Category: Business - Original Written by Jackie Berg
Recognized trailblazer Aubrey Lee, Sr. , the longtime President of the National Bank of Detroit (NBD) who rose to become one of the highest ranking African Americans in banking during his career, has taught many successful banking and business executives about the power of honor, integrity and investment in Detroit.
And the lessons he carefully instilled in the many professionals he mentored throughout his 40-year banking career will continue to reap dividends today, tomorrow and into future.
Although Lee is credited for many bricks and mortar "cornerstone" initiatives in our community, his reach extended far beyond the many physical edifices he supported.
His unwavering faith in Detroit and its citizenry challenged banker's long-held beliefs that minority candidates were too high-risk to bank on. Indeed, before Lee entered the banking profession in 1957, it was nearly impossible for minorities to get an appointment with a banker, let alone a loan.
Once funded, never forgotten seemed to be Lee's motto. The young banker established an impressive track record, shepparding even the smallest of fledging minority business enterprises to their fullest growth potential, long after any of his peers were watching.
Lee hired the (then) Detroit Piston player Dave Bing during his tenure at NBD and was credited for shaping the career paths of hundreds of young African Americans.
He did right by Detroiters and they, in turn, did right by him.
If you look back, you will find that Lee had a hand in building the cornerstones of this community —from our churches and neighborhoods to our most respected business enterprises.
Often too busy for applause or recognition, it seems fitting that the Detroit Regional Chamber chose to bestow its lifelong leadership award on retiree Aubrey Lee, Sr. at its 3rd Annual Leadership Detroit Awards.
The event, which celebrates and honors program alumni who have created positive change in our community could not have picked a more appropriate gentleman to honor.
Detroit is a better place to do business because of Lee's many efforts. And we are all better off as a result of the many personal sacrifices he made to ensure that we'd do better than just "getting by."
Aubrey Lee, Sr. established impressive benchmarks that are worthy of our continued applause and gratitude. Well done, Aubrey. Well done.
Aubrey W. Lee, Sr. has been a banking professional since 1957, advancing his career from teller to serving as the president of National Bank of Detroit (NBD) in Troy, followed by a stint as the senior vice president and head of the Municipal Banking Group prior to his retirement. He later became an advisor to the president of Fifth Third Bank.
A pioneer in the banking industry, Mr. Lee was the first African American to hold the titles of branch manager and lender at NBD, and was one of the first black vice presidents of a major U.S. bank in 1979. He has been instrumental in the hiring, developing and promoting of minority bankers in Southeast Michigan. He was responsible for approving a majority of the loans that were made to minority-owned businesses in Detroit during his tenure at NBD.
Editor's Note: Jackie Berg is the CMO of the Michigan Chronicle Newspaper and former publisher of the Michigan Minority Business Development Council's (MMBDC) Network Magazine.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 October 2013 11:42
Category: Business - Original Written by Donald James
It is not a secret that healthy eating is a major component of building and maintaining healthy bodies and minds. However, many people in metro Detroit equate healthy eating with depriving themselves of the good tasting food that they have been accustomed to enjoying, especially soul food. However, two new local restaurants have discovered that people can eat nutritionally, feel great, have more energy, and never miss out on the soulful taste that pleases the palate. Meet Detroit Vegan Soul Restaurant and Southern Nosh Vegetarian Soul Restaurant, two eateries that have people talking, but more importantly, have people eating healthy.
Detroit Vegan Soul, located at 8029 Agnes St. in the city’s historic West Village on the east side, has only been opened for a month, but has already created a buzz amid vegans and soul food lovers, and co-owners Erika Boyd and Kirsten Ussery couldn’t be happier.
Inspired to eat healthier after the death of her father to cancer, Boyd felt that a poor diet was a major reason for many diseases. “After looking closely at my father’s diet, which was one that many African Americans have, I changed my way of eating from a standard American diet to a plant-based diet.”
Boyd said she began traveling to other American cities that had vegan restaurants, Chicago in particular. In the Windy City, she was especially motivated by the chain of Soul Vegetarian restaurants that has been in business for 30 years and has maintained a great clientele of vegans and vegetarians who still loved the taste of soul food. “My partner and I thought how great it would be to have something like that in Detroit,” said Boyd, Detroit Vegan Soul’s head chef. “Therefore, I began experimenting with vegan dishes based on my family recipes. From there, people began trying my vegan dishes and liked what they ate.”
