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JEFFREY G. COLLINS
Deputy Chief Executive Wayne County, Michigan
By Donald James
With some of most impressive educational and professional credentials that any attorney can have, Jeffrey G. Collins could live and work any place in America; yet he chooses to live and work in Detroit, serving the city and county where he was born and raised. These days, Collins serves as deputy chief executive officer for Wayne County, the 15th largest county in America. Appointed by County Executive Robert A. Ficano in November, 2011, Collins oversees all operations of the executive branch, while administering an annual budget of almost $2 billion. In addition, he oversees all county departments, comprised of approximately 3,000 county employees.
Appointed during a time when Wayne County was experiencing internal woes, punctuated by constant news stories that were rapidly eroding public trust, Collins brought with him a history of accomplishment amid integrity. He remembers the day last year when he received the call from Ficano. "The phone call was unsolicited," Collins explains. "However, being asked to become Wayne County's deputy chief executive officer ranks right up there in terms of professional accomplishments. I knew the position would be a challenge...but a challenge that I wanted to take on in order to help ensure that we restore public trust, have honest government, and deliver needed services to the people of Wayne County."
Prior to his county appointment, Collins had already amassed an impressive professional body of work since graduating from Northwestern University (1981) and Howard University School of Law (1984). He began his legal career with the famed law firm of Bell & Hudson, P.C. before accepting an appointment as a judge of Detroit Recorder's Courts. He subsequently was named by the Michigan Supreme Court as presiding judge of the criminal division of Wayne County Circuit Court. He was also appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Continuing his professional advancement, Collins served as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. He was appointed by President George W. Bush. Taking office soon after the horrific events of 911 in 2001, Collins established a ground-breaking initiative called B.R.I.D.G.E.S. (Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity). "The demographics in our district were such that it had the highest number people of middle-eastern decent in the country," says Collins, who chaired the organization that became a standard for the nation. "Tensions were very high. Through B.R.I.D.G.E.S., all federal law agencies and groups worked hand-in-hand with community groups from middle-eastern communities to address critical issues such as profiling."
Following a return to the private sector, Collins, in partnership with his wife, Lois, established the law firm of Collins & Collins in Detroit in 2008. The firm specializes in white-collar criminal, contract litigation and probate legal issues of clients throughout the country. Collins continued to work with the firm until he joined Wayne County as deputy executive director.
When asked about Wayne County's most pressing needs, Collins quickly responds, "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs... because we have to make sure that people have jobs so that they can have the quality of life that they should have and enjoy, says Collins. "If we are able to establish a solid economic foundation with jobs, all of the other issues like improving public safety and education will greatly improve because of a stronger economic base."
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