Conference Speaker Series Presenters 2020
Wednesday October 14, 2020
2020 Virtual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference speakers!

Register here for the 17th Annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference

Hollywood/Producer Director Tom Shadyac Producer of the Documentary "I Am"


Tom Shadyac is one of Hollywood’s all-time leading comedy directors with his films, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, Liar, Liar, Patch Adams, and Bruce Almighty grossing nearly 2 billion dollars at the box office.

He has appeared on numerous national television shows, including the Ellen Degeneres Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, The View, Nightline and Rosie O’Donnell’s nationally syndicated radio show.  His recent call-in radio show, One Big Couch with Tom Shadyac, on SiriusXM was an immediate hit with listeners.

Tom’s diverse background makes him uniquely qualified to handle the intricacies of this conversation; he’s been an actor, screenwriter, and standup comic, while studying in depth the monastic traditions, ancient philosophy, mystic poetry, myth and storytelling.  What sets Tom apart is his rare ability to blend humor and heart, with a likeability and levity that makes even the driest subjects accessible, from Quantum Physics to Cellular Biology.  Beneath it all, Tom is a teacher.  He led a legendary class at Pepperdine University for 8 years running called Storytelling and Life to standing room only crowds.  He now offers this weekly class at the University of Memphis and the University of Colorado, traversing the country each week to bring this transformative conversation to students of all ages and backgrounds.

Shadyac’s first book, Life’s Operating Manual (Hay House, 2012) immediately hit the New York Times bestseller list upon its release.
For the past few years, Tom has been speaking to sold out audiences, inspiring young and old alike with his impassioned style and unflappable belief in the human spirit.

MI Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Esther Whitmer (born August 23, 1971) is an American politician serving as the 49th governor of Michigan since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, she served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2001 to 2006 and in the Michigan Senate from 2006 to 2015.

Whitmer was born and raised in Michigan. She is a graduate of Forest Hills Central High School near Grand RapidsMichigan State University, and the Michigan State University College of Law. She ran unsuccessfully for the state house in the 1990s before being elected in 2000. In 2006, she became a state senator, a position she kept until term limits forced her to step down in 2015. She was the Senate’s first female Democratic leader from 2011 to 2015. In 2013, Whitmer gained national attention for a floor speech during a debate on abortion in which she shared her experience of being sexually assaulted. For six months in 2016, she was the county prosecutor for Ingham County.

Whitmer was elected governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election, defeating Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette. As governor, Whitmer has focused on healthcare and infrastructure. In February 2020, she was selected to give the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address.

Denise Ilitch, President Ilitch Enterprises, U of M Board Member, Attorney

The first of seven children and the first in her family to go to college, Denise Ilitch is a University of Michigan graduate from Bingham Farms. She received her B.A. degree in 1977 and her J.D. degree from the University of Detroit in 1980.  A tireless advocate for education, women, and children, Ilitch has dedicated her time on the University of Michigan board advocating for affordable, accessible education for all.

Denise Ilitch has been an integral part of Detroit’s business and philanthropic communities for 30 years as a dedicated business leader, devoted community servant, and supporter of many charitable causes. She is president of Ilitch Enterprises, LLC, and co-owner of 220 Restaurant Hospitality and previously served as President of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., a privately held business that manages such entities as Little Caesar Enterprises, The Detroit Red Wings, The Detroit Tigers, and Olympia entertainment. 

Seeing the need for greater diversity in our education and business worlds, Ms. Ilitch has endowed a scholarship at Walsh College in 2010 to make sure that more women get advanced degrees, and a LEAD diversity scholarship at the University of Michigan in 2015.

She is Co-Chair of the Horizon Global Board. She now serves as a trustee of the Skillman Foundation and has also served as a Board Member of Major League Baseball and as an Alternate Governor for the National Hockey League. She currently serves as an ACLU advisory committee member and has served on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Branch NAACP. As a panelist on Michigan Matters, a talk show revolving around Michigan politics, Denise Ilitch is a strong voice for the students and people of Michigan. As a regent, Denise has served as chair of the board, vice chair of the board, chair of the personnel committee, and on the health affairs committee and finance committee.

