Category: Who's Who In Black Detroit Written by Mario Williams
Journalist Fox 2 News
A CAREER IN JOURNALISM
By Kellie Walker
When it is all said and done, Al Allen will be regarded as a genuine voice of the community who tells a story without compromise and asks the questions that people in the community want answered. Fueled by his passion to be active in the world of broadcast journalism, Allen, in the 60s, began establishing his career and working toward building a foundation of success.
With a strong belief that education is where his foundation would begin, Allen studied at the Detroit College of Business and received an associate degree in business administration; he went on to study journalism at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he received a bachelor's degree. He began his broadcasting career as a news director at KOKY radio in Little Rock, Arkansas. Ultimately, he moved backed to Detroit where he worked as a reporter and news director at WCXI-AM and WGPR-FM, and as news and public affairs director at WJLB-FM. In March of 1984, Allen began reporting for WJBK Fox 2 News and even after 28 years of service, he is still motivated by reporting breaking news stories. He says, "The adrenaline is still flowing."
Allen is consistent in taking a genuine approach in all that he does which has had significant impact on who he is as a reporter. He has seen the scope of media change over the course of his career; however, he has exhibited an unwavering devotion to sincerely reporting stories that are meaningful, informative and useful in guiding the Detroit community in the right direction. He prides himself with being able to use limited information to pull together a story that is relatable, interesting and news worthy. Allen explains, "You control the story, don't let the story control you."
Allen has diligently worked to build credibility as a journalist; he makes it a priority to be visible in the community by fulfilling requests to speak at engagements, being in attendance at community events, and making himself available for the people in Metro Detroit. "I am lucky to have been able to remain and work in the same community for all these years. With broadcast journalism, you become a member of the families of the people in the community and I thank God that I have been able to do this job and do it well," says Allen.
He has received recognition on both local and national levels for his work and dedication to the industry, which includes awards from United Press International, the Associated Press and the National Association of Black Journalists. He also received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his work on a documentary that examines the issues surrounding black-on-black crime in Detroit. Crime by Color, Black on Black investigated issues that influence an increase in crime rates in the black community inclusive of alcoholism, economic hardship, the lack of social education, the disparity between job availability for blacks versus other groups, and general trials and tribulations experienced by people of color.
Like most people, Allen does experience a minimal amount of regret about some decisions he's made, namely, turning down a position with NBC that would have provided him national exposure or possibly led to him becoming a network correspondent; but make no mistake, he is completely satisfied in knowing that his work with Fox 2 News has resulted in developed abilities and strong character. Journalism has been Allen's beginning, middle and will undoubtedly be his end. Allen uses the words of a colleague as incentive to continue reporting, "Your only as good as your last newscast and your last newscast wasn't that good!"
Chief Operating Officer Ignite Social Media
THE COO WITH THE
By Tamekia Ashford
She will roll up her sleeves with the best of them; from flying to meetings in New York or North Carolina to servicing clients and
even helping with kitchen duty at the office, Deidre Lambert-Bounds has got the personal touch and has a pretty good handle on the balancing act - even if she says it is always a little off.
Bounds wears many hats of significance; she tackles the duties of being a wife and mom, sister and aunt, a grandmother, and friend and advisor in addition to serving as the chief operating officer (COO) of Ignite Social Media, the original social media agency that was named as one of the World's Top Social Media Marketing Firms for 2011. "I believe I'm a pretty good leader, says Bounds. "I've never asked someone to do something that I haven't done or wouldn't do."
As with any success story, Bounds' success did not happen overnight; it took time. She was trying to figure out what to do with her life. Her plans were to become a teacher, but at the age of 24 she got the opportunity to work with Brogan and Partners, a full-service advertising agency. Marci Brogan, Brogan and Partner's distinctive chief executive officer saw potential in Bounds. "It starts with an opportunity," says Bounds. "Someone gave me an opportunity and took a chance on me and thank God I was mature enough to recognize and embrace it. Throughout my career I always had someone saying, you can do it."
For the next 18 years, she would gain a life-time of experiences and travel over a significant path, which included stints in key agency positions like client service, digital, media and public relations. She also learned firsthand how to manage and run a business, how to be an effective leader and the importance of working as part of a team.
Bounds followed in her mentor's, Marcie Brogan, footsteps; worked her way up and became managing partner of Brogan and Partners. In 2010 Bounds transitioned from Brogan and Partners and went to Ignite Social Media, the sister company to Brogan. The owners of Ignite, Jim Tobin, president and Marci Brogan, chief financial officer, tapped Bounds to head up the team. Her expertise and knowledge of the business served as good fit. "It was an easy transition for me because I knew the players, trusted the players and respected the players. I believe my business partners are some of the smartest people. I'm still learning from them and very excited to learn how to manage 100- plus people."
As with anything that requires balance and/or the ability to prioritize, Bounds recognizes the importance of reflecting and reviewing those aha moments. She is the youngest of seven children; her oldest sister was diagnosed with cancer and even while facing chemo and feeling sick, never lost a sense of humor. Her sister taught her what it means to truly live in the moment. "I've learned that I'm more resilient than I ever thought I was; my sister surviving cancer and my mom dying when I was very young made me put everything into perspective."
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."
DR. JOHN WILLIAM COVINGTON
Chancellor Education Achievement Authority of Michigan
PASSION FOR EDUCATION
By Melody Moore
Dr. John William Covington, chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA), is committed to assuring
that all students receive a quality education. "We must change the paradigm of how we deliver educational programs to students," said Covington. "We believe that low student achievement – not only in the persistently lowest achieving schools in Detroit but around the country – is primarily because our country maintains a system of public schools that we should have abandoned long ago." Covington said the traditional "one-size-fits-all" format does not meet the needs of individual students and does not meet the educational challenges that must be addressed.
"In the EAA students do not progress through school based on the amount of time that they sit in a seat, but rather based on the mastery of skills that they need to move to the next level," he said. "If we have a child that can get it done in six months, they immediately move to the next instructional level. But, if that child needs 12 months, then they can take that time before they move to the next instructional level."
Global competition is also a key focus for Covington, who says, "If we say we want our children to compete with our international counterparts, one mechanism is to assure they are educated for the same amount of time. That is why we increased our school days from Michigan's traditional 170 days to 210."
Covington, a native of Alabama, has three siblings and grew up in poverty, but his saving grace, he said, was having a parent who believed in education. "I have wanted to be a teacher since eighth grade," he said. "When I graduated from college it took me six years to break into the education system but I knew I eventually would become a teacher. While I was waiting for a teaching job, I took a job as a prison guard, which gave me an opportunity to see up close how our educational system was failing so many young men with enormous potential."
