Businesses, Communities, Futures Thrive With Diversity

Michigan has been a very diverse state for decades -” thanks to the legacy of the automotive and related industries that offered high-paying jobs to both immigrants and natural-born citizens -” though ethnic and racial divisions and discrimination led to strife and segregation.

But the ideals of America are that all people are created with equal rights and liberties with opportunities for personal growth and development. Corp! magazine’s fifth annual Salute to Diversity on Aug. 30 at the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel celebrates those 30 companies, individuals and organizations that have led the way to promote diversity and inclusion.

In choosing the award winners, Corp! was interested in more than race and ethnicity and also recognized gender, religion and disability conditions. Sponsors of the 2011 awards program are Compuware, DTE Energy, Leadership Oakland, Michigan Business & Professional Association, Michigan Diversity Council, MGM Grand Detroit and Oakland Community College.

The Diversity Award winners are in the following categories: Diversity Business Leader, for those who are role models or top officers of a minority-owned business; Diversity Focused Company, those businesses that defined and monitored diversity success and demonstrated how diversity efforts added value to their operations; and Diversity Champions, nonprofit organizations that created or promoted special programs, provided education opportunities or started other initiatives.

Diversity Focused Company recipients are Bowman and Brooke LLP, Cooper Standard, Hamadeh Educational Services, Lewis & Munday, The Nelson Companies Inc., Nemeth Burwell, Spartan Stores and Wayne State University.

Diversity Business Leader honorees are Fay Beydoun, executive director of American Arab Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Haifa Fakhouri, founder, president and CEO of the Arab American and Chaldean Council; Raquel Salas, co-founder and managing member of Avanti Law Group PLLC; Dr. Yahya Basha, founder and president of Basha Diagnostics; Monica L. Martinez, vice president of National Hispanic Business Affairs of Comerica Bank; Cynthia Kay, president and CEO of Cynthia Kay and Co.; Susan Ellis Goodell, president and CEO of Forgotten Harvest; Jocelyn Giangrande, director of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion at Henry Ford Health System; Lora Vinande, manager for Talent Management & Diversity at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services; Jim Jaime, owner of Michigan Pipe and Valve; Mary Bauman, partner at Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC; Dr. Ernestina de los Santos-Mac, chairwoman of Philippine American Community Center of Michigan; Ryan Rosario, president of Philippine Chamber of Commerce-Michigan; Antoinette Green, vice president, Office of Diversity & Inclusion at Trinity Health; and Ruben Acosta, co-founder and co-managing partner of Williams Acosta PLLC.

Diversity Champions recipients are Affirmations, Crossroads for Youth, International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, International Media Exchange, Jackets for Jobs Inc., Jewish Vocational Services and New Detroit Inc.

A sampling of opinions on diversity from the award winners follows:

-¢ According to Haifa Fakhouri of the Arab American and Chaldean Council, “Diversity is the coexistence of different races, ethnicities and socioeconomic groups. -¦ It is important to embrace diversity to ensure understanding and tolerance of those who are different from ourselves.”

-¢ Dr. Janet McPeek, president of Crossroads for Youth, said, “Diversity is not always about race -” we teach our children that as much as we’re all different, we also all have similarities, and we should treat everyone with respect and embrace our differences. Different shouldn’t equal bad or scary. It should equal opportunity to learn something new.”

-¢ “Diversity is so much more than the traditional definition,” added Cynthia Kay, a consultant and owner of Cynthia Kay and Co. “It’s about being open to embracing people, cultures, thoughts and ideas that may be different than those with which you are comfortable. When we try to see the world through the eyes of others and open ourselves to new ideas, the results are unquestionably better.”

-¢ “The most obvious difference (between diversity and affirmative action) is we don’t have quotas,” said Thomas Branigan, executive managing partner at the Detroit office of the Bowman and Brooke law firm. “When we go out and recruit at law schools, we don’t have to fill so many slots for diverse or minority lawyers. In the minds of some people, affirmative action has been -” in some respects -” about numbers and making sure there is a set number of representatives of a gender, a race or a religion that are permitted to do work or are part of the profession.”

Diversity Focused Companies
Each year, American Lawyer Media ranks the largest 200 law firms, as well as assigns them a diversity score which is derived by adding together each firm’s percent of minority attorneys and percent of minority partners. While Bowman and Brooke LLP was not large enough to be included on that list in 2011, if it had been, the firm estimates that it would have ranked No. 4 based on having 18.2 percent minority attorneys and 20.2 percent minority partners for an overall score of 38.4 percent, said Lawrence C. Mann, managing partner of the metro Detroit office. Specifically, the metro Detroit office (which is actually in Troy) has 35 percent women attorneys, both partners and associates, and 21 percent from minority backgrounds. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Bowman and Brooke has a total of 185 attorneys, including 14 in the Detroit area. The firm handles commercial, intellectual property, environmental, construction, consumer warranty and health care litigation. The firm also has offices in Phoenix, San Jose, Calif., Los Angeles, Richmond, Va., Columbia, S.C., Dallas and Austin, Texas. Representing nearly every major car manufacturer, it is the largest provider of defense trial work for the automotive industry in catastrophic and wrongful-death cases and handles their cases in every state. Its Michigan client list includes Phillip Morris, Dow Chemical Co., Kraft Foods, Johnson Controls Inc., Jo-Ann Fabrics Stores, Beal Bank, Subway Sandwich Shops and Waste Management. A commitment to diversity has been part of the law firm’s culture and fabric since it was founded 25 years ago, added Thomas Branigan, executive managing partner in Detroit. “We are seeing more and more of our clients demand greater diversity in the legal representation that they pay for,” Branigan said. “We have always brought in teams that are very diverse in all respects to our trials, to our client meetings and to our projects … because we believe that it is the right thing to do.” Internally, a number of attorneys have created their own groups. For example, the popular Courtroom Divas blog,, celebrated its one-year anniversary on June 24. The Courtroom Divas focus on the many challenges and successes of female attorneys in the courtroom as well as help other professional women apply lessons learned to their own lives and careers. Andrea Moody, a partner at the Detroit office, is one of three bloggers. She explores the lives of working mothers in the blog. Moody, a widow and mother of a 5-year-old son, balances the demands of family life and a litigation practice. She is an active advocate of diversity in the workplace, serving on various diversity committees.

