The Michigan Chronicle 40 Under 40 Awards, in its 4th year, recognizes local African-American professionals who inspire others through their vision, leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service. They are individuals who exemplify extraordinary stature, poise and integrity who continue to break the mold and affect change in their professions and community.
These young stars influence those around them to go beyond the norm and strive for greatness. They are champions of our economic empowerment and diversity, the backbone of our business, religious and educational organizations, and driving forces in politics and service. In 2019, 40 new honorees will join the exclusive society of elite professionals who have previously received this distinction.
The 40 Under 40 Awards and induction ceremony is an elegant evening that commemorates the successes of our honorees attracting nearly 500 accomplished tastemakers, influencers, executives, heroes, and decision-makers from Southeast Michigan.
Join us in honoring the 2019 Michigan Chronicle 40 Under 40 honorees
DATE: Thursday, October 10, 2019 6 PM to 9 PM
LOCATION: International Banquet & Conference Center Detroit, MI
Director of Digital & Social Media: City of Detroit, Mayors Office
As a Detroiter who stayed to be an agent in changing the narrative, Amber M. Lewis is the Director of Digital & Social Media for the city of Detroit that embodies being “Social N The City”. She directs and produces content, develops and implements strategies, campaigns and digital media buying plans.
Josh Landon is very happy to be back home in the city of Detroit. Born in the City of Detroit, raised on the City’s east side, Landon graduated from Denby High School, and earned an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism from Eastern Michigan University. Go TARS!!! Go EAGLES!!!
Kierra Sheard, is a native of Detroit, Michigan, Grammy nominated recording artist that has a voice that gives every listener goosebumps. She has shared her expertise as a judge on the 8th and 9th seasons of BET’s singing competition Sunday Best. In addition, Kierra portrayed her mother, Karen Clark-Sheard, in the upcoming Lifetime film production, “You Brought the Sunshine“, a story about the world-renowned gospel group – The Clark Sisters. Kierra continues to transcend traditional rules and draw people of all ages closer to Christ through her heart, music and transparency. She also continues to mentor through her SistHER mentorship launched in 2018.
Board Certified Pediatric Dentist: Dr. Amy C. Parker DDS, MS & Associates
Detroit native, Dr. Maegan E. Daughtery, a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree. Dr. Daughtery then worked for Dr. Amy Parker, DDS and was exposed to the business and clinical aspects of pediatric dentistry. There, she was mentored by the best!
Bianca Wilson is a licensed master’s level clinical social worker currently working with community organizations such as Oak Park School District and The Guidance Center. Through her work as a school social worker, she developed an unrelenting passion for helping students succeed. By performing goal oriented individual behavior plans, conducting behavior workshops and class presentations, coordinating events and assisting with life skills, her work has improved the lives of students growing up in adversity. As a Crisis Screener with The Guidance Center, she services Wayne county hospital adolescent Medicaid recipient patients whom are encountering suicidal or homicidal ideation and/or acute/chronic psychosis.
Assistant Vice President/Financial Center Manager: Bank of America
Dwanette Harbin Williams is an Assistant Vice President at Bank of America (BAC). She has worked in the financial industry, nearly 20 years, developing high achieving sales and client focused teams, coaching and training successful employees, and educating diverse communities in financial centers across Michigan.
Daniel Wallace is a multifaceted professional with nearly 15 years of progressive experience in communications and human resources with several Fortune 50 companies. At General Motors, he is the Global Diversity Initiatives Lead, where he manages GM’s African American portfolio. He is responsible for driving the engagement strategy for diversity programming, defining philanthropic allocations within the African American community, building brand awareness through local and national programs, and serving as the company’s diversity subject matter expert.
Executive Director: Vehicles for Change Detroit & MACC Development
Phaedra Wainaina, JD is a serial innovator and a proud Detroit native, who has exhibited a longstanding commitment to the city and its residents. Wainaina’s strong desire to serve is rooted in her belief that social welfare begins with service. Wainaina’s professional career has focused on aligning the complexities of re-entry reform and community investment to create systems of support for Detroit’s most under-served communities. As a result of her commitment to progressive leadership and service in the city where she was selected as a New Leaders Council Detroit Fellow and Skillman BMe Vanguard Fellow.
