Officials are currently investigating the cause of Tuesday's horrific Amtrak train crash that killed eight people and injured more than 200. Attention has been split between the engineer driving the crashed train and the names of victims whose deaths have been confirmed. One woman, who was initially reported missing, was confirmed dead Wednesday in a statement released by her family. Who was Rachel Jacobs? The Amtrak crash victim was a devoted Detroiter whose love for her hometown persisted even after she relocated to New York.
A Columbia Business School graduate, Jacobs was daughter of former Michigan state senator Gilda Z. Jacobs. She was recently hired in March as CEO of ApprenNet, an edtech startup that produces online educational video tools for clients such as Wal-Mart, Kaplan, and Newark Public Schools in New Jersey. According to online tech site Technical.ly, Jacobs commuted twice a week to Philadelphia from New York and had plans to move there after completing a financing round for the startup and expanding its seven-person team. She previously was vice president of strategy and business development at Ascend Learning, an edtech company that served health care and other career industries.
In a statement, Jacobs' family mourned her death.
This is an unthinkable tragedy. Rachel was a wonderful mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend. She was devoted to her family, her community and the pursuit of social justice. We cannot imagine life without her. We respectfully ask for privacy so that we can begin the process of grieving.
It would be safe to say Jacobs' passion project was Detroit Nation, which she founded in 2007 to create a nationwide network of relocated Detroit natives. The grassroots organization aims to encourage Detroiters to actively give back to their home city through "funds, ideas, and energy." Detroit Nation, which boasts a membership of 7,000, helped bring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to Carnegie Hall in 2013, its first performance at the concert hall in 17 years.
In a Q&A with Repair the World, Jacobs talked about how she wanted to crowdsource money, resource, and volunteers to help groups based in Detroit improve their operations to better serve the local community.
I’d like Detroit Nation to become a conduit for the organizations in Detroit to become as strong as possible, and for our membership to keep building new relationships with the city — to see it as both past and future.
Our condolences are with the Jacobs family.