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New Leaders Council

Our Board

Executive Committee

Myra_Lee.jpgMyra Lee – Chapter Director

Myra Lee is the Co-founder and Chapter Director of NLC Detroit. Throughout her career, she has been committed to dismantling systems of oppression that are legally legitimized by federal, state and local governance which perpetuate social injustices of racial and gender inequality, economic injustice, and the removal of human dignity in marginalized communities of color. She is passionate about advancing effective social policy to address systemic issues of poverty, racial inequality and the gap between the private and public sector in leadership, investment and development in Detroit. Ms. Lee attended Michigan State University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture, specializing in Environmental Economics and Policy.

After graduation, Ms. Lee served a two year term as an AmeriCorps Member in Detroit, which provided her vast community organizing, project management and capacity building experience. During her first year of service she was sited at Young Detroit Builders in Southwest Detroit as the Deconstruction Association of Detroit Organizer, Deconstruction Business Plan Project Implementer and Youth Advocacy Coordinator. During her second term, she was placed at Church of the Messiah Housing Corporation on the lower eastside of Detroit. Due to her tenacity and passion for community ownership and community based-food system design, after the completion of her service, Ms. Lee’s position evolved into the Director of Sustainability and Healthy Food Access.

For several years, Ms. Lee has been working as an independent consultant in the non-profit sector as a policy analyst specializing in issues related to food security and malnutrition for women and children, social determinants that cause health disparities in African American and communities of color, and policy implications to promote women's economic empowerment within urban and rural communities both domestically and internationally. Some of her consulting work domestically included strategizing market-based solutions, such as business incubators and resource-sharing opportunities to support entrepreneurs in agriculture, processing, distribution, and value-added product production. In addition, she provided innovative financing and business assistance to food enterprises that are supporting farmers in meeting the growing demand for local, sustainably-grown food.

After her completion of serving as an Executive Office intern with Governor’s Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives, Ms. Lee completed her graduate studies at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at University of Michigan where she received her Master of Public Policy degree and obtained invaluable experience on Capitol Hill. First serving as a clerk and legal intern for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings and then being selected as the inaugural Riecker Michigan Delegation Fellow. During this time of public service, Ms. Lee served a six month term as a legislative fellow with the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in Washington D.C.

BM5.jpgDeAndree Watson, Policy Analyst for Councilman Hames Tate – Chapter Vice-Director

DeAndree Watson is a highly ethical, principled and passionate servant leader dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and committed to preserving social justice and equality for all people. He graduated from Lewis Cass Technical High School in 2008 before attending the University of Michigan where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts in 2012.

During his time on campus, DeAndree proudly served as a member of the Michigan Research Community, the U.S. Army ROTC Wolverine Battalion, the College Democrats, the Black Student Union, the U-M Chapter of the NAACP, the Dean of Students Advisory Board, the Mustard Seed Campus Ministry of Second Baptist Church of Ann Arbor, and eventually as the first black male President of the Student Body in the U-M Central Student Government where he worked extensively on restructuring student government to promote transparency, reforming hate and bias response protocols to promote a culture of inclusiveness, civility, and respect throughout the campus and changing perceptions about diversity and inclusion.

After graduation, DeAndree returned home to Detroit to serve as a policy analyst for former Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh and now serves in the same capacity for Councilman James Tate. As a policy analyst, his responsibilities include developing policy proposals, reviewing proposed legislation, resolving constituent concerns and advising the councilman on the merits of items proposed for legislative action, focusing primarily on matters of economic development, urban planning, risk management, civil litigation, human resources and historic preservation. DeAndree has aspirations for a fulfilling career in public service and plans to practice constitutional law after attending law school.

BM9.jpgAkunna Olumba, Managing Partner, Mischief Managed, PLC –Institute/Curriculum Chair

Ms. Olumba is a Nigerian American from Detroit. She began her professional career as an engineer with General Motors after deciding against a career in engineering, She started her own marketing and urban real estate development and consulting company. The company focused on providing homes and homeownership training to Detroit’s low-income population. Additionally, she served as a consultants on several mix-used developments within the City of Detroit.  As a developer and consultant she helped to construct and plan six real estate projects in Detroit, Michigan.