Industrial Engineering Manager/WO Pillar Lead: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Angelique Turner attended Bates Academy and Cass Tech. She then went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the University of Michigan. Turner is currently an Industrial Engineering (IE) Manager and Workplace Organization Pillar Lead at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. She has worked at FCA for the past seven years holding the positions of Stamping IE, Assembly IE Supervisor, and Stamping IE Supervisor.
Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager: Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business
Lynita Taylor is the diversity and Inclusion Program Manager for the Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business. She developed the PwC MPREP Scholars learning community, which aims to recruit and retain multicultural undergraduate students and prepare them for careers in various business concentrations, with a high focus on the accounting and financial services industries. Taylor gained experience in strategic program development and community engagement through her previous role as a staffing consultant at Plante Moran. There, she oversaw and expanded the company’s diversity and inclusion programs, which are dedicated to the development of diverse business career candidates and minority professionals.
Maria Lizi Stroud is a patented inventor/product developer from Detroit, Michigan. Maria has quite the inventive spirit with few granted patents, Utility & Design Patent in the USA and China, with more patents pending. She has a few prototypes and two products currently being developed, “DoggyLoveDoll & Mirari Mirror” with another 25 concept ideas that keep her very busy.
Raising the standard of civic virtue in the face of poverty throughout the city of Detroit, Courtney Smith is a champion for youth, leading not only by choice, but by nature. She serves as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Detroit Phoenix Center, a human service organization that provides critical resources, support and a safe, nurturing environment for youth who are street connected.
Charli Rose has serviced families in the funeral service industry for over 15 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science from Wayne State University and later became a licensed mortician, providing support to bereaved individuals across Metro Detroit. Since completing her apprenticeship under the helm of Terrance Andrews, Charli has continued to make lasting and significant contributions at Andrew’s Funeral Home.
Director of Software Education and Training: Trumble Inc.
Asia is the Director of Software Education and Training; in this position she manages the delivery and utilization of real-time technology and mobile applications. Asia is able to skillfully train and educate engineers and production floor members about quality control and Plant Floor Intelligence. Reveal, which is an intelligent software, allowed Asia to consult and develop creative solutions pertaining to data analytics, statistics, and proactive control. These technical problem-solving tactics led her to support original equipment manufacturers’ (OEM)s such as Fiat Chrysler, Magna, and many more.
Ken Porter serves as President of Porter Media Group (PMG) in Detroit. PMG is a leading communications company that specializes in corporate print, conference marketing, and brand development. Last year PMG was nominated for the prestigious Supplier of the Year award by the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council and also featured in Forbes-Japan for their partnership with JPMorgan and the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund. One active assignment his company is engaged with is the new Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
Dr. Danielle Penson is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and a progressive byproduct of the Detroit public school system. Indeed, she is a testament to the infamous inquiry of the greatness that can, and has emerged from an Urban Utopia. Against all odds she has obtained an earned doctoral degree in counseling which she has used to establish several active community programs.
Kiera Pack owner of Pareik Gallery, Southfield’s premier event space, which has been home to over 200 events since 2018. She is very involved in decor and vendor selection, running baby showers to weddings from start to finish. She believes that a successful event requires unique and personalized attention to every detail. Event designing was born from her deep passion for creating stylish events that make a statement through creativity and concrete execution.
Believing faith to be the key to every aspect of his life, Jonathan A. Merritt knew from a young age that he would make his own personal mark on the world around him. Coming from a long legacy of service and faith as the son of megachurch Pastor, Bishop Andrew Merritt, Jonathan serves alongside his parents and brother David Merritt as Associate Pastor at Straight Gate International Church in Detroit, Michigan.
David Merritt was born on February 26th, 1986 in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in West Bloomfield, MI and attended West Bloomfield High School, where he graduated with academic honors and was an All-State basketball player. Merritt then accepted an academic scholarship to the University of Michigan, and later was selected as a walk-on to the Men’s Basketball team in 2006.
Drew Matthews Jr. was born and raised in Detroit, MI. He is recognized as a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. After obtaining a GED Drew always knew he wanted to live in his purpose and make a difference by setting an example for millennials. Drew always had a passion for supporting the metro Detroit community through his philanthropist efforts. Drew is also a board member for the non-profit organization Pure Heart Foundation.