Automotive supplier Cooper Standard of Novi, which became a standalone company in 2004, employs about 19,000 people in 18 countries. Its products include body-sealing, fluid-handling and anti-vibration systems. According to Automotive News, it ranks No. 62 among the Top 100 Global OEM Parts Suppliers and is No. 35 out of the Top 50 North American OEM Parts Suppliers. Dedicated to helping the communities in which it operates, the auto supplier’s efforts to develop minority business partnerships has evolved to include the company and its employees helping the minority population of Detroit with everything from health care to job training, noted Chairman and CEO James McElya. “Cooper Standard’s vision for the future includes working with automakers and community leaders to bring more automotive-supplier jobs to Detroit,” he continued. “We have witnessed firsthand how providing assistance and opportunities can dramatically improve the quality of life in our communities.” Cooper Standard created a strategic initiative in 2007 to partner with minority businesses. The company recruits and mentors students, creating unique opportunities for them to gain real-world work experiences, and partners with S.A.Y. Detroit, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, Focus: HOPE, Boys & Girls Club of Detroit, Forgotten Harvest and Michigan State University Community School. “Our diversity efforts have provided employees a firsthand perspective on the benefits of inclusion,” McElya said. “Cooper Standard has a broad acceptance of diverse cultures and backgrounds, enabling us to come together within an environment of mutual respect to effectively service our global customers, improve our communities and create a brighter future for generations to come.” He noted that his commitment to giving everyone an opportunity stems from his growing up in 11 foster homes. Believing that he was provided opportunities to succeed and avoid the pitfalls of a challenging childhood, McElya’s motto is: “Everyone deserves an opportunity, especially children who have been thrust into difficult situations without a choice.” As a result, Cooper Standard has adopted his philosophy through its many programs and initiatives to help urban populations.

Nawal Hamadeh founded Hamadeh Educational Services Inc., an organization that focuses on multicultural education.

Based in Dearborn, Hamadeh Educational Services Inc. was founded by Nawal Hamadeh in 1998 and provides complete educational services to four public school academies with more than 2,400 students and 300 staff members. Focusing on preschool through 12th-grade programs, Hamadeh hires the academies’ staff members and provides human resources and payroll services, as well as complete financial services such as financial planning, budgeting, accounts payables and receivables, business contracts, negotiations, purchases and consulting. It also deals with support services, curriculum development, professional development, compliance reporting and oversight, business development, marketing and public relations, grant writing, project management and finance procurement, after-school and athletic programs, and more. “Since our inception, we and the four academies are known for a focus on multicultural education,” noted Hamadeh. The schools have attracted students and staff from diverse backgrounds in regards to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical and skill abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs and/or ideologies. “Such differences represent the HES foundation, whereas they nurture one another in a safe and positive environment that is conducive to learning,” she said. “Diversity is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to being open-minded with an international mindedness as embracing and celebrating each other’s differences. The state of Michigan has a diverse population, and as a result there is a huge demand for programs that embrace diversity and accommodate the student needs for cultural sensitivity.” Cultural-sensitivity training is offered to its staff members and students at the beginning of the school year and as needed. The main goal is for everyone to respect one another and to learn how to get along and make the best out of any situation, Hamadeh added. Many of the employment candidates are attracted to the diverse environment, as they believe that such experience enriches them and makes them more open-minded and better prepared to handle the toughest situations.

Founded in 1972, Lewis & Munday PC is one of the oldest and largest firms founded by minorities. The firm represents Fortune 500 companies, public entities, universities, developers, investors, lenders, borrowers, health care organizations, employers, bond issuers, bond purchasers and pension funds in a wide range of legal matters. It has locations in Detroit and Lansing, as well as Washington, D.C., Seattle and New York City. It concentrates on public (municipal) law, corporate law, real estate and litigation matters. In 2010, New Detroit presented the law firm with one of its three annual “Closing the Gap” awards, which are given to an individual, a community-based organization and a corporation for their willingness and dedication to lead for change to improve race relations in southeast Michigan. Lewis & Munday was honored for its pioneering work and national recognition as one of the oldest and largest firms founded by African-Americans and becoming the first African American-owned law firm in the U.S. to be listed in the Bond Buyer’s Directory of Municipal Bond Dealers. The law firm is one of the top 50 bond counsel firms in the United States. In 2001, Thomson Financial Company ranked the firm 16th nationally among all bond counsel. In 2006, the Bond Buyer ranked Lewis & Munday first as bond counsel in Michigan, second in Connecticut and second in Washington, D.C.

The Nelson Companies of West Bloomfield was founded by David Robert Nelson in 1970 and provides real estate brokerage and property management services for its own developments. It will also form joint ventures with landowners, retailers, lenders or other real estate developers to develop real estate for long-term appreciation. By working with architects, engineers and other professionals, The Nelson Companies has been able to create valuable real estate investments.

Patricia Nemeth, left, and Linda Burwell, of Nemeth Burwell PC, keep the firm focused on employment litigation, labor law and management consultation.

Specializing in employment litigation, traditional labor law and management consultation for private and public sector employers, Nemeth Burwell PC is the largest women-owned law firm in Michigan that represents management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes. It recently added significant space to its Detroit riverfront location. “We enjoy the experience of an urban environment and attract staff members for whom that is also important,” said President and CEO Patricia Nemeth. “Because we view diversity as a multifaceted concept, we also made efforts to get our less experienced attorneys engaged in the Detroit corporate community through networking and business and charitable events that support the city. Overall, we believe our Detroit location and support of Detroit, which has a reputation for landmark labor and employment law cases given its union history, elevates our stature as the go-to management-side employment law firm.” The law firm defines diversity in broad terms of all of the classifications protected by law in Michigan, including sex, race, age, disability, religion, ethnic, genetic, national origin, height and weight. But it goes further by looking at how to incorporate diverse ideas and approaches, diverse geographical areas and diverse educational and experiential backgrounds to the firm. “As a women-owned firm, we didn’t consciously decide to embrace diversity -” it was all we knew,” Nemeth said. “As is our desire, we attract male, female and minority candidates on our legal and administrative team because we have a strong niche in employment and labor law.”

