Dennis Kennedy has an unwavering passion for people and works to ensure that all individuals receive equal opportunities in the workplace regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, physical or mental handicap, physique, gender identity or sexual orientation. In 2004, Mr. Kennedy walked away from his job to start the Texas Diversity Council, www.texasdiversitycouncil.org. He saw a very strong need to create an organization that would champion Diversity & Inclusion across the state. Four years later, Mr. Kennedy found himself launching the National Diversity Council (NDC) for the exact same reasons he started the state council. Currently, the NDC is made up of 11 state and regional Councils: California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Tri-State (NY, NJ & CT). His vision is to have state and regional diversity councils in all 50 states. Along with the state councils, Mr. Kennedy has launched several state wide conferences focused on diversity, leadership and women. Currently there are conferences taking place in the following states: California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Connecticut, Virginia and Washington. The link to the diversity/leadership conferences is www.nationaldiversityconference.com. Moreover, Mr. Kennedy has launched two additional national organizations in 2011 including National Womenâ€™s Council, (www.nationalwomenscouncil.org) which focuses on advocacy for women and the Council for Corporate Responsibility, (www.uscorporateresponsibility.org) which seeks to educate organizations on best practices in social responsibility. In addition, Mr. Kennedy is the Founder & Publisher of DiversityFIRSTâ„¢ Publishing which is currently made up of two state magazines: California (www.californiadiversitymagazine.org) and Texas (www.texasdiversitymagazine.org). Also under the auspices of DiversityFIRST Publishing is the DiversityFIRST Newsletter which is published in 11 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Tri-State (NY, NJ & CT). Furthermore, Mr. Kennedy spent several years as a college professor in the business schools at the following universities: University of Houston Downtown, Texas Southern University and University of Texas at San Antonio. Some of the courses he taught included: Business Statistics, Economics, HR Management, Compensation Management and Diversity Management. He also spent 5 years working in a corporate environment in the field of Human Resources. Mr. Kennedy is currently working on his book titled, CreatingYourSignificanceâ„¢, which is a unique self-marketing strategy that will allow you to create a successful personal brand. The book is slated for publishing on January 2nd, 2013. Mr. Kennedy graduated from the University of Houston Main Campus (UofH) with undergraduate degrees in economics, business management, political science and physical education; he also earned a MBA from University of Houston Main Campus as well. In addition, he was a scholarship athlete for football.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is the Centennial Chair at Vanderbilt University and serves as University Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies in the College of Arts and Science and University Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society in the Divinity School. He is also a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a contributing editor of The New Republic, and of ESPN's The Undefeated website. His rise from humble roots in Detroit to his present perch as a world class intellectual, noted author of 21 books, prominent leader and national media fixture testify to his extraordinary talent. Dyson has also taught at other elite universities like Georgetown University as a sociology professor, Brown University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University and The University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Dyson has won many prestigious honors, including an American Book Award and two NAACP Image Awards. Ebony magazine cited him as one of the 100 most influential African Americans, and as one of the 150 most powerful blacks in the nation. Dyson's influence has spread far beyond the academy in his roles of renowned orator, highly sought-after lecturer, and ordained Baptist minister. For the last quarter of a century, Dyson has also enlivened public debate across the media landscape on every major television and radio show in the country, from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to Real Time with Bill Maher, from Good Morning America to The Today Show, from NPR's All Things Considered to its Talk of the Nation, from the Tavis Smiley Show to Def Poetry Jam, from This Week with George Stephanopoulos to Meet the Press, and Face the Nation -- and several programs on ESPN. Dyson’s pioneering scholarship has had a profound effect on American ideas. His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, was named one of the most important African American books of the 20th century and was also named a "Notable Book of the year" by the New York Times. According to book industry bible Publisher’s Weekly, Dyson’s 2001 book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, helped to make books on hip hop commercially viable. Dyson’s recent book, JAY-Z: Made in America, was named one of Washington Post’s 50 notable works of nonfiction in 2019. Dyson shares the impact Jay-Z has on America with his rapping and how he used his poetic talent to weave politics in his music, making important statements on race and social injustice. Dyson's eloquent writing has inspired Vanity Fair magazine to describe him as "one of the most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today." And Dyson’s 2005 New York Times bestseller Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? helped to jump start a national conversation on the black poor. Dyson’s book, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, has been described by The New York Times as "an interpretive miracle." It was a finalist for the prestigious 2016 Kirkus Prize. Dyson's book, the widely praised New York Times bestseller Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, has been described by the New York Times as "One of the most frank and searing discussions on race ... a deeply serious, urgent book, which should take its place in the tradition of Baldwin's The Fire Next Time and King's Why We Can't Wait. Dyson’s other book, What Truth Sounds Like: RFK, James Baldwin and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America, has been called by Kirkus “an incisive look at the roles of politicians, artists, intellectuals, and activists in confronting racial injustice and effecting change,” and an “eloquent response to an urgent – and still-unresolved – dilemma.” Dyson's legendary ascent – from welfare father to Princeton Ph.D., from church pastor to college professor, from a factory worker who didn’t start college until he was 21 -- may help explain why writer Naomi Wolf terms him “the ideal public intellectual of our time."
A. Snell, Esq.
When Oyango accepted a position to become the first general counsel and corporate secretary for a West Coast oil and natural gas trade association, he was taking a huge leap of faith. Not only was it his first role as a chief legal officer, but he was vacating a successful lobbying position with a national insurance trade association in Washington, D.C., and it required moving his young family across the country. But Oyango never met a challenge that he didn’t like. As a native of Chicago’s south side, Oyango was prepared to take on just about any challenge. In sixth grade, the challenge came from his library teacher, Ora Chamberlain, who gave him books by Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Du Bois, imploring the youngster to read them in preparation to lead the sixth-grade debate team. Contrary to his desire, Oyango was charged with developing arguments to support establishing a United States of Africa. With a second-place finish, he argued passionately and vigorously. This moment, however, was pivotal because Ms. Chamberlain was the first person to tell Oyango that he possessed advocacy skills that could guide him to becoming a lawyer someday. While preparing for graduation from Central State University, a HBCU in Wilberforce, Ohio, Oyango was confronted with another challenge – not many law schools were interested in his mediocre GPA and LSAT score. When Oyango’s dream law school sent him a rejection letter, he used it as fuel to strengthen his academic and professional bona fides, attaining his MBA from Franklin University and leading social services initiatives to advance historically marginalized communities in Columbus, Ohio. In 2003, Oyango was finally accepted to his dream law school, The Ohio State University, where he earned his JD and made the most of it, parlaying his experience into a job at one of the premier law firms in Ohio, Bricker & Eckler LLP. Oyango maximized his platform as a lawyer and continued his community stewardship through volunteer work and board service addressing food insecurity, mental health and drug addiction, housing, and education issues. Oyango’s professional and community service efforts resulted in recognition as a Rising Star in Ohio’s Super Lawyers, Columbus Business First’s Forty Under 40, and a political campaign bid for the Ohio State Senate. Since joining the energy industry in 2017, Oyango’ role has covered a broad spectrum of issues, including climate and environmental policies, litigation, antitrust, labor and employment, and corporate governance. But his experience in government affairs has proved most valuable considering environmental issues are at the epicenter of policymaking on the West Coast. Through legal advocacy, Oyango strives to be a bridge between the oil industry and the communities impacted by the industry’s work—to promote public policies based on the big picture, rather than short-term political concerns. Oyango is licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio and registered as in-house counsel with the State Bar of California. He is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE), Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA), California Lawyers Association (CLA), and Association of Corporate Counsels (ACC). Oyango continues to exemplify a servant-leadership mentality through his work with United Way California Capital Region (UWCCR) where he serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. He and his wife, Shauna, are the proud parents of two boys, Brennan and Carter.