Among her numerous awards and commendations are the B’nai B’rith International Great American Traditions Award, the Clara Barton Award from the American Red Cross, Alumnus of the Year 2007 from University of Detroit Mercy Law School, and is a recent honoree at Michigan Children’s Heroes Night for her lifetime of service to women and children. Denise Ilitch’s passion for affordable, accessible, quality education comes not only from her own experience as a first generation student, but also her children. Ms. Ilitch is the proud mother of two, one of whom graduated as a Wolverine.


Barbara McQuade: U of M Law Professor and Media Legal analyst, Former US Attorney for the ED of Mi

Barbara L. McQuade, BA ’87, JD ’91, is a professor from practice. Her interests include criminal law, criminal procedure, national security, data privacy, and civil rights. From 2010 to 2017, Professor McQuade served as the U.S attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Appointed by President Barack Obama, she was the first woman to serve in her position. Professor McQuade also served as vice chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and co-chaired its Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee. As U.S. attorney, she oversaw cases involving public corruption, terrorism, corporate fraud, theft of trade secrets, civil rights, and health care fraud, among others. Professor McQuade also serves as a legal analyst for NBS News and MSNBC. Her work has appeared in The Washington PostForeign PolicyLawfareJust SecuritySlate, and National Public Radio, and she has been quoted in The New York TimesTimeNewsweekPolitico, and other publications.

Before becoming U.S. attorney, Professor McQuade served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit for 12 years, serving as deputy chief of the National Security Unit, where she handled cases involving terrorism financing, export violations, threats, and foreign agents. Professor McQuade began her career as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman in Detroit, and then practiced law at the firm of Butzel Long in Detroit. Professor McQuade previously taught at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Professor McQuade has been recognized by the Detroit Free Press with the Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership, The Detroit News with the Michiganian of the Year Award, Crain’s Detroit Businesses a Newsmaker of the Year and one of Detroit’s Most Influential Women, and the Detroit Branch NAACP and Arab American Civil Rights League with their Tribute to Justice Award.

Supreme Court Justice Megan Cavanagh, Michigan Supreme Court


Justice Megan Cavanagh is a life-long Michigander who grew up in East Lansing and lives in metro Detroit. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan College of Engineering and Wayne State University Law School. Before joining the Michigan Supreme Court in January of 2019, she had over fifteen years of experience as one of Michigan’s top appellate attorneys and was a shareholder at Garan Lucow Miller P.C. in Detroit.

Justice Cavanagh is the Supreme Court Liaison to Tribal Courts, Child Welfare Services, the Attorney Grievance Commission and the Judicial Tenure Commission.  She also serves on the Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Task Force.

Justice Cavanagh has served as Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Michigan, an organization focused on maintaining excellence and improving appellate jurisprudence and practice in Michigan. She served as a council person for the Negligence Section of the State Bar of Michigan, a diverse group of plaintiff and defense attorneys dedicated to finding consensus on important issues affecting citizens’ fair and equal access to the courts. She has served many years as co-chair of the Michigan Bench Bar Appellate Conference Foundation, organizing and participating in a truly unique educational opportunity for both judges and lawyers to constantly improve our state legal system. And she was a member of the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, charged with the responsibility of ensuring that attorneys maintain the highest standards of representation for their clients, other litigants, and the legal system.​

Prior to her election to the Court, Justice Cavanagh was rated as one of Michigan’s Super Lawyers. She was honored by Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly as Lawyer of the Year in 2006 and a Woman in the Law in 2017. Justice Cavanagh is the mother of two daughters, Georgia and Eloise.


Rohina Malik, Theater Playwright and Performer

UNVEILED, a one woman play written and performed by Rohina Malik, has been presented at theaters in the United States, Canada and in the summer of 2016, South Africa.
Rohina has performed the play at the 16th Street Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Next Theater, Brava Theater, Crossroads Theater, Muslim Fest in Canada, Theater project, Baltimore, Voyage Theater Company NYC and Silk Road Rising.  

