In 2010, Jessica Hauser was busy with her studies, on a path toward a doctorate degree in political science at the University of Michigan.

But a personal training appointment led her to the Downtown Boxing Gym in Detroit. After learning about the gym’s financially struggling youth development program that was having amazing results with local kids, she couldn’t turn back.

So she ditched collegiate life and started as executive director, working alongside founder Khali Sweeney. Over the past eight years, she has helped to grow the gym into a thriving organization, establishing it as an official 501(c)3 nonprofit and purchasing and renovating a new building. And her knack for cultivating relationships has helped Hauser build a network of relentless supporters who care about the gym, including Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert and celebrities Madonna and Eminem.