Mr. Joseph B. Anderson, Jr. born in Topeka, Kansas, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Math and Engineering. He subsequently received two master’s degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. Mr. Anderson attended the Army’s Command and General Staff College and is a graduate of the Harvard Advanced Management Program. Mr. Anderson received an Honorary Doctor of Management Degree from Kettering University and an Honorary Doctor of Commercial Science Degree from Central Michigan University. In May 2016, Mr. Anderson received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the United States Military Academy at West Point, honoring him for his lifetime of achievement. During his military career, Mr. Anderson commanded troops as an infantry officer in the 82nd Airborne Division and served two tours of duty with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam. In addition to troop command, Mr. Anderson served as aide-de-camp to two general officers, and he also was an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. Mr. Anderson and the infantry platoon he commanded in Vietnam were subjects of the highly acclaimed documentary film “The Anderson Platoon”. The documentary has been shown in more than 20 countries and has won several awards to include the Oscar of the Academy Awards and an Emmy. Mr. Anderson’s military awards include two silver stars, five bronze stars, three Army Commendation Medals, and eleven Air Medals. Mr. Anderson resigned his commission after 13 years of service and early selection for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. While in the Army, Mr. Anderson was selected to be a White House Fellow and worked as Special Assistant to Secretary of Commerce, Juanita Kreps for one year. After the assignment, Mr. Anderson continued to work for Secretary Kreps until he joined General Motors. Mr. Anderson began his business career with General Motors at Pontiac Motor Division. After several manufacturing assignments, Mr. Anderson was named Plant Manager of the Pressed Metal and Plating Operations, Pontiac Motor Division. After three years as a plant manager, Mr. Anderson held several staff assignments until he was appointed Director of the Exterior Systems Business Unit, Inland Fisher Guide Division of General Motors Corporation. He was later appointed General Director, Body Hardware Business Unit, Inland Fisher Guide Division, General Motors Corporation, a business unit with 7,000 employees and revenue of $1 billion. After 13 years of service, Mr. Anderson resigned from General Motors to become President and Chief Executive Officer of a privately held company, Composite Energy Management Systems, Incorporated (CEMSI). He later acquired a controlling interest in another privately held entity, Chivas Products Limited, which manufactured interior trim products and lighting assemblies principally for the automotive industry. Mr. Anderson is currently the majority owner, Chairman and CEO of TAG Holdings, LLC which owns several manufacturing, service and technology-based companies currently based in North America. Over the course of its history, TAG Holdings has engaged in 15 acquisitions and joint ventures located in North America, Korea and China. These businesses have served a variety of industries including automotive, heavy equipment, aerospace and defense. Mr. Anderson currently serves on the Board of Directors of Business Leaders for Michigan; Board of Directors of Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (MAMA); Wynnchurch Capital Advisory Board and Modular Assembly Innovations Board of Managers. Mr. Anderson also serves as Chairman, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago-Detroit Branch. His community involvement includes Chairman of the Board of the National Recreation Foundation; Horizons Upward Bound Advisory Board and the University of Michigan-Dearborn Executive Leaders Advocacy Group. Mr. Anderson has served on the Boards of Directors of several New York Stock Exchange companies. He is a past chairman of the U.S. Department of Commerce Manufacturing Council.
Ovell Barbee is senior vice president, human resources, and diversity officer of Spectrum Health, a $6 billion not-for-profit integrated health system based in West Michigan. Ovell is responsible for leading Spectrum Health’s talent acquisition, diversity, equity and inclusion and employee relations teams and is the lead human resources business partner for the Spectrum Health Continuing Care space. As the diversity officer, Ovell serves as the liaison across our system and throughout the community, building consensus and collaborating to support our diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Ovell has served in human resources leadership positions at Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, OnStar, General Motors and Canadian National Railway. In these roles, he has developed and led human resources initiatives in complex and diverse industries. He has provided direct human resources support to employee populations as large as 30,000, and has led teams of direct reports as large as 50. Ovell earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a master’s degree in human resources and labor management from Michigan State University, and a second master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan. He is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by The HR Certification Institute and holds the Society of HR Managers’ Senior Certified Professional (SHRM – SCP) certification. In 2020, Ovell was honored as one of the Top 50 Human Resources Professionals in the United States by Oncon Icon Awards. He is a proud 2020 Giant Award Honoree, recognized by Grand Rapids Community College and the city of Grand Rapids for his commitment to the community. Past recognitions include being named by the National Black MBA Association as one of the “Top 50 Executives in the Country Under the Age of 50.” Under Ovell’s leadership, the Spectrum Health Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team has received several awards. Ovell is a member of the Society of Human Resource Managers, the National Black MBA Association and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He currently serves on the Heart of West Michigan United Way Board and the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation Board. Ovell also serves as the President of the West Michigan NAHSE chapter.
Nate Bennett III is responsible for leading the company’s Diversity & Inclusion office. This office has been established to drive key diversity initiatives throughout the bank. Additionally, Mr. Bennett’s other responsibilities include leading all talent acquisition activities for Comerica Bank. Mr. Bennett joined Comerica in 2009 as the Vice President, Texas Market Staffing Manager. He was named Senior Vice President, Talent Acquisition in 2010. In mid-2016, he was named the Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President, Head of Talent Acquisition. Before joining Comerica, he worked for several Fortune 500 companies in various roles in Talent Acquisition all in two major industries; Consumer Retail and Financial Services. Prior to joining Comerica Bank, he led Talent Acquisition Services for a 17,000-employee division at Bank of America. His 20+ years of experience in Human Resources Talent Acquisition covers the areas from executive recruitment through global recruitment where he spent time in Seoul, Korea leading various recruitment efforts for Walmart Stores. Mr. Bennett holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Rice University. Among his professional and community affiliations, he serves as a member of the National Diversity Council Board of Directors, board member of Mi Escuelita Pre-Schools, an advisory board member for Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) an advisory board member of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. At Rice University, Mr. Bennett was a four-year varsity letterman in football where he went on to earn All Southwest Conference 1st Team Honors. Additionally, he also serves as the founder and President of the Junior Broncos Organization which is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to young student athletes.
Garry Cooper, Jr., PhD (Chief Executive Officer/Co-founder) Dr. Garry Cooper is the Co-founder and CEO of Rheaply, whose vision is to make all the physical resources in the world discoverable and easily transferable. Dr. Cooper also currently serves on the Board of Directors of P33 Chicago and 1871, and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. Prior to Rheaply, Dr. Cooper worked on supply chain and performance improvement for the enterprise at Ernst & Young. As a result of his work, Dr. Cooper has been named a Crain’s 40 under 40 in 2020 and Scholar at Google for Entrepreneurs. Dr. Cooper has published in high-impact, peer-reviewed international journals and holds a US patent. Dr. Cooper holds a PhD from Northwestern University, Certificate in Management from the Kellogg School of Management, BS & BA from Indiana University.