Covington holds a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, AA Certification (for administrative leadership) and Education Specialist (EdS) degrees from Troy University. He also holds a second AA Certification and Ed.D degree from Auburn University. This year Covington completed a second doctoral degree – a Ph.D in transformational leadership and urban policy at the University of Missouri.
Prior to being appointed chancellor of the new EAA system of schools in 2011, Covington worked to reform educational systems in Alabama, Colorado and Kansas City, Missouri. In Kansas City, Covington instituted major reforms that not only kept the district from bankruptcy; it posted a balanced budget while increasing student performance on state exams by the largest rate in state history.
Earlier he achieved similar results in Alabama, where he transformed the Lowndes County Public Schools to assure that every school in the district met the Adequate Yearly Progress requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Covington has passed his love of education on to his children, Melvin, David and Simone. The married father of three has two children who work in education. His wife Wilanie is also a principal. David and his wife Marie have given Covington two granddaughters, Hunter and Hayden.
Diversity Media Manager General Motors Company
DRIVEN TO SUCCEED
By Kellie Walker
In an automotive industry with a reputation for being dominated by middle-aged white males, Brooke Ellis, a young African-American woman is leaving a meaningful impression with her work as the diversity media & multicultural manager for General Motors (GM) Company. Ellis is responsible for delivering consistent messaging for GM's brands including Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC, by connecting with diverse populations. Her most critical role is to ensure that the organization builds strong relationships with the right media partners, and external organization in an effort to effectively communicate GM's message.
Dan Akerson, General Motor's chief executive officer states that, "In today's multicultural, interconnected marketplace, we believe a diverse workforce helps us design, build and sell vehicles that best meet the needs of unique customers around the globe." Ellis has been able to bring a confident and fresh perspective to create media strategies, and along with the team, identify opportunities that specifically target multicultural consumers from the African-American, Hispanic and LGBT communities. "The real key to success in this field is having an understanding of our consumers," Ellis says.
In order to juggle overseeing multi-platform consumer media plans for the multicultural market while managing minority-owned media-vendor relationships, Ellis has to view concepts through a creative lens. She realizes that at 30, she will face some challenges establishing credibility and having her voice be heard; however, Ellis is committed to finding balance and impacting change. She is fortunate to have leadership that believes in her abilities and allows her to present ideas and follow through. Ellis had a part in implementing the Minority Media Summit, where she brought in vendors and VPs from all across the U.S. to look at GM's brands which generated business opportunities and increased spending with several key minority groups. She says, "the biggest thing is defining my purpose..., I think I've had an opportunity to be creative and I have an understanding of what my ultimate goal is."
Ellis, who was born and raised in Detroit, feels a special connection to the community and the automotive industry. She identifies her role in the community, where she is active in a variety of community organizations, and her work with GM as being a significant part of who she is. She studied marketing at Hampton University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and also completed two graduate fellowship studies at UCLA and University of Pennsylvania and subsequently moved back to her hometown.
By executing her plan to gain understanding of the markets she serves, identifying individuals that would be instrumental in helping meet her goals and being prepared to communicate her purpose, Ellis has been able to bring her ideas to fruition and haveinfluenceoverthestrategiesthatGMapplies to meet organizational goals and objectives as it applies to diversity.
They say, "age ain't nothin' but a number," and Ellis is a definitely a young woman who, despite her age, has demonstrated her leadership abilities and is gaining reverence for her work in an evolving automotive industry.
BEVERLY ANN HARRIS GRAY, ED.D.
President, Detroit Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
By Donald James
Connecting, uplifting and inspiring are just three simple words. However, under the leadership Dr. Beverly Ann Harris Gray, president of the Detroit Alumnae Chapter (DAC) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., these three words are representative of a powerful theme that continues to propel DAC to excellence. Serving as the chapter's 38th president since June, 2011, Gray has provided productive leadership to DAC, one of Delta's largest chapters with approximately 750 members. She has also been proactive in implementing the Delta's Five-Point Programmatic Thrust, a platform of missions that all Delta chapters are charged to carry out. The Five-Points are Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement.
Gray speaks with excitement about several community services projects that DAC carries out, such as Delta Manor, a 100-unit apartment building for seniors on Detroit's eastside. DAC has owned and operated Delta Manor for almost 25 years. "We are really proud of Delta Manor," says Gray. "We are proud to get the opportunity to interact and provide so many services to the senior residents... that is what being a Delta is about: sisterhood and providing community services."
DAC, according to Gray, is also looking forward to the fall of 2013 when it plans to open a charter school called Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy. While her term as president will have expired when the school opens, Gray says that she will continue to be involved in the educational endeavors of the school.
Gray's advice in educational matters will be well received, because prior to her leadership role with DAC she had invested more than three-decades of her life to Detroit Public Schools (DPS). Now retired, she served in such capacities as deputy superintendent, associate superintendent - human resources, executive director - division of learning and educational accountability. Perhaps her most memorable experience with DPS was service rendered as the principal of Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School for eight years. She began her career with DPS as a biology and chemistry teacher. Other educational experiences have included serving as an adjunct professor at Wayne State University's College of Education.
In preparation for a professional career in education, Gray earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Eastern Michigan University (EMU), where she pledged Delta. After graduation, she earned a series of advanced degrees from Wayne State University: a M.Ed. in science education, an Ed.S. in general administration supervision, and an Ed.D. in general administration and supervision.
After a remarkable 37-year-career in education, Gray retired in 2008...but is busier than ever as DAC's president. She is readying the local chapter for participation in the Delta's 100-year national anniversary celebration on January 13, 2013 in Washington, D.C., where the sorority was founded. In commemoration of the storied milestone of the country's largest African-American sorority, the Greek organization will be represented in the Rose Bowl Parade on January 1, 2013. In addition, Gray said an Olympic-style torch will be carried through 22 cities across America, representing Delta's 22 founders. "We are blessed that Detroit was selected as one of the cities that the torch will come through," says Gray. "The torch will come through Detroit on April 6, 2013...and we are just ecstatic."
President & Chief Executive Officer Global Hospitality
ROAD TO RECOVERY
By Melody Moore
Growing up in Chicago's Cabrini-Green Housing Project, LaVan Hawkins was surrounded by crime, got involved in gangs and started using drugs. But he straightened up. Hawkins has operated several companies in the restaurant industry - Urban City Foods and the Hawkins Food Group, which operated several fast food chains including Pizza Hut, Checkers (formerly known as Rally's), Burger King and the upscale establishment, Sweet Georgia Brown.
