Focus: HOPE CEO Jason Lee to lead city's Grow Detroit's Young Talent

City of Detroit workforce agency Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) announced today that Jason D. Lee, former Chief Executive Officer of Focus: HOPE, has joined DESC as Executive Director of Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) program, effective February 12.
Lee, who will report to DESC President and CEO Nicole Sherard-Freeman, will lead efforts to raise $10 million in funding required to support Mayor Mike Duggan’s GDYT initiative, which has seen over 8,000 youth employed in summer jobs each of the last two years.
“Jason led Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) for more than a decade, and has a proven commitment to creating opportunities for Detroit youth,” said Sherard-Freeman.
“We have enjoyed a great working partnership with Jason in his role at Focus: HOPE, and we are delighted that he will be joining us to lead this key initiative. GDYT provides our youth the opportunity to gain experience and make informed choices about their future careers, and is a critical step in building Detroit’s leaders of tomorrow.”
“We wish Jason well on his new endeavor and look forward to continuing our collaboration with him and the City of Detroit,” said Jay Craig, Focus: HOPE Board Chair. “His passion for Detroit and Focus: HOPE’s mission to fight racism, poverty and injustice was clearly evident under his leadership.
“Looking forward, we have various strategic initiatives underway to sustain our momentum and continue our rich legacy of serving others.”
While at Focus: HOPE, Lee oversaw the nonprofit’s operations, led collaborative efforts with DESC’s healthcare training initiative and developed WIMTECH (Women in Manufacturing & Technology), the first single-gender workforce program in the organization’s 50-year history.
Prior to joining Focus: HOPE in August 2016, Lee spent 12 years as Executive Director of DAPCEP working towards increasing the STEM educational program capacity for the Detroit Metropolitan area, specifically for young people from historically underrepresented backgrounds. During his tenure, DAPCEP developed innovative programming, reduced operating costs, rebranded, relocated and supported student programming.
He has extensive volunteer experience throughout the metro Detroit area, has been awarded Michigan Chronicle’s Men of Excellence 2014, Corp Magazine’s 2014 Diversity Business Leader Award and Oakland County’s Elite 40 under 40. He has also completed the National Urban Fellows: America’s Leaders of Change and Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives Non-Profit Management program.
“Jason is an ideal candidate for this role because of his dual experience in youth and workforce development,” said Tonya Allen, President & CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “He is a respected leader in the Detroit community. He has strong relationships with corporate, philanthropic, community and faith-based organizations, and with our city’s youth.”
Focus: HOPE is a nationally recognized civil and human rights organization founded in 1968 after the Detroit riots. Throughout the years, Focus: HOPE has developed numerous programs in its efforts to overcome racism, poverty and injustice that includes Education & Workforce Development, Food & Basic Needs and community revitalization called The HOPE Village Initiative. Through Focus: HOPE, thousands of individuals of all backgrounds and circumstances have achieved financial independence and have been provided opportunities for brighter futures. For more information, visit www.focushope.eduDetroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) is the City of Detroit’s workforce agency and the fiscal and administrative agent of the Mayor’s Workforce Development Board (MWDB) appointed by the Mayor of Detroit. It is also the lead partner of Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT), an initiative launched by Mayor Mike Duggan in 2015. GDYT is a 6-week summer youth employment program that combines work readiness training with on-the-job experience designed to prepare Detroiters ages 14-24 for long term employment through Detroit at Work, and has provided summer jobs for over 8,000 Detroit youth in each of the last two years. For more information about Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, visit


From the Web