Ronald Denard is a highly accomplished senior finance and accounting executive with over twenty-five years of the private sector and seven years of public sector experience. A strategic leader focused on developing financial strategies to streamline business and operations that increase efficiency, reduce costs, promote growth and bottom-line profit. Expertise in financial planning, troubled company turnarounds, short and long-term capital markets, cash forecasting, process re-engineering, cost containment, and complex system transformations. Ronald is well regarded for innovative problem solving, focusing on customer service with an enthusiastic value-adding attitude. Core qualifications include Accounting & Financial Analysis Expertise, Cash Forecasting & Liquidity Strategies, Strategic Operating & Capital Planning, Cost & Deficit Reductions, Short Term & Long Term Financings, Revenue Growth & Profitability Enhancement and Project Management- System Implementations.
The Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network’s Board of Directors has named Eric Doeh as Interim President and CEO, most recently serving as Deputy CEO/Chief Operating Officer. He will oversee all day-to-day operations of the organization in conjunction with his Executive Leadership team. Mr. Doeh has been an integral part of DWIHN since he joined four years ago and will continue to lead the company in its mission of providing exemplary integrated behavioral health services and supports to 75,000 people in Wayne County. He will also oversee DWIHN’s new Community Crisis Center scheduled to break ground later this year as well as continue working closely with the Detroit Police Department and the city of Detroit Housing Department on the implementation of its behavioral health co-pilot project. Eric joined DWIHN in June 2017 as Chief Network Officer and Compliance Officer and was responsible for maintaining corporate integrity. In his new role, he will represent the Board of Directors in dealing with corporate responsibilities, including quality improvements, human resources issues and employee disciplinary actions. He maintains staff integrity to ensure that projects are completed and goals are achieved. Mr. Doeh was an instrumental force in driving our System Transformation plan to successful outcomes for the people we serve; and remains committed to work with Federal and State governments to ensure that healthcare dollars are spent efficiently, accurately and responsibly. He served as Deputy Chief Assistant for the United States Attorney’s Office; as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office; and as Assistant Attorney General in the D.C. Office of the Attorney General. He studied Political Science and English at the University of Michigan and receiving his Juris Doctorate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Detroit School of Law, a Lecturer and Presenter at the University of Michigan Law School, Wayne State College of Law, and Law Enforcement Agencies in Michigan. He is also a member of the Michigan Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan Character and Fitness Committee, National Bar Association and Wolverine Bar Association.
Ime Ekpenyong is the Chief Executive Officer with SCRIPTGUIDERX INC. (SGRX). An accomplished visionary with over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience in multiple industries including consulting, restaurant, fashion, and healthcare. Results-oriented, and transformational leader with proven success in optimization of employee performance, customer retention, and new business growth. Born in Harlem, New York to parents of Nigerian descent, Ime moved to Nigeria with his parents at the age of 2. Upon completion of his high school education, returned to the United States to further his education. Ime’s academic experience includes a BSc from the Ohio State University, an MBA from Capital University, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Management from Capella University. Ime is blessed with a beautiful wife, Unyime, and 3 handsome boys, Ini, Imo & Itoro. Ime currently serves as the president of the Akwa Ibom State Association of Nigeria, Metro Detroit Chapter, Chair of Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council Healthcare sector, and belongs to several non-profit organizations. Hobbies include watching sports, and vacationing whenever possible.
David Greenwood is the Director of Athletics, Programs and Operations for the Detroit Police Athletic League. David is a proud PAL Alumnus, having played as a Detroit Yankee and a Westside Bronco in his childhood. David came home Detroit PAL in 2018 after a 27+ year career as a professional firefighter with the Southfield Fire Department and the Birmingham Fire Department, where he served as a Firefighter, EMT, and Fire Inspector. A native Detroiter, David is an alumnus of Detroit St. Martin de Porres High School, where he won two state championships and one city title under Hall of Fame coach, Ed Rachal. He remained very active at his alma mater by teaching, coaching with the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, and serving as a Board Member from 1991-2005. Mr. Greenwood studied Fire Science and Criminal Justice at Lake Superior State University, lettering in basketball during his time there. David is also a mentor for former Detroit Mayor and NBA Hall of Famer, Dave Bing’s Bingo Youth Institute and a proud husband and father of a 15-year-old daughter.
Mr. A.L. Hall (Al) joined Wolverine Assemblies, LLC as President and COO in 2019 and brings with him a wealth of experience in the automotive industry. A.L. comes to us with more than 40 years’ experience, respected expertise in Research and Development, Lean Manufacturing, Agile Manufacturing and Quality System Improvement. His focus is on business and supplier development, building OEM relationships, and utilizing new manufacturing principals to improve company’s performance. Mr. Hall has previously held positions with Ryobi Die Casting as a Machining Consultant from years 2011 to 2013, where he was responsible for the project launch on the Honda sub-frame, going from steel to an aluminum-based frame. He received accolades for successfully implementing systems which reduced costs, and improved quality. Mr. Hall was then tapped by Ryobi from years 2013 to 2015, for the role of General Manager for domestic machining where his successes included improving the safety records, reducing maintenance costs on capital equipment. Mr. Hall improved Ryobi’s bottom line with Lean and Agile Manufacturing principals. He successfully improved the cost, quality and delivery of Ryobi’s high-pressure aluminum die-cast machine products. In 2015, Mr. Hall created International Agile Manufacturing, where he developed and executed successful strategies for automotive suppliers to meet the quality and volume requirements. Mr. Hall consulted with General Motors, Ford and tier one suppliers in the areas of Lean Systems, Agile Systems, Metal Fabricating, and Die Model Systems to make them more competitive. Mr. Hall retired from General Motors as Director of Lean Systems for Competitive Operations and was a plant Manager for the Metal Fabrication Division for General Motors. Mr. Hall had a congressional appointment with Pentagon clearance, while being a Loan Executive at the Agility Forum at Lehigh University and worked directly with Lee Iacocca using the Agile principals to make America more competitive. Mr. Hall received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Indiana Wesleyan University, and a Masters’ Degree in Manufacturing Management from Kettering University. He also attended the Manufacturing Strategy Program at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. Further, he completed prestigious programs for executives at the University of Michigan, and Harvard University. Mr. Hall has served on the Board of Directors of United Way, the PNC Advisory Board, the Penn State University Advisory Board, and as Vice President of the Explorers, Scouts of America. Mr. Hall has been the recipient of the Outstanding Business Award by Dollars and Sense Magazine, Entrepreneur of the Year by Indiana Wesleyan University. He was also introduced on the cover of Industry Week Machine as Mr. Agility.
Lawrence Hood currently serves as Chief Academic Officer of multiple schools (DAAS) in the city of Detroit. He transitioned to the Chief Academic Officer role after serving the educational community in various capacities. Most recently, Mr. Hood had the pleasure of serving as the Vice President at large education non-profit, Achievement Network. There he learned great instructional leadership practices while supporting over 900 schools across the country. Lawrence has nearly two decades of experience as an educator and school administrator. He began his career with Edison Schools, as a Teacher, National Reading Trainer, and administrator. He then served seven years as school Principal in the Lincoln Consolidated school system, and later as the founder of the Ypsilanti Boys Preparatory School. Lawrence was then asked by the YMCA to open schools in Detroit, where he served as a Central Office Administrator, until joining the Achievement Network. Growing up in Flint, Lawrence learned the value of education and the inequities that hold children back. He has dedicated his life and career to ensure that every child has access to a high-quality education. By opening an All-Male Academy, that served children from underserved communities and supporting schools across the country in raising the bar of rigor, Lawrence continues to live out his life’s mission of serving children “by EVERY means necessary” and has also shared his leadership experiences with thousands of leaders across the nation. Lawrence received his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master's degree in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University.
