Thank you to our generous sponsor of this months Meet a Mom series
Kristin Krieger of Coldwell Banker, Frewen Reality
Curious about the upcoming neighborhood and business projects Meridian Township has in the works? Then Amber Clark is the person to know! Amber is a high energy, busy mom and is bringing that energy to the community. As the Neighborhood and Economic Development director of Meridian Township, Amber is working hard to improve the Villages of Okemos and Haslett.
“People see them all the time, people bike them and traverse all the time and they are the two areas that haven’t seen any development in quite a long time,” Amber says. “They are becoming an eyesore and are getting underutilized.”
Along with her successful and fast paced career -most importantly, Amber has a beautiful family! She shares some useful advice about picking your battles with kids. And she also shares about many of her family’s favorite places to visit in the Greater Lansing area!
Hi Amber! Please introduce yourself-
Hi, I am Amber Clark the Neighborhoods & Economic Development Director of Meridian Township, my family and I have been a resident of Meridian Township beginning in 2015. I previously held the title of Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Jackson, prior to that I was the Communications Outreach Specialist for Consumers Energy.
I am originally from the Midland, Bay City, and Saginaw area of Michigan. I was born in Saginaw in 1988 and our family moved to Midland soon after.
You’re a mom! How many kids do you have and what are their ages? What is your favorite thing about being a mom?I am a mother of a 5th grader soon to be sixth grade Haslett student. My favorite thing about being a mother are all of the eye opening lessons I’ve learned. You also get to be a kid again, you get the chance to let go of all of the worldly troubles and sit down for a game or life discussion that lights a fire in you and your child. That is the best thing and probably the hardest thing about being a parent is all of the coming of age we as parents still have before us. Challenging and rewarding.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Each day is something new; I get bored easy so I need a lifestyle that challenges me and keeps me on my toes. Mornings are fast paced and segmented with my husband leaving the house first, then I leave the house with my son. Breakfast? Yeah that would be awesome in truth I have a yogurt or granola bar I’ve stashed in my purse. Depending on whether or not I’m organized in the morning it’s not uncommon for me to be arriving to work later than I planned.
I return to our house each day to feed our 4 legged daughter; I will eat a full meal at this time while answering emails and giving myself much needed peace. I have no problem working through my lunch and on average do this once a week.
End of my day fluctuates as a career in local government includes many early morning and evening board meetings. I staff three boards/commissions for Meridian Township and attend three others each month. That’s an average of 8 meetings outside of normal business hours. Some days it’s a 14 hour day some days it’s 8 hours. On top of it all I cook. I am a big supporter of creating your own meals as it saves money, is clean and typically healthier. On days when I have an evening meeting I plan and coordinate our dinner meal earlier in the day (perhaps on my lunch hour).
We use words like juggle, manage etc. because real life is does not care about your planned community meeting or what tasks you have on your calendar reminders. You have to constantly make decisions on what to pursue and what is a priority. Being a parent in this environment is like being a duck on water. On the surface it’s smooth sailing and gliding; if you look underwater you’ll see my feet kicking furiously trying to keep my head above water. Don’t even get me started on managing life through COVID, I now consider a day successful if no one in our house got sick and we’ve eaten a healthy meal.
What is the best piece of advice you have received from another mom? What advice do you have for a new mom?
Pick your battles. You’ve got to decide what you’re going to go to battle on and you can’t battle everything otherwise you’ll go crazy. Like the athleisure sweat pants movement. I get it. For over a year my son hasn’t worn jeans because he was in the house all day long. Now I can’t seem to convince him that jeans are a common pants type that people actually wear! He’s boycotting jeans and only wants sweats. I started a battle that I wasn’t winning. My best friend gave me this advice, she told me, “just give him the options of what people wear as clothing, it doesn’t matter if he only wears sweats now. The world eventually tell him if it’s appropriate or not. He will be grateful to you for not forcing the world on him and letting him learn that piece on his own.” Literally the best advice to any parent anywhere. We have to remember that we shouldn’t impose our fears on our children and they must build an understanding of the world themselves.
We are big into self-care for moms as hard as it is to find the time, what is something you do just for yourself?
Black is beauty. While becoming myself I’ve learned many things about my heritage and people that have been the most uplifting to my character. One cultural element I find common in the Black community is our approach to self-care. Specifically I have created routines to managing my hair, skin, and spirit that are closely tied to my culture. Self-care is the most important thing and I’ve started practicing this new habit to make it a permanent condition of my being. Practice is the operative word as I am not always on my game, I am much better at it now than I was a few years ago.