Unveiled has also been presented at Harvard Law school, Harvard school of education, Princeton University, Yale University, NYU, University of Chicago, Stanford University, DePaul University, Loyola University, College of the Atlantic, Bates College, St. Mary’s College, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, Oklahoma State University,  University of Wyoming,  Brigham Young University, College of New Jersey, Washington University, Fordham University, UW Osh Kosh, Concordia University, La Verne University, and many more.  

Rohina has been invited to perform UNVEILED at Universities, Churches,  Mosques, Synagogues and Theaters. She was awarded the Y award with the Evanston YWCA for her work to end racism. 


Jackie Kallen, First Lady of Boxing, Subject of the film, Against the Ropes starring Meg Ryan

Jackie Kallen is the world’s most successful female boxing manager and the inspiration for the film. She fought against all odds to prevail in a male-dominated profession.

A journalist-turned-publicist for Thomas Hearns and Detroit’s Kronk Boxing Team, Kallen spent ten years learning the ropes of the boxing world. As a manager, she groomed James Toney to become a world champion shortly after launching her business. At the podium, Kallen reveals her secrets to overcoming adversity in all forms-sexism, discrimination and even life-threatening illness-to triumph over all.

Kallen, a writer since elementary school, had a colorful career before she ever met a boxer. An entertainment journalist who interviewed everyone from the Rolling Stones to Elvis and Sinatra, her work led her from hometown Detroit to NYC and back home to raise her family. A 1977 interview with six-time world champion boxer Thomas Hearns set her on her path, beginning as a publicist for him and the legendary Kronk Boxing Team. For ten years Kallen learned the ins and outs of the business. By 1988, she was ready to strike out on her own, managing fighters including a scrappy young man named James “Lights Out” Toney. Three years after she started managing him, Toney was a champ and Jackie was on top of the game. Still, despite two nominations for Manager of the Year, a stint as commissioner of the Female Boxers Association and a wall full of awards and honors, Kallen continues to fight for acceptance.

Jackie Kallen is the author of Hit Me with Your Best Shot: A Fight Plan for Dealing with All of Life’s Hard Knocks. She is currently managing several boxers and is very involved with local charities, particularly women’s shelters. She lives in Los Angeles.

Jackie is also very driven to raise awareness about women’s health issues, specifically the early detection of heart disease & breast cancer, as she has a stent implant for her heart and had two lumpectomies. A dynamic and inspiring speaker, Kallen motivates audiences to empower themselves and fight against adversity to achieve personal success.

Against the Ropes – One Woman’s Knock-Out Success Story:

Jackie relates her experiences as a woman trying to “fit in.” She describes what it took to break down barriers and gain acceptance in a sometimes-hostile environment. Based on her book, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Jackie shares what she has learned through the world of boxing and how these lessons can be applied to everyday life. Blending career with a family, all women know what it’s like to be a superwoman-career girl, wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter. Jackie explains how it is possible to have it all and not suffer while succeeding. Everyone faces adversity at one time or another, Jackie helps people understand how to deal with it and make the best of bad situations.

WSU Phillip D. Levy, M.D., M.P.H.


Prof. (w/ Tenure) (D)
Associate Chair for Research
Medical Director Clinical Research Center/Clinical Trials Office


Phillip D. Levy, M.D., M.P.H. is a Professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Emergency Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Heart Association. He serves as a reviewer for the NIH CHAS study section, a member of the Grants Advisory Panel for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and a member of the Scientific Review Committee for the American College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Levy is a recognized expert in cardiovascular research and has served on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Working Group on Management of Acute Heart Failure in the Emergency Department: Research Challenges and was as a member of the American Heart Association Scientific Statement Writing Group on Acute Heart Failure Syndromes – Emergency Department Presentation, Treatment and Disposition.