She is a graduate from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor with a degree in Engineering.  She completed her Juris Doctor at Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University – College of Law with honors in May 2013. Finally, she holds an LL.M in International Taxation from one of the best LL.M taxation programs in the country, the University of Florida - Levin College of Law.

Currently, Ms. Olumba is the Managing Partner of Mischief Managed PLC, a federal practice that specializes in Taxation and Intellectual Property. She is also the principal in charge of running Mischief Managed Foundation, the foundation provides compliance support to federally recognized non-profit organizations. Ms. Olumba is member in good standing of the Massachusetts Bar, the United States Tax Court, and the Eastern District of Michigan.

BM11.jpg Quentin Love, Strategic Marketer & Operational Manager, Growth Strats, LLC, Agape Marketing Consultants– Curriculum/Institute Vice-Chair

Quentin G. Love has nearly two decades of strategic marketing and operational management experience as a professional and entrepreneur. Stints have included consulting, a digital startup, social enterprises, advertising, and sports & entertainment.

Previous accomplishments include brokering a partnership between En Garde! Detroit and the Detroit Sport Commission that evolved into a successful bid for a national fencing tournament-Detroit’s first in over twenty years. This resulted in an estimated $2 million impact to the Detroit area economy. Quentin has also assembled and run experiential projects in various markets across the country. Some of the brands and clients include the NBA, Chevy, USA Fencing, Walmart, Subway, NCAA® Basketball, White Castle and Pepsi.

Prior to this, Quentin was selected to help lead the Blackstone LaunchPad program at Wayne State University, an incubator for student ventures funded by Blackstone’s Charitable Foundation. There, he helmed digital communications, cohort recruitment and advised early stage ventures – reporting to the Executive Director. Love also served as a member of the Detroit 2009 NCAA® Men’s Final Four® Organizing Committee primarily responsible for community outreach.

Quentin began his career as an advertising executive assigned to the McDonald’s account managing budgeting and strategic planning for diversity initiatives. During this time he worked on new and test product launches as well as identifying and executing strategic community partnerships.

Quentin holds a B.A. in sports management and communications from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. from Wayne State University.

SEAN_HARNESS.jpgSean Harness, Buyer, General Motors, Inc. - Finance Chair

Confident. Charismatic. Concise. Creative. In short, these are just a few words that describe Sean Harness, a well exposed young professional from the metro-Detroit area. Sean is a first generation college graduate with a strong passion for youth mentorship, enticing cuisine and international travel. His expertise includes but is not limited to: Project Management, Design Engineering, Technical Writing, Business Strategy, Relationship Development, Change Management, Competitive Benchmarking and Cost Management. Sean currently works as a Buyer within the General Motors Global Purchasing and Supply Chain division. Harness manages approximately $400 million in annual spend across the Corvette, Volt, Camaro, Equinox as well as many other car and truck chassis programs. His major responsibilities include strategic negotiation, contract management and global supplier development. Additionally, Sean has had the unique opportunity to work as a Global Sourcing Manager and Process Improvement Manager with Caterpillar and Intel Corporation respectively. Harness was born in Chicago, IL although he spent most of his time growing up in the historic city of Detroit.

Sean is a 2013 graduate of the Broad School of Management at MSU (Michigan State University). In addition to his MBA, he holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering, also from MSU. Just last year Sean completed two business study abroad trips to Europe and Africa. In his leisure Harness dedicates his time and energy to service. Sean has volunteered for programs like the City of Lansing Boys and Girls Club, DAPCEP (Detroit-area pre-college engineering program), Meals on Wheels, The Ideal Education Foundation and COTS (Coalition of Temporary Shelters). Sean recently started a company, Harnessing Innovation, LLC. with a major focus on the critical thinking, leadership and communication aspects of inner-city youth development. Harness is very excited about the transformation Detroit is currently beginning to undergo and has a strong belief that youth education is the key to successful economic sustainability in the future.