Self-care starts within; I am an avid reader and need knowledge to care for my mind. I sage each week that we do our routine cleaning to cleanse the air of negative energy. I never say “I’m having a bad day,” because it is an invitation to not accept control over ourselves or our lives. We all say we don’t have the time for self-care. That’s a lie. You haven’t made the time. It’s crazy because we sure make the time for self-destruction. The best self-care I can obtain, is knowing and stepping into my own power. When I do this I finally stop saying “I can’t” and start saying, “I won’t”.
What do you love about living in the Great Lansing area?
The Midland Michigan area is very horizontally sprawling which means you really need a car to enjoy all it has to offer. I wanted to move to live area that had a larger denser population so I could be exposed to more diverse groups of people. There is so much to do, see and discover in this area that I absolutely love! The greater Lansing region feels like a big heart that pumping life to all the other corners of the State. I see so much potential for thriving lives for every age group that lives here. The Lansing region doesn’t give itself enough credit for truly being a diverse region that is ready for progressive growth. I wouldn’t change a thing about the decisions I’ve made that have led me here. I am right where I need to be.
What are your go-to restaurants and places to visit in the Greater Lansing area?
Favorite Vietnamese Cuisine-102 Pho & Bang MI Meridian Township
Favorite Jewelry Spot- Mad Eagle East Lansing
Favorite Nature Center-Harris Nature Center Meridian Township
Other places near and dear to our hearts-Impression 5 Science Center, Hawk Island Park, Lugnuts. The Nuthouse, T&D Coney
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I am full of surprises; one thing people may not catch is I’m an Introverted Extrovert. I focus internally so I always approach new connections with what I can do for people. It can mean that I won’t reveal things about myself as I am concentrating more on the other person. So I will reveal a hidden truth, when I was 17 my mom signed me up for the world showcase in Vegas to compete in a modeling program. I won the swimsuit division in first place; taught me I did NOT want to become a model.
You are the Neighborhoods & Economic Development Director for Meridian Township! Please tell us about your role with the township and what you love about your career-
My time with the Township continues to drive home I am in the right place at this phase of my life. Not only did accepting the position bring my talents to my community, but it also brought me closer to home to be with my family. We all work to build lives that are full, strong, and filled with those we love. Now I get to work with community members, leaders, and developers to bring wonderful growth to the community my son will be raised in. I am honored to meet local business owners and help them address their needs to retain and expand their business. This full circle of developing strong neighborhoods to support a strong economy is the balance I hope to bring to Meridian Township.
Can you tell us about any new happenings/development coming to Meridian Township or that might be top secret 🙂 Whenever I hear sshhhh this is ” Top Secret”, it means everyone already knows about it. In truth projects take time to build from idea creation to approvals and finally getting walls up. Movement right now is strong in Haslett with the Haslett Marathon renovation, Copper Creek Residential neighborhood (a new single-family neighborhood of 88 homes) and Pine Village Senior Community a mixed commercial residential building. Over $40 million in investment in the next few months just in Haslett. We have the Village of Okemos mixed commercial and residential project to come to the community as well. Both major projects being the first puzzle pieces to complete revitalization of the corridor.
The Downtown Development Authority and Meridian Economic Development Corporation are closely following our development projects and working to bring more activities that engage our business community. We are eager to have these prime developments in our community to begin redevelopment at the major crossroads of our community.
Now some fun ones!
Favorite place to visit in Michigan- Paradise, MI – Whitefish Point
Can’t live without makeup or beauty product-St. Ives Apricot Facial Scrub
Current binge shows-Good Girls and Girlfriends on Netflix
Favorite snack food-Candy(Sour Punch Straws to be exact)
What are you most looking forward to personally and professionally in 2021?
Engaging! I’m an introverted extrovert which for me means I need a little time to myself to recharge from people. I still NEED people and 2020, well you know how 2020 was. 2021 is opening and it looks like a year to make some changes and to learning new skills.
Last Question! Who is your biggest mentor in life personally or professionally?
My biggest mentor was and still is my adopted mother Burris Ghoston. She left this world too soon and somehow managed to raise me to be strong in the end. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her guidance, love and sacrifice. As a child I didn’t know what industry I wanted to be in as far as a career, I just wanted to go to work every day dressed in pretty heels so I could look like my mother. I owe her so much and live to make sure that what she gave to me I give back plus some.
If our followers would like to get in contact with you, what is the best way?
I’m easiest to be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 517-853-4568.
Do you know an area mom that would be the perfect Meet a Mom feature? Email us email@example.com