"I am the change I wish to see in the world"
Who is Jennifer?
Born on October 22, 1981, Jennifer Valerie Kurland was adopted at 3 months old by Martin, a sheet metal worker at Detroit Diesel, and Phyllis, a public school teacher at Warren Consolidated Schools. She grew up in Southfield, moving to West Bloomfield after her parents divorce in middle school. A graduate of West Bloomfield High School in 1999, she began her long journey for her Bachelor's Degree at Michigan State University. At 17 years old, Jennifer traveled to Poland and Israel for two weeks as part of the "March of the Living" sponsored by the Jewish Federation. With a group of peers, she toured the remains of the Ghettos in Warsaw and Krakow, witnessing the memorial at Treblinka, walking the "March of Death" from Auschwitz to Birkenau with thousands of other Jews from around the globe, and visiting Plaszow with a survivor of the camp and his family. The image that will always haunt her is at Majdanek, where an apartment building stood less than 200ft from where the gas chamber remained. This experience fed her passion for activism and fight against fascism and injustice. After the funds her parents had saved for 2 years of school ran out, Jennifer worked full-time as a canvasser and field manager for Clean Water Action. During her tenure, she traveled around the state working on campaigns to lower arsenic standards in drinking water, banning slant drilling along the Great Lakes, preventing Yucca Mountain from becoming a nuclear depository, and (the still not solved) sewage overflow issues. After moving back home to the Detroit area, Jennifer fell into a banking career.
While in banking, she worked with clients navigating the Great Recession, helping small businesses struggling in a difficult economy, and advising hard-working families struggling with bills or losing their homes to foreclosure. Mainly working for Charter One, she bought her house in Redford at age 24 and soon after became involved in local activism. First drawn into working as an elections poll-worker then chairperson for elections in 2006 and on Redford's Festival Committee, serving as Secretary for two years. She has held numerous local positions in the Junior Chamber, notably as 60th President of the Redford Jaycees and on the state board as District Director. Part of the revolution before she knew there was one, Jennifer was elected to a 6-year term in 2012 to serve the Redford Union School District.
At the same time Bernie Sanders was fighting corruption and unethical behavior in the Democratic Party on the national level, Jennifer was fighting with her school board against similar behavior by local leaders, preventing a hostile annexation of the district. As the current President of the Redford Union School Board, Jennifer works with an omni-partisan group of Trustees, recently hiring a new superintendent, and together created a strategic plan to move the district in a new direction focused on student achievement and equitable learning.
Jennifer received her Associates Degree from Schoolcraft College and her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science Public Affairs from Wayne State University, accomplished by a long journey combining work, school, and her community commitments to Redford Township. Jennifer considers herself a democratic socialist, and believes the revolution will only happen outside the two “major” parties.
In October 2015, the Flint Water Crisis broke at the same time the Michigan Jaycees were having a state conference in Flint. Concerned initially about water quality available at the conference, Jennifer continued following the story via her radio show, The Offensive Feminist with Jenny K on Cave Radio Broadcasting.
She researched and developed a documentary on the Flint Water Crisis after declaring to a friend that it was our state’s version of 9/11. Discovering through research that both state and local officials knew that Flint’s water treatment plant couldn’t properly treat water as early as 2009, Jennifer pushed it out on social media. After months dragged on with no attention to the matter, she decided to take action. Jennifer printed out 4 key documents from 2009 – 2014 that showed this knowledge, and created a 28-page annotated timeline of the crisis.
In February of this year, she hand-delivered that information in identical packets to all 110 State Representatives and 38 State Senators. Other recipients of the information include: Attorney General Bill Schuette, The Young Turk’s Jordan Chariton, and the following media outlets. In Metro Detroit: The Detroit News, The Free Press, The Jewish News, Channels Fox 2, Local 4, and ABC 7. In Flint: mLive Flint, Channels ABC 12 WJRT, and WSMH Fox. In Lansing: Fox 47, Newscenter 6, and mLive Lansing. After receiving responses back from only 2 members of the legislature and none from the media, she again hand-delivered the preliminary costs to make Flint whole along with an offer to help create the legislation in June. This time asking for answers to 4 specific questions with a deadline, she heard back from 6 State Representatives and 5 State Senators, with 4 legislators (Morris Hood III, David Knezek, Ian Conyers, Jim Ananich) willing to work with her. Jennifer is continuing her advocacy and following up with those who agreed to work with her to start writing the legislation now, as the people of Flint have waited for far too long for a resolution to this crisis.
Jennifer was the lead singer of a band called “Unusual Suspects” and has sung our National Anthem at many community events.
She has her CPL and enjoys going to the range.
She went to Wrestlemania X8 in Toronto.
As a child, Jennifer had an annual pass to Walt Disney World in Florida.
Her country and state count is:
13 countries including Vatican City
24 states including Washington, D.C.
She is an avid reader and enjoys both pre-historical fiction like Mother Earth, Father Sky and fantasy series like A Song of Ice and Fire.
Jennifer enjoys photography and Instagram filters. She takes a picture every day as part of the 365 project.
She has 2 cats, Deuteronomy and Ginko.
She’s an only child with two siblings. Her father Martin and step-mother Sheila have been married for over 20 years, and her step-side of the family is simply family.
Jennifer enjoys being an aunt to her niece and nephew, and her godsons.