Spartan Stores, based in Grand Rapids, owns and operates 97 supermarkets in Michigan under the D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Supermarkets, Glen’s Markets and VG’s Food and Pharmacy banners. The company also supplies more than 40,000 private label and national brand products to nearly 350 independent grocery stores. It is the nation’s 11th largest grocery distributor. The company’s website,, says that through diversity and inclusion, it celebrates the kaleidoscope of cultural backgrounds, life experiences, opinions, skills and talents that reinforce its reputation as an employer of choice. “Spartan Stores is committed to promoting and upholding diversity and inclusion as core characteristics of our culture. We welcome opportunities to maximize diverse perspectives, talents, ideas and contributions from our associates. Understanding, accepting and valuing individual differences supports our goal of bringing variety and vitality to the workplace,” said Dennis Eidson, president and CEO. A statement on the company’s culture also emphasizes diversity: “Spartan Stores is a supporting and welcoming environment that emphasizes trust and openness while embracing diversity in its many forms; one where the unique contributions of each individual are valued, as well as the collective strength when we all come together.”

Founded in 1868, Wayne State University has more than 400 academic programs, 13 schools and colleges and 32,000 students. Covering more than 203 acres, its main Detroit campus has about 100 buildings. Wayne State also has six extension centers throughout southeast Michigan. The student body is diverse in age and background, coming from 49 states and more than 70 countries. More than 41 percent are minorities, including African-Americans at 25 percent. The mean age for the total undergraduate, graduate and professional student population is 27.1 years. Many students work while attending school, noted President Allan Gilmour. “Wayne State strives to be a place where people from varied walks of life can reach their full potential,” Gilmour said. “We promote the participation in campus life by people of various viewpoints, cultures, creeds, etc., for no more complicated reason than that it reflects the real world we live in. Diversity helps promote cross-cultural understanding. We are committed to the core values of inclusiveness and opportunity. These values are essential to the fulfillment of our mission as a model metropolitan research institution.” Wayne State has one of the most diverse student bodies among Michigan’s public universities. This is a reflection of its urban location and the reputation of its graduate schools, which attract students who want to take advantage of the many opportunities for internationally themed coursework and study abroad. Wayne State partners with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan in the University Research Corridor (URC), a consortium dedicated to the state’s economic revitalization. Wayne State and its URC partners are Michigan’s only universities to hold the prestigious Carnegie Foundation classification of RU/VH (Research University/very high research activity). Only 2.3 percent of U.S. institutions share this distinction.

Diversity Business Leaders
Fay Beydoun, executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, is a community activist, professional and leader. Committed to empowering the Arab-American business community, the chamber represents members ranging from small businesses to multinational corporations and executive professionals. Beydoun was also vice president of the American Middle East Economic Affairs Committee and the U.S. Arab Economic Forum, which was founded upon the mutual desire to enhance bilateral relations. The forum provides a unique opportunity to engage high-level corporate leaders, heads of state, ministers, politicians, academicians, media and concerned citizens from the United States and Arab world to facilitate economic collaboration, cultural dialogue and innovation. In 2002, Beydoun became executive director of the Michigan Office of the Arab American Institute, mobilizing the Arab-American community to become active in the political process to lobby for policies to protect civil liberties and inform the American public about Arab-American contributions to civic life, government service, the economy and education.

Dr. Haifa Fakhouri, founder, president and CEO of the Arab American and Chaldean Council.

Dr. Haifa Fakhouri is the founder, president and CEO of the Arab American and Chaldean Council (ACC), which is the nation’s largest community-based, human-service organization dedicated to the Middle Eastern community. A nonprofit organization, the ACC provides services to the Middle Eastern and other communities in southeastern Michigan by building cooperation and communication, raising the level of individual well-being, increasing cross-cultural understanding through education, and delivering services, counseling and other opportunities. “Throughout the 20th century and continuing today, the Detroit area has attracted a steady stream of immigrants from the Middle East who today (number) near 500,000,” Fakhouri said. “In 1979, acutely aware of the fact that these newly arrived immigrants needed assistance in order to adapt to life in the United States, a group of visionary community members founded the Arab American and Chaldean Council.” At 23, Fakhouri immigrated to Michigan from Jordan in 1968. After graduating from Wayne State University, she started the ACC with a one-person office -” housed within the International Institute in Detroit -” and served 421 clients during the first year of operation. Nearly 32 years later, the council has 40 outreach offices serving more than 80,000 people annually with education, employment help and training, behavioral health, youth recreation and self-enrichment services, cultural activities, immigration and health programs. Fakhouri has received many tributes, awards and appointments, including the Detroit News 1999 Michiganian of the Year Award, National Association of Women Business Owners 2005 Diversity Champion, National ADC Distinguished Service Award and 2005 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. She was also inducted into the International Institute’s Hall of Fame plus the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. She was an international adviser to the U.S. Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Population (UNDP) on the role and status of women and population policies in the Middle East region. Based in Lathrup Village, the ACC recently formed the Arab/Chaldean American Disaster Preparedness Advisory Committee to provide community emergency response team (CERT) training. In partnership with the state of Michigan Citizen Corps program; the city of Detroit Citizen Corps Council; Wayne County Citizen Corps Council; the cities of Detroit, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and Southfield; and Wayne County, the program is designed to enhance the overall readiness of the Arab/Chaldean-American community in the event of a man-made or natural disaster. A key component in ACC’s mission to create a bridge of understanding for a safe, healthy and peaceful community, the Cultural Tapestry Program promotes the appreciation and tolerance of the Arab-American and Chaldean culture.

Devoting her career to representing small businesses and fighting for individuals across boundaries of gender, race, age, sexual orientation and social class, family law attorney Raquel A. Salas, managing member and co-founder of Avanti Law Group PLLC, was named in 2009 as one of West Michigan’s 40 Under 40 Business Leaders by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. Salas has represented companies in the publishing, direct marketing, food processing, food industry, manufacturing, retail, construction, financial services and real estate businesses in a variety of transactions. She also represents clients in divorce proceedings, child custody matters, guardianships, child support, adoptions, bankruptcies and criminal proceedings. Avanti was founded in 2010, and during its first year of existence the firm established itself as the top women-owned law firm in west Michigan, according to the Grand Rapids Business Journal. With offices in Wyoming and Holland, the firm has more than eight full-time attorneys. “I believe that to achieve diversity, you have to be intentional in your recruiting practices,” Salas said. “Our commitment to diversity goes beyond ownership; we are equally committed to the development, advancement and retention of our minority professionals. As of June of 2011, 50 percent of our attorneys are women and 30 percent are minorities.” A company that employs a diverse workforce is better able to understand the demographics of the marketplace it serves and is in a better position to thrive in that marketplace, she added. Businesses that support diversity improve employee satisfaction, productivity and retention, which all translates to happier clients. “Having marketing materials with pictures of a diverse staff that they don’t employ is not sufficient,” she said. “They must in fact recruit and develop a diverse talent within your company and provide opportunities for them to be successful.”

