The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion Detroit-based organization is all about promoting harmony in human relations while mediating cultural and racial differences, especially post-George Floyd.
Originally founded in 1941, over time the Roundtable evolved and is known as a leader in promoting connectivity among racial, religious, cultural, and economic groups.
The Roundtable’s primary goals are centered on solving two societal issues including systemic disparities while combating institutional and inherent bias.
It only makes sense then that President and CEO Steve Spreitzer (who serves as a servant leader) of an understaffed racial and social justice organization, plays several roles to ensure his organization continues in that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) space.
The need for Black representation, among other minority groups, in the workplace is vital and grew into a movement known as Affirmative Action, initially established in 1965 by the federal government through an executive order signed by President Lyndon Johnson, to obtain equal employment opportunity after the past discrimination practices prevailed in the workplace. Not only were more Black people hired and recruited at work and through college, but more women, veterans and differently-abled people were brought into the fold.
According to a 2012 study on Affirmative Action it was noted that “government policy has contributed to higher diversity rates at U.S. workplaces” between 1973 and 2003. Also, Black and Native American workers were the “primary beneficiaries” of the policies.
Spreitzer (who oversees a 1.2-million-dollar budget and five staff persons) functions as the lead staff for Fund Development and Organizational DEI work. His work echoes the Affirmative Action work in more ways than one.
“I perform the range of duties done by CEOs and I engage in a variety of community engagements with a range of stakeholders in government, law enforcement, corporate community, grassroots and faith community,” he said.
He added that the best professional routes toward organizational growth are ones that are diverse organizational pathways and developing a functional understanding of various activities of one’s industry.
“The relationship gained from the myriad organizations you engage with daily is huge,” he said.
Spreitzer served as interim president and CEO from August 2013 until July 2014, director of programs from 2008 to 2013, and managed the Roundtable’s Interfaith efforts from 1996 to 2008 and Walk2gether Michigan from 2004 to 2008.
Spreitzer has worked in community mental health, criminal justice ministry, and legislative advocacy. He has received recognition from the World Sabbath for Religious Reconciliation, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, the Catholic Youth Organization, and the Hindu American Foundation.
Spreitzer started working at the Greater Detroit Interfaith Roundtable of the National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ) in 1996 as the part-time Interfaith Coordinator while working full time in social justice ministry for the Archdiocese of Detroit for seven years.
“In 2003 the Archdiocese eliminated the Department of Christian Service as I was let go, landing a full-time job with NCCJ, which included assisting with fundraising,” Spreitzer said. “I went on to become the Director of Programs and after finishing second for the President and CEO position when the Rev. Dr. Dan Krichbaum left to become Gov. Granholm’s Chief of Staff in 2009, I was later named interim President and CEO in 2014 when then Pres. and CEO Tom Costello began a sabbatical. In 2015 Tom Costello pursued a new opportunity and I was named Pres. and CEO of what since 2005 has been called The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. It was a long and humbling journey.”
Spreitzer added that with his work he has learned to be strategic in work and other things.
“Be humble, flexible, and adaptable. Welcoming the inputs of staff and honoring their inputs when you are able is very important,” Spreitzer said. “Being authentically grateful to the various people in your work goes a long way as being a leader leaves one needing all the resources and goodwill at your disposal.”