Executive Director Consumer Systems Team: Ally Financial
LaShauna Lowry is an Executive Director of Consumer Systems at Ally Financial. In this role she is the auto servicing business lead on the company’s IT and Digital transformation initiative. This includes creating processes and restructuring a team to support the various system transformations allowing for more flexibility and effectiveness in the business processes. Previously, Lowry served as a Senior Director of Compliance Monitoring at Ally where she was responsible for managing, overseeing and providing strategic direction for Ally’s Compliance Monitoring Program. She has also held roles at Ally in Audit and Operations. Lowry began her career as an Assurance Associate at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.
Director of Communications, Wayne County Department of Public Services
Whitney Lewis is a passionate communications and marketing professional with over a decade of experience creating strategic campaigns for organizations within healthcare, nonprofits and governments. She was appointed by Wayne County Executive; Warren C. Evans in 2017 and serves as the Director of Communications for the Wayne County Department of Public Services. The Department of Public Services is Wayne County’s largest department including Parks, Roads and Engineering divisions. Whitney is responsible for the department’s communication and marketing strategy, crisis management and functions as the lead media spokeswoman.
Assistant Product Manager, Digital Innovation: General Motors
Erika Lawrence, Assistant Product Manager, Digital Innovation at General Motors (GM), leads eCommerce strategy and execution for consumer-based solutions to enhance shopping and buying experiences. Erika leverages design thinking methodology to ideate solutions being implemented on a national and international scale.
National Program Manager Ford Men of Courage/Senior Director Ford Resource and Engagement Center Eastside: Gleaners Community Food Bank
Justin Kimpson is national manager of Ford Motor Company Fund’s Men of Courage program that since its start in 2015 has advanced positive narratives of black men through grassroots initiatives in communities throughout the United States. Justin also serves as senior director of the Ford Resource & Engagement Center eastside location in Detroit where he oversees operations, program management, partnership development and food mobile distribution. Justin brings to his current position more than 15 years of diverse experience in the fields of philanthropy, education and workforce development.
Mikiah Keener is a 21 year old from Detroit, MI. She accepted the call to ministry back in 2015 in her senior year of high school. Mikiah is a minister at Triumph Church, where she serves under the leadership of Pastor Solomon W. Kinloch, Jr. She has been in ministry for over four years now, and was just licensed by her pastor in March of 2019.
Yelitsa Jean-Charles never had a doll that looked like her growing up. At the Rhode Island School of Design, Yelitsa redesigned Rapunzel as a brown girl with beautiful kinky hair. She then saw the opportunity to address the demonstrated need for more diverse toys. With a grant from the Brown University Social Innovation Fellowship and 674 dedicated Kickstarter backers, Healthy Roots was born. A toy company that creates dolls that celebrates curl power and teaches natural hair care.
Darryl Humes Jr. has established himself as a blazing upcoming entrepreneur, successful businessman, and community servant. Darryl’s extensive management consulting experience has helped him navigate through his entrepreneurial journey. In 2017, Darryl and his brother took a leap of faith and launched Mature; a menswear clothing store for individuals who pursue a balanced wardrobe for an elevated lifestyle. Their online-based store has participated in many pop-up shops across the metro Detroit area and finished in the Top 10 of Hatch Detroit and a winner of the Retail Bootcamp Pitch Contest. Their unique brand message and concept has created the anticipation for the launch of their first flagship store in Detroit this upcoming winter (maturelook.com).
Jessie Hayes has created a name for herself in the beauty industry by taking her passion for skincare and founded the first facial bar and acne clinic in Metro Detroit. Skinphorea is the new concept facial bar for the person on the go that has no time to disrobe and can get professional skin care services for $59 with no appointment needed. Skinphorea has over five thousand clients, 200 monthly VIP’s and a wait list for their popular 90-day acne bootcamp.
Maxcel Hardy is a serial entrepreneur. He is a private chef (Chef Max Miami catering company); designer of chef Coats (Chef Max Designs), a philanthropist and founder of One Chef Can 86 Hunger. Author Chef Max began his culinary experience in the Culinary Arts Program at Wharton High School in Tampa, FL. Working under the program’s Executive Chef, Edward Bujarski, Chef Max began catering events in the Tampa community. Recognized for his exceptional culinary skills and his talent on and off the basketball court, Chef Max was awarded a scholarship to attend Johnson & Wales University in Miami, FL.