Among his portfolio, Hawkins owned fast food chains in several states across the country, generating more than $100 million annually. However, Hawkins sold his 28 Burger King locations after a court settlement. After many challenges and setbacks, Hawkins has rebounded and opened a new restaurant in downtown Detroit's Greektown, "Detroit's Cheesecake Bistro." Established as an upscale, affordable dining location, Hawkins and his partner are aiming to corner a market of eateries. Opening in the same venue as the former restaurant, Sweet Georgia Brown, the menu includes lunch items ranging from $7.99 and higher.
As a teenager, Hawkins' father died and he dropped out of high school to care for his mother. Soon, he would be introduced to the restaurant and hospitality industry – where he would spend more than 30 years of his career. Starting as a janitor in a downtown Chicago McDonald's, he later became the owner and operator of a more than $200-million business. Hawkins has faced a number of barriers in the process. In 2005 he was faced with several charges in connection with the Philadelphia City government.
Despite his life's roadblocks, Hawkins said he is determined to rise. "What I went through humbled me," Hawkins said. "It polished me, groomed me and humbled me. You can be so successful that you think you belong to the untouchables club and I ended up spending 18 months in a federal prison."
Under the Global Hospitality Group, Hawkins is revamping his restaurant prowess. After the opening of Detroit's Cheesecake Bistro, Hawkins said plans are to open at least ten more restaurants within one year. Hawkins said his business acumen is attributed to the lessons he has learned in life. "You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate," he said. "It was a great lesson, it took time to prune me and now I am coming out more excited and more committed than before."
Plans are to leave a legacy and impact on Detroit. Before the opening of his new restaurant, Hawkins plans to donate and serve nearly 5,000 people – including city workers, public officials, teachers, students and homeless people. This initiative, he said, is a way to make an investment and thank Metro Detroiters for their continued support.
"Your business is only successful when you have support from people," Hawkins said. "I want to leave a lasting impact on Detroit, that I contributed to the economy through jobs and by helping others."
DARNELL D. JACKSON
Senior Vice President Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Managing Partner of the Jackson Group
ADVISING IN A
CULTURE Of WEALTH
By Donald James
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The true measure of a man is not determined during times of comfort and convenience, but
rather during times of conflict and controversy." For Darnell D. Jackson, senior vice president for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and managing partner of The Jackson Group (TJG), King's iconic words still resonates with truth.
While the past decade in financial services has been punctuated by unprecedented volatility and uncertainty, Jackson's steady leadership of The Jackson Group has been remarkable. He explains that The Jackson Group, which began in 1993, specializes in marketing tax-exempt municipal bonds and corporate finance debt, public retirement plans, construction of customized defined benefit plans, and retirement plan asset management.
The majority of The Jackson Group's clients are corporate executives, entertainers and some of the nation's most successful entrepreneurs. TJG also renders financial advice to non-profits, foundations, and endowment and estate entities. "TJG is a steadfast, trusted,andplanning-basedteamofprofessionals," says Jackson. "We manage to attract a client base that reflects the essence of who we are...and as professionals, we are driven by delivering service and financialsolutioninthetoughestofeconomictime."
Since its inception, The Jackson Group has been responsible for more than $9.5 billion of public and numerous corporate finance projects in southeast Michigan, inclusive of the Ford Field (Home of the NFL Detroit Lions) and the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne Country Airport (DTW). Jackson has been the advisor of record to some of the nation's largest pension and retirement plans.
Throughout his professional career, Jackson has received numerous awards; including the 2012 Five Star Wealth Manager Award, the National Association of Securities Professionals Measure of Excellence Award and the 2012 T.LA.B. Diversity Award. He also serves on the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Diversity Council, and is a member of the Consulting Group's Advisory Development Initiative and Business Owners Advisory Council.
A native of Detroit, Jackson began his career in financial services at Manufacturer's National Bank, which later became Comerica Bank. After working as a banker for five years, his career focus shifted to financial services and he joined Merrill Lynch, where he spent more than 25 years prior to joining Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in March, 2009.
To prepare for his amazing career, Jackson attended the University of Michigan where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics. He did post graduate studies at the University of Detroit. In addition, he completed the Wharton School of Business Executive Training Program.
In addition to having a strong educational foundation and a prosperous career, Jackson is happily married. He and his wife, Collette, have been married for 32 years and have two daughters: Kristian, a graduate of Florida A&M University and Kelly, who currently attends FAMU.
Additionally, Jackson cherishes every opportunity to help empower children. "Many people say that the children are our future...if so, we should invest in them," says Jackson. "We should educate them and create in them a moral fiber that is so strong that they can't go wrong. The Financial Literacy Program at the Plymouth Educational Center in partnership with the African American Museum aims to do just that. It is on this foundation that The Jackson Group is motivated."
President and Chief Executive Officer Prestige Automotive Group and Jackson Automotive Management
World-Class Hard Worker
By Damon Autry
It is one thing to have tremendous business acumen and quite another to discipline it, master it and apply it with great skill within the confines of the business universe. That takes keen intellect, razor-sharp focus and a deep and abiding desire to succeed. Simply put, there aren't many things more impressive than a great business mind that's fused with a passion to be the best. This narrative is the Cliffs Notes version of Gregory Jackson, president and chief executive officer of Prestige Automotive Group and Jackson Automotive Management. The full version is displayed everyday as he leads one of the most successful African American-owned car dealership franchises in the country.
Jackson's success is not happenstance. It's the culmination of wanting the most out of life and doing the things necessary to attain it. "I've always had a strong desire to be more than the world said I could be," the Detroit native says. Growing up in a rugged neighborhood on the city's west side near Linwood Ave. and Joy Rd., Jackson had a paper route for seven years. He'd read the newspaper every day from cover to cover, learning about Detroit-area business moguls Al Taubman, Max Fisher and others. "Reading about them gave me an appreciation and a greater understanding that there was something bigger in the world than Linwood."
Jackson found big things indeed. After working in corporate America for several years, Jackson realized he wasn't quite cut out for it. He concluded that being an entrepreneur was his only option to achieving the kind of success he envisioned. While in the midst of searching for that one entrepreneurial opportunity, Jackson owned and operated a gourmet
cookie business; a small accounting firm and he invested in real estate. It wasn't until he entered General Motors' Minority Dealer Training Program that he found his niche. After completing the program in 1989, he worked at several dealerships in various capacities while at the same time searching for a dealership to buy.
In September of 1993, he purchased Prestige Pontiac-Oldsmobile in Mount Morris, Michigan. The organization grew from there, becoming one of the most successful African American- owned businesses in the country. When Prestige Automotive Group grossed $1.67 billion in sales in 2005, Jackson became the first African American to lead an auto dealership group with more than $1 billion in annual sales. His organization then became one of only three African American-owned companies to have reached yearly sales of $1 billion or more. Jackson has owned a total of 18 dealerships but has sold all but three: Mercedes-Benz of St. Clair Shores, Toyota of Warren and Courtesy Ford of Okemos. He is also one of only four African Americans in the country to own a Mercedes-Benz dealership.