Boyd defined veganism as meaning,“a type of vegetarian who does not eat foods served with animal based ingredients, which means no eggs, cheese, milk or other dairy products. In the beginning, Boyd and Ussery (the baker) served their vegan dishes through a meal delivery service. However, due to the overwhelming demand for vegan food, the two owners decided that people would patronize a café. The two were right and business has taken off. “The day that we opened, we had a line stretched at least one block,” Boyd recalled. “People are happy that there is now a place in Detroit that serves strictly plant-based food.”
Boyd said that Detroit Vegan Soul’s menu of food is 100 percent plant-based, trans-fat free, uses organic ingredients, no hydrogenated oils, uses naturally cholesterol-free ingredients and natural sweeteners like agave nectar and maple syrup. While the eating establish serves numerous vegan dishes, Boyd said that one unique and popular menu item is Catfish Tofu, which is tofu dusted in cornmeal and has a blend of sea vegetables used to achieve the taste of catfish. “Everything that we use at Detroit Vegan is top shelve ingredients,” Boyd said. “Everything we use is also purposeful to give the body healthy and nutritional ingredients.”
Patrick Coleman, owner of Southern Nosh Vegetarian Soul Restaurant, can relate to healthy and nutritional ingredients meals, with a soul food taste. In late July of this year, he opened his restaurant as a plant-based, vegetarian down home soul restaurant. Located in the Sunset Plaza at 29540 Northwestern Highway in Southfield, the eatery is a casual dining concept with a big emphasis on vegetarian items such as buttermilk fried sandwiches, sweet potato fries, okra, fried green tomatoes and collard greens. Vegan and gluten-free foods are also on the menu.
“Southern Nosh is gaining traction,” said Coleman. “We started Southern Nosh out of a sense of responsibility to the community. There are many diet related illnesses that plague our community and we thought if we could take the same soul food flavored profiles and seasoning and put them into a plant-based capacity, we could educate folks into eating a little differently as they explore many other options to eating meat.”
Coleman says people think if they eat like a vegan and vegetarian that would mean saying goodbye to soul food. “Many people have never heard the words vegetarian and vegan and soul food in the same sentence,” he said with a laugh. “ When you think of soul food, you think of lard, fatback, fried foods and the way Grandma used to cook. However, we are preparing a healthier brand of soul food by taking a lot of soul food staples and putting them in what we do at Southern Nosh, where it’s still 99 percent vegetarian.”
It was important for Southern Nosh to fill a void of limited eating opportunities for vegans and vegetarians in greater Detroit.
“We believe our flavor profile is perfect for vegetarian cuisine that will attract everyone,” said Coleman. “Many people who are not vegetarians simply want to reap the benefits of eating meatless meals, one or twice a week without sacrificing dinner with friends or great taste. Southern Nosh presents another dining option for a vegetarian, which is completely different than anything else currently available.”
Southern Nosh does offer a daily seafood special, but the rest of the food is 100 percent plant-based. The eatery is kosher certified.
Coleman knows about “certified” great tasting food. In addition to owning Southern Nosh, he is also the sole owner of Beans & Cornbread, located just five doors from his new restaurant. Now in its 16th year of serving award-winning Southern and soul food, Beans & Cornbread has become a destination restaurant that some have called the best soul food eatery in the region. Now, add Southern Nosh to the mix. “I’ve been a restaurateur for 16 years and prior to that I managed fine dining restaurants more than 10 years before embarking on Beans & Cornbread,” Coleman said. “I’m what you called a foodie…I love good food. Being a restaurateur is my calling in life.”
For more information on Detroit Vegan Soul, visit the restaurant’s website at www.detroitvegansoul.com or call 313.649.2759 For additional information on Southern Nosh Vegetarian Soul, visit www.southernnosh.com or call 248.352.1682.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 17:34
Category: Business - Original Written by Beverly Lochard and Glenda McGuire, State Farm® Agents
Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and can cause personal injury and property damage. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (1) Even with a hands-free device, multi-tasking while driving could have serious consequences.