In his current role, Kirkham oversees all brand and marketing strategies for the Detroit Pistons – this includes influencer and cultural marketing, game presentation, events, social media, merchandising and more. Each department Tyrel oversees shares a common goal of amplifying the Pistons brand position. Since joining the Pistons, the organization has worked on authentic campaigns and activations all anchored in strengthening the team’s connection with culture and community. Prior to joining the Pistons, Kirkham spent two years with the Los Angeles Rams as VP & GM of Merchandising, playing a crucial role during the team’s rebrand and integration into the city of Los Angeles following the franchise’s move from Saint Louis. Before his time with the Rams, Kirkham spent six years with the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center as VP, Global Merchandising. Earlier in his career, Kirkham was with the New York Mets for eight years as a key member of their Venue Services department. A 2005 graduate of the State University of New York at Cortland, Kirkham received his bachelor’s degree in Sport and Fitness Administration/Management. Kirkham remains involved with SUNY Cortland, serving on the school’s Sport Management advisory board. Additionally, Kirkham is a member of the development team for the National Society of Black Sports Professionals - Detroit Chapter and recently joined the board of GIVE MERIT, a Detroit-based nonprofit that provides resources and opportunities for underserved youth. Kirkham resides in Farmington Hills, Michigan with his wife, Adar and their French bulldog, Jesse Jac.
Josh Landon is happy to be back home in the D. Born in the City of Detroit, raised on the City's east side, he graduated from Denby High School, and earned his degree in broadcast journalism from Eastern Michigan University. Go TARS!!! Go EAGLES!!! Josh Landon started working in Lansing, Michigan as a reporter. From there, He worked in Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, and now back home. He had been gone for eight years before the wonderful opportunity to work FOX 2 came his way. Local TV news has been in Josh since he was a kid. His mother used to make me watch the local news in Detroit growing up. She taught him that it's important to know what's happening around you. At some point during his childhood, the local news became COOL to Josh. Josh recalls a time when he was maybe four or five years old, his cousin Andre and I were at the Detroit International Auto Show. They were two little kids sitting in the car, checking it out, and out of nowhere a news crew walked up to interview them. They made the news later that. That was a cool experience Josh still remembers to this day. From the moment Josh watched anchors and reporters doing their jobs, he was officially hooked, and knew this was the job for him, and he’s happy to be back home.
Mark S. Lee is President & CEO, The LEE Group (TLG), MI LLC, an independent integrated marketing consulting firm focused on providing marketing, branding and communication solutions to clients. Additionally, TLG provides training & development to organizations in the areas of branding, re-branding and communications and has advised on how to effectively implement in an integrated fashion. Throughout his distinguished career, Lee has held marketing leadership positions locally, regionally and nationally where he was responsible for leading the strategic, marketing, communication and other-related areas focused on business strategy and growth. He has worked for such blue-chip organizations including AAA, Pepsico, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, et. al. Additionally, Lee was the Detroit Lead Instructor for the Emerging Leaders (formerly, e200), an initiative focused on business growth and developing entrepreneurial CEOs. Under Lee’s three-year tenure, Detroit became the #1 program in the country. His column turned blog, “Small Talk with Mark S. Lee”, appeared in the Michigan Chronicle for three years and now appears via blog for Crain’s Detroit Business. It provides tips to businesses who are interested in growing their business and to individuals who aspire to become entrepreneurs. Lee also hosted a weekly radio show, “Small Talk with Mark S. Lee”, on Detroit’s WXYT 1270 and streamed via radio.com, and currently hosts “In the Conference Room with Mark S. Lee“, which airs on 910 am Superstation, in Detroit. In addition to being a noted public speaker, he’s also an adjunct professor, Marketing, at Eastern Michigan University and has been invited to speak as guest lecturer at Boston University and the University of North Florida (UNF). Additionally, Lee was an adjunct professor of Marketing & Management, at Walsh College, in Troy, Michigan. Lee is also the past Detroit instructor for Interise’s Emerging Leader’s Program (formerly, e200)–an initiative focused on assisting entrepreneurs focused on growth. Throughout his career, Mr. Lee has received numerous awards, been the focus of many articles and has been invited to speak on various Marketing and Branding topics across the country, including recently being named a Comcast Newsmaker. Lee also contributes on WXYZ, Channel 7’s (ABC affiliate in Detroit) “Spotlight on the News” and has been interviewed for Detroit’s Channel 56’s (PBS) “American Black Journal“, “Michigan Matters” (CBS, Detroit) and on Fox 2, in Detroit. Lee is also currently the creator and host of “EMU Today”, a general affairs program focused on Eastern Michigan University. Additionally, he has provided his perspective on local radio in New York City. He holds a Master’s degree (MBA) in Marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management (KGSM) at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Eastern Michigan University.
Phil joined AAA Auto Club Group (ACG) in August of 2007 as Vice President of Marketing. In his current Vice President of Brand and Communications role, he provides leadership for marketing operations, internal and external brand management and creative development, mass media planning and buying, sports and regional marketing management, and loyalty marketing program management which includes Attractions and Discounts and Rewards marketing. Prior to joining ACG, Phil was the Vice President of Marketing and subsequently the Vice President of Membership and Card Services at SAM’S CLUB. He also worked for Walt Disney, Inc. as Brand Manager for Downtown Disney, Pleasure Island, and Associate Brand Manager for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Prior to Disney, he worked for Barnett Bank, Inc. as Assistant Vice President/Loan Officer, and IBM as a Marketing Representative in Orlando, Fl. Phil received an undergraduate Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Florida A. & M. and a Masters Degree in Business Administration in Marketing & Finance from Florida A. & M. Phil is a Director on the boards of Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay Boys and Girls Club. He and his wife, Lori, have four children – Nicholas, Morgan, Christina and Philip.
Ken Mathies currently serves as the Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for The Auto Club Group - Automobile Association of America (AAA). Ken is a certified diversity professional (CDP) and has over 25 years of leadership experience within information technology organizations, business, marketing and legal operations. In his current capacity, Ken leads The Auto Club Group (AAA) Office of Diversity & Inclusion organization and works collaboratively with executive leadership, business lines, employees, members and the many communities served to promote a culture that advocates diversity and inclusiveness. Ken is a Business Administration major (TSU) with certifications in enterprise technologies, law of information security, data forensic Investigations, multiple business management platforms and is a certified diversity professional. (CDP) Ken has held a number of leadership roles for The Auto Club Group (AAA) including; Manager Technology Deployment, Director of Enterprise Technology Support & Implementation, Director of Service Desk Operations & Security Administration, Director of General Counsel Legal Operations and AVP, Office of D&I. Ken was the recipient of the MIDC 2018 Diversity Leadership Award, 2020 Corp Magazine Diversity Leader Award and named to the Top 100 Chief Diversity Officers list by the NDC in 2021. Ken serves on the Board of Directors for an Ohio based Information Technology Corporation and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Diversity Council.