BM4.jpgKamilia Landrum, Program & Member Services Director, NAACP - Alumni Chair

Kamilia Landrum, is currently the Program & Member Services Director for the Detroit Branch NAACP. She oversees programming for their strategic priorities in the areas of civic engagement, criminal justice, economic sustainability, education and health, and is responsible for membership engagement. She is a member emeritus of the NAACP National Board of Directors serving on the Audit, Finance, Image Awards and Youth Works Committees. In her local chapter she serves as Advisor to the Youth Council, Chair of the Young Adult Committee, and 3rd Vice President to the Michigan State Conference. In addition to her social justice work and community involvement she is a Managing Partner for The GlassDrum LLC, a venture started in 2014 to provide expert event management, conference planning and entertainment services. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University followed by her Master of Public Administration in Non-Profit Policy and Management from Wayne State University. She was recently named one of the Michigan Chronicle’s 40 under 40 and serves as a community advisory council member for Health Alliance Plan and the Detroit Sports Zone. She guides her life by the scripture, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jer. 29:11.


BM7.jpgCory Connolly, Clean Energy Project Manager, Levin Energy Partners - Alumni Vice Chair

Cory Connolly is a Clean Energy Project Manager with Levin Energy Partners, a company developing financing solutions for clean energy projects in Michigan, specializing in Property Assessed Clean Energy. Previously, Cory was a Senior Research Associate at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC, where he contributed to, among other projects, the implementation of Mexico's 2012 Climate Change Law and related goals. His work on energy, climate, and carbon markets has taken him to Argentina, Japan, and Mexico. In 2011, Cory helped plan and run the Green Economy Leadership Training program – an environmental training program in Highland Park, Michigan. As an undergraduate, Cory interned at the US Department of State on climate policy. In 2015, Cory was one of 10 young Midwestern clean energy professionals or "Clean Power Players" profiled by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and he was also named a 2015 Adams Entrepreneurial Fellow through Automation Alley. Cory was a member of the 2014 Young Climate Leaders Network, a member of the 2011/2012 cohort of Roosevelt Fellows, and in 2012 Cory was named to Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 for Law and Policy. His writing has been published by the Environmental Law Forum, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Americans For Energy Leadership, and the Roosevelt Institute's Next New Deal, among others. As an undergraduate, Cory was an active member of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network and remains involved as an alumni. Cory graduated with honor from James Madison College at Michigan State University with a BA in International Relations. 



Axel Cooley, Executive, Metallon, LLC - Communications Chair

Axel Cooley was raised in the heart of Canada's Technology Triangle, Kitchener-Waterloo. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University, one of the top business schools in the nation, accredited by AACSB obtained by only the top 5% of business schools worldwide. Here, she earned an Honors BBA degree and was hand-selected for its co-op program exclusive to the top 400 students. Axel's career has largely focused on empowering individuals and helping to advance communities around the world through wisdom, which is the most powerful gift awarded to man. For 9 years, she served as Press Officer for RDS TV & Radio, oversaw Press Departments in 30 nations, and collaborated with outreach programs to teach individuals their self-worth, since prosperity begins in the mind. In this role, she traveled around the world conducting press conferences, and collaborating with global media outlets: CNN, NBC, ABC, FOX, DISCOVERY, NATGEO, TELEMUNDO, UNIVISION, and more.

Widely known as a God-fearing woman of vision, commitment, and courage, Ms. Cooley has also made her mark as a creative force in the world of business. She currently serves as President at Metallon, LLC which provides precious metals to the automotive industry. The accomplished entrepreneur is co-owner of Derjers International and Nocce Designs. Previously, Axel secured technology and finance positions at some of the world's largest companies including Goldman Sachs, FritoLay, Open Text, and marketing for high-tech corporations: DSPFactory Ltd. and ITOPA Technologies. The well-rounded and tenacious professional began her career as a Supervisor at ServiceMaster where she hired, trained, and motivated 60+ telemarketers.