Jackson says there's no magic wand or secret to his success; just good old-fashioned hard work. "I may or may not be the smartest person in the room, but very few people will outwork me. So when others are asleep, I'll be up getting the job done."
The married father of two earned an accounting degree from Morris Brown College and a master's degree in finance and marketing from Atlanta University's Graduate School of Business.
LOUIS E. JAMES
President & Chief Executive Officer Solutions for Energy Efficient Logistics (SEEL) JASCO International, JATDCO, QIC
A Super Entreprenuer
By Donald James
In the ever-changing world of business, there are entrepreneurs...and there are "super entrepreneurs." Louis E. James is the latter. For more than three decades, James has masterfully owned and operated an array of companies that primarily service the automotive industry, and more recently, the energy industry. With vast knowledge in such areas as operations, sales, marketing, mergers and acquisitions, he has become one of the nation's most savvy, innovative, and successful "ultra entrepreneurs" - black or white.
One of James' latest business ventures is Solutions for Energy Efficient Logistics (SEEL). Since its inception in 2009, SEEL, an energy program management company, has raised national eyebrows so much that the company received the coveted "Andromeda Star of Energy Award" for outstanding work in energy conservation. With James at the helm, SEEL is one of the first and largest companies of its type in the nation that's owned and operated by an African American.
In addition to SEEL, James owns and operates JASCO International, a progressive chain management solutions company; JATDCO, a precision stamping, assembly and inventory management company; QIC, a business that provides quality containment, sorting, inspection and engineering service; and JAMCAM, a maintenance repair and operations company. Ever the visionary entrepreneur, James also heads a few non-automotive and energy ventures, such as an 8,000-goat farm in his home state of Mississippi. "When I look for opportunities, there are always experts and subject matter experts out there," he explains. "I run companies, so I go out and find the best people in their areas of expertise and help develop and train them to become great operators for my companies."
In addition to overseeing his various business interests, James also serves as chairman of the powerful Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority. In this capacity, he promotes Detroit as a freight transportation and distribution hub for the Midwest sector of the United States, as well as for southwestern Ontario (Canada) businesses. Before his appointment, he served as vice-chair (four years) and on the Port's board of directors (eight years). "Detroit was founded as a port," says James. "We want to take it back to its proper place in the global industry as being a great port that will play a pivotal role in the resurgence of Detroit. We are also looking for ways to develop the entire riverfront."
James' quest to do well in business can be traced to his hometown of Starkville, Mississippi, where growing up, he and his siblings were encouraged to seek education as a passport to success. With business on his mind, he entered Mississippi Valley State University to prepare for the future. After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration, he joined the United States Army and served in Vietnam. Following an honorable discharge, he moved to Chicago before coming to Detroit...and as they say, the rest is history.
While success in business is a huge part of the Louis E. James' story; it's not the entire story. Family helps define who he is. He is married to Pamela James, Ph.D. The couple has two adult daughters and two grandchildren.
Director Wayne County Department of Health and Human Services
PASSION FOR HEALTH EQUITY
By Melody Moore
The fifth of 13 children, Killins saw her mother as a consumer of mental health services. Due to those challenges, the Detroit native and her 12 other siblings were raised by her aunt. As director of the Wayne County Department of Health and Human Services, Killins is now able to help others who are in similar situations by establishing a structure for services for Wayne County families and businesses.
"My biological mother was a mental health consumer, so being the director of the 13th largest county's health department gives me an opportunity to share my passion with people." Part of the reason why I am here is because I had a strong aunt who took in her nieces and nephews," said Killins. But during those trying times, Killins learned valuable life lessons including how to advocate for yourself, sharing with others, not being bullied, customer service, teambuilding and democracy. "In a family that large you learn a lot of life lessons. I learned early on in life that you can't allow people to take advantage without finding out what you can do and not getting help for what you can't do."
Killins oversees the county's largest department, which operates at $700 million and includes eight divisions. These divisions are the county's Public Health, Mental Health, Patient Care Management System, Wayne County Head Start, Jail Health Services, Medical Examiner's Office, Wayne County Library, Wayne County HIPAA Compliance and Wayne County Health Choice.
In 2003 Killins joined the department as deputy director and was promoted to director in 2006. Under her leadership, she has focused on streamlining services and providing innovative ways of reaching their consumers. "We are looking into more evolution as the economy changes so should the way we deliver services. We have included a one- stop shop, so if a consumer enters the mental health department, we will also inform them of public health services or other services they need."
She has also worked for the State of Michigan for 23 years. The Detroit Public School graduate holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Master of Business Administration degree in health care management from Oakland University. Community service is very important to Killins, for the past three years, she has served as president of the Friends of Osborn Alumni Association, where high school seniors were awarded scholarships to provide them access to many opportunities. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Personally, Killins plans to teach courses in human services or access to healthcare and to spend more time in her church, Detroit Love Tabernacle Church of God in Christ. "I enjoy people and I understand what health services they need. I am always interested in learning about resources so when I meet people I am able to share those resources with them and I can talk about work 24 hours a day."
As a proud mother, Killins' 26-year-old son will be attending law school in the fall, which is a dream she has always wanted to pursue. Killins said her life's inspiration is from a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane." She made a career of pursuing a passion – helping others obtain access to healthcare so equality can exist.
Solomon W. Kinloch Jr.
Pastor Triumph Church
MAN ON A MISSION
By Ju'an Henderson
At the tender age of 12, Solomon W. Kinloch Jr. knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, his calling was real. He felt it deep down inside. "It was like I was already there, on the pulpit, preaching to a church with thousands of people," Kinloch says of his experience that confirmed his calling; "except I wasn't, I was actually walking home from school; and by the time I got to my house, I felt inside like I had preached an entire sermon, I knew I had been called to the ministry." Accepting his calling two years later, at the age of 14; when most young men his age were focused on making the high school football team, Kinloch was preparing to deliver his first sermon. Realizing his oratorical ability at a very early age and possessing the desire to help and encourage others, Kinloch had already begun grooming for his life's purpose and now he was ready.
On Sunday, March 22, 1998, ten years after Kinloch preached his first sermon, he became the pastor of the 100-member Triumph Church. Even though he was only 24 years old, Kinloch embraced his appointment to leadership and says he felt blessed to have a congregation who was ready and receptive to the ministry in a new and relevant way. "I was called to lead a group of people who were ready to do something grand and great for God," says Kinloch.