As director of business development Malcolm Miller is responsible for identifying and creating business opportunities for the Walker Miller Energy Services Team. He manages operational marketing and new and existing customer relationships. Malcolm also leads a large portion of the community engagement that is done in Detroit and is responsible for identifying mentorship and volunteer opportunities that help us maintain visibility in the communities that we serve. Going into his sixth year as a WMES employee, Malcolm has served in several different roles and understands the company's goals, culture, and people in a way that enables him to promote Walker-Miller Energy Services brand very efficiently.
Rob Parker Rob Parker is a bona fide pioneer in sports journalism. In his 35-year career, Parker has broken down barriers and reached back to lift up younger sports writes coming up behind him. For his efforts in the business, Parker was named the National Association of Black Journalists’ Sports Task Force Journalist of the Year in 2018. Currently, Parker appears regularly on “Undisputed: Skip and Shannon” and “The Herd” on FS1. He also co-host a national radio show with Chris Broussard called, “The Odd Couple” on Fox Sports Radio. He writes a weekly column for deadspin.com. And Parker is an adjunct professor as USC. Parker, 57, was the first Black sports columnist at Newsday in New York. Parker was also the first African American to cover the Cincinnati Reds on a daily basis when he was hired by the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1991. Parker was an analyst for ESPN for eight years, mostly working on First Take. Parker, born in New York, graduated from Southern Connecticut State University and has a master’s degree from Columbia University. Parker has also been a mentor to more than 40 journalists.
Judge David A. Perkins was elected by the citizens of Wayne County on 11-6-18 to fill the open seat that became vacant upon the retirement of the Hon. June Blackwell- Hatcher. Judge Perkins was appointed to 36th District Court in January 2014 and elected by the Citizens of Detroit in November 2014 and then re-elected by the Detroit citizens in 2016. Judge Perkins served as a Wayne County Juvenile Court Referee for 17 years. While a Referee he volunteered as a jurist for a teen-court program held on Saturday Mornings at the Dexter Elmhurst Center and volunteered as a jurist for the Juvenile Drug Court Docket held on Monday evenings. He served as a Magistrate for the 30th District Court Highland Park Michigan. He was an attorney in private practice that often practiced in Probate Court. Judge Perkins was also a Judge Advocate for the Michigan Air National Guard. Judge Perkins started his legal career as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for Wayne County where he often represented the County on the mental health docket in Wayne County Probate Court. Judge Perkins earned his Juris Doctorate from Howard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University. Judge Perkins is a: Lifetime Member of the NAACP; Lifetime Member Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; Member of the Detroit Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen and a Member of The Urban League. He presently serves on: The State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners; Board of Directors for The Black United Fund; Board of Directors Reggie McKenzie Foundation; Board of Directors Ten Commandments of Real Estate Law Society; Board of Directors Wayne County Dispute Resolution Center; member of the American Bar Association Judicial Division and Sacred Heart Church Minister of Service. Judge Perkins also serves as an adjunct professor at Wayne County Community College District. He also takes time to mentor at risk youth. Judge Perkins in the past has: Chaired the Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice of the American Bar Association (ABA); Chaired the Michigan Young Lawyers Section; President of the Association of Black Judges of Michigan; Chaired The General Practice Section of the State Bar of Michigan; Member of The State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly; Treasure of the Wolverine Bar Association; Past President of The D Augustus Straker Bar Association; Member Board Of Directors for Lifeskills Charter School; Member Board Of Directors Ben Carson Charter School located in the Wayne County Detention Center; Henry Ford Hospital Hospice Volunteer; Member Board of Directors Franklin Wright Settlement Center; Member Board of Directors Teen H.Y.P.E.; Member of the Wayne County Probate Court Bar; Member Wayne County CASA Advisory Board and a Charter Member of the Civic Center Optimist Club. Judge Perkins has been given numerous awards for his community work. Judge Perkins’ believes that all young voices, shall have a forum for their voices to be heard. He strives to help make a better way of life for our young people and all citizens of Wayne County. Judge David A. Perkins is married with one child.
Walt Perrin Jr. is the Assistant General Manager of College Scouting for the New York Knicks. He currently leads the college scouting staff what includes evaluation, organization and implementation of all potential players’ acquisitions. Perrin spent 19 years building his reputation as a scouting guru while working for multiple National Basketball Association teams. Perrin first worked as a scout in Minnesota for two years from 1993 to 1995, a period of time in which Minnesota was almost a brand new NBA franchise. Perrin then headed to Detroit, where he worked as a scout for nine years from 1993 to 2002; he was the Pistons' director of scouting until he became an assistant coach for the team and moved to the bench. After three years of assistant coaching, Perrin returned to his position as the Director of Scouting. Several years later, he joined the Utah Jazz as their Director of Player Personnel and was then promoted to Vice President of Player Personnel in 2007. Walt attend Northern Illinois University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education.
From national pro-sports teams and athletes and executives to international high-end fashion brands, cutting-edge tech enterprises and national food and hospitality corporations, Rhodman Enterprises cultivates and provides distinctive and exclusive branding, campaign, business, media relations and event management services. Rhodman Enterprises brings together professionals across elite industries through novel business ventures. With a unique approach employed by venerated business tactics, for over the last 15 years, Eddie Rhodman, Jr. can be credited for an array of successful business ventures, media campaigns and projects on an international scale with elite clientele and companies which includes: Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes across various sports leagues, esteemed international fashion brands, and many more. Hence, at Rhodman Enterprises we personalize services for individual clientele, brands and organizations, to international consulting, procurement, brokering, investor relations, and management services for fashion, luxury, entertainment, hospitality, travel, tech, health and wellness industries, corporations and the U.S. military. New name, same reliable service, just in more demand! Rhodman Enterprises' primary objective is to create, develop and manage brands for our clients that will have longevity and will increase their bottom line through making them a sustainable entity. With our vast expertise within the platforms of multi-media, consulting, fashion, sports, identity, exposure and industry, our clients count on Rhodman Enterprises to help create and leave a legacy that will impact their niche(s) for years to come. From utilizing and connecting brands and businesses with our plethora of connections, as well as executing our latest state-of-the-art techniques, Rhodman Enterprises ensures that media outlets, businesses, organizations, investors, advertisers, as well as entertainment and fashion decision-makers will view you and your brand as the “must- have” commodity, catapulting your visibility to it’s optimal potential for brand and financial success. Eddie Rhodman Jr. is a distinguished multi-industry business professional and sports expert, with over 15 years of international business success. Eddie has represented several high-profile A-list athletes in the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, Olympics, Collegiate athletes, professional sports teams, as well as a myriad of celebrities, actors, and brands in various industries.
Moses Shepherd Entrepreneur and Champion of Detroit Founder & CEO, ACE Petroleum Moses Shepherd is an entrepreneur who has been successfully investing in his hometown of Detroit for the past 30 years. In May 2017, Shepherd launched ACE Petroleum, a premier national fuel supplier headquartered in Detroit. His company provides innovative fueling solutions to government agencies and commercial end users through an extensive and reliable carrier network and experienced logistics team. In January, ACE Petroleum landed a multi million-dollar deal with the City of Detroit to fuel the City’s fleet of vehicles including, police cars, fire trucks, buses, emergency medical vehicles, and other off-road transportation units. Prior to launching ACE Petroleum, Shepherd focused on his real estate company, Ace Investment Group, which he founded in June 2003. Shepherd’s mission is to help revitalize Detroit by providing affordable housing options for residents and businesses. Today, Ace Investment Group represents one of the largest African-American owned apartment portfolios in the City of Detroit. Along with its management company Jackson ACE, it is the largest housing provider for local non-profit agencies in the City and assists hundreds of families in a common mission to help eradicate homelessness. Through ACE Petroleum and Ace Investment Group, Shepherd employs over 30 team members, who are all residents of Detroit.
