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Meet The D3 Staff: Kibichii Chelilim

Kibichii joined the Data Driven Detroit team in April of 2014 to assist with data analysis and various programmatic updates to native data tools. Throughout that year the majority of his work was devoted to database management related to the Motor City Mapping project. Since the start of 2015, he has been involved with managing D3’s datasets and databases, developing tools to enhance data analysis and other operations, and helping develop and articulate the organization’s data infrastructure. Kibichii devotes his time and energy towards developing systemic solutions to technical problems and finding creative ways to capture, process, and disseminate data.

Where did you grow up?

I’ve spent virtually all of my life within 15 minutes of I-96. I spent the first half of my childhood in East Lansing, MI, while my father completed his PhD from Michigan State University. I spent the latter half in Grand Rapids.


What is your degree in? Why did you choose your degree?

I received my Bachelor of Science from University of Michigan, where I double-majored in Pure Mathematics and Economics. I have loved mathematics for as long as I can remember, so choosing that field of study was not a difficult choice. I decided to double-major in Economics because I wanted to complement my quantitative studies with an understanding of their real-world implications.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us?

I used to work as a nurse.

What is your history with Detroit?

I never had any significant interaction with Detroit until I started doing work for Data Driven Detroit. Since then, I’ve been gradually getting to know the city by working with our data, learning about our partners and clients, and collaborating with our staff, most of whom are passionate about the city and its future.

What did you do before working at D3?

While completing my undergraduate degree, and for a year afterwards, I provided technical assistance for a few mental health studies focusing on aspects related to military veterans’ reintegration post-deployment. I was responsible for managing data providing research support.

What do you like about working at D3? How do you think the work you are doing benefits the city/region?

The most rewarding part of my job involves thinking about ways in which data can be more readily accessed, processed, and visualized. Because of the nature of my position, this usually results in a new process or solution of which my colleagues are the primary beneficiaries. I enjoy this kind of work because it not only makes it easier for D3 to deliver data, but it helps us identify how to make our data more accessible and consumable by the public.

What are your favorite type of data?

In principle, I don’t discriminate: data are data are data. If I had to choose, though, I’d say I prefer U.S. Census data, primarily because I’ve processed those datasets more than any other.

Who or what inspired you to take the path to Detroit, data or both?

The record of everything we can observe and convey is called data. The manner in which pieces of data relate to one another is called knowledge. Knowledge gives power. Power is influence. Influence creates impact. And with impact comes change. I joined Data Driven Detroit because I believe that data are a powerful tool of change. All people should be equipped with the tools they need to bring about the kind of change they wish to see in their community.

One response to “Meet The D3 Staff: Kibichii Chelilim”

  1. Vadym Pyrozhenko says:

    Hi Kibichii,

    It was nice meeting and talking to you at Detroit StartUp Week on Wednesday. Thank you for telling me a little bit about the work of D3 and for your presentation!

    As I have done some research on D3, it looks it’s been a key organization in open data efforts in Detroit.

    One report produced by MSU was very instructive (you can find it at the bottom of It gives a good idea about the place of data-focused organizations for Detroit’s development.

    I have a quick question to you related to the Detroit Data Collaborative. You can find the information about this organization/group on page 14 of the report. The report lists the Detroit Data Collaborative’s web-site but when I clicked on the link it redirected me to the D3 web-site. Did the Detroit Data Collaborative become a part of the D3 and when did it happen?

    As I explained to you, I am trying to reconstruct a history of collaboration over open data in Detroit – for research purposes – so your help is very much appreciated.

    Thank you,