Dr. Levy’s research interests center on heart failure and hypertension with a dual focus on acute management and early disease detection. He has been the Principal Investigator for grant projects funded by the Emergency Medicine Foundation, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Physician Faculty Scholars Program, and the NIH/National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (5R01 MD005849). He has also served as the project mentor for grants funded by the Fulbright Program for Scholars and Professionals from the Caribbean and Central America and the Henry Ford Hospital Physician Scientist Track Funding Program. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Levy has published more than 100 manuscripts, authored 18 textbook chapters and has been an invited lecturer on cardiovascular disease related topics more than 200 times.

Dr. Maxine Hankins Cain, Ed. D.


Maxine Hankins Cain was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia to former sharecroppers, Mack and Rebecca Hankins. She is one of seven children whose parents stressed the importance of education and being of service in the community.

Maxine began her professional career in 1968 as a primary unit teacher with the Detroit Public Schools and has since served in the capacities of educational resource specialist, principal in both Lansing and Detroit, Director of Elementary Education for the Lansing District and Superintendent of Sankofa Shule Public School Academy in Lansing, Michigan.

She received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Norfolk State University; a masters degree in reading from the University of Michigan and a doctoral degree in K-12 Educational Administration from Union Institute and University.

Maxine is a national keynote speaker and workshop presenter. She has been invited by many local and national business and educational organizations to speak before youth and adults, sharing her expertise on self-esteem, bullying, diversity and inclusion, empowering employees, and creating effective teams. Her evaluations are always at the highest level with comments such as, “ Maxine changed my life! She should take this show on the road!”

   Engagements include keynote speaker or workshops presenter for Michigan Farm Bureau, Sioux City Community School District, the Oklahoma School District, Mary Kay International Conference, National Alliance of Black School Educators, National Organization of Albinism Hypopigmentation, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Education Association, Michigan Student Teachers Association, Women of Michigan Educational Network, Michigan Capitol Girl Scout Council, Michigan Hispanic Education Conference, Michigan Women’s Commission,  Michigan State University Alumni Association, Eastern Michigan University, University of Michigan, Dean’s Transportation, Willow Plaza Teen Association, State Parent Teacher Association, Cristo Rey Community Center, Parent Support Network, Detroit Public Schools, Monroe School District, Ann Arbor School District, Lansing School District, Jackson Public School District, Professional Substitute Teachers’ Association, MEMSPA (Camp Kett), Sesquicentennial Advisory Board, Kent County Intermediate School District, Lansing Genealogical Society, and the Michigan Historical Society.

Maxine is the recipient of the Sojourner Truth Award (Greater Lansing Area Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc.), Multi-Cultural Award (MEA), NAACP Membership Award (Lansing Chapter), Chairperson Awards (YMCA), and the Whitney Young Award (Boy Scouts of America) to mention a few.

She is married to Dr. Eugene L. Cain. They have three sons; Asante D. Cain (President of the Michigan Library Association), Producer and Grammy winner, Khari H. Cain (Needlz) and Dr. Jabari Paul Cain of Mercer University. They have eight wonderful grandchildren. Maxine enjoys reading inspirational books relative to physical and emotional health and fitness, traveling nationally and globally, being with family and maintaining a positive attitude.   

Maxine began her professional career in 1968 as a primary unit teacher with the Detroit Public Schools and has since served in the capacities of educational resource specialist, principal in both Lansing and Detroit, Director of Elementary Education for the Lansing District and Superintendent of Sankofa Shule Public School Academy in Lansing, Michigan. Maxine is a national keynote speaker and workshop presenter. She has been invited to speak before youth and adults, sharing her expertise on self-esteem, bullying, diversity and inclusion, empowering employees, and creating effective teams. 