Phillip L. Smith is the director of Operational Technology for DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. DTE Energy’s operating units include an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan. The DTE Energy portfolio also includes non-utility energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects, and energy marketing and trading. Smith is responsible for ensuring the operational technology landscape for DTE Energy’s Distribution Operations meets the business demands of today and can comprehend and adapt to the changing business and technology demands of tomorrow. He has a strong background in information technology and has held multiple technology leadership positions throughout the company. As Director of Technology & Architecture, Smith instituted processes that steer a 100- million-dollar annual capital technology investment portfolio and aligned those investments to a rolling five-year business capability, application lifecycle, and technology infrastructure roadmap. Additionally, as the responsible director for Innovation, he oversaw the realization of multiple streams of innovative ideas that deliver millions of saving to DTE every year. Smith is passionate about volunteering and serves on the Equality Michigan Action Network Board of Directors. This nonprofit organization has been working for nearly three decades to achieve full equality and respect for all Michigan residents regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Smith earned a Master of Information Technology Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
Frederiek Toney is president, Global Ford Customer Service, as well as vice president and corporate officer, Ford Motor Company. He reports to Kumar Galhotra, President Americas & IMG Ford Motor Company. Toney joined Ford in 2000 and has gone on to hold numerous leadership positions in customer service, logistics, operations, and aftersales. His previous role was executive director, Global Material Planning and Logistics, which he held until 2009. Early in his career, Toney spent 16 years with Caterpillar Inc. in a variety of managerial assignments specializing in service and product support. He then served for seven years at American Honda Motor Company, rising to the position of assistant vice president of the company’s parts division. Toney earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Alabama in Huntsville Madison County and an MBA from University of La Verne in La Verne, California. He serves on the University of Alabama in Huntsville school of business external advisory council. Toney is the Chairman of the board of directors for National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. He also sits on the board for City Year of Detroit, as well as serving on the board of directors for Percepta. In 2007, World Trade 100 Magazine named Toney a Fabulous 50+1 decision maker in the global logistics field. In 2012 and 2017, Black Enterprise named him to its list of 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America. Toney was named an Automotive All-Star both in 2014 and 2015 by Automotive News Magazine. In 2014, he was inducted into the Huntsville Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame and was awarded an honorary doctorate from University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2015. In 2019, Frederiek was a recipient of the Living Legend Award presented by Rainbow Push Coalition.
Jarrett Waddy is the Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Operations, and Employee Resource Group Development at The Auto Club Group (AAA). In his role, Jarrett works closely with the Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, senior management, and leaders across various business lines and departments to promote and advance The Auto Club Group’s (ACG) diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. Jarrett has been a key catalyst in the ACG D&I strategy rollout. Jarrett has worked with diverse populations throughout his career with 15 years’ experience centered on higher education marketing, diversity & inclusion consultation, community relations, and professional development. His passion has developed and implemented workforce readiness programs/solutions to empower underrepresented populations to achieve optimal career mobility, employability, and needed resources. Jarrett is a Certified Diversity Professional (CDP), alumni of Challenge Detroit Fellowship, and serves on the Tri-City Community Development Corporation board in Southwest Detroit. He holds a Master of Science degree in Human Resources from Central Michigan University and a Bachelors of Business Administration\Marketing from Eastern Michigan University. He is also married with one daughter and enjoys spending time with his family.
Rick C. Wade is senior vice president of Strategic Alliances and Outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Wade develops and implements programs and initiatives to help the Chamber create new business relationships and partnerships across diverse audiences. He also provides counsel on policy issues and leads special projects. His wealth of knowledge and experience in both the public and private sectors enable him to give a megaphone to the voice of business across the country and share the positive impacts of the free enterprise system. Among Wade’s many responsibilities, he is leading the Chamber’s historic Equality of Opportunity initiative aimed to develop sustainable public policy and business solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in education, employment, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, health and wealth. Before joining the Chamber, Wade was principal of The Wade Group, a strategic communications and global business development firm, and was a partner at Harves Investment Group, a consultancy that facilitated foreign direct investment into the United States. A member of the Democratic National Committee, Wade as an Adviser to President Barack Obama and National Director of Africa-American Vote at the 2008 Obama for America campaign. He was a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke where he was a liaison to the White House, businesses, trade associations, civic organizations, and local governments. He was a member of the White House task forces on Puerto Rico, Small Business Contracting, Automobile Recovery, Military Families, and Historically Black Colleges & Universities. He also served on the Interagency Business Council and former Vice President Joe Biden’s Task Force on Middle Class America and worked with the White House on implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Wade also worked with Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to foster regional economic development in distressed areas, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on expanding broadband to rural and urban America, the Minority Business Development Agency to create jobs through the growth of minority-owned businesses, and the Census Bureau on executing the 2010 decennial census. In addition, Wade was instrumental in expanding opportunities for U.S. companies to sell their products in the global market. He represented the U.S. at international trade forums including the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum, and the Conference on the Caribbean and Central America. He served as special envoy to the Caribbean, oversaw private sector initiatives in Haiti following the 2010 devastating earthquake, and led trade missions around the world. He was an executive at Hoffman-La Roche and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. He also had experience at the South Carolina House of Representatives, the Cabinet of the Governor, and the Office of the President at the University of South Carolina. Wade received his B.S. from the University of South Carolina and an M.P.A. from Harvard University. He was awarded honorary doctorates from Benedict College and South Carolina State University and has received numerous awards for exemplary leadership and public service.
Donnell R. White joined TCF National Bank in June of 2018 as Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Strategic Partnerships. In his position, Mr. White is responsible for establishing and leading strategies to attract, engage and develop diverse talent across the organization, as well as focusing on developing relationships with community groups, and business organizations in the city of Detroit. Prior to joining TCF National Bank, Mr. White served as executive director of the Detroit Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he helped lead the organization’s largest local Branch – Also one of its oldest and most storied Branches. While there, he was responsible for the strategic, financial and operational oversight of the organization and also served as the spokesperson and community liaison for the organization. Mr. White is a founding member of New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice Law Enforcement Signatory Group, Co-Chair of ClearCorps Detroit, Member of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, Federal Bureau of Investigations Multicultural Advisory Committee, Wayne State University President’s Community Advisory Group, Crime Stoppers of Michigan Board member and Trustee of Michigan Children’s Foundation.