Born and raised in Syria, Dr. Yahya M. Basha grew up in a country dominated by people who were just like him -” Arab Muslims -” but his neighborhood was composed of Orthodox Christians and Armenian refugees from Turkey. He attended Orthodox schools but also traveled to Lebanon to see family members living there and was exposed to a different mix of people. The experience of learning about other people’s faith, and how they thought and viewed things, was enriching, said the founder of Basha Diagnostics. “It gave me an appetite for learning and knowing how to handle those issues,” Basha added. “Since I was a little child, I read books when I was in elementary and religious school and when I was in high school written by people who worked on that concept. They did very well, regardless of the business they were in, by servicing the people.” After earning a medical degree at Damascus University, Basha immigrated to the United States in 1971 and had to pass tests to qualify for an internship at American hospitals. Coming to Detroit, he went to work at the Mount Carmel Hospital, a former independent Catholic health care facility that is now part of the Detroit Medical Center’s DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital. “I didn’t know that much English and my background had lots of challenges, but they understood and put up with it,” he said, adding that it was a good experience. In 1980 he founded Basha Diagnostics, based in Royal Oak, to provide medical imaging tests to patients so they wouldn’t need to visit a hospital. Now the company has four locations across southeastern Michigan and a staff of more than 100 people. “(Diversity of the workplace) makes the business or institution richer by having people from multiple backgrounds,” Basha said. “People with diverse backgrounds give you a company with more ability and sophistication.”

Comerica Bank has been named to Hispanic Business magazine’s Diversity Elite 60 list for the past four years and has been highlighted as one of the nation’s top companies for supplier diversity for three consecutive years. Comerica has a Spanish version of its website and accepts the Matricula Consular de Alta Seguridad (Mexican identification card) at its banking centers nationwide. In addition, Latina Style Magazine named Comerica as one of the top companies for Latinas to work. Part of the bank’s success is due to the efforts of Monica L. Martinez, vice president of National Hispanic Business Affairs. A Comerica employee since 2006, she directs the bank’s Hispanic business and community outreach programs in Comerica’s primary markets of Michigan, Texas, California, Arizona and Florida. She is responsible for growing business relationships and developing outreach initiatives with an emphasis on the bank’s expanding markets nationwide. A graduate from Eastern Michigan University who also has a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University and a certificate in corporate community relations management from Boston College, Martinez was recently named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by Hispanic Business Magazine and to Latino Leaders magazine’s Ones to Watch list. In 2009, she received the Fusion Horizon Award from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s young professionals program, which recognizes young individuals for their professional accomplishments. She is also a recipient of the Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development’s Board of Directors Award, which recognizes an individual’s personal commitment to the local community. She was honored as the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever in 2008 and the Executive of the Year by the Detroit Chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs in 2007. She also serves on the boards of the Michigan Hispanic Chamber, the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan and SER Jobs for Progress National, as well as mentors other Comerica employees and people in the community through the Wayne State College to Career program. Prior to coming to Comerica, Martinez was the community relations manager at Ford Motor Co.

Cynthia Kay founded her media production and communication consulting company in 1987.

Cynthia Kay, the former board chair of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM), has received many honors in her 24 years in business as a consultant. Rather than thinking about herself as a diversity business leader, she said she assists her clients to learn about and implement diversity programs. Her business, Cynthia Kay and Co. of Grand Rapids, was incorporated in September 1987 and is a media production and communication consulting company. Its clients include Fortune 100 companies, small businesses and nonprofits. “I embraced (diversity) at a very young age because my parents, both first-generation Greek immigrants born here, were very aware of the value of diversity,” she said. “When I worked in the media, I had the chance to interview and work with individuals involved in healing-racism seminars. That’s when I saw firsthand the importance of diversity and inclusion at a much broader and deeper level.” A graduate of Michigan State University, Kay also holds a master’s degree in communications from Western Michigan University. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Grand Valley State University and as president of the West Michigan Chapter of the American Marketing Association. In 2005, she was honored as the Top Woman-Owned Business by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, and the company was named Small Business of the Year by the Grand Rapids Area of Chamber of Commerce. The company was once again honored in 2009 and 2011 as a Top Woman-Owned Business. In 2006, 2008 and 2010, Kay was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan, and the company was twice named one of West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies. “The world is shrinking, and from a business perspective it just makes good sense to have a diverse and inclusive workforce,” Kay said. “Finally, there is a richness to life and work that flows from having a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

With more than 20 years of nonprofit-management experience, Forgotten Harvest President and CEO Susan Ellis Goodell leads the second-largest independent food-rescue organization in the United States. Under her leadership, the agency increased the amount of rescued food from less than 1 million pounds per year to more than 24 million pounds annually, or enough to feed 75,000 people every day. By 2013, thanks to food donations from grocery stores, caterers, dairies, farmers, manufacturers, wholesale food distributors and other Health Department-approved sources, Forgotten Harvest hopes to rescue 40 million pounds of fresh food annually. This donated product -” food that otherwise would go to waste -” is delivered free of charge to more than 160 emergency food providers throughout the metro Detroit area. A native of Maine and a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, Goodell has received numerous awards, including the prestigious McGregor Fund Fellowship, which recognizes and encourages excellence in nonprofit leadership. As part of her fellowship plan, she is studying food rescue best practices at sites in Israel, Germany and Australia as well as social change movements across the United States in an ongoing effort to advance the cause of food rescue by identifying ways to reduce food waste and significantly increase food resources for the nation’s poor. She has also continued the work to champion diversity at Forgotten Harvest, which was founded by Dr. Nancy Fishman. “We pride ourselves to serve and provide to all who are in need regardless of race, age, color, creed, sex, religion, nationality and sexual orientation and will provide food to those in need free of charge,” Goodell said. “Our partner agencies agree to serve all people without discrimination with any other requirements and will never charge for our food. Our staff and board of directors are very diverse and represent the makeup of our community. We serve all areas of our community that are struggling with unemployment, underemployment or living in poverty. We have a policy that embraces and empowers underserved and minority populations to become a part of our organization while we give opportunities to all with employment, promotion and employee development to help all of our staff to grow and thrive in their pursuit of greatness in serving those less fortunate.”