Since Kinloch has become pastor of Triumph Church, membership has grown from 100 to more than 15,000 and has gone from one service at one location, to 10 services in five different locations. Kinloch explains the purpose of having multiple solomon w. kinloch jr. Pastor Triumph Church locations is to maintain the intimacy of the church service and it also allows people to worship and serve where they live. Under Kinloch's pastoral leadership he says Triumph has transitioned from a traditional ministry to a ministry that is more receptive to change. Kinloch states, "You can't get a better Jesus, but you can get a better presentation of how you present Him to the community." Kinloch strives to preach and teach in a way that encourages people to take a deeper look at themselves in such a way that they become catalysts to promote change in their community. He is a firm believer that we all should do something that allows us to leave our fingerprints on the wall of life.
When asked who has inspired him, Kinloch emphatically says, "Jesus first!" he continues "and Martin Luther King Jr., he has mentored me with his writings and his life works from the grave. My pastor, Robert Smith; former school teachers Clara Crowell and Mary Lou Sutton; and President Barack Obama." The congregation at Triumph believes in the leadership they have found in Kinloch, but Kinloch declares, "great leadership is nothing without great followship." Passionate about preaching the gospel, Kinloch became a young man on a mission when he made a decision at 14 years old, "I'm not gonna die without taking as many people as I can, to heaven with me." Twenty-five years later, he continues to work fervently to win souls to Christ; proving he is still that man on a mission. Kinloch is married to the love of his life, Robin Kinloch and they share one son, Kadin.
President & Chief Executive Officer The Children's Center of Wayne County
SHARING A HEART OF COMPASSION
By Alicia C. Dunlap
As president and chief executive officer for The Children's Center of Wayne County, Debora Matthews is fulfilling what she describes as her life's purpose; helping others. "My personal mission in life has been to make sure others are successful," says Matthews. "My own success means nothing if I can't help others along the way."
Matthews leverages more than 30 years of management and finance experience to fulfill The Children's Center mission of helping children and families shape their own futures. Born to a teenage mother herself and raised primarily by her grandmother, Matthews learned early just how challenging life can be. Those experiences formed the foundational cornerstone that guides her compassionate leadership today.
"I had a rocky childhood growing up, but I always had people in my life who were strong and rescued me. Because of the love and compassion that was shown to me, I was able to excel. Now I have the chance to be the strong one for others. I am called to give back."
While the road of service has always been the path Matthews has taken, the area of social services was not her first career choice. Good in the area of math, Matthews initially desired to be a teacher, later a CPA. As she grew in her career experiences, she could not shake the burning desire to go into the field of social work. Her experience working with non-profits and charitable organizations intensified her desire and calling to make a difference for others.
Having the opportunity to work in both public and private sectors, Matthews knows there is a strategic plan for success in business and in life. Matthews is determined to share her gifts and expertise for the strength of children, families and ultimately our community. Her efforts do not stem from a place of judgment, but rather a place of compassion to see others succeed.
In addition to empowering organizations and individuals in the areas of leadership and financial stability, Matthews is passionate about helping children in abusive and neglected situations. Carrying a special love for single mothers, she works diligently to advocate, provide support and connect families with resources that will ensure a better quality of life. Debora is recognized nationally for her vision and commitment on issues of cultural competency, diversity and child welfare. Through such methods as hands on mentoring, practical coaching and round table discussions, Matthews is touching the lives of people with compassion.
Committed to service, Matthews serves as a board member for Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc., board chair; Michigan Federation of Children's and Families, treasurer; Association of Accredited Child and Family Agencies and the Autism Alliance of Michigan.
Patrick A. Miles Jr.
U.S. Attorney, Western District of Michigan Grand Rapids, Michigan
MILES OF MILESTONES
By Donald James
For most of his academic life and professional career, Patrick A. Miles Jr. has made historic strides worthy of amazement. His latest historic accomplishment occurred on July 9, 2012 when he became U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan in his hometown of Grand Rapids. Nominated by President Barack Obama, Miles is the first African-American to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, which is comprised of 49 counties in Michigan. He oversees an office of 35 attorneys and 40 other members of a legal and supporting staff.
Miles on his key responsibilities: "As U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, I am the chief federal law enforcement officer," explains Miles. "My office handles all of the federal criminal prosecutions in the district. We also handle civil law cases where the federal government is either a defendant being sued, or is a plaintiff suing. In addition, we handle some criminal cases on the 11 federal recognized Native American tribal territories."
On his nomination: "I was honored and humbled," says Miles. "To serve in my hometown of Grand Rapids, where I am a third generation resident, is a dream come true."
A product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, Miles was just 16 years old when he graduated from Ottawa Hills High School. He wanted to be a minister, and even attended Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing. He ultimately transferred to Aquinas College where he earned a bachelor's degree in business and economics. "I realized that I would be better off doing something more on the legal and business side," Miles reflects. "So I decided to pursue a career in law." Miles' next educational achievement was graduating from Harvard Law School at age 23. At Harvard, he made history by becoming the first African- American to serve as editor-in-chief of the student's newspaper, the Harvard Law Record.
With an impressive academic profile from Harvard, Miles could have written his own ticket to most high- profile law firms across America; yet he returned to Grand Rapids where he joined the law firm of Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlett, becoming the firm's first African-American associate in its110 year history. Miles ultimately became a partner. After a 15-year stay with the law firm, Miles joined the Grand Rapids-based Dickinson Wright as a partner. "My decision to return to Grand Rapids probably confounded many people," says Miles, with a laugh. "However, I love this community... and its people are very open and trustworthy. I just felt it was right to come home to Grand Rapids."
While busy with the vast responsibilities attached to the office of U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Miles continues his passion for helping empower others in church, education, health, and minority business sectors. He currently serves in various leadership capacities with such community, civic and educational organizations as Aquinas College, Spectrum Health Hospitals, Inner-City Christian Federation and Grand Rapids Chamber of Black Commerce.
Reflecting on his 20-plus year law professional career of serving and helping people, Miles attributes his success to a credo instilled in him and his sister by their father (a retired Steelcase worker) and mother (a retired teacher from Grand Rapids Public Schools)..."The talents you have are God's gift to you...how you use them is your gift to God."
Teresa Weatherall Neal
Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools Grand Rapids, Michigan
A GRAND LEADER
By Donald James
When Teresa Weatherall Neal was named superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) in July, 2012, after serving as interim superintendent for more than six months, an air of excitement was exuded amid the stakeholders of Michigan's fourth largest school district. The excitement was in anticipation of a new era in public education, based on Neal's long and impeccable track record of accomplishments within the district for more than three decades. Many felt that her 35-plus years of experience with GRPS would be advantageous to her plans to advance the district, especially since she had held such positions as assistant superintendent of community and student affairs, co-director of community and student services, coordinator of compliance, administrative assistant, and student worker.