Ms. Cooley's philanthropic endeavors have extended beyond helping individuals have better lives. One of her major philanthropic concerns has been helping victims of abuse. To this end, she led the Press Dept. for the Are Your Children Protected Foundation, conducting reports around the world in multiple languages, working with advocates, and interviewing victims, public figures, or topic experts. With a keen interest in current affairs and global issues, Axel also volunteered as an investigative reporter for NetGracia Radio, handling LIVE newscasts and authoring thousands of articles widely syndicated. She currently serves on the International Business Council Advisory identifying new trends in international trade and foreign direct investment while helping ensure the region remains at the forefront of innovation.


ERICA_MANN.jpgErica Mann - Communications Vice-Chair

A graduate from Michigan State University, Erica Mann is a performance-driven, hardworking, and highly motivated professional offering comprehensive experience in marketing and public relations.

After graduating she started her professional career at KI Technology Group as a Marketing Administrator in East Lansing, became an agency signed model, and started her own business. From there she was able to nurture her knowledge about the marketing, business, fashion, and technology industry.     Her modeling career began to pick up by the end of 2013 and to date has  been able to  work  for  international  designers,  model  on national television, win modeling contests, and many more high profile accomplishments. She  currently  works  at  Lambert, Edwards & Associates focusing on public relations.

Erica has been recognized for expertise and leadership skills by earning important level positions as a young professional and being nominated for prestigious awards such as the Cheryl M. Gilliam Young Alumni Award which is given to a Michigan State University young alumni who shows promise of a distinguished career not only by outstanding professional accomplishments, but also by an exceptional record of community service.

Erica  also  enjoys  serving  the  community  and  has  been  involved  with  Meals  on  Wheels, American Red Cross, Humane Society, Read to Succeed, Athletes in Action, Board of Directors with Michigan State University Alumni S Club, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Board member on the New Leaders Council of Detroit (NLC), and Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art.

BM2.jpgLaTrice Davis, Senior Associate, Develop Detroit - Mentorship Chair

LaTrice Davis is a native Detroiter and Senior Associate with Develop Detroit – a high capacity, mission-driven real estate development company that executes significant housing and revitalization projects throughout the city of Detroit. LaTrice is graduate of Cass Technical High School and Michigan State University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising.

Passionate about driving diversity and equality for models of color in the fashion and entertainment industries, LaTrice launched her career in New York at two premier modeling agencies, Elite Models and IMG Models. She served as an Assistant Model Manager charged with uncovering new business development opportunities and assisted in the generation of over $2 million in revenue for advertising, editorial and runway bookings with major clients such as Vogue, Givenchy and Versace. 

When exposed to the technology and startup ecosystems in Silicon Alley, LaTrice leveraged her skills into Operations, Business Development and Account Management roles at, AlleyNYC and Lean Startup Machine to sharpen her understanding of entrepreneurship and promote diversity within the technology sector. Now equipped with a diverse skill-set and global perspective, LaTrice has focused her talents on real estate and economic development to create sustainable and dynamic communities that promote economy stability and enhance the quality of life for Detroit’s residents. 

In addition to being a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., LaTrice is an active volunteer with The Junior League of Detroit, an organization of women committed to harnessing the power of volunteerism, transforming our communities and training women to lead.

BM3.jpgLatonya Garth, Owner of Motown Dance, CEO & Founder, Imagine Mentoring Program of Michigan - Mentorship Vice-Chair

Motivated to “encourage the lives of people who desire change”, Latonya’s objective is to help people save their own lives. Her core beliefs focus on leadership, integrity, and education.

Latonya received her Bachelor's degree in Communication and Master's degree in Higher Education from Michigan State University. She is a true advocate for higher education and works as a High School Representative for EDMC Management in addition to serving as the Founder and Director of a non-profit organization; The Imagine Mentoring Program of Michigan. She strives to encourage teenagers and adult learners about the importance of education, increasing their self-esteem and living life to the fullest. In addition to her roles in education and mentoring, Latonya is a business consultant, life coach and teaches hip-hop and confidence building dance classes to youth and adult women on behalf of her company, Motown Dancer, LLC.