Jocelyn Giangrande serves as the director of Workforce Diversity & Inclusion for Henry Ford Health System.

A career strategist, professional coach and keynote speaker at training workshops, Henry Ford Health System’s Jocelyn Giangrande has a career that spans several industries with more than 15 years of experience. She earned a reputation of helping professionals discover their talents, use their potential abilities and gain empowerment to attain their objectives. Now the director of Workforce Diversity & Inclusion at the hospital system, Giangrande also blogs about job coaching and has created various “How to” audio seminars, including “Mapping Your Path to Career and Business Success.” HFHS offers an array of acute, primary, tertiary, quaternary and preventive care backed by research and education. The nonprofit hospital system recorded $3.7 billion in revenues in 2009 while providing more than $160 million in uncompensated medical care. More than 23,000 HFHS employees -” including 5,022 nurses (395 from Canada) and 3,897 allied health professionals -” have cared for more than 3.3 million patient contacts. Founded in 1915 by auto pioneer Henry Ford, HFHS was named the No. 1 hospital system on Diversity Inc.’s Top Com-panies for Diversity. “This national recognition contributed to HFHS being identified as the employer and provider of choice,” Giangrande noted. “It also put us in the elite group of diversity-committed organizations.” Major diversity initiatives for 2011 included cross-cultural mentoring and cultural-awareness programs involving the CEO and all senior executives. HFHS also launched a Diversity Council to develop its strategic goals and measuring results. “The launch of our multicultural and sensitivity training curriculum was a significant milestone that was designed to impact employee engagement and inclusion,” Giangrande said. “Although we have not had an opportunity to assess the impact (survey scheduled for the fall), the feedback from employees has been positive. The training also includes cultural competency designed to meet the diverse needs of the communities we serve. Today’s talented employees are interested in and attracted to companies with strong diversity programs and values. Having a diverse workforce may result in the strengthening of a corporate culture and values.”

Lora Vinande is the manager of Talent Management and Diversity for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC.

Lora Vinande, manager of Talent Management and Diversity at Mercedes- Benz Financial Services USA LLC, led the initiative to reorganize the company’s employee resource groups (ERG) to encourage employees of different backgrounds and experience to work together while including diversity and inclusion efforts. Employees are encouraged to become involved in one of four goal-focused affinity groups: professional development, cultural awareness, employee engagement and community outreach. Programs have included various lunch-and-learn presentations, multicultural potluck lunches and even a Wii “Rockband” Tournament, just to name a few. These events, and the communication surrounding them, have elevated employees’ diversity awareness. Headquartered in Farmington Hills, with Business Center Operations in Fort Worth, Texas, MBFS handles Mercedes-Benz and Smart brand automotive dealers and their retail customers. Vinande graduated magna cum laude from James Madison College at Michigan State University with a bachelor of arts in social relations and has more than 10 years of community relations experience. In 2005, she received the Daimler Financial Services President’s Award, which is the highest business achievement honor presented annually from the company’s CEO. Prior to her work at Daimler Financial Services, she was a senior account executive at the Campbell & Co. marketing firm. “I found my favorite definition of diversity in a poster at my local elementary school,” said Vinande, who joined the company in November 2004. “It reads: ‘Different Individuals Valuing Each Other Regardless of Skin, Intellect, Talents or Years.’ I like this definition because it’s simple, easy to remember and action oriented.” When Mercedes-Benz Financial Services separated from Chrysler in August 2007, Vinande approached executive management to ensure that diversity was a part of the new company culture and strategy. “Out of those conversations, I was tasked to champion these efforts throughout the organization, and my job responsibilities were expanded to include diversity,” she said. “Truly embracing diversity means that the company continually looks at systems and policies and makes changes to actively promote an open and welcoming culture.”

Jim Jaime, president of Michigan Pipe & Valve-“Saginaw.

A 1984 graduate of Saginaw Valley State University, Jim Jaime is president of Michigan Pipe & Valve-“Saginaw, one of six independently owned branches in Michigan for one of the largest distributors of water, storm and sanitary sewer products. Additionally, Jaime is president of the Mid-Michigan Hispanic Business Association. “Michigan Pipe & Valve-Saginaw is a Hispanic-owned family business,” Jaime said. “In our industry, it would be safe to say we are the only Hispanic-owned distributor in the state of Michigan and one of only a few in the country. We have made it a point to give minorities an opportunity to work in an industry that is historically nontraditional for minorities and women. In addition, we are very much involved with sponsoring programs such as the Great Lakes Bay Hispanic Leadership Institute, a program designed to train young professional Hispanics to be leaders in the community.” Diversity is about understanding the importance of promoting opportunities whenever possible for minorities in areas such as education and employment typically difficult to reach, he said.

Listed in Best Lawyers in America and recently named a Michigan “Super Lawyer,” Mary V. Bauman is a partner in the Grand Rapids-based law firm Miller Johnson. She graduated summa cum laude from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1986. Miller Johnson is a full-service law firm with more than 85 attorneys and also has an office in Kalamazoo. Its attorneys provide legal counsel to businesses and individuals in areas such as corporate law, employment and labor, litigation, employee benefits, mergers and acquisitions, economic development, family law and estate planning. In 2010, U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers awarded Miller Johnson with first- tier rankings for 23 practice areas -” the most of all law firms for the Grand Rapids metropolitan area. “I am from Kalamazoo and my father was one of the community leaders to institute racial integration in Kalamazoo Public Schools,” Bauman said. “This happened while I was in junior high school. It made a profound impact on me and made me think about the importance of diversity. As I’ve grown up and worked in the workplace, it is so critical to adequately serve your clients.” Diversity is the smart thing to do if businesses want to succeed, she added. In June 2011, Miller Johnson became a founding member of the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative Agreement, a formal commitment between major Grand Rapids law firms and the Grand Rapids Bar Association to work together to promote and achieve greater diversity and inclusion in the west Michigan legal community through education, hiring, retention and promotion. Its five-year action plan will address three initial challenges, including increasing the number of attorneys of color, improving the retention of both women attorneys and attorneys of color, and expanding the number of persons of color entering law school and the profession. Miller Johnson also is the only Michigan-based law firm with membership on the Leadership Council of Legal Diversity. Its other diversity milestones include annually awarding the Miller Johnson Michigan Diversity Law School Scholarship in cooperation with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, creating the Floyd Skinner Grand Rapids Bar Association Minority Clerkship Program and participating in the program for 21 consecutive years, participating in Cooley Law School’s Minority Clerkship Program for four years, and honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with a firmwide Day of Service program supporting community organizations in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.