Michael Goetz, Attorney Grievance Administrator for the State of Michigan

The Michigan Supreme Court  appointed Michael V. Goetz to the position of Grievance Administrator for the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission (AGC). Goetz  oversees the prosecutorial and educational functions of the AGC. The appointment was effective September 23, 2019. “Mr. Goetz has both the management skills and professional experience to make sure the AGC continues to protect the public and hold the legal profession accountable,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack. “Just as important, Mr. Goetz has a deep commitment to public service and great ideas on how to engage the public and the bar in the Commission’s critical mission, and to manage and inspire AGC staff.” Goetz received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in 1983 and a juris doctorate from Detroit College of Law in 1988. He most recently worked in the Michigan Office of the Attorney General, serving as Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division’s Drug Interdiction Unit for six years. In addition to more than 30 years of experience in prosecution at the state and county levels, Goetz also currently serves his community as an emergency medical technician-firefighter for the Orion Township Fire Department. The Attorney Grievance Commission is the investigative and prosecutorial arm of the Michigan Supreme Court for allegations of attorney misconduct. The AGC has jurisdiction over all attorneys licensed to practice law by the state Bar of Michigan and attorneys otherwise permitted to practice law in the State of Michigan. The AGC strives to maintain and promote the integrity of the Bar and to protect the public, the courts, and the legal profession.


Bridget Hurd, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion at BCBSM

Bridget Hurd is the Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Born and raised in Northwest Detroit, Hurd attended the University of Michigan for her undergraduate studies and Wayne State University for graduate school. She holds degrees in Marketing, Communications and Public relations. Hurd has worked in the healthcare industry for more than twenty years. She prides herself on being a change agent. She believes that every single person brings diversity to the workplace and that Diversity’s is about all of us.     

Fadwa Hammoud, Michigan Solicitor General

Fadwa Hammoud is the first Muslim Arab-American solicitor general in the country. Hammoud has spent her career as a Wayne County lead prosecutor and as a trustee and treasurer for Dearborn Public Schools. Wayne County prosecutor, Kim Worthy describes her as a visionary with an excellent work ethic. Hammoud also was appointed to the Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs by former Gov. Rick Snyder; and sits on the Legislative Committee for the Hispanic/Latino, Asian Pacific American and Middle Eastern American Affairs Commissions. She is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Hammoud clerked for the Honorable Judge George Steeh in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and was a 2018 member of the Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders Program.   

Dr. Grace Lubwama, CEO of the YWCA, Kalamazoo

Dr. Grace Lubwama, a native of Uganda, brings a broad global perspective to her experience with public health, organizational leadership, and community development. Her global perspective also infuses her strong public advocacy approach to issues of social justice and community transformation. Currently Grace serves as the CEO of the YWCA in Kalamazoo the first and oldest YWCA in the state of Michigan, dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. 

Dr. Kimberly Wisdom, Senior VP of Community Health & Equity and Chief Wellness & Diversity Officer at HFHS

Kimberly Wisdom, MD, MS is the Senior Vice President of Community Health & Equity and Chief Wellness and Diversity Officer at Henry Ford Health System. She is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician, the Chair of the Gail and Lois Warden Endowment on Multicultural Health, and Michigan’s and the nation’s First State-level Surgeon General. In 2012 she was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health. Since 1987 she has been on the faculty of the University of Michigan (UM) Medical School’s Department of Medical Education and adjunct professor in the UM School of Public Health. Dr. Wisdom focuses on health disparities/health care equity, infant mortality/maternal and child health, chronic disease, unintended pregnancy, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits, and tobacco use. She has worked collaboratively with school districts, faith-based organizations and the business community.

Rana Elmir, Deputy Director: ACLU of Michigan

Rana Elmir joined the ACLU of Michigan in 2006 as the Communications Director and was named Deputy Director in 2013. Rana is a member of the ACLU of Michigan’s leadership team and plays a key role in shaping the future of the ACLU-MI and increasing the effectiveness and shaping the ACLU of Michigan’s public policy campaigns. In addition, she continues her responsibilities to increase understanding and appreciation of the Bill of Rights and the ACLU’s mission through digital and traditional media. Rana is a graduate of Wayne State University’s Journalism School and the Journalism Institute for Minorities. She speaks fluent Arabic and is the winner of a number of awards including the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, Wayne State Media and Ethics Scholarship and Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Inaugural Scholarship and the Rosa Parks Scholarship.

Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony

Reverend Wendell Anthony is the of the President of Detroit chapter of the NAACP, the largest in the country and the Senior Pastor at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit.   Rev. Anthony is a Champion of Justice and Civil Rights.    Rev. Anthony founded the Freedom Institute which is a 501(C)3 non-profit, urban think tank.  The Freedom Institute sponsors Freedom Weekend annually with emphasis on economic, social justice and political empowerment.   He is also the founder of the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee.  This is a grassroots activist organization supporting issues and candidates both locally and nationally with an 80% success rate for endorsed candidates.



Federal District Court Judge The Honorable Judith Levy



United States District Judge Judith E. Levy. Judge Levy has been a long-time resident and civil rights activist from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was appointed to serve on the federal bench by President Obama in 2014, and became Michigan’s first openly LGBT federal judge. She is well known for organizing some of the early gay pride rallies in Ann Arbor, and for her career as an Assistant United States Attorney in Detroit, Michigan, where she enforced federal civil rights laws in some very controversial cases. Judge Levy also teaches seminars at the University of Michigan Law School where she is fond of telling her students that she has “never worked a day in her life.” In this talk, Judge Judy discusses coming out in the 1970s, her early experiences as an activist and her transition to the federal bench where she handles federal criminal and civil cases of all stripes and sizes.






Honorable Judge Patricia Fresard, 3rd Circuit Court, Wayne County Michigan

Honorable Patricia Fresard is a judge for the 3rd Circuit Court in Wayne CountyMichigan. She was first elected to this position on November 3, 1998, and took office the following January. She most recently ran unopposed for re-election in 2016.  Fresard graduated cum laude with a J.D. from the Michigan State University – Detroit College of Law in 1986. Fresard began her career in 1986 as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Macomb County. She served in that county as the chief of sex crimesJudge Fresard has served as felony trial court judge and presently serves as presiding judge for the Civil Division. She also serves on the court’s executive and strategic planning committees. Judge Fresard is a member of the Federal Bar’s diversity committee and has been active throughout her career in community service and mentor-ship programs, including the Inns of Court program.  

Reginald Turner, Clark Hill Executive Committee

Reginald Turner is a highly accomplished litigator, government affairs advocate and strategic advisor. He is a member of Clark Hill’s Executive Committee, Government Policy Group, and Labor and Employment Practice Group. Reginald is named in the peer review guides Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers®, as well as the Michigan Chronicle Power 50, DBusiness Top Lawyers, Crain’s Detroit Business Power Lawyers and Crain’s Most Connected.  He has been identified by Michigan Lawyers Weekly and Best Lawyers as a Lawyer of the Year.

Reginald has successfully litigated commercial, employment, labor, class action and public policy matters in state and federal courts and administrative tribunals. He regularly counsels clients in negotiation, drafting and administration of labor and employment contracts in the private and public sectors. Reginald has served on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Employers, the American Arbitration Association’s Michigan Employment Advisory Council and the State Bar of Michigan’s Labor and Employment Section Council.

As an experienced lobbyist, Reginald advocates effectively for corporate clients in federal, state and local matters.  He has significant government service experience at all three levels. Reginald served as a White House Fellow under President Bill Clinton, and worked for U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretaries Henry Cisneros and Andrew Cuomo. He has also had gubernatorial, mayoral and county executive appointments in Michigan.

Reginald is a director of Comerica, Inc., one of the nation’s largest financial institutions. He chairs the board’s Enterprise Risk Committee, and serves on the Audit Committee and the Qualified Legal Compliance Committee. Reginald is also a director of Masco Corporation, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of brand name products for new home construction and home improvement. He serves on the board’s Audit Committee and Governance Committee. 

Reginald is a past president of the National Bar Association and past president of the State Bar of Michigan. In August of 2020 he became President elect of the American Bar Association where he will serve as its President in August of 2021.  He has served as the State Delegate for Michigan in the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and as chair of the ABA House of Delegates Rules & Calendar Committee, the Committee on Issues of Concern to the Profession, and the Committee on Credentials and Admissions. Reginald is also a past chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession and the Commission on the Lawyer’s Role in Assuring Every Child a Quality Education. He is the chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, a charitable group  reserved to less than 1 percent of lawyers in each state.  Reginald is also a Life Leadership Fellow of the Foundation on the basis of his financial support of the important, groundbreaking  research of the Foundation’s scholars.