Latonya is also very committed to working to advance the knowledge and transform the lives of others in the Metro-Detroit area. She is very involved in the community and partners with National Heritage Academies, Detroit Public Schools, I AM A Priority Women's Organization, Wayne County Community College and other successful organizations to break the barriers of low self-esteem and to help young ladies become better at the way they carry themselves, with the intention that they can take all they have learned and help someone else along the way.

Specialties: Motivational Speaking, Mentoring, Branding and Marketing, Dance, Business Consulting, City Liaison, Business Planning, and Personal Coaching

BM1.jpgMatthew Carter, Co-Owner, Carter Henry Group - Recruitment/Engagement Chair

Matthew Carter is the Co-Owner of the Carter Henry Group,  a boutique public relations firm that specializes in Governmental Relations. His team specializes in the areas of Political Branding, Community Relations, and Campaign Management.  In addition to his entrepreneurial duties, he serves as Campaign Manager for Lily Cavanagh, the Treasurer of The Charter Township of Redford. He is also in negotiations with another locally elected School Board Trustee that is considering a run for higher office.

While attending college at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Matthew and his business partner were appointed to the “Allen For Troy City Council” campaign.  He has also volunteered for other political campaigns in the past.  Matthew has also testified for the State of Michigan Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education on behalf of 119,000 college students.  He has been a part of numerous professional organizations such as: The International Association of Business Communicators, The Public Relations Student Society of America, and The National Society of Leadership and Success.

Matthew also works at Tamaroff Honda as a Sales Consultant.  He is a highly motivated sales professional that strives to provide a world class experience for all of his clients.  In the one year and 10 months in his position, Matthew has grossed close to one million dollars in revenue for his employer.  He also takes time to train and motivate new employees to help his department grow.  He is currently heading up a pilot program that will allow the dealership to implement a social media department.

BM10.jpgJereshia Hawk, Transmission Enhancement Deliverability Engineer, Consumers Energy  - Selections Chair

Jereshia Hawk is a Transmission Enhancement Deliverability Engineer for Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest electric and natural gas utility. She served in a variety of engineering roles since May 2014, including metering & regulation, transmission pipeline engineering, and damage prevention public safety outreach, enhancing the quality of life for over 6 million Michigan residents. While serving as an engineer, she has been dedicated to creating a more engaged workforce whose diversity enables best-in-class performance by co-chairing a multigenerational employee resource group, co- coordinating the gas engineering intern program and by being an overall diversity champion. She served from 2011 to 2014 as product specialist for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. She served from 2012 to 2014 as chief executive officer of Love Struck LLC, an online women’s boutique, providing high quality products to customers in over 20 countries. In April 2014, she graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a minor in Mathematics.

Ms. Hawk is a woman who lives beyond the expected and through her actions, aims to inspire others to do the same. She is dedicated to assisting others in living a more intentional life through EmpowerYou Daily, a center of inspiration for those who want to discover the vast amount of untapped potential inside of themselves. As she progresses through her career, she is committed to addressing the underrepresentation of females and minorities in high level leadership positions in business, government, and nonprofit organizations by establishing more robust and sustainable pipelines geared for the development of diverse leaders.

BM8.jpgBranden Snyder, Director of Organizing, Michigan United - Selections Vice Chair

As a native of Detroit and a graduate of the University of Michigan, Branden has been involved in electoral and community organizing projects throughout the United States for over the last seven years. Currently, as the Director of Organizing for Michigan United – a coalition of faith, labor & civic organizations throughout Michigan – Branden is responsible for managing issue campaigns on Mass Incarceration, Prison Re-entry, Immigration and Equitable Development across Metro Detroit. Most recently, Branden was the Campaign Manager for the Rebecca Thompson for State Representative campaign in northeast Detroit and the State Director for the Michigan For All campaign in the fall of 2014. Prior to that, Branden was the Lead Organizer for the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN), a member of the PICO National Network – the largest faith-based organizing network in the country – leading the local campaigns on violence reduction, restorative justice, and a victory on the investment in public transportation. His commitment to racial and economic justice is fueled in great part by his experience and that of others who have endured poverty and the criminal justice system. This year, Branden was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the US-European Community Organizers Exchange Program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, where he will travel to Eastern Europe and teach the tenets of Community Organizing to local organizations. He believes in the power is in organizing our communities to come together and being informed about the people that make decisions on our lives.