You’ve seen it before: a vehicle near you is weaving in the traffic lane or traveling well below the speed limit. Chances are that driver is not focused on the road.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (2), there are three main types of distractions:
• Visual — taking your eyes off the road
• Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
• Cognitive — taking your mind off what you are doing
Distracted driving isn’t just about phone calls or text messages. Many activities that take your attention away from traffic can lead to accidents. Examples of distracted driving include:
• Adjusting a navigation system
• Retrieving a dropped item
• Talking on the phone
• Watching a video
Nearly half the U.S. states have restrictions against activities that cause distractions. Some states ban phone use in construction zones and school zones. Others place restrictions on novice drivers and operators of commercial vehicles, such as large trucks and school buses. Take the time to research the laws in your state and visit www.distraction.gov.
So, the next time you reach for the phone while driving, answer this question: Is this call important enough to risk hurting someone or can it wait?
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 October 2013 17:15
Category: Business - Original Written by Donald James
As Real Times Media prepares to unveil the seventh edition of "Who's Who in Black Detroit" on Friday, Oct. 18, DTE Energy is excited to serve as the first corporate sponsor to ever host a launch reception for the media company's annual publication. The event will be held at DTE's downtown Detroit headquarters, located at One Energy Square.
In addition to saluting the achievements of African-Americans across the many broad sectors of Detroit, the seventh edition will feature a special tribute to African-Americans in the region who are excelling in the arts and education.
"We are pleased and honored to open up our headquarters and facilities to host this wonderful event," said Joyce Hayes Giles, assistant to the chairman and senior vice president of public affairs for DTE Energy. "Over the years, 'Who's Who in Black Detroit' has had the great opportunity to highlight and spotlight the many achievements and accomplishments of African-Americans in our community, some of whom are unsung heroes. I don't know of another publication that highlights so many African-Americans and recognized them for the good they are doing."
Giles continued. "What I love is that 'Who's Who in Black Detroit' publications are used in local schools to give students, especially African-American students, the opportunity to see and read about careers, opportunities and African-Americans who can become role models. The book is such a great tool."
Giles knows a lot about role models. For more than three decades, she has served DTE Energy and the citizens of Detroit with honor and integrity. In addition to her current role as assistant to the chairman and senior vice president of public affairs for DTE, Giles chairs the DTE Energy Foundation and serves as the company's chief ethics officer and ombudsman for employee-related issues. Giles, who has a law degree from Wayne State University Law School, joined the company in a managerial capacity in 1978, when it was known as MichCon.
Real Times Media/"Who's Who in Black Detroit's" executive team is energized by DTE Energy's involvement.
"I would like to thank DTE Energy and Joyce Hayes Giles for believing in our mission and serving as our first corporate host," said Cathy Nedd, associate publisher of the seventh edition of "Who's Who in Black Detroit" and CEO of the Michigan Chronicle. "Over the years Joyce has been a personal mentor to me and has carved time out of her extremely busy schedule to share her wealth of knowledge and wisdom."
Hiram Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media, added. "I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank DTE Energy for agreeing to serve as corporate host for the unveiling of 'Who's Who in Black Detroit.' Without companies such as DTE and other advertisers and sponsors, we would be unable to continually share such inspirational and empowering stories of so many African-American women and men."
DTE is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide.
Real Time Media is a
Detroit-based company that owns and operates Who's Who Publishing Company in Columbus, Ohio. Who's Who Publishing Comapany, under the auspices of Real Times Media, prints and distributes publications that celebrate African-American achievements in more than 25 cities across the nation. The publications highlight successful Black people in business, education, entertainment/sports, the faith-based sectors, as well as civic and community contributors.
In addition, Real Times Media is the parent company responsible for publishing such historic Black newspapers as the Michigan Chronicle, Chicago Defender, New Pittsburg Courier, Atlanta Daily World, and the Tri-State Defender).
"The Michigan Chronicle has filled a significant and important niche in the African-American community," said Giles. "There is tremendous value in what it brings to the community. The Michigan Chronicle has provided DTE Energy with a great opportunity to reach our customers and the African-American community regarding issues that impact them. It's been an outstanding publication for many years and has always informed the community about the many kinds of programs that are available at DTE, as well as the other things that we are doing as a company."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 16:11
Category: Business - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Union leadership, by nature, is a concept whereby people look beyond themselves and their own wants and desires for something that is different and bigger than they are. Where selflessness and fighting for the greater good take center stage. Where lifting others up and realizing the infinite possibilities of a unified front become hallmark traits.