While Neal has grand plans for GRPS, she knows, like most public school districts across Michigan, there are challenges. However, she is up to the task of leading a school district that is comprised of approximately 18,400 students and 4,000-plus employees. "One of the greatest challenges is creating quality teaching and learning environments in every classroom across the district," says Neal, "We have the best teachers in the state, and part of my job is to ensure that we find ways to help every student, in every class be placed in a position that will better help them learn and advance."
What's interesting about Neal and her passion and vision for educating the children of GRPS is that she is a native daughter of Grand Rapids, and a product of its public school system. "I have loved this district for many, many years," says Neal. "I'm a graduate of Grand Rapids' Creston High School, and a product of GRPS's elementary and middle schools. So my heart has always been here in Grand Rapids. I've never wanted to leave. I didn't plan for this position; but I was so ready when it happened... It's been a calling."
Growing up in Grand Rapids, Neal knew she wanted to do something to help empower people; yet, education was not on her career radar screen. After graduating from high school, she stayed close to home and earned a bachelor's degree in public administration from Grand Valley State University. She subsequently received a master's degree in educational leadership from Western University before returning to Grand Rapids.
Now, Neal is dedicated and focused on leading the students, teachers, community and other stakeholders of Grand Rapids School District. She knows that creating a better school system and creating better environments for teaching and learning are paramount for the success of all. "One of the things that has been so very rewarding about this job is seeing and meeting the children and parents of Grand Rapids School District when I'm out into the community," says Neal, who has been married for 35 years and is the mother of two adult daughters and two grandchildren. "I love when students and parents see and recognize me and know that I am a product of this city, this school district, and this community....I love that they know I am one of them."
President, Chief Executive Officer & Partner Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., LLC
MANAGING BILLIONS DOLLARS DEALS
By Tamekia N. Ashford
There's something distinctive about Suzanne Shank. Her name is synonymous with Wall Street and the public finance industry.
Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise and the U.S. Banker have all acknowledged her success. She is not in the limelight in the traditional sense, but perhaps the world should take a closer look. Shank is the woman that so many girls still dream of becoming. She is brilliant, beautiful and the leader of a firm that manages deals totaling over $800 billion for state and local governments across the country. It is no surprise that she was invited to the White House to meet with President Barak Obama and key leaders of the business world.
Suzanne Shank is the president, chief executive officer and partner of Siebert Brandford Shank and Co., L.L.C., a national underwriter of municipal bonds with offices in 22 cities. The company has achieved significant rankings including being the topped ranked Minority Women Business-owned Enterprise (M/WBE) since 1998, becoming the first MWBE to rank in the top ten among all firms in 2010 and 2011 and ranking in the top three for Michigan transactions. She has led and been actively involved in a variety of large scale transactions including transportation and redevelopment projects, water and sewer projects, convention centers, sports facilities, jails and schools. "I never expected to be an entrepreneur," said Suzanne Shank. "I was actually an engineer during my first career. This was nothing I planned--it was serendipity. When we started the firm in 1996, the hardest thing to do was to convince people to hire a start-up firm. The financial crisis allowed us to recruit from large Wall Street firms and we were able to attract a talented team. I have faith in my partners and employees."
Shank grew up in a small town and had no choice but to work very hard. She is a graduate of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with a Masters of Business Administration degree in finance and the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. "My mom and dad worked hard," smiles Shank. I guess I was destined to work hard too. I've always been motivated and had a strong drive." Shank credits much of her instinctive financial savvy to her mother; "She was a prudent spender and big time saver."
"I try not to worry about what's next," said Shank. "When I turned 40, I began to understand the real priorities in my life-- healthy kids, great parents, friends and happiness." And how does she balance it all? Kickboxing, a personal trainer and organic foods minus the red meats seem to be the answer to staying fit and reducing stress; She admits to working out more since watching the Olympics.
Shank's commitment to Detroit is evident in her numerous civic and charitable affiliations. She founded the Detroit Summer Finance Institute- - a summer internship program and serves on the boards of the Detroit Institute of Arts and Regional Chamber.
Whether Shank is catching a 7am flight to New York, D.C., Atlanta or Connecticut, or managing billion-dollar deals, her most important deal and piece of work to be done is to arrive back home to check on her kids before they go to bed. "I want to know how their day was, how was practice, what did they eat?" Shank said. They're the deal of a lifetime!"
Charles Thomas Jr.
Chief Executive Officer RESULTS Mentoring
WITH A SECOND CHANCE
By Tamekia N. Ashford
Power, prayer and persistence pays off – that is the testimony of Charles Thomas Jr.'s life. Having grown up on the east side of Detroit under challenging circumstances, Thomas Jr. believed he was the worst thing that happened to schools; A teacher's nightmare and a parent's reason for constant prayer. He was kicked out of multiple high schools and became what many consider to be a failure.
The turning point came in 1990, when his father was stricken with bone cancer. This is where the power of prayer touched him and Thomas realized that in spite of past mistakes, he had the aptitude, the passion and the desire to excel. He progressed to earn associates and bachelor's degrees in business from Davenport University. With God at the head of his life, an education, and a beautiful wife and family, Thomas began to see the enormous need for father figures—particularly for those of African- American descent.
He was afforded the opportunity to coach within the Police Athletic League where he found his place as mentor to troubled youth. "I want to be a blessing," says Thomas. "My goal is to change lives. Many of our young men were excelling on the field, but were taking a turn for the worse in academics and at home. I began to take the coaching off the field and incorporated a strict and much needed disciplined parenting technique with the students who are much like sons." Thomas saw himself in a lot of the boys and decided that he would add structure to their lives by opening the doors of RESULTS Mentoring (Reaching Every Student Using Love Training and Support), a non-profit organization that provides tutoring and mentoring. The after school program provides tutorial services that reinforce the lessons taught by teachers while instilling parental values. The program meets the student at their academic level and incorporates diagnostic testing, daily progress monitoring, highly skilled instructors and quality instructional materials to help students academically. In addition, Results Mentoring helps schools that are dealing with behavioral issues by providing experienced mentors and educators that service the students.
Thomas attributes much of the youth's academic and social distraction to the microwave generational mentality; "they want things fast, without much work." He noted that, "Kids want structure and correction and I'm seeing great change within the lives of my sons and daughters at RESULTS Mentoring."
Thomas is less than a year away from realizing his dream of earning a master's degree in educational leadership. You could hear the smile in his voice as he recounts the many success stories of his students. He noted that graduates of his program are now accountants and educators serving students in our great community. "I got a call from one of my sons (former student that he mentored) and he said, 'Pops, I'm at the airport about to take over the world.'" This particular student graduated from Wilberforce University and was headed to Atlanta for an acting career. Vision 2013 for Thomas and the RESULTS Mentoring Team includes a charter school to help create a standard of educational excellence in Detroit.
