Detroit lost an irreplaceable advocate with the passing of James Garavaglia, senior vice president of corporate public affairs and community reinvestment at Comerica, Inc. last week.
Garavaglia, an ardent Detroit supporter, invested in many community-based initiatives aimed at improving Detroit’s neighborhoods, including the Michigan Chronicle’s award-winning Homefront section, nearing its 20th year of publication this year.
“I not only respected Jim as a business leader, but recognized him as a friend,” said Sam Logan, publisher of the Michigan Chronicle.
“Jim helped to ensure the financial viability of our organization by signing one of the largest advertising contracts in our newspaper’s history,” said Jackie Berg, originator of the Comerica-supported Homefront section and chief marketing officer (CMO) of the Michigan Chronicle.
“His decision to support the Chronicle garnered the attention of corporate leaders once unwilling to advertise in the Black press, and is largely responsible for our market strength today,” added Logan.
Garavaglia, who suffered from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, was the president of the Wayne State University Alumni Association and served on the boards of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan Opera Theatre and Metropolitan Affairs Coalition.
He also was a member of the Executive Committee of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and a charter member of the University Musical Society Corporate Council.
In his role as senior vice president of Comerica Bank, he was responsible for corporate-wide government relations, Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) compliance, and fair lending compliance.
“His integrity in performing those many roles set him apart from other leaders,” said Logan. “Jim had an uncanny ability to operate with an uncommon sense of honor, respect and dignity, even when he didn’t agree with you.”
The death of James Garavaglia will be felt throughout Detroit. We’ve lost a legend and a friend.
Sam Logan is publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. Jackie Berg is the chief marketing officer.
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