People are the happiest when they have a sense of purpose and commitment, says Dr. Ernestina de los Santos-Mac (aka “Ernie Mac”), who is a community pediatrician at Beaumont Hospital and incumbent chairwoman of the Philippine-American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM). A nonprofit service organization in Southfield, PACCM primarily serves as “a home away from home” for Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in Michigan. In her capacity as PACCM chairwoman, Santos-Mac has spearheaded projects that benefit not only Filipinos but also non-Filipinos. One such project was the Health and Wellness Fair in May that provided free health-screening services to needy people, most of them uninsured. She has supported a recent fundraising campaign from which proceeds were donated to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan. “The campaign was undertaken here in Michigan by the Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA), of which I am a member,” she noted. Santos-Mac was also appointed commissioner of the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC), for which she’s been involved in projects and activities that promote diversity such as the observance of Asian Heritage Month on May 18 in Lansing, with performances featuring Asian cultures and traditions. “The acceptance of diversity as part of our communities is important to me and to society because the presence of various cultures in our midst is a fact of life to which everybody must adjust,” she said. “I decided to embrace the diversity concept in the first year of my residence here in Michigan. It was prompted by my observation that U.S. society is characterized by many races and cultures. To be able to live peacefully and comfortably in such a society, it was necessary to me to adjust to it or embrace it.”

Helping people manage their risks and realize their dreams of home ownership has been a passion of Ryan D. Rosario, a State Farm agency owner since 1992. He also is president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce-Michigan, where he’s promoted diversity. He was involved with the recent Health and Wellness Fair hosted by the Philippine-American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM). Held in May, the fair was a free health clinic that served some 200 uninsured people, mostly Filipinos, Chinese and Indians. “I promoted the event by placing in a community newspaper an ad inviting (people to) the free health-screening services made available at the fair,” Rosario said. “Other milestones include my participation in diversity programs such as those undertaken by the Council of Asian Pacific Americans, the National Federation of Filipino-Americans Associations and APIA Vote-Michigan. Due to my involvement in activities benefiting all kinds of ethnic groups, people note that I am friendly and helpful to everybody.” Rosario, who has adopted diversity as part of his corporate responsibilities, noted that his community-building efforts have brought more people to his State Farm agency. “I define diversity as a lofty principle calling for all Americans to embrace and appreciate all the cultures in their midst,” Rosario said. “I decided to accept diversity in college when I attended the University of Detroit-Mercy. For the first time, I had many students belonging to other ethnic and racial groups. It was great to learn and appreciate the beauty of other cultures. It was also a great avenue for me to share my Filipino traditions to others.”

Antoinette Green, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion for Trinity Health System.

Shepherding Trinity Health System’s efforts to engage the community and employees in multicultural interaction is Antoinette Green, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion. Headquartered in Novi, Trinity Health is the nation’s fifth-largest Catholic health system, operating 46 acute-care hospitals, 379 outpatient facilities, 31 long-term care facilities along with numerous medical offices and hospice programs in 10 states. Nonprofit Trinity Health, which reported $7 billion in revenues in 2010, employs more than 47,000 full-time staff. It reinvests money into the community through programs to serve the poor and uninsured, elderly outreach, health education and promotion initiatives, and efforts to manage chronic conditions like diabetes. Last year, the hospital system spent nearly $460 million on such services. “At Trinity Health, diversity and inclusion are a part of our DNA,” said Green, who is a 2005 graduate of the University of Houston-Clear Lake with a master of arts degree in cross culture studies.

“We are called to provide excellent experiences for our employees, patients, families and the communities that we serve. Our commitment ensures the successful integration of our diversity, and inclusion -¦ starts at the top and is one of our most significant milestones.” Joseph R. Swedish, president and CEO, also serves as Trinity’s chief diversity officer, Green noted, adding: “We are all accountable for diversity and inclusion at every level.” Recently Trinity Health launched associate resource groups (African-American, GenNext, Women’s Inclusion Network and the Ability!) to fine-tune patient care, become more proactive in community efforts, engage employees in multicultural interactions and provide opportunities to mentor and support other employees. The hospital system opened nine highly specialized senior emergency departments to focus on elders age 65 and up, created the Community Connections Grid Kiosk program to help the underserved in its communities get better care, and implemented the Equity in Care program to collect patient demographic data to better meet each patient’s individual needs. Prior to joining Trinity Health, Green was the human resources manager at CenterPoint Energy, directing the development of compliant annual affirmative action plans among her duties. “Shifting demographics in the U.S. may be a challenge to some organizations, but to us, it is a competitive advantage,” Green said. “Trinity Health will be prepared to address the cultural nuances that exist in our patients’ races, ethnicities and languages. We will be equipped with culturally competent clinicians and hospital staff because of the leadership that exists in the Trinity Health Unified Enterprise Ministry.”

Ruben Acosta, co-managing partner and co-founder of law firm Williams Acosta PLLC of Detroit, has counseled and represented clients in a broad array of complex commercial matters and disputes, including commercial contracts, securities, real estate, construction, intellectual property, land use, insurance coverage, personal injury and business immigration. Born in Cuba and fluent in Spanish, he has represented Latin American companies and citizens involved in transnational commercial disputes in the United States and abroad. As the chairman of the 2006 United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Legislation Conference, he served with congressional and White House representatives to help shape policy on comprehensive immigration reform. Acosta has worked extensively on the local, state and national level on Hispanic economic issues ranging from immigration reform to business development as a member of the board of directors for the USHCC and the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MHCC). He is also president of Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LASED), a charitable organization providing social services to the Hispanic community in Michigan, and also serves on the boards of various other local and national charitable organizations. Acosta graduated with distinction from the University of Michigan and is a cum laude graduate of the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law.