He is married to E'Lois and they have two sons, Charles and Isaiah. He is an example that with discipline, persistence and faith, a second chance at life is possible.
Deierdre L. Weir
President & Chief Executive Officer Legal Aid and Defender Association
ALL THE PEOPLE
By Donald James
For close to three decades, Deierdre L. Weir, president and chief executive officer of Legal Aid and Defender Association (LAD), Inc., has successfully headed Michigan's oldest and largest non-profit public interest law firm. Her success is based on the premise that all people - regardless of their socioeconomic status - should have access to legal advice, counsel and representation in civil and criminal matters on both state and federal levels.
To effectively operate LAD, Weir oversees an annual budget in the neighborhood of $18.5 million that allows the organization to render legal services to about 12,000 cases annually in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb Counties and the Eastern District of Michigan. In addition, she renders great leadership to approximately 140 employees, the majority of whom are attorneys and other legal personnel.
Interestingly, Weir is not an attorney; yet, she is a national trendsetting executive in the field of law. Weir explains that many similar law firms across the country are beginning to look at non-lawyers as chief executive officers to oversee respective firms. "One reason is because there needs to be a skill-set that lawyers don't typically bring in terms of efficiently and effectively managing a law firm as a business," says Weir. "So more than 25 years ago, my board decided that it wanted me to run the business aspect of LAD."
While Weir's job is extremely demanding, she wouldn't have it any other way. "I love the work that I do and the people I do it for...as well as the people I work with," says Weir. "I always wanted to work in a non-profit or educational environment where I knew I could make a real difference." Prior to serving as LAD's top officer, Weir was a special education teacher in the state of California, as well as owned a private practice in speech- language pathology. To prepare for what has been a fulfilling career, she earned a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Michigan, and holds two master's degrees: speech and language pathology (the University of California Santa Barbara) and human resources administration (Central Michigan University).
Weir has a great love for education and teaching, but saw a greater need to help people who could not afford legal representation. Ultimately, LAD won out over teaching. "When you think about how important the legal system is and how important it is for people who can't afford legal assistance to have access justice, it poses a great challenge," says Weir, the mother of one adult son. "So my experience at Legal Aid and Defender Association has been a constant reminder that lives can be changed for the better or worst based on what happens when a person is in the legal system."
While Weir is constantly busy with executive responsibilities pertaining to LAD, she makes time to give back to the community and her church. She is most committed to Black United Fund (FUF), where she serves as a board member. In addition, she is a trustee and serves on numerous committees at Plymouth United Church of Christ. One of her greatest passions is mentoring and empowering women. In 2011 Weir authored the riveting fictional novel, "Women are Like Teabags." She is working on a follow-up to the novel due out in the summer of 2013.
President & Chief Executive Officer Orchards Children's Services, Southfield, Michigan
A CHAMPION FOR THE CHILDREN
By Donald James
For almost 10 years, Michael Williams has served as president and chief executive officer of Orchards Children's Services, where his primary focus has been to improve and support the overall conditions of children. His work throughout the region is well documented as an advocate, visionary, leader, and ambassador for empowering children and families. "My focus is on the children, and it goes beyond the rhetoric that the children are our future...they are our present," Williams says emphatically. "I want to make sure that we take the responsibility of shaping our children and providing them with everything they will need to succeed."
Over his tenure at OCS, Williams has given leadership to a multiplicity of programs and initiatives that have served more than 5,000 children and families annually in seven Michigan counties. However, with various partnerships and ancillary programs such as baseball, Williams estimates that approximately 8,500 children and families are served each year.
One of OCS's programs that Williams is extremely proud of is Learn 2 Learn, an education partnership initiative that helps children to enhance study skills and learn the value of going to school. "It's important to give our children a good educational foundation because that's something that no one can take away from them," explains Williams. "We work basically with middle school students, teachers, and administrators throughout the community."
Prior to joining OCS, Williams served as president of StarrVista, Inc., a care management organization for youth and their families. He earlier worked as a community developer at Starr Commonwealth, and was an executive director of the Hannah Neil Center. In addition, he once served two terms as the mayor of Albion, Michigan.
A Flint, Michigan native, Williams grew up in an era when people in the community actively mentored and helped raised neighborhood children, even if the children were not theirs. He learned values and discipline from home and the community, but picked up valuable life skills as a star athlete in baseball, basketball and football. After graduating from Flint Northern High School, Williams attended Albion College where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science and history. He subsequently received a master's degree in administration and public policy from Eastern Michigan University. While Williams once had thoughts of becoming an attorney, he saw a greater need and role in helping children succeed in life. Thus, he embarked on a career that has made him a champion for the children.
For Williams, the beat goes on... and so does his passion for empowering children. In addition to his current leadership role with OCS, Williams is actively involved with community and civic organizations that positively impact young people. He is the president of the Association of Accredited Child and Family Agencies (AACFA), and an active member of the National Black Child
Development Institute. Over the years, he has been interviewed by print and electronic media outlets on topics related to child welfare and juvenile delinquency. "I try to be where I need to be to help the children," says the married father of one daughter. "I speak to a lot of youth groups, and serve as a father to the children; that's my job...that's all of our jobs."
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 July 2013 11:04
Category: Business - Original Written by Amber Bogins
As the pioneer of the "one-stop shopping" experience, Meijer will once again make history as it opens its first supercenter in the city of Detroit next week at the Gateway Marketplace shopping center.
The July 25 opening celebrates the retailer's commitment to the city and its residents. At the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, the 190,000-square-foot supercenter will provide neighbors with quality merchandise, fresh produce and a full-service, drive-thru pharmacy that puts family health care first, including walk-in health screenings, comprehensive immunizations and specially trained diabetes- care pharmacists.
"We are thrilled to offer the Meijer experience to our new neighbors," Co-chairman Doug Meijer said. "There's so much history and pride here, so many people who've lived their entire lives in the city of Detroit, that the opportunity to provide healthy living options and help encourage growth is something our company is grateful to be a part of."
Located at 8 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, the Detroit Meijer store creates more than 550 jobs and will embody the commitment to community that has guided the family-owned retailer over the years. Meijer donates more than 6 percent of its net profit each year to charitable organizations such as food pantries. The company also partners with local farmers and businesses, when available, to provide locally-grown produce and other local products.
For example, the Detroit Meijer will feature State Fair Pale Ale, a distinctive craft beer from Detroit-based Atwater Brewery honoring the historic Michigan State Fair.