Andre Gilbert II is a native Detroiter who has been dedicated to serving the City of Detroit for nearly a decade. After graduating from Mumford High School, Andre attended Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama only to return to Detroit for an opportunity to work in the Office of the City Clerk. He has served in various capacities within the Clerk’s Office, most recently being appointed to Deputy City Clerk.
Senior Project Manager: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
As a project management professional for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Jewel Estes is committed to improving corporate culture and reengineering legacy processes. She has been presented with the “Be Radical” award for her ability to turn Blue Cross Blue Shield cultural beliefs into action in cross-functional areas.
Donovan Colquitt, owner and founder of The Scholar’s Key, is a leading advocate for increasing college access and success for underrepresented minoritized youth. He is the author of “The Scholar’s Key: How You Can Unlock Your Dreams as a Teen,” which he wrote during his senior year of high school to motivate teens to apply for scholarships after winning $1.25 million in scholarships. Donovan mentors students on how to have their college education completely paid for through scholarships.
Public Affairs Specialist: U.S. Small Business Administration
Hodari P.T. Brown, a military veteran, is a Public Affairs Specialist for the U. S. Small Business Administration Michigan District Office who helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses with valuable resources and exposure. His dynamic career spans more than 15 years of excellence in leadership, project management, public affairs and talent acquisition. Throughout his career, he has managed projects throughout key milestones for critical strategic initiatives and has helped bridge lines of communication between diverse groups and organizations.
Senior Buyer, Global Purchasing & Supply Chain: General Motors
Emeka Amazu is a Senior Buyer at General Motors (GM) where he currently helps the company execute strategic procurement initiatives in its global purchasing and supply chain organization. He is responsible for close to half a billion dollars in annual spend with GM suppliers. With over ten years of experience, his depth of expertise in procurement, negotiation, management, and business strategy spans across multiple domains including autonomous mobility and manufacturing, technology, sales, and transportation.
VP-Manager of Municipal Banking Operations: Chemical Bank
Portia Powell, Vice President and Manager of Municipal Banking Operations at Chemical Bank is a 15-year banking leader. Born, raised, and educated in Detroit she has deep ties to the community and uses her influence to support organizations and the citizens of the Metro Detroit Community. The division of the bank that she helps manage has a portfolio of over 2.5 billion dollars in assets and recently became the official bank of The City of Detroit.
Pledging daily to be the person she says she needed when she was younger, the astute social entrepreneur, author and proud Detroit, MI native, Danielle D. Hughes makes it her mission to make an impact in the lives of youth across the nation. As a Dream Director, for The Future Project she is responsible for igniting passion, possibility and purpose into the young people she services in the Detroit Public School District (DPS) through one-on-one coaching and mediation. Her revolutionary work in education landed her a spot on the Forbes Under 30 list as well as being named one of the most influential African Americans by The Root.
Powerfully poised in entrepreneurial activism and global empowerment, Meagan Ward is a strategist and branding maven positioning women for greatness in business and life. Ward has created an enterprising network of women as owner of branding agency Creatively Flawless and Co-founder of FEMOLOGY, Detroit’s first female-focused co-working space.
Tameishia Pigford, affectionately known as Meisha, is a certified wedding planner & event designer who creates over-the-top premium experiences for her clients that leave them saying WOW! After working in Human Resources (HR) where she developed her people skills and helped organize corporate events, Meisha designed her own wedding, sparking her love of event planning. Meisha now owns an award-winning planning and design firm, Dream Celebrations, Inc.
Founder & Executive Director: Eden Community Organization
Tiffani C. Jackson launched her career at the University of Michigan earning a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations/Corporate Communications and a Master of Arts in Public Administration. She aptly juggled the rigors of studies and full-time employment focusing on community relations, content creation, project management, operations analysis and much more. She went on to successful assignments at Wayne County Third Circuit Court, Wayne County Management and Budget onto Wayne County Department of Public Services where she is a Contract Manager.