Diversity Champions

Affirmations provides training to companies and organizations to build understanding and education about the core issues and challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Founded in 1989, Affirmations of Ferndale is a community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their supporters. Its mission is to provide a welcoming space where people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and cultures can find support and unconditional acceptance, where they can learn, grow, socialize and have fun. Affirmations has more than 31,000 contacts with community members every year and provides a variety of programs such as Friday and Saturday night youth activities, individual and couples’ counseling services, and more than 20 regularly meeting support and social groups reaching those just coming out of the closet to those dealing with losing a long-term relationship. Affirmations provides training to companies and organizations to build understanding and education about the core issues and challenges facing LGBT people in schools, workplaces and communities. “We embrace multiculturalism because we believe that it affirms, respects, treats equally and is representative of various races, ethnicities, nationalities and cultural identities,” said Kathleen LaTosch, chief administrative officer. “Inclusive organizations not only have diverse individuals involved, but more importantly, they are learning organizations that value the perspectives and contributions of all people. They incorporate the needs, assets and perspectives of communities of color into the design and implementation of universal and inclusive programs.” Within the past year, Affirmations worked with the Michigan Diversity Council to provide training to area human resource professionals on a program called “Creating a Welcoming Environment for LGBT Employees.” Additionally, its Multicultural Advisory Committees gathered data from six different constituent groups, held six focus groups and gathered together 15 community members to draft a set of best practices and standards for future operations with a focus on board development, staff development and programs. Internally, all staff, board, volunteers and interns participate in four hours of diversity and inclusion training as part of their orientation to Affirmations. Designed with input from the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion, the training encourages participants to expand and broaden their awareness of cultures and communities that are different from their own. “We have greatly expanded our recruitment efforts, ensuring that job postings are broadly distributed and effectively reaching historically marginalized populations, including people of color, people with disabilities and the transgender population,” LaTosch said. “We recently formed a partnership with Detroit Latin@z to offer our toll-free helpline in Spanish. Both organizations expect to formally launch this new helpline in the fall, offering support to Spanish-speaking LGBT people. We have begun steps to offer a monthly series of cultural awareness activities at the center, including films, education and cultural celebrations.”

Crossroads for Youth is a private, nonprofit treatment facility for at-risk and abused and neglected youth. Based in Oxford, it was founded in 1951 as Camp Oakland Youth Programs and evolved from a residential boys’ program and summer camp to a multiservice agency providing many services throughout Michigan. About 60 percent of the children it serves are African-American, but it also works with children who are Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Arab-Americans and Caucasians, as well as many other cultures. “Our core programs consist of residential and day-treatment programs,” said Dr. Janet McPeek, president. “We provide troubled children with a supportive, positive environment in which they learn how to succeed in life. We teach them problem-solving skills and help them develop the self-esteem to believe in themselves and make the right choices.” Crossroads for Youth received a number of grants to support its diversity efforts to work with people of different backgrounds to help at-risk children. One such grant came from Consumers Energy to host the 2011 Diversity Camp -” a weeklong traditional camping experience for area youth, with an emphasis on the lifelong benefits of diversity appreciation. “The ability to get along with others is an important predictor of success in the workplace, which in turn is a strong predictor of life success,” McPeek said. “In this way we strive to help these youth learn skills that they will benefit from lifelong.” Three years ago Crossroads for Youth received a three-year grant from United Way of Southeast Michigan for an Afterschool Adventure program targeting at-risk middle schoolers in Pontiac and Hazel Park. This program provided students with a safe, after-school environment that emphasized learning in conjunction with community teachers. About 95 percent of the student participants increased their scores in math and reading while staying in school. Another diversity program included an anti-bullying kit thanks to a grant from the Woman’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Rochester. “Bullying invariably focuses on the difference of the victim, and regardless of whether the difference is race, gender, weight, sexual orientation or some other factor, bullying leads to damaged persons, crippled environments and, ultimately, unhealthy communities,” McPeek said. “These are just three of many examples of the impact on our efforts to bring children of these diverse backgrounds together with teachers, counselors and instructors of different backgrounds to have a lasting impact on the lives of all involved. We measure success not by profits but by the achievements of these at-risk children.”

Mumtaz Haque, president of the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit.

Founded in 1919 by YWCA volunteers who wanted to help immigrants learn English and become American citizens, the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit (IIMD) has a vast collection of ethnic and cultural artifacts that are on display for visitors to enjoy. Its Hall of Nations displays flags from 82 countries, 2,000 dolls from 84 countries and other ethnic displays and artifacts, while the American Room houses scale models of ships on which immigrants came to the United States. Annually, the institute assists 1,100 individuals with legal immigration questions. It also holds citizenship classes and conducts swearing-in ceremonies. “My passion is diversity issues, and the International Institute is an organization that is close to my heart because it helps immigrants to enter the mainstream of society,” noted Mumtaz Haque, president. She is also the producer and host of the “Manoranjan Radio Show,” a radio program that promotes multiculturalism and features Indian music, interviews, community events, educational and self-improvement topics, plus themes for the entire community. Her program is broadcast on WPON 1460-AM on Sunday mornings ( The International Institute offers many cultural activities and hosts an international festival in the fall in Southfield. “I have not seen any other organization that is as diverse as (the International Institute),” Haque said. “One man who was honored in our Hall of Nations recently said that when he came to this country, it was the International Institute who made him feel like he was at home. We offer the kind of environment where people feel comfortable at coming together.” In 2002, the state of Michigan honored Haque for outstanding leadership and dedication to community service. The India League of America also awarded her efforts to bring cultural awareness to students through humanitarian and educational campaigns such as the Penny to Dollar Drive for India (2001) and Penny to Dollar Drive for the Aid Victim Orphans in Africa (2002-2003). During these campaigns, students of Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, Washtenaw and Lapeer county schools undertook educational projects about India and Africa and, concurrently, raised thousands of dollars. These efforts brought children of various ethnic backgrounds together and inculcated in their minds a spirit of helping each other beyond the boundaries of gender, culture, religion or country. “Bridging the gap between various communities is my passion,” Haque said. “I have presented educational, cultural and peace-promoting workshops at several nonprofit organization events. I have been a presenter at the Religion, Conflict and Peace Conferences organized by the Common Bond Institute (a Michigan-based national not-for-profit organization which promotes world peace) for the past three years. I have also been a keynote speaker at several events, including The Shanti Project, a program of the University of Michigan School of Social Work to strengthen family relationships and prevent domestic violence in the Indian community.” She was also a cultural consultant with TechWorld Language Solutions Inc., presenting cultural awareness workshops to companies.