Not coincidentally, these are all characteristics that describe Kevin Tolbert. He is the union head at the UAW-Ford National Programs Center (NPC) in downtown Detroit. The 40-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise within the UAW ranks. And Tolbert’s ascension to his current post — executive director of the NPC and administrative assistant to UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles — is historic in that he is the youngest to ever hold that position. In this role, Tolbert manages an annual budget in excess of $50 million while overseeing a staff of more than 100. Together, his team administers programs to 46,000 UAW members working at Ford facilities throughout the country.
“My primary responsibility is to ensure our UAW members in the plants are getting the biggest bang for their buck from our programs,” he said. “There’s nothing more important than that.” Those programs include Health & Safety, Employee Support Services, Education, Diversity and others — each with a chief focus of ensuring UAW-represented Ford workers are fully equipped to function in the restructured, high-performing workplaces of today.
Tolbert’s ascent to leading the UAW-Ford National Programs Center is not happenstance, but rather the culmination of a life lived with a mindset of always striving for excellence and doing what’s right by others. He first joined the union in 1994 when he began working at the Dearborn Engine & Fuel Tank Plant at Ford’s Rouge Complex. His first job entailed lifting 40 pound fuel tanks and placing them onto a rack nearby. Such a physically demanding job nearly prompted the intellectually discerning Tolbert to quit. “That was some tough work,” he said with a chuckle, “but I hung in there as best I could.” Tolbert, who started kindergarten a year early, was double promoted and ultimately graduated from Cass Tech at 16, had more of an interest in displaying his brainpower than his brawn.
He became devoted to trying to figure out ways that he and his coworkers could perform their tasks more efficiently, so Tolbert became a team meeting facilitator in his area of the plant. He felt it was necessary to develop written work rules, job descriptions, job rotation schedules and other strategies in an effort to create a more productive team. His efforts were so well received that the entire plant soon adopted his idea.
Tolbert also began performing tasks for the Ford Communication Network, the in-plant video messaging system. The departure from the initial grunt work provided an outlet for Tolbert to add more to his skill set than just brute strength. “I was able to use my skills and my knowledge in a way that benefited everybody,” he said. “To be able to do that and help people at the same time was really rewarding.”
Having established himself as a person who can get things done, Tolbert was picked to help launch the Technical Training Center in the plant. Its successful unveiling caught the eye of then-UAW Regional Director Jimmy Settles. Tolbert followed that up with a strategy to help inform UAW members about the 2002 gubernatorial race in Michigan. He developed fliers, a web site and produced a video, all in an effort to ensure the membership was well educated about the candidates.
“I showed that material to Jimmy,” he said. “He told me that he was impressed and that was something he would like to do more of for our members.” Settles soon offered Tolbert a role at his Region 1A office, the largest region in the UAW. Even though it was a temporary assignment and came with no long-term guarantees, Tolbert joined the region in 2003 as an assistant in the community action program. When Settles was appointed vice president and director of the UAW Ford Department in 2006, he brought Tolbert along, making the young, fierce union advocate a UAW international representative.
Now with a more permanent position in the union, Tolbert was poised to fight for all the tenets on which the UAW was founded. “Jimmy shared with me that he didn’t want me to be a regular union rep,” Tolbert said, a married father of three sons. “He wanted me to be a throwback. To be active in the community, active in politics, and just be an overall leader. He was very adamant about that.”
Tolbert put those leadership skills to the test when in 2011, as assistant director of the UAW’s insurance department, he led labor negotiations for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Health Alliance Plan. “It was a challenge, and there were times when I wondered if I was doing the right thing, but we stuck with it and got it done.”
Once appointed to his current position in July 2013 by Vice President Settles, Tolbert continued his drive of ensuring UAW-represented Ford workers receive the service they deserve from the union’s international staff. One focus was attempting to shore up communication efforts to the members. “We launched our digital department in 2011 as a way to share with our members all the things that we’re doing. In 2013, we launched our UAW-Ford Community magazine as a tool to talk about some of the community projects our members are involved in.”
Tolbert cares about the UAW with a studious passion. His fidelity to its principles, its values and its historic relevance makes fighting on behalf of union members an easy choice. It also makes working 12-hour days par for the course. But there are no complaints from Tolbert — just a continuance of providing dedicated service to UAW members around the country with a especially strong sense of purpose.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 October 2013 17:13
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