"The opening of Detroit's first Meijer store means new jobs, continued economic growth and greater convenience for the residents of our city," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. "As the anchor of the new Gateway Marketplace shopping center, Meijer represents another important business investment that is transforming Detroit into a retail destination."
Additionally, the Detroit Meijer store will be the latest to highlight Michigan small businesses through the retailer's Made in Michigan initiative with the Michigan State University Product Center for Food-Ag-Bio. Last year, Meijer expanded its program that supports small Michigan businesses to feature 55 new Michigan-made grocery items in all stores statewide. This year's lineup will include marinara sauce by Bon-A-Rose in New Hudson, barbeque sauce from Let'z Eat Food in Waterford, pickled beets and peppers by Safie's Pickles in Chesterfield, and healthy Mediterranean foods by Teta Foods in Clinton Township.
"This store represents a city experience our whole team wants to invest in and watch grow," said store director Adrian Lewis, who personally interviewed more than 400 of the 550 new Meijer team members. "I already feel at home here and am looking forward to providing a one-stop shopping destination that's welcoming to all of our neighbors."
In addition to the retailer's traditional grocery and merchandise offerings, garden center and gas station, the new Meijer pharmacy offers the company's free prescription program as well as clinical services and immunizations designed to promote family health. The prescription program includes leading oral generic antibiotics with a special focus on prescriptions most often filled for children, prenatal vitamins and medications for those with diabetes and high cholesterol. Since its inception in 2006, the Meijer free prescription program has filled more than 14 million free prescriptions, saving Meijer customers nearly $200 million.
"As a pioneer of one-stop shopping, we've always strived to offer easy, affordable solutions to our neighbors and look forward to bringing our offerings to Detroit," Doug Meijer said. "Whether it's a quick meal for the family, getting your yard ready for summer or seeking answers about a nagging health concern, these supercenters represent our ongoing commitment to help provide a healthier balanced lifestyle for anyone who steps through our door."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 11:47
Category: Business - Original Written by Amber Bogins
Join the ranks of Michigan legislators, school board members, mayors, city council members, county commissioners and leaders at every level who've taken the steps to higher office through the Michigan Political Leadership Program.
Applications are now available for Michigan State University's Michigan Political Leadership Program. The fellowship program is considered one of the nation's leading training grounds for rising policy and political leaders. It is one of only a handful of multi-partisan training programs in the nation.
"MPLP Fellows are asked to form new relationships, learn new concepts and explore effective leadership in new ways," said Douglas B. Roberts, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research where MPLP makes its home at Michigan State University.
MPLP's first class graduated in 1992. Since then, more than 500 men and women of various political views, professions and regions of the state have earned an MPLP certificate. Each MPLP class invites 24 Fellows – 12 men and 12 women.
The fellowships are competitive, requiring written application, essay, references and personal interview.
By the most recent count, 45 percent of MPLP's graduates have been elected or appointed to elective or appointed positions at local, regional or statewide levels.
The program of workshops, seminars, panel discussions, hands-on activities and guided tours takes place over 10 weekends. Fellows are asked to commit to the intensive schedule that includes presentations from some of the state's highest political officers and most experienced policy analysts.
MPLP Fellowships, each valued at approximately $12,000, are tuition-free. An administrative fee of $1,000 is requested.
Applications are due Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 for the MPLP Class of 2014. They are available online at http://bit.ly/1bJRWe4. Applications received after that time will be considered for the following year's program.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 11:18
Category: People On The Move Written by Amber Bogins
Dara Munson, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, is being honored as the Eastern Michigan University Black Alumni Association, 2013 Distinguished Alumna of the Year, an accolade bestowed on alumni who have demonstrated leadership and civic excellence through their professional and community involvement.
Recently appointed to the Eastern Michigan University Board Foundation Board of Trustees, Dara is a seasoned nonprofit executive whose career has focused on the needs of at-risk children. Dara is passionate about serving youth and lives her passion through her professional endeavors and civic projects. She has been a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2005.She is a past member of the State of Michigan Board of Social Work and served on the board of directors for Alternative for Girls. Other civic memberships include the Michigan Women's Foundation, The Hospice of Michigan, S.E. Michigan Regional Advisory Board and the Open Arms Grieving Children's Program. 2010 Michigan Chronicle Woman of Excellence and a recipient of the 2010 Eastern Michigan University Alumni Association Achievement Award, Dara was a 2009 honoree of Crain's Detroit Business 40 Under 40.
"Dara continues to embody the definition of true leadership and provokes positive change in the lives of youth in Metropolitan Detroit," shared Dale Kirk, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit Board Chairman. "We are proud of the hard work and dedication she displays and congratulate her on this tremendous honor from EMU."
Each year the members of the EMU Black Alumni Association nominate and vote for a Distinguished Alumna/nus to be recognized and honored. Dara will receive her Distinguished Alumna award at the 4th Annual Evening of Elegance, hosted by the Southeast Michigan Coalition of Alumni Associations (SEMCAA); the presiding event of the 2013 Black Alumni Weekend in Detroit, beginning July 26th. The collaborative effort of the alumni associations from Eastern Michigan University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University will offer a host of engaging, reminiscent, and exciting activities and events for African-American alumni from SEMCAA universities.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 11:35
Category: Business - Original Written by Amber Bogins
Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) has approved a new, two-year deal with Farmingdale, NY-based Empire Aviation Services to relocate its aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operation to Hangar Bldg. 425 at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW).
"Securing an FAA-certified MRO operation at Detroit Metro Airport has been one of the Authority's strategic development initiatives because of the skilled, technical jobs such a facility would bring to our region," said WCAA CEO Tom Naughton. "We look forward to welcoming Empire Aviation to its new home at DTW and to the opportunities having them as part of our airport community will generate."
This new lease agreement provides Empire with its own facility at DTW to which it recently transferred its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 145 MRO Certificate – enabling Empire to expand its MRO operation at DTW to serve airline customers.
"The Airport Authority's development team has worked tirelessly to earn our business, and thanks in large part to their efforts, we look forward to calling Michigan home," said Michael Romano from Empire Aviation Services. "With this new lease agreement in place, we have just received FAA's approval to move our MRO Certificate from New York to our new DTW facility. We hope to begin our work at Hangar Bldg. 425 in the next 30 days."
As a result of the new lease Empire Aviation will immediately add fifty new, highly-skilled technology jobs to DTW at Hangar 425. Empire expects to end the year with as many as 90 employees and estimates that they will end the two-year lease term with 150 employees.
Empire had considered moving its FAA Certificate to Maine, Indiana, California or maintaining it in New York before selecting Michigan as the best location to invest in the company's future growth.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 09:51
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