Michigan Chronicle Pays Tribute to Remarkable Women of Excellence

Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence honorees are all smiles during a live event Wednesday, June 17 at the Music Hall Outdoor Amphitheater.

Photo by Andre Ash

It was lit and live at the Music Hall Outdoor Amphitheater on Thursday, June 17 and with good reason – to honor the Women of Excellence Classes of 2020 and 2021.

These classes of women were honored by the Michigan Chronicle for their high-ranking achievements and work in Detroit and beyond.
For the past 14 years, the Michigan Chronicle has recognized these Black women — influential women who were celebrated during a virtual induction ceremony on Thursday, May 27, and with a previous in-person mixer.
The all-white event had live music, strolling appetizers, and more as the honorees were recognized throughout the bubbly evening where the crowd, in a buoyant mood, celebrated the winners and their deserved recognition.

Hiram E. Jackson, a publisher of Michigan Chronicle and chief executive officer of Real Times Media (RTM), said that RTM has properties all over the country (including Chicago, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh) where Women of Excellence are honored, too.

Jackson, who helped hype the crowd up, said that the women are role models and deserve praise during the live event Thursday in Detroit.

“What up, Detroit? We outside y’all. Everybody stand up and give praise to the Black women,” Jackson said. “I’m just so happy to be here tonight. … We have this deep, fundamental belief that what you see on the six o’clock news doesn’t represent us.”

Jackson added that not every Black person is on drugs.

“That is not us, most of us catch the early bus to work, work two jobs, take care of our families,” Jackson said. “Still, some of us don’t get recognized, that is because we’re looking for outside validation but tonight … this is Detroit y’all. This is Detroit this is who we are: Hardworking people that care about our community, that educate our community, that give a damn.”

Dr. Geneva Jones Williams, who emceed the event and a former Woman of Excellence honoree, quoted educator Mary McLeod Bethune as saying people are “indebted to women after God” first, for making life possible and second, “making life worth living.”

“I am so glad to be with these women here tonight who are making life worth living,” she said, adding that the tradition of “extraordinary excellence” continues.

“You can look around and see it right in front of you,” she said.

Tanisha Leonard, president, RTM 360 of Real Times Media, remarked how the public hasn’t been outside in a year and the moment was one to remember.

“We need to enjoy tonight … it’s been a tough year,” she said. “These women worked hard and we don’t want that to go unnoticed … keep shining ladies … welcome to the family.”

AJ Williams, the managing editor of the Michigan Chronicle, added that Leonard “works so hard” to pull events like that one together.

“We couldn’t do this without her,” she said, also thanking the honorees. “It is a pleasure to be the platform to share your amazing accomplishments and stories, thank you.”

Trina Scott, chief diversity officer, Rocket Companies, and fellow honoree, said that the event, to celebrate Black women, is what everything is all about.

“The Chronicle (is) committed to recognizing Black women for their extraordinary leadership and commitment to the community while balancing (family roles),” Scott said during the event. “We do so much …it is truly an honor to serve as the Class of 2021. … to my fellow honorees let’s continue to uplift each other; draw from the strength of the women who have trailblazed before us.”

Congrats 2021 Honorees!:

Crystal Bailey, Founder, and CEO Walk Fashion Show
Kristen Barnes-Holiday, Ph.D., Faculty, Wayne County Community College District
Melani Bender-Ivery, District Controller & Associate Vice Chancellor, Wayne County Community College District
Saranna Berger, General Dentist, Michigan Center for Oral Surgery
Jann Caison-Sorey, MD, MBA, Medical Director, Clinical Quality & Network Management, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Katrenia L. Camp, Executive Director, Project Dream, Inc.
Robin Cash, Ph.D., President, Founder & CEO, Robin Cash, P.H.D. LLC Consulting
Karen Clark-Sheard, Gospel Artist/Preacher, Karew Records
Cali Crawford, Director of Athletics, Schoolcraft College
Tanisha M. Davis, Attorney at Law, Tanisha M. Davis, Attorney at Law, PLLC
Jasmin DeForrest, Director, Community Sponsorships, Rocket Community Fund
Laura Dickerson, Region 1A Assistant Director, UAW
Denise Z. Fair, Chief Public Health Officer, Detroit Health Department
Rev. Dr. Tia Finney, Supervisor-SOM Medical Testing, Wayne State University School of Medicine
Tatiana Grant, Principal, 2050 Partners, Inc.; Cultivate MI Solutions
Dr. Shekitra Green, Principal, Detroit Public Schools Community District
Audrey Gregory, Ph.D., R.N., Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Medical Center
Sabrina E. Groshek, Director of Engineering – Induction, Controls, Exhaust and Active Thermal Management (ICE-T), General Motors
Dion’trae Hayes, Supervisor, The Charter Township of Lansing
Jerry Hebron, Executive Director, Northend Christian CDC
Tiffany Jackson, Chief Operating Officer, Ignition Media Group
Eunice Myles Jeffries, Chair of Board of Regents, Eastern Michigan University
Paulina Johnson, MBA, Ford Global Account Manager, ArcelorMittal NA
Desiree Jones, Chief Compliance & Revenue Officer, The Children’s Center
Stephanie Jones, Lead Counsel Electric Vehicle Growth Operations, General Motors
Rev. Katrese Kirk, Pastor, Smith Chapel AME Church, Inkster, MI
Amy McClain, Vice President of Client & Community Relations Director, PNC Bank
Krista McKinney-King, Principal, Randolph Career & Technical Center
Rev. Dr. Robyn Diane Moore, Pastor, First Baptist Institutional Church
Jacqueline Munson-Gaines, President and CEO, JMG Connects
Monique Owens, Mayor, City of Eastpointe
Juliana M. Perry, Relationship Manager, Vice President, Fifth Third Bank Corp.
Nancy L. Quarles, Oakland County Road Commissioner, Oakland County Government
Deadra Rahaman, Vice President of Brand Planning, HUGE, Inc
Rev. Cindy Rudolph, Senior Pastor, Oak Grove AME Church
Lauren Sanders, Founder, The Elevate Project Inc.
Trina Scott, Chief Diversity Officer, Rocket Companies
Casandra Shortridge, UAW President’s Office, Administrative Assistant, International UAW
Khalilah V. Spencer, Inclusion, Equity and Social Responsibility Partner, Honigman LLP
Misha Stallworth West, School Board Member, Detroit Public School District
Kenyatta Stephens, CEO, Black Family Development
Kristi Stepp, partner, Sigred solutions
Georgina Tait, Principal, Detroit Public Schools Community District
Jamila Taylor-Crocker, MD, Family Medicine Physician, Ascension Providence
Joni Thrower Davis, CEO, Jamjomar III, LLC
Rema Reynolds Vassar, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Eastern Michigan University
Terri Weems, President, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation
Monique Wells, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, DTE Energy
Rhonda Welsh, Executive Director- Detroit Outreach, Central Michigan University
Nikki Wright, Assistant Vice President and Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, Wayne State University

