Derrick Miller is a seasoned leader, social service entrepreneur, and executive director of Community Action Network (CAN), a grassroots organization he’s cultivated into one of Washtenaw County, Michigan’s most successful and impactful nonprofits. Under Derrick’s leadership, CAN has expanded its service delivery, quadrupled the number of services provided, and tripled its operational revenue in just four years. Derrick also served honorably in the United States Marine Corps and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As a POGO Ambassador, Derrick has used his voice to tackle corruption, waste, and abuse of power in the federal government, penning opinion pieces and meeting with congressional offices about critical issues facing our country. We sat down with Derrick to ask him about it, and here’s what he told us:
POGO: What are the kinds of good government reforms that you would like to see on the federal level?
Derrick: Ethics and accountability measures. Establishing robust ethics and accountability measures, such as whistleblower protection and conflict-of-interest laws, would help bring high standards of integrity to the government.
Transparency in government spending. Improving the tracking of federal funds and making this data readily available to the public would help combat waste and fraud and ensure federal resources are distributed equitably.
Improved public participation. Enabling greater public participation in federal decision-making would help make the government responsive and accountable to the people.
POGO: What motivates you to speak out on these issues? Why do the reforms you’ve advocated for matter to you?
Derrick: Like many people, I want to make a positive impact in our communities and in the lives of others. In under-resourced neighborhoods, a lack of access to federal resources limits opportunities and hurts residents’ quality of life. I believe greater transparency in government spending would help create a more just and equitable society where all communities have the resources they need to thrive. As a nonprofit executive director, I have seen firsthand the positive impact these resources have on communities.
These reforms would also make the government more trustworthy and more responsive to communities’ needs. Trust in government is essential to democracy, and corruption eats away at that trust. Additionally, my personal values of integrity, fairness, and responsibility guide my support for these reforms, which would help instill these values in the government.
POGO: How does federal-level corruption impact your community?
Derrick: When resources are siphoned away by corrupt officials or otherwise misused, it erodes public trust and results in inadequate funding for essential services like education, health care, and housing. This perpetuates cycles of poverty and inequality, making it harder for communities to break free from the grip of economic hardship.
Additionally, corruption can also discourage business investment in communities, limiting job opportunities and economic growth and further compounding the challenges communities face.
POGO: What advice would you offer someone who wants to advocate on these issues?
Derrick: Anyone can be an advocate. Unfortunately, too few recognize the power of their voice. Corruption feeds on environments of apathy. So, speak up often and with confidence. Efforts at local, state, and federal levels are all impactful.