their perspective on issues of economic development, real estate development, talent engagement, and technology startup support. As an individual, I hope to learn from others there throughout the conference.

Q: Why do you think Generation Z, Millennials and related generations should attend an event like this?

A: I think we should all be engaged in policy. Sometimes, we feel distant from it in the day to day of our lives. Attending a conference like this gives us insight into topics, trends, and issues policy makers are discussing, and let us connect with decision makers. I’m also very grateful the conference has programs for emerging leaders, and bloggers, it allows new voices to participate and be heard.

Q: What else do you want people to know about you, Bamboo or this year’s Emerging Leaders?

A: We’re excited to be here and to connect with corporations and leaders who care about Detroit’s revitalization. At Bamboo we’re an organization of almost 300 businesses. We help them start and grow or land and expand into the Downtown Detroit market through turnkey office space, co-working, and talent engagement support. We’re passionate about seeing an inclusive revitalization and helping companies engage with the prospect of entering into Detroit’s market. For corporations, we would love to see them engaged in mentoring and partnering with the local technology and startup community thriving out of Bamboo and other spaces, too, and look forward to discussing any ideas on how we can all grow the Detroit ecosystem together.

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