With over fifteen years in the employee development and training industry, Gary has a proven track record of partnering with employers and human resources professionals, looking to understand their business and human capital goals in order to develop prescriptive solutions. Since joining Marsh & McLennan Agency, he has taken on both national and local leadership roles. Gary is a member of MMA’s national Diversity & Inclusion team, charged with setting the direction of MMA’s D&I initiatives including talent recruitment, awareness, and training. In addition, he leads Michigan’s Advantz practice, designed to help organizations maximize their D&I investment while also providing an optimal combination of processes and products to manage their group benefits programs. As our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Practice lead, Gary strategically partners with clients in order to help them establish or grow their D&I plan. Gary’s team provides D&I consulting as well as training for our clients. Prior to joining MMA, Gary was the Executive Vice President of Sales with New Horizons Computer Learning Centers. In this role, he led all business development efforts across the Great Lakes region focusing on helping mid-market and enterprise organizations improve their businesses by maximizing their software and human capital investments. Gary is a graduate of Northwood University with a Bachelor in Business Administration. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration. Gary has been recognized as a 2019 Salute to Diversity Business Leader of the Year by CorpMagazine. Currently, Gary serves on the Board of Directors for Gleaners Community Food Bank as well as the Michigan Diversity Council. Gary is also a member of Conner Creek Academy East School Board. In addition, he serves as a mentor with Winning Futures Organization. Previously he has served on Automation Alley’s Talent & Development Committee. Gary resides in Sterling Heights with his wife and three children. He leads and coaches a youth football program in the area.
Arthur Benjamin is an experienced Talent Acquisition, Diversity and Inclusion leader with 20 plus years of demonstrated history in strategic thought, leadership and planning around the complexities of talent engagement, culture, diversity, and inclusion. Skilled in Technical and Corporate Recruiting, Screening, Strategic HR Leadership, Management, and Diversity & Inclusion strategy. Mr. Benjamin holds a BS in Social Psychology and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership while being preaccepted into a doctorate program in transformational leadership at Bakke Graduate University. Arthur has served as the Global Inclusion & Belonging Executive Leader for Varian Medical Systems headquartered in Palo Alto, California. Arthur is now the new Senior Director – Diversity and Inclusion at Tinuiti, Inc. Concurrently, Mr. Benjamin chairs the San Diego Diversity Inclusion & Belonging Network, a monthly gathering of the top Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging thought leaders, and serves as an Executive Advisor on the Board for the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement (CADIA), an organization commitment to championing diverse talent, driving systemic change, creating inclusive cultures, and supporting leadership commitment. Mr. Benjamin partners with Center for Executive Excellence (CEE) to design, develop and facilitate a series of panel discussions with DEI practitioners, thought leaders, and executives from diverse organizations to share best practices in this rapidly developing field. Their most recent panel discussion entitled Championing Diversity: CEO Straight Talk included CEOs from various industries and sizes of organization. Arthur Benjamin is a family man and loves his beautiful courageous wife, Violet and his equally courageous and compassionate daughter Psalm Olivia.
Before joining the State Bar, Mr. Conyers was the Director of Community Development for Think Detroit. Mr. Conyers is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University. At the State bar he began as a program administrator for the Pro bono work of what was then the Access to Justice program, the predecessor of Justice Initiatives. Mr. Conyers went on to become Acting Director then Director of Justice Initiatives, where he oversaw the activities of the Justice Initiatives Division and worked in conjunction with the volunteers on the Committee on Justice Initiatives (CJI) and the five Initiatives (Pro Bono, Criminal Issues, Justice Policy, Equal Access and Resource Development/Access to Justice Fund) to accomplish the goals established by each body. He also coordinated and implemented justice projects and supported communications and marketing strategies for a range of State Bar-led justice issues. Currently, Mr. Conyers is the Director of Diversity, the first to fill the role established at the bar to focus on efforts to improve the diversity and inclusion of the legal profession in Michigan. Mr. Conyers also lends support to the standing Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and the American Indian Law Committee as staff liaison. Mr. Conyers received his Juris Doctorate from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
Darlene King began her career with the Michigan Diversity Council-MIDC, a division of the National Diversity Council, in 2015. As the executive director, her charge is working with corporations and organizations in developing diversity and inclusion initiatives, programs, processes, and procedures. She also oversees the growth of the council in the area of business development throughout the entire state of Michigan. Prior to her tenure with the MIDC, she held the role of director of events, consultant services, training and development for all 34 school districts under the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency for over 10 years. Her territory covered implementation and execution of all workshops and conference as well as maintaining CEU’s for teachers and administrators within Wayne County MI. She managed more than 60 consultants as well as county-wide, signature events such as the Teacher Job Fair, County K-12 Art Fair and the Cultural Collaborative for Learning. Darlene was also an inaugural member of the Diversity Strategic Planning Committee, which rolled out a county-wide diversity plan for all districts. Darlene’s background is widespread. She spent six years as a national concert promoter, traveling around the world with some of today’s most popular artists in the industry. She has produced and promoted shows at every concert venue in Detroit and beyond. In 2008, she launched her consulting company, Life’s Journey Training and Consulting. Competing in today's global market, Life’s Journey offers services in industries ranging from education to automotive, medical, non-profits and manufacturing. Its area of expertise consists of diversity and inclusion, leadership development, marketing, and public relations. Life’s Journey has provided service deliverables to Wayne County Head Start Programs, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, The Order of the Fisherman, The Detroit Medical Center, Revival Home Health Care, RTM Music Group, Real Times Media, Stonecrest Behavioral Health, Detroit Area Agency on Aging, Universal Studios, Detroit Community Schools, MASCO Corporation, Diversity Lansing and many more. Darlene is a native of Michigan and enjoys spending time with her family, nephews and niece. She says her faith in God, family, passion for people and her love of traveling and gardening are the drivers which keep her on a Life’s Journey. Darlene has a passion for people and earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Wayne State University in Detroit. She has been operating in this capacity as well as in education and organizational development for 25 years. Darlene earned her National Certification as a Certified Diversity and Inclusion Professional in 2018.
DeAndre A. Lipscomb is Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Homepoint Financial, a leading mortgage and financial services company. He guides the development and implementation of strategic, programmatic and operational initiatives that promote a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. Under his leadership, the company engages, develops, retains and attracts a diverse workforce to align with its mission and values. In addition, DeAndre serves as the President of the Homepoint Foundation, charged with creating a more inclusive mortgage industry through education, community engagement and diversity. Prior to joining Homepoint, he worked for 21 years in the health insurance industry serving in executive roles overseeing employee engagement, marketing, communications and community outreach before leading philanthropy and community development in the financial services space. DeAndre earned a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University’s honors journalism program and a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University. He is an advocate for lifelong learning and professional development. He holds certifications in Diversity Practice from the National Diversity Council, Reputation Management from the Public Relations Society of America and Corporate Citizenship Management from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. Driven by his passion for children’s issues and education, DeAndre has received mentoring awards from the Detroit Metro Youth YMCA and RESULTS Mentoring. He has served as an advisory board member for the YMCA and is a past member of the Council for Michigan Foundations’ Corporate Contributions Committee and Mentoring Program. DeAndre has also mentored young men through the Winning Futures nonprofit organization. He is a board member and past board president for Spaulding for Children, which connects children with foster care and adoptive family services. He also serves as a board member for the National and Michigan Diversity Councils, and board of trustee for the Michigan School of Psychology.
Over 20 years ago, Jennifer L. Payne began her career in human resources, working within the industries of automotive, education, communications, healthcare, and advertising. Jennifer’s background and experience are unique – bringing diversity, strategic insight and effective communication strategies. She has 13+ years of HR experience and eight years of communications experience within entertainment, advertising, and non-profit -- including grassroots and urban initiatives. For the past 5 years, Jennifer's focus has primarily been within the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) space -- currently serving as Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Lead for both the TBWA/Chiat/Day and 180 Los Angeles offices Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management. And she is currently serving as Board of Directors, VP, for the Black Public Relations Society of Los Angeles.