Advisory Committee

Ken_Harris.jpgKen L. Harris – Chairman

Kenneth L. Harris is known for his innovative style and visionary approach to addressing societal and economic challenges within disadvantaged, minority and underserved communities. Harris has always been  passionate  about  helping  minorities  realize their dreams through entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. Harris's purpose in life has been to advance minority-owned businesses throughout the state, both regionally and nationally. Harris has become one of the most influential 40-and-under leaders in the country, with a track record of helping entrepreneurs and organizations succeed in commerce-driven activity.

Born and raised in Detroit, Ken started the International Detroit Black Expo, Inc. (IDBE) on May 24, 2005, which hosted more than 1,000 exhibitors  from  around  the  globe  and  reached 300,000 consumers, becoming one of the largest expositions  in  the  entire  country  in  5  years.  On Tuesday, November 3, 2009, Harris was elected to the Detroit Charter Commission by 40,149 votes in a highly contested citywide race featuring 54 candidates. The Honorable Commissioner Harris's political and economic experience helped to craft and eventually pass a new city charter in November 2012 by an overwhelming 64% of the votes cast, which has only been revised 3 times since 1918, forging a new direction for the city of Detroit.

 As a former NCAA Academic All-American point guard in basketball for Clark Atlanta University in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), Harris has made tremendous strides and professional accomplishments at the age of 40. Born on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1973, Harris became the first African-American chief of staff and executive assistant to the mayor of Southfield and the first African- American director of Greek affairs at Wayne State University. Additionally, he served a counseling psychologist for St. John Community Health and served as vice president of business development for the Michigan Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Inc. Harris now serves as the president and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce.

Kenneth Harris served on the board of directors for the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce and was the Midwest regional director over 12 states. He is an active life member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and the 33rd Degree United Supreme Council of Scottish Rite Prince Hall Freemasonry, chairman of the Human Rights Commission for the City of Detroit appointed by Mayor Michael Duggan in 2014, a member of Governor Rick Snyder's Urban Initiatives Strategic Planning Task Force and a member of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, amongst many other

Harris received the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) 2007 Minority Business Advocate of the Year award and was inducted into Crain's Detroit Business's 40 Under 40 Class of 2007 and the Who's Who in Black Detroit's Most Influential. Harris was honored by the Michigan Women's Marketplace and CEED as the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year and received the 2008 Excellence Award for Economic Empowerment by 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, Inc. Harris also accepted the 2009 CBS-WWJ 950 Emerging Leader Under 40 Award for Black History Month, and the 2010 Michigan Front Page's 30 in Their 30s award. He was chosen as one of DBusiness Magazine's 30 in Their 30s Most Influential in September 2011 and featured in Ebony Magazine in 2011. Harris was recently featured in the 2012 Aetna African American Black History Calendar and received the 2012 Men of Excellence Award from the Michigan Chronicle Newspaper. Additionally, he has been named by the 2013 New York-based Counselors International as one of the "40 Under 40" top economic development professionals in the United States. Most recently, Harris was featured in the 2014 CBS TV 62 and WWJ 950 Black History Month Distinguished Leader Showcase.

Kenneth Harris graduated with a B.A. in psychology and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. He also received a Doctor of Humane Letters from Detroit's Lewis College of Business in 2008 and an educational specialist (EDS) degree from Wayne State University in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Ken Harris is currently a PhD candidate at Michigan State University in African American and African Studies and the Eli Broad School of Business program.

Screen_Shot_2015-03-04_at_1.25.07_PM.pngTamekia N. Ashford

Tamekia N. Ashford is a public relations consultant with more than 16 years across the private, agency, and government sector. She has a successful track record in strategic planning, community affairs and executive positioning. From managing a press conference for Freddie Mac & the NID Housing Counseling Agency to creating community partnerships for McDonald’s and developing events for former Detroit City Council Member Alberta Tinsley-Talabi; she has skillfully enhanced brand identity within the marketplace.

