Get to know: Christa ’12, ’14 and Zach ’10 Funk, working for a better world 

Christa and Zach Funk with daughter NoraIndividually, Christa and Zach Funk are pretty impressive. But together, this couple is a force, shaping lives and the city of Detroit each in different ways. 

Christa ’12, ’14 is the executive director of Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS), a program that prepares students who might have thought a college education is out of their reach to finish high school and enroll in college. DRDFS also provides scholarships to help students who complete the program. 

Zach ’10 is a planner for the city of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department, working to ensure development and redevelopment meets the city’s goals of being inclusive and in harmony with the surrounding community. 

In high school, Zach knew he wanted to pursue a career in architecture, and he heard about Detroit Mercy’s program at a college fair in his hometown of Toledo. He was impressed by the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture & Community Development’s philosophy of development and its international reputation.  

Christa’s relationship with Detroit Mercy goes back a little farther. Her father, Michael Hoen, graduated from Detroit Mercy Dental in 1978 and returned to work in the School in the late 1990s through 2022. Christa earned a degree in English and, in 2012, started working for DRDFS which was founded in 1990 by University of Detroit alumnus William C. Young ’64. She was the organization’s second employee and its mission fits perfectly with her longtime interest in giving of herself. 

“I always loved being of service,” she said. “When I was at UDM I did the alternative Spring Breaks and because I was on the education path in school, I spent a lot of time at Gesu School, working with the students.” 

DRDFS works with first-generation college students and students who have significant need. Christa enjoys her role at an organization that helps change lives. 

“There is so much opportunity,” she said. “We need to ensure students understand what is out there in terms of help. There is so much work that needs to be done, it’s not just about the funding, it’s about long-term success. We need to make sure these students explore options and not limit themselves, find the school that fits them and that they follow their passion while weighing all the different options. 

The recent resurgence of investment in Detroit keeps Zach busy in his position with the city’s planning and development department. 

“There is a lot of activity,” he admits. “There are a lot of proposals and lots of investment coming. Part of my role is that we push the designers to make the project better the neighborhood in terms of materials and make sure it fits the space and supports the city’s plans.” 

The couple are involved in other organizations throughout metro Detroit, as well. Christa serves on the board for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and is an advisor for Brilliant Detroit, which works to ensure children from birth up to 8 years old have what they need to be ready for school, healthy and stable. For his part, Zach offers his expertise on the Plymouth Planning Commission and the Plymouth Township Historic Commission. 

The two knew each other slightly while attending UDM — they had some friends in common — but did not connect until after they had left school. They were married in 2017. 

“For me, the biggest thing about UDM was that I lived on campus the whole time,” Zach said. “I was in Greek life, I studied abroad in Volterra, Italy, too, which gave me the opportunity to see other cultures and ways of life. Those are skills that connect with my work.” 

Also active in Greek life, Christa was president of the sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma and traveled during school and afterward to places like Volterra, Cuba and China and enjoyed exploring different cultures. Her time at Detroit Mercy, she said, “taught me how to be an authentic leader and gave me the opportunity to see the world.” 

The couple will be staying closer to home for a bit as they and their 2-year-old daughter welcome twins in April. 

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