Detroit Pistons recognize Focus Hope CEO Portia Roberson

The Detroit Pistons and corporate partner Crown Royal will honor prominent African-American leaders in the Detroit community during each of the five home games in February for Black History Month. The Pistons and the NBA are supporting the national dialogue on race and equality through efforts that bring people together, amplify the voices of fans and players, while taking collective action to promote unity.

Group Executive – Neighborhoods for the City of Detroit and former UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles was the first to be honored at the game on Saturday against the Clippers.

Focus Hope CEO Portia Roberson was recognized for her community efforts during the second quarter of the Pistons’ win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

She served as group executive of the Detroit Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department prior to leaving for Focus Hope last summer, working to ensure all major economic development projects subsidized by the city’s taxpayers employ Detroiters for at least 51 percent of the work hours on the project.

“I’m in really high cotton,” Roberson said on being chosen as one of the five honorees and the only woman along with Aretha Franklin. “I don’t think I’m quite far along in my career, but it’s quite an honor to have someone recognize the work that I’ve done so far and acknowledge it.”

Roberson was modest about her life accomplishments, track record, and service to the community.

POrtia Roberson 2
Portia Roberson accepted her honor from the Detroit Pistons during the game alongside former Pistons player Earl Cureton.

She previously served as corporation counsel for the White House Domestic Policy Council for Strong Cities, Strong Communities and was director of the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison under former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Roberson has extensive volunteer experience throughout the Detroit area, serving as a Board Member for Michigan Political History Society, Habitat for Humanity, ACLU, and Delta Manor.

She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Wolverine Bar Association. Roberson is also a graduate of Cass Technical High School, the University of Michigan where she majored in English and holds a juris doctor degree from Wayne State University Law School.

“I hope that I’m someone that people respect in the community and people see as a leader,” said Roberson. “I hope I’m working towards that, to continue to grow and earn people’s respect. Detroit is home and anytime your hometown gives you anything, whether it’s your hometown basketball team or your homies from your hometown, it means a lot.”

Roberson said she enjoyed Detroit’s 129-103 win over Denver and is a fan of basketball. And since she grew up in 1980s Detroit, her favorite Pistons team and players are the Bad Boys: Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Rick Mahorn, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson and the rest of the crew. She also has a favorite Piston from the 1960s and 70s.

“I worked for Dave Bing, one of the greatest Pistons to play the game,” Roberson said of Bing, who was in attendance. “He has given me a number of opportunities, so he is definitely a Piston that I admire and somebody that I know has done good work on and off the court.”

The Pistons plan to honor prominent Detroit businessman Dr. William Pickard, former Bad Boy Rick Mahorn, and the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin at later games this month.

“Black history is America’s history,” said Dwane Casey, head coach for the Detroit Pistons. “It’s the shared connectivity that we honor during this month. As players and coaches, we are pleased to join the organization in celebrating this month and participating in the dialogue on equality in a city that birthed so many important civil rights moments.”


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