Some of Tamekia’s career highlights include: providing media relations for educational institutions; Knight Foundation’s BMe (Black Male Engagement) Award Recipients; media consultation for Sprint; serving as communications director for Maurice G. Morton’s Campaign for Congress, media relations for The Children’s Center; marketing seminar at Wayne County Community College District; creating a winning business plan/video presentation to build metro Detroit’s first “Green” McDonald’s; media relations for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Detroit visit, managing the National Urban League Conference interviews with White House staff for President George W. Bush;  publicity for Chrysler Jeep Superstores, executive positioning for Molina Healthcare, and event management for Betty Crocker Recipes for the Soul Contest.

Tamekia is serving her second term as president of the National Black Public Relations Society, Detroit Chapter, vice chair of communications for The New Leaders Council, member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and an active participant in Public Relations Society of America.

In addition, she’s a contributing writer for DBusiness, Hour, Ambassador, B.L.A.C. Magazine, Who’s Who in Black Detroit and Who’s Who in Black Cincinnati. She is also a 2013 recipient of the Michigan Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 Award.

Most recently, she tapped into the television world and is a co-host for a local cable show, Brenda Perryman’s “Table Talk.”

Tamekia has a Bachelors of Arts in Mass Media Communications from Wilberforce University in Ohio and is a graduate of Cass Technical High School.

Screen_Shot_2015-03-04_at_1.25.11_PM.pngStephanie Fries

Stephanie Fries holds the position of Business Development Manager with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) serving existing Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park companies to support expansion and job creation.  Her role allows her to engage and maintain strong relationships with local leadership to ensure collaboration for city, regional, and state growth.  Stephanie enjoys meeting new people in an effort to foster meaningful connections for growth, information sharing, and capacity building.

Stephanie’s professional career started in 2000 in fund development with non-profit organizations serving low- income  and homeless  individuals  and  families. Her commitment to the community and service to those in need served as a strong foundation as she continued her professional development.  She worked with The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) and Forgotten Harvest before accepting the position of Associate Director of Community Affairs at Wayne State University (WSU).  In this capacity, Stephanie elevated the University’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute event as one of the premiere Detroit events to honor Dr. King while inviting thousands of local students to participate in celebration and honor.  Stephanie then moved within WSU to become the Relationship Manager for the newly created Front Door Office for Business Engagement. In this role it was her responsibility to connect businesses to University resources for mutual benefit and overall economic growth.  Here she created the annual BizGrid Live event which connects local business service provider organizations to regional start-ups and small businesses looking for business growth connections.

Stephanie is a metro Detroit native and had the unique experience to be a part of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion youth programs in high school as well as countless other leadership and diversity development opportunities.  She is a Michigan State University, James Madison  College  alumna  with  a  B.A.  in  Social  Relations  and  earned  her  M.P.A.  with  a concentration in economic development (graduating with honors) from Wayne State University.


Diana McBroom

Prior to partnering with Dickens, McBroom had established herself as a top congressional staffer, directing Michigan district operations for Congressman Sander Levin and Congressman Gary Peters.

For a decade, McBroom served as a key figure and coordinator in Congressman Sander Levin’s offices, serving as both his Michigan District Office Director and as Finance Director for the Levin for Congress Campaign Committee. During that time, she successfully implemented direct mail fundraising strategies for Levin’s 1994, 1996 and 1998 re-election campaigns, raising over $7 million for his nationally targeted races. As his state office director, she implemented  an  extensive  outreach  and  community engagement plan for Levin when redistricting pushed his district further into Macomb County. Levin has been re-elected to that seat each time since.

In 2009, McBroom joined Congressman Gary Peters’ team as Michigan Director for the 9th Congressional District, and lead efforts in community outreach, constituent service and strategic planning. After redistricting dismantled Peters’ old 9th district seat, she served as Peters’ Campaign Manager in 2012 for a race that garnered national interest.