Reginald is active in public service and civic and charitable organizations. He is chairman of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, vice chairman of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and a trustee of the Hudson-Webber Foundation. He is a past chair of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, and a past vice chairman of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

In 2003, Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Reginald to the Michigan State Board of Education and he won a statewide election for a full term in 2006. From 2000-2003, Reginald represented Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer on the Detroit Board of Education. He has previously served as Secretary of the Wayne County Airport Authority, as Secretary of the Wayne County Business Development Corporation, on Governor John Engler’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Michigan Gaming, as chairman of the City of Detroit Board of Ethics, and on the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Advisory Committee.

Honorable Judge Charlene Elder, 3rd Circuit Court Wayne County Michigan


Honorable Charlene Elder is a judge of the 3rd Circuit Court (Family Division) in Wayne CountyMichigan. She was appointed to the court by former Governor Jennifer Granholm in December 2005. Elder was then elected to the court in 2006 and re-elected in 2008 and 2014 and 2015. Elder is the first Arab-American female judge on the 3rd Circuit Court. She is also the first female, Arab-American, and Muslim judge in the country. Elder currently sits in the Family Division of the court, handling a variety of domestic relations cases involving divorce, child custody and personal protection matters. Elder is one of three judges who helped initiate the Domestic Violence Prevention Court, designed to offer a wide range of services to victims of domestic violence who obtain personal protection orders against their perpetrators. Prior to her appointment, Charlene served as a judicial magistrate in the 19th District Court. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in Dearborn, and her juris doctor degree from the Detroit College of Law. In addition to having served on several boards throughout her career, she was named Judge of the Year by Moms and Dads of Michigan in 2009. She currently serves on the board of ACCESS, and is an advisory board member on the Wayne Mediation Center in Dearborn. 

Dr. Glenn Maleyko Superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools



    Superintendent Glenn Maleyko, Ph.D. began his career in education as a substitute teacher in Dearborn Public schools in 1995.  He was hired as a full-time teacher at Salina Elementary, a school that would become home for the next 12 years. He began his administrative career in 2002 and later on served as Executive Director of Staff and Human Services from 2013.  Dr. Maleyko was the unanimous choice of the Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education in 2015 to take the top spot as the leader of the 21,000-student district. Under Dr. Maleyko’s leadership, the Dearborn Public Schools District has been recognized by Bridge Magazine and the Mackinac Center as one of the top school districts in the state. Dr. Maleyko received the very prestigious recognition of “2019 Superintendent of the Year” in the State of Michigan by MASA.

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon

Benny Napoleon

Wayne County Sheriff

Benny N. Napoleon has dedicated nearly four decades to public service, possesses leadership experience in both law enforcement and county government, and is a practicing attorney. His focus has been on community education and crime prevention, and believes that collaboration among municipalities, businesses, community groups and residents are key to protecting the public during these tough economic times.

Napoleon was educated in the Detroit Public School system and graduated from Cass Technical High School. He joined the Detroit Police Department in 1975 as a trainee police officer and was admitted to the Detroit Police Academy in June 1975. He served the Detroit Police Department in many patrol, investigative, undercover and administrative capacities. He began his career walking a beat in the Second (Vernor) Precinct. He quickly rose through the ranks of the police department, being promoted to sergeant in 1983; to lieutenant in 1985; to inspector in 1987; to commander in 1993; to deputy chief in 1994; to assistant chief in 1995; and was appointed Chief of Police by the Honorable Mayor Dennis W. Archer in 1998.

After more than 26 years of distinguished service, Chief Napoleon retired from the Detroit Police Department in 2001. In 2004, Napoleon was named Assistant Wayne County Executive to help facilitate the administration of the nation’s 13th largest county. He served in that role until his appointment as Wayne County Sheriff in July 2009. In November 2010, Napoleon received an overwhelming 73% the vote to retain the position of Sheriff through the 2012 term.

