Wilmington entrepreneur Rysheema Dixon is running for City Council - Technical.ly Delaware

Civic

Dec. 21, 2015 7:30 am

Wilmington entrepreneur Rysheema Dixon is running for City Council

Here's how tech and entrepreneurship are informing the 29-year-old's candidacy.
Rysheema Dixon.

Rysheema Dixon.

(Courtesy photo)

Last year, we caught up with Wilmington entrepreneur Rysheema Dixon about her budding consulting firm for nonprofits called RD Innovative Planning.

It’s been a roller-coaster year for her in terms of learning and growth, and she’s capping it all off with the announcement that she’s running for an at-large seat on the Wilmington City Council.

Her lessons from running RD, and why she started it, are a large part of why she’s running for office.

First, what she’s learned, according to an exclusive interview with Technical.ly Delaware:

  • Her limits. At one point, Dixon, 29, was handling three contracts for her consulting firm and two part-time jobs, which was too much. “It actually made me go back to doing my business plan again to make sure I was on target and where I wanted to go.” Now she’s solely focused on her firm.
  • Doing everything by yourself is overrated. She discovered the value of interns and how having a support system in place makes everything better. She hopes to eventually expand enough to hire people from within the Wilmington community.
  • How to tackle big projects. One of her big contracts this year was orchestrating the Southbridge Farmers Market. That included running community outreach, selecting a manager and board of directors, managing finances and more. The experience, she said, was initially a lot to handle, but in the end, proved invaluable.
  • Wilmington’s neighborhoods can be a little too insular for their own good. With a focus in health, nutrition and child development, Dixon has worked in several of Wilmington’s neighborhoods and discovered that they, and often certain nonprofit agencies, don’t branch out much. Recognizing other neighborhoods’ strengths and having a reason to go to other parts of the city will help uplift and unify Wilmington, she said.
  • The value of coalitions. Her work has shown her that the factors of a community’s well-being — health, transportation, jobs, schools, housing, environmental issues, safety — are all inextricably linked. That’s why she’d like to see more agencies working together in a community in a collaborative spirit instead of offering piecemeal, temporary solutions.

So here’s why she’s running for City Council:

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“I just fell in love with the people and understanding what their needs are,” Dixon said, “and how to be able to provide them with those services or resources so they’re able to fulfill their own potential and where they want to go.”

Although she was born in Philadelphia, Dixon has been in Delaware most of her life. She attended Delcastle Technical High School and graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in sociology. Now, Dixon lives and works in one of the new BPG apartments on Market Street downtown.

Her campaign slogan is “Strong from the ground up,” and she’d like to take a grassroots approach to breaking down barriers between neighborhoods for a more unified city. She also wants to see people better-informed about policies that affect them.

Technology, innovation and business are important too, she said.

For example, she knows people don’t like coming downtown because parking is a pain. She’d like to research options like electronic meter kiosks or parking meter phone apps to help. Dixon also said she’s been in talks about a possible WiFi project for the Southbridge neighborhood, which would help kids who need internet access for school assignments.

The growth of downtown’s Creative District excites her, and she said she wants to see more with the arts and with projects like Girl Develop It, Zip Code Wilmington and Barrel of Makers.

She’s all for open data, she said, and thinks the local government and the city would mutually benefit from being more transparent. “That’s what we should be doing to keep the city functioning, and functioning well, so people don’t feel like we’re doing things behind their back,” she said. “I want to be held accountable.”

 

More than anything, she just wants to see the city thrive.

“Wilmington has given me a lot,” she said. “It helped me find my passion and it helped me become an entrepreneur. I want to give back what the city gave to me.”

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