Overseeing a nearly $3 million budget in a competition between two incumbent congressmen, McBroom was instrumental in orchestrating Peters’ historic election in a challenging majority- minority district. On that campaign, Dickens directed community outreach, endorsements and communications for Congressman Peters’ successful election bid to the newly drawn 14th Congressional District, sprawling 18 diverse and unique communities throughout Oakland and Wayne Counties, as well as a sizable piece of the city of Detroit.

McBroom is a licensed attorney who has worked in civil litigation defense and represented a wide array of individuals and business entities in Michigan. She has been active as a mentor for foster youth and served on the advisory board of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, a pro-bono law clinic affiliated with the University of Michigan Law School that provides legal services to foster families and children. She holds a Law Degree from Wayne State University.

Screen_Shot_2015-03-04_at_1.25.20_PM.pngJanecki A. Nance, Esq.

Janecki A. Nance is an attorney who has practiced law in the metro-Detroit area for the last decade.  Currently, her legal practice focuses on criminal law, estate planning, and bankruptcy matters. Prior to entering private practice she served as a Deputy Defender and Staff Attorney for Legal Aid and Defender Association and represented numerous residents throughout Wayne County, Michigan regarding criminal, landlord-tenant, consumer defense, tax, real estate, family, utility, and bankruptcy matters.

Ms. Nance is a graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School and she has earned a B.A. in Spanish Literature and a B.S. in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English from Louisiana Tech University.  While in law school, she served as the Co-Communication and Circulation Editor for the Journal of Practical and Clinical Law.  She was also a Legal Intern for the Sixty Plus, Inc., Elder Law Clinic and represented citizens over the age of sixty with numerous legal matters. Ms. Nance is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and has been admitted to practice law before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Ms. Nance believes that if you touch your community you will affect your community.  Her career has been one of an advocate for the disadvantaged and for those who need direct legal services and systemic change in the Detroit area.

Currently, Ms. Nance serves on the Board of Directors for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Foundation of Detroit, an Advisory Board member for the Black Mothers’ Breast Feeding Association, an Advisory Board member for New Leaders Council Detroit, and holds numerous memberships in various civic and social organizations.

Screen_Shot_2015-03-04_at_1.25.25_PM.pngTonya Myer Phillips, Esq.

Tonya Myers Phillips is an attorney with a passion for using her legal skills to improve her community. Tonya was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She graduated with honors from Renaissance High School and the University of Michigan, and received her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. She is married to Nathaniel Phillips Jr., and is the mother of Nathaniel Ryan Phillips.

Tonya began her legal career working as Millender Fellow (in honor of the late Robert L. Millender) at the historic Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice. While at Sugar Law, she worked to strengthen the investigatory and enforcement provisions of the Detroit Living Wage Ordinance, which mandated workers be paid a “living wage” for their services on high-value city contracts. She also worked on litigation on behalf of Detroit Public Schools students to force the district to remediate a school that had been built on an environmentally contaminated site.

After working at the Sugar Law Center, Tonya entered private practice, where she helped small business owners and nonprofit organizations all across the city. She also began teaching a “How to Become a Nonprofit” mini-course, free of charge to the community, in conjunction with the Detroit Association of Black Organizations.

Tonya currently works at Michigan Legal Services as a foreclosure defense attorney where she fights for Detroit homeowners going through foreclosure. She was also active in the Michigan Poverty Law coalition to extend laws (i.e. MCL 600.3205) providing additional notice requirements and foreclosure forbearance to homeowners. She also works with the Save Our Spirit Coalition which advocates for the preservation of block grant funding for community-based organizations.

Tonya served as a member of the City of Detroit Charter Revision Commission, where she frequently advocated for increased citizen participation in government. She currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. She also serves on the board of the National Lawyers Guild-Detroit Chapter, Habitat for Humanity-Detroit Chapter, Richard Austin Center for Election Law and Administration, the Michigan Democratic Party Justice Caucus, and Mothering Justice Inc.

Mrs. Phillips has been recognized for her leadership and community service. She is the recipient of distinguished awards such as “Distinguished Young Lawyer Award” from the Wolverine Bar Association, and the “Maryann Mahaffey Public Servant of the Year Award” from the United Community Housing Coalition.

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