Some highlights of Napoleon’s law enforcement career include supervising the investigation that led to the successful apprehension and prosecution of the parties responsible for the felonious assault on international figure skating champion, Nancy Kerrigan; supervising the investigation that led to the swift apprehension of ten escapees from the Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit; and drafting and implementing a crime reduction plan which led to an unprecedented 30% reduction in violent crime in the City of Detroit during his three-year tenure as Chief of Police.

Napoleon earned his Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement, Cum Laude, from Mercy College of Detroit in 1980; his B.A. in Criminal Justice, Cum Laude, from Mercy College of Detroit in 1982; and his Juris Doctor Degree from Michigan State University College of Law in 1986. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy; the United States Secret Service Dignitary Protection School; the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command; the Aresty Institute of Executive Development at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Executive Education in which he was awarded a certificate of completion for the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program in July 2011. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan and has been licensed to practice law since 1987.

Napoleon has also served the community as a baseball coach for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Michigan; a basketball coach for the Detroit Police Athletic League; a student mentor for the Detroit Public Schools; chaired the Michigan Civil Rights Commission; and is a life member of the NAACP. He is also an attorney with a private legal practice, 33rd Degree Mason, Prince Hall Affiliate and serves as an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Phoenix (Detroit Campus). Benny Napoleon’s awards and honors are too numerous to list.

Mayor of Dearborn: John B. "Jack" O'Reilly, Jr.

John B. “Jack” O’Reilly, Jr.

Mayor of Dearborn

John B. “Jack” O’Reilly, Jr. has served as an elected public official in Dearborn since 1990 and as Mayor since 2007.  He was last re-elected in November 2017 and will be Mayor through 2021. Before becoming Mayor, he served as president of the Dearborn City Council for 17 years.

Throughout his public career, Mayor O’Reilly has consistently demonstrated his commitment to Dearborn neighborhoods by working to preserve the City’s high quality of life and attractive residential areas.

He has promoted economic development and community programs through beneficial relationships with county, regional and state agencies, and corporations like Ford Motor Co., Beaumont Health System and Ford Land. Notably, he was instrumental in clearing the path for Ford Land’s Wagner Place development, which is scheduled to open in Dearborn’s west downtown in 2018.

The Mayor has forged productive partnerships with important community organizations, such as the Dearborn Federation of Neighborhood Associations, the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, the Dearborn Area Interfaith Network, and the Dearborn Public Schools. He is on the board of directors of the Dearborn Education Foundation, the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.

Mayor O’Reilly has significant experience in regional, state and federal levels of government, and has participated in or led many boards, task forces and high-level committees.

He was elected president of the Michigan Municipal League and served in that capacity from fall 2015-fall 2016.  Under his leadership, the League lobbied to improve how municipal services are funded in Michigan.

He was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2016 to the 20-member Executive Committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

He was the 2014 chair of the Downriver Community Conference, following many other leadership positions he held with the regional organization.

In 2014, Mayor O’Reilly was appointed by Gov. Snyder to the Local Community Stabilization Authority Council, a five-member panel that oversees personal property tax replacement revenue distribution to communities across Michigan.

Mayor O’Reilly also maintains an active role with the Urban Core Mayors, a bipartisan, multi-regional coalition of 13 central city mayors; the Conference of Western Wayne and with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Before becoming Mayor, he was the executive director of the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) from 1996-2007.

Over his long public service career, Mayor O’Reilly was a Washington staff counsel and district director for then-U.S. Congressman John D. Dingell and a chief of staff in the Michigan State Senate.

A licensed Michigan attorney, he holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Detroit and also is an alumnus of Oakland University. He is a graduate of Dearborn’s St. Alphonsus High School.

He and his wife, Christina, are the parents of Devon, Sean, and Dylan, and have one grandson.



Alan Gershel: MI Former Attorney Grievance Administrator and Assistant US Attorney

Alan Gershel graduated Northeastern University in 1974 with a B.A in criminal justice, Indiana State University in 1975 with an M.S in criminology and the University of  Detroit Mercy School of Law in 1978. From 1980 until 2008  he was as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit where he served as the Chief of the Criminal Division, First Assistant U.S. Attorney and was