Congrats 2020 Honorees!:
Racheal Allen, Chief Operations Officer – Operations School, Chief Executive Officer – Marygrove Conservancy
Yvette McElroy Anderson, District Director of Government Affairs, Wayne County Community College District
Gail Barnard, Deputy Ombudsman, City of Detroit
Adrienne Bennett, Chief Executive Officer, Benkari LLC
Brooke Blackwell, Chief of Staff, Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network
Laura Castone, AVP, Community Development Market Manager, East & Southeastern MI Chemical Bank a division of TCF National Bank
Ebony Cochran, Senior Consultant, Blackwood Credit Services
Rochelle Collins, President, Oreco Consulting, LLC
Joey Combs, President, SEIU Local 517M
Jan Harrington-Davis, Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Workforce Diversity & EEO, Workforce Solutions, Henry Ford Health System
Donna Doleman Dickerson, Chief Marketing Officer, GreenPath Financial Wellness
Chenita Gary, Founder & Lead Efficiency Director, Optimal Virtual Staffing Solution, LLC
Cheryl Greer, Program Manager General Motors Defense
Karen L. Gunn, D.D.S., Owner & President, Gunn and Associates, P.C.
Toya Hankins, Owner & Chief Executive Officer, Project Producers
DeShannon Henry, Financial Center Manager, Bank of America
Dr. Darienne Driver Hudson, President & Chief Executive Officer, United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Sonya Jacobs, Chief Organizational Learning Officer, University of Michigan,
Sr. Director, Faculty and Leadership Development, University of Michigan Medical School
Alexis Kerr, Head of Multicultural Marketing, Cadillac.
Edwina S. King, J.D., Policy Analyst, Office of Council Member James E. Tate, Jr. – Detroit City Council-District 1
Sandra McNeil, Global Manufacturing, Chief Engineer, General Motors
Alisha M. Moss, Chief Executive Officer & Founder, VM3 Consulting Corporation VM3 Construction, LLC
Kimle Nailer, President, Nail Rite Construction
Brenda Perryman, President & Executive Producer, Brenda Perryman’s Actors Source Workshop
Kristi D. Plain, VP Global Talent & Sales Support, Brasscraft Manufacturing – A Masco Company
Choi Portis, Deputy General Counsel, City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
Dr. Carla Postell, Director of Curriculum Integration and Instruction, Hazel Park Schools
Dr. Lisa A. Reeves, Ph.D., Chief of Staff, College of Education, Michigan State University
Rhonda Rowe, Owner, Rowe Trucking
Alisa Marie Shannon, Deputy Court Administrator – Criminal Division, Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan
Marina L. Shoemaker, Director – Global Diversity and Inclusion Strategies, General Motors
Carla Louise Tinsley Smith, Manager, Diversity and Inclusion, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Crystal T. Smith, Vice President of Philanthropy, Junior Achievement for Southeastern Michigan
Maria B. Stanfield, Utilization Review Director, and Staff Psychologist, Black Family Development
Patrice Suggs, Launch Manager, SEEL
Linda Taliaferro, Vice President, Global Quality, Meritor, and Founder of The TEE, The Extra Effort
Kim Tandy, District 2 Manager, City of Detroit
Dr. JuJuan C. Taylor, Professor & Department Chair, Department of Communication Arts, Schoolcraft College
Regina Thomas, Judge, Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan
Angela Thompkins, Executive Director: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Strategic Talent Pipeline Development, Consumers Energy
Monica B. Thompson, Principal – 5th-8th grade, Washington-Parks Academy
Angela Vincent, Owner, Wright Hospitality Group: MIX Bricktown; Lockeroom Lounge; Global Equities
Karissa Holmes-Wallace, Senior Counsel, Rock Ventures
Karinda L. Washington, Chief of Staff, Office of Partnership and Engagement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Sanya Weston, Chief Executive Officer, Your Premier Travel Services
Iranetta Wright, Deputy Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District
KimArie Yowell, VP, Talent Development, Quicken
Tahirih Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer, Detroit LISC

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