Marvin Rushing is a Vice President-District Manager in the Retail Bank division for Comerica Bank. In this role he has responsibility for overseeing the operations of banking centers in Macomb County, managing processes, delivering results, directing the management of the sales teams in the District through process driven, easily executable strategies, and tactics. The range of his responsibilities include customer retention and growth, maximizing revenue, business development, increasing market share, and ensuring customer & employee satisfaction. He is impressively adept at building partnerships with teams and functions across organizations both internal and externally. Marvin recently celebrated his 22nd service year anniversary with Comerica Bank. Marvin has a rich background of leading and promoting diversity, developing others, building highly effective teams, and has demonstrated this in his role as the former chair and member of Comerica’s African America Network employee resource group. He is a member of Comerica’s Asian Indian Business Initiative, and serves as a co-chair for the Detroit UNCF, the United Negro College Fund Annual Walk for Education. Marvin has been recognized as a Diversity Champion by the Race Relations & Diversity Task Force, and he currently serves as a mentor in Mayor Dave Bing’s Bingo mentoring program. Marvin is a former award recipient of the Michigan Chronicle Men of Excellence Award and Who’s Who in Black Detroit. Marvin is a proud graduate of Detroit Public Schools graduating from Cass Technical High School and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University. He is a loving father of two and active in the local community.
Lee Thomas Fox 2 Detroit Michigan Entertainment Anchor and Movie Critic For over 2 decades Lee Thomas has been covering Entertainment for WJBK TV. Before making his home in Michigan Lee’s resume included: Entertainment/Feature Reporter for WABC TV Eyewitness News in New York City Feature/Entertainment reporter for WHAS TV in Louisville Kentucky New York Based Host for the nationally syndicated teen newscast, Channel One Lee is a four time Emmy Award winner and a long time a member of the Broadcast Film Critic Association (BFCA)along with memberships in the African American Film Critics Association(AAFCA), Detroit Film Critics Society(DFCA), National Association Of Black Journalist(NABJ), SAG-AFRTA and the National Speakers Association(NSA). Mr. Thomas is one of those unique regional journalist that has been covering Hollywood for his entire career. His entertainment segments called,"The Foxbeat" can be seen on Fox 2 News Morning and Daytime talk show,"The Nine" on WJBK TV in Detroit Michigan. You can also tune into,"CriticLee Speaking" his weekly movie review show seen Fridays 6:30pm and Saturdays 9:30am on Fox 2 and Facebook @CriticLeeMovies. https://www.facebook.com/CriticLeeMovies/ "At its worst, a film is merely entertainment. But... at its best movies can be the magic that transformation the world" -Lee
Edgar L. Vann III is a proud Native Detroiter. He attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit and then went on to complete his higher education at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA where he received his Bachelor of Arts, in Business Administration Majoring in Finance. He received his Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from Walsh College of Business and completed a Fellowship in Public Policy and Social Research from Michigan State University. Edgar holds the position of Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for TCF Bank. In this role, he provides guidance to leadership and team members; Partner with teams to effectively use data and analytics to identify trends and create solutions to address individual and group behavior, and recommends strategies for making needed change. He develops and manages ongoing D&I dashboard reporting and program metrics for bank leadership, while managing D&I programs including but not limited to Employee Resource Group (ERG) and D&I councils to assure satisfactory results within established deadlines on budget. Prior to this he was the District Director of Government Relations for Wayne County Community College District. Honoring a lifelong call to service, Edgar has been a mentor, coach, and youth advocate since high school. He is committed to giving back to the community where he lives. He is a Board Member for Eastside Community Network, Michigan League for Public Policy, McDowell Preparatory Academy and sits on the Advisory Board for the National Diversity Council to name a few. He was honored by Crain’s Detroit business Top 40 under 40 and Fifth Third Bank Young History Maker.
Erica recently joined Kapnick Insurance Group. She has previous experience in a variety of industries including healthcare, automotive, city government, and small business. In her role as Client Executive, Erica assists her clients in solving complex employee benefit problems and offering collaborative, innovative solutions. Her primary responsibilities include establishing and maintaining strategic relationships, and guiding her clients on health plan strategies, wellness initiatives, and employee engagement. Erica is passionate about entrepreneurship and loves helping business owners succeed in balancing their organization’s financial goals with their employees’ expectations. Erica holds a BA in business from Kentucky State University and an MBA from Wayne State University. She is a licensed life, health, and accident producer and a Certified Diversity Professional through the National Diversity Council. Erica is a Detroit native currently living in Farmington Hills with her husband and young daughter. Community is important to Erica, and she’s spent time volunteering for organizations such as Vista Maria, Youth Community Agency, and Mercy Education Project and held board positions on the Michigan Diversity Council and the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She is also involved with her church, serving on the Usher Board. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, playing volleyball and shopping.
Angeles Valenciano serves as chief executive officer of the National Diversity Council (NDC), becoming the first female CEO of this major nonprofit. In this role, she will continue to advance the NDC’s mission of fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She will also focus on strengthening partnerships with businesses, academia and the community at large. Ms. Valenciano is a seasoned strategist with more than 20 years of experience in human resources, primarily focused on diversity, organizational change, and development. She was previously president of the Healthcare Diversity Council and executive vice president of the NDC. In the latter role, she oversaw the growth of several national markets, including California, Colorado and Arizona. In addition, she also served as vice president of business development for the Texas Diversity Council (TXDC), one of the NDC state councils. Ms. Valenciano was the TXDC’s first executive director with responsibility over operations and policy implementation as adopted by the Board of Directors. She directed the agendas of the regional diversity council’s advisory boards in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. Under her leadership, the annual Women in Leadership Symposium was created and is now a national and global event held in more than twelve states and several countries including England, Mexico, Canada and most recently United Arab Emirates. Formerly, Ms. Valenciano was the director of diversity and inclusion for 84 Lumber Company. She provided leadership and direction for the infrastructure, design, formulation, implementation and execution of the organization’s overall diversity strategy, which included external communications, public relations, and community engagement. She was also responsible for ensuring the efficacy of these business practices, processes, and procedures. Ms. Valenciano’s role was carried out in the company’s business expansion into Mexico and Canada. As an assistant vice president and officer at JPMorgan, she served in the capacity of leadership development consultant in Credit Card Services and Organizational Development, and consultant to Customer Services’ clients. Ms. Valenciano also managed the strategic direction and execution of organizational-wide development processes as well as diversity programs and initiatives. She served as subject matter expert on global diversity, overseeing the company’s initiatives in various countries. Active in charitable and civic affairs, Ms. Valenciano is a graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de San Luis Potosí located in the City of San Luis Potosí in Mexico with a degree in business and computer information systems. She holds a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) Certificate from University of Villanova. She has completed various leadership and professional development programs across the country and abroad. Ms. Valenciano is fluent in English and Spanish. She serves on the board of the Science, Engineering and Technology at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. She is a strong advocate and chairs several committees for people with disabilities in the workplace. She is a proud ally to the LGBT community and is active with several chambers of commerce across the country. Ms. Valenciano lives in San Antonio, TX, with her sons.