Michigan Chronicle’s distinguished Women of Excellence Class of 2022 awardees, left photo, and Carla-Walker Miller, founder and CEO of Detroit-based Walker-Miller Energy Services, (left) in second photo stands with Joi Harris, president of DTE Gas, center, and Hiram Jackson, Real Times Media CEO and Michigan Chronicle publisher.
Photo by Monica Morgan
Each year, the Michigan Chronicle makes an effort in honoring African American women in all facets of life who motivate others through their leadership works in Detroit and elsewhere across varying career paths.
The 2022 Women of Excellence class was inducted on Thursday at the 15th annual Women of Excellence Award ceremony in Detroit and honored local women who sprinkle a little “Black Girl Magic” wherever they go while bringing others who look like them along the way through their visionary leadership, noteworthy accolades and vested interested in community welfare.
The ceremony recognizes women who also personify poise and grace while setting the tone for what professionalism looks like, all while many are juggling multiple roles as mothers, wives, and more. This year’s event also marks the second in-return ceremony since COVID-19.
Hiram E. Jackson, a publisher of Michigan Chronicle and chief executive officer of Real Times Media (RTM), said that the women were beyond empowering during the live event.
“All these beautiful, intelligent amazing women tonight … this is truly an honor,” Jackson said. “Nothing is more amazing than highlighting Black people in your community – nothing.”
Jackson added that honorees are nominated by other honorees for the work they do and this class has “done the work.”
“I like to make a point that we could solve any problem in our community,” Jackson said just from the notable women honored who span careers in healthcare, news, law, education, business, community organizations, and more. “The collectiveness of your community is power.”
Women of Excellence Vanguard Awardees include Dawn N. Ison, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield, Joi Harris, president of DTE Gas, and Denise Lewis, senior partner (retired) at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP.
Carla Walker-Miller, founder and CEO of Detroit-based Walker-Miller Energy Services, presented the Woman of The Year Award to Harris.
Walker-Miller, former Women of Excellence honoree, told the packed audience that she has had the honor and pleasure of knowing Harris for years.
“I have known her before she was the Joi Harris,” Walker-Miller said, adding that Harris made it her mark to follow in the footsteps of people whose careers she admired throughout her remarkable professional journey, and she encourages other young people to do so too. “I am so happy, so honored to witness her journey.”
Harris thanked the Michigan Chronicle for the honor and congratulated her fellow honorees, too.
“I am simply in awe of your brilliance — many of you I know and many of you I watched and seen and experienced your journey and Black girl magic is real,” Harris said, adding that she spent the majority of her adult life working at DTE. “I think our work is so vitally important to our community.”
She added that she never thought she would be standing where she is today as a young person growing up on the westside of Detroit.
Harris, who became the first African American and woman in that position, told the crowd that her professional accomplishments and her recent award that evening were nothing short of miraculous.
“Look at God,” she said. “I say this often and I mean it. It is all in divine order and I give all the praise and glory to the almighty for ordering my steps. I recognize it is my responsibility to translate the best of what God has given to me into a path for others. … our young people are looking to us for direction. … They need to see and experience our humanity and most importantly they’re looking for those beacons of hope. I offer to everyone in this room we all have a responsibility to help people see and bring to light what is possible in their future. I’m doing (my) best to serve in that capacity but we’re stronger together.”
Congratulations, 2022 Women of Excellence!