Nominee’s nameAngela Rogensues

SEEN Changemaker CategoryNonprofits

A picture of the nomineeA picture of the nominee
Nominee’s job titleExecutive Director
Nominee’s cityDetroit
Please describe why the nominee is a SEEN Changemaker:

Angela Rogensues has had a passion for making a difference since she was a child. In 6th grade, she helped create an organization that compelled businesses to incorporate eco-friendly operating practices. Her drive to better the lives of people, children and animals has taken Angela to Chicago, California and eventually back to Detroit, her home. In all her endeavors, her impact has been critical – most recently as Executive Director of Playworks Michigan, a non-profit organization who believes safe, healthy play is a basic human need every child deserves, and is dedicated to bringing that opportunity to children on school playgrounds and in classrooms across the state.

When Angela first joined the organization in 2012, Playworks was looking to grow and expand its professional development services, which trains on-site adult educators and supervisors on Playworks’ best practices, methodologies and strategies for facilitating recess and play.

Angela knew that providing direct, on-site services to every school would be cost prohibitive, lack sustainability for long term change at partner schools and would require her organization to depend more heavily on philanthropic contributions. With Angela’s guidance, Playworks Michigan began to remarket their professional development services to accelerate Playworks’ mission and simultaneously grow earned revenue.

She presented an opportunity to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to underwrite the cost of Playworks’ professional development services in Southeastern Michigan as a part of a grant. The grant allowed Playworks to create a competitive process for schools to apply for their services at no cost to their school or district. The first year, Playworks trained 15 schools in its professional development series under the Wilson investment. Through organic growth spurred by word of mouth and school principal referrals, that number continues to grow. Within two years, Playworks Michigan had sold $122,250 in non-grant funded or subsidized services across the state of Michigan – an increase of more than $100,000 as a result of Angela and her team’s efforts – contributing significantly to their overall financial sustainability.

Overall, Angela has been responsible for expanding program impact in Michigan by 145 percent and increasing fundraising revenue by 182 percent. Through Angela’s leadership, Playworks Michigan has grown from 29 schools in 2016 to 72 schools in the 2018-2019 school year. By 2020, Playworks Michigan will be in more than 120 schools statewide.

Her ability to look ahead, pivot where necessary, provide goal-based direction and secure funding and other support to realize those goals has been invaluable to the organization. She brings a strong vision, as well as new and creative ideas and approaches. Angela sees the big picture by looking at things from many angles.

Tell us about the individual’s accomplishments:

Angela has been pivotal in bringing Playworks’ programs into more schools in Metro Detroit and across the state, continuing to positively impact the lives of elementary school children and their teachers. That means more student collaboration, increased self-esteem and less bullying. It also means improved academic performance and better conditions for teachers to do their work without behavioral interruptions.

Under Angela’s direction and leadership, revenue has increased by 182 percent and impact by 145 percent, which ensures long-term stability for the non-profit organization. Playworks has also nearly tripled the number of schools benefitting from its programs under her tenure – from 29 to 72.
Angela spearheaded a multi-year, $4.5 million-dollar grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the largest regional grant in Playworks’ national history. As a result of this investment, 50,925 children in 153 schools and who serve organizations in southeast Michigan will experience safe and healthy play every day – surpassing a goal of 120 schools by 2020. Playworks Michigan will be the first regional entity in the country to accomplish this milestone.

Additionally, Angela has secured a second investment of $500,000 from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to replicate the process outside of southeast Michigan to create additional organic growth across the state.

How is he/she impacting the community or the lives of people in Metro Detroit or across the world.

At a time when academic performance is a concern, Angela has made it possible for Playworks Michigan to reach and positively influence our next generation. Nearly 15,000 elementary school children in Metro Detroit were able to benefit from the impact of Playworks during the 2018-2019 school year and local students were able to experience the social, emotional, and physical benefits of play. Through play, they are learning to make friends, solve problems and believe in themselves— skills that will benefit them now and throughout their lifetimes.

In addition to Angela’s role with Playworks, she is a founding board member and director of membership for the Detroit Chapter of Women in Sports and Events (WISE). Angela’s professional experience enables her to take a leadership role in shaking stereotypes surrounding women in sports.

An avid supporter of the arts, Angela has also been a board member of the Founders Junior Council (FJC) of the Detroit Institute of Arts since January 2017. The FJC is one of the museum’s largest auxiliaries and is comprised of young professionals looking to engage, cultivate and retain the next generation of art patrons. She attends monthly board meetings and events hosted in support of fundraising and building awareness for the vast resources the DIA has to offer. As of late, she was nominated and voted in as this year’s vice president.

With a strong passion for saving four-legged friends as well, Angela has served as a board member at large for 4Paws1Heart, a metropolitan Detroit animal charity, since March 2015. She has helped the organization raise hundreds of thousands of dollars since its inception to support 2,700 homeless animals’ medical care, and she continues to help organize and attend annual fundraising events, such as their 5k run and bowling and Detroit Lions Football fundraisers.

By leading Playworks Michigan’s efforts to reach as many students as possible, Angela has been successful in providing schools with beneficial programs encouraging meaningful play. The goal of Angela’s actions is to not only spread Playworks’ reach throughout Michigan’s school systems, but to help improve the way public education works. Meaningful play and interaction between young students are pivotal in helping emotional and interpersonal development. The long-lasting impact of healthy social interaction that starts at a young age is a building block of a healthy society. This was the calling Angela felt she needed to fulfill in Detroit, and she continues to charge forward every day.


The SEEN Changemaker Awards are brought to you by

Peter and Danialle Karmanos