Heather Simpson

2016 The Social Activist


Heather Simpson says the key to making a difference is to truly understand the community you’re serving.

“I have spent time, initially, just observing the community to find out what I can do to help before acting,” she said. “I believe a difference maker should be in tune with the community around them, which is what I try to achieve.”

It didn’t take Heather long to connect with her surroundings at University of Michigan-Dearborn, judging from what she has accomplished on campus.

As a socially committed activist, Heather has worked to raise awareness about gender-based violence, sexual assault and social action. She is a member of PRIDE, which seeks to bring awareness of LGBTQ issues to campus, is the head on-campus coordinator of Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) and was a site leader at Detroit Rescue Mission for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Through these roles, Heather has been able to work on a variety of causes: She organized the university’s annual Take Back the Night program, acted as an ambassador for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Prospective Students’ Day and participated in a series of speaking panels on LGBTQ concerns in education.

She dug even further into advocacy as part of her independent study, where she created an LGBTQ safe space action plan that currently is being implemented in a local high school.

“A student with boundless passion, energy and dedication to social change is the only way to describe Heather,” said Jonathan Larson, coordinator for LGBT and inclusion initiatives. “She is able to blend her unique international perspective—she went to school in England—and her connection with the city of Detroit into a powerful concoction of advocacy and change.”

Heather also excels in the classroom and has made the Dean’s List eight times. She became a Supplement Instruction (SI) leader in the Behavioral Science Department in 2013 and has gained the respect of the students she supports as well as her SI leader peers and supervisors.