A nonprofit company, International Media Exchange (IME) of Kalamazoo promotes the economic and political incorporation of disadvantaged Spanish- and English-speaking communities through technology and multimedia programming. For example, Wood TV, Channel 8, of Grand Rapids selected IME as a recipient of the “Connecting With Community” Award for collaborating with other community partners on Kalamazoo’s Dia del Nino (the International Day of the Child). With IME as the program leader, Kalamazoo organizations recognized the value and rights of children. In conjunction with several financial organizations, Kalamazoo Public Schools and other community service organizations, children were given books, entertained by diverse international cultural groups and offered services such as health care and financial education. “We have always worked with partners in creating value in the community, but the Dia del Nino project -¦ was considered by all to be a huge success that needs to be repeated annually to the continued benefit of the city’s children,” said Juan Muniz, executive director. “Diversity is seen by IME as the inclusion of all races, genders and orientations as being of equally valuable members of the community and that it is only through inclusion of diversity that our communities become whole. It is diversity that defines who we are. Without diversity, we, the organization and the community, are less than whole as the multifaceted nature of our community is lacking.” IME seeks out the best employee candidates to serve its diverse client base. Therefore, IME employees end up representing this same diversity because they can serve those clients most effectively, Muniz added. At the same time, the diverse clientele attracts a diverse group of candidates from which to select.

Jackets for Jobs provides low-income job seekers with professional attire to wear to interviews.

Jackets for Jobs Inc. of Detroit is a nonprofit organization that provides career-skills training, employment etiquette and professional attire to individuals seeking employment. The organization is based on the premise that jobless people cannot afford career clothing for an interview or for work, and without appropriate attire for an interview they are unable to land a job. To solve this catch-22 problem, Jackets for Jobs opened in March 2000 to serve low-income individuals in the metro Detroit area. JFJ “suits” nearly 120 men and women each month. To date, the organization has distributed more than 150,000 articles of business attire to more than 13,000 job seekers while collaborating with nearly 40 agencies. It serves as a charitable arm to TJ Maxx. “Jackets for Jobs is responsible for creating, sustaining and promoting special programs, initiatives, strategies to capitalize on opportunities and respond to challenges tied to diversity, advancement of women and community support due to our partnership with TJ Maxx (in 2007) and Detroit Workforce Development Department (DWDD),” said Alison Vaughn, founder and CEO. “Our partnership with both entities has proved to be very valuable to us and the Detroit community.” Jackets for Jobs also became a Michigan Works! affiliate in 2002. TJ Maxx’s employees have been very valuable to the success and actively spread the word about the organization’s mission. Some of the Jackets for Jobs and TJ Maxx programs included “Put Your Best Foot Forward,” hosted by the 2008 Miss America, which sought to build women’s self-esteem; “A Tie To Remember,” hosted by Murray Feldman of Fox 2 News and which included local celebrities such as Detroit Council President Charles Pugh and taught men how to tie a tie; a book signing by author Shaun Robinson of “Access Hollywood” that helped women build self-esteem; and the “You Too Can Make It” event in partnership with Wayne State University, which featured individuals who have overcome obstacles and have become successful. Another milestone for Jackets for Jobs was the distinct honor of ringing the closing bell on NASDAQ. This position is usually reserved for Fortune 500 CEOs.

Founded in 1941, the Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) of Southfield has helped Holocaust survivors, refugees and World War II veterans to find employment. However, the agency serves more than just people of Jewish heritage. As requests for help came from the entire community, it had a diverse clientele from the onset. Over time, JVS added services for individuals with disabilities plus programs for the workforce, seniors, employers, financial education and the homeless. JVS has locations across the metropolitan Detroit region and recently partnered with the International Institute to serve immigrants -” new Americans -” from around the world. “Participation in a more global Detroit fits in perfectly with our mission to help people realize their life’s potential,” said Barbara Nurenberg, president and CEO. “This goes back to our roots and our mission: JVS helps people meet life challenges affecting their self-sufficiency through counseling, training and support services in accordance with Jewish values of equal opportunity, compassion, responsibility and the steadfast belief that the best way to help people is to make it possible for them to help themselves.” It is critical to any organization or business to have a diverse workforce, she continued. Bringing people with a variety of life experiences, ideas and sensitivities to the table puts everyone in a better position to respond to the diverse needs of the community. “Metro Detroit is a very diverse community,” Nurenberg said. “We tend to see as we are; we need to see as they are. The old saying ‘stand on tradition and you stand still’ applies more than ever. Social and cultural changes need to be addressed; ignore them and you’re history.”

Members of the 2011 New Detroit Multi-cultural Leadership class gather at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

New Detroit was formed in response to the 1967 Detroit riot to try to heal the community. At the request of then Michigan Gov. George Romney and Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, business executive Joseph L. Hudson Jr. convened the nation’s first coalition of its kind to identify what went wrong in July of 1967, what needed to change and how to make that change happen. Today, New Detroit is a broad-based coalition of leaders from civil rights and advocacy organizations, human services, health and community organizations, business, labor, foundations, education and the media. The mission of the private, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization is to positively address the issue of race relations by influencing issues and policies that ensure economic and social equity. “Our unique niche is providing a forum for race-relations issues and the inequities that continue to exist because of racial and social disparities,” said Shirley Stancato, president and CEO. Detroit remains the 11th largest city in the nation, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, its population continues to decline. Metropolitan Detroit had been identified as the most racially segregated region in the country but with this latest population shift, the issues have changed dramatically and gone beyond Detroit’s borders into its suburban communities. In the tri-county area, people of different races are increasingly living, working and going to school together. From 1990-2007, the minority population grew 7.2 percent in Wayne County, 98.2 percent in Oakland County and 276.9 percent in Macomb County. To develop an inclusive workplace, New Detroit encourages businesses to become engaged in its Multicultural Leadership Program. “New Detroit’s work in race relations fosters open communication to create a greater understanding between the ethnic groups who make up the Detroit region,” Stancato said. “Our goal is to break down barriers, and our success in race relations in large part depends on us having a shared base of understanding on how it is we interact with one another.” In recent years, New Detroit has launched a series of initiatives to further its mission of improving race relations and fostering economic and social equity. These have included conducting research about urban education; publishing reports with recommendations to improve academic achievement; implementing intensive four-day summer business camps on the campuses of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University that teach Detroit-area minority high school students leadership skills and the basics of business and entrepreneurship; and providing financial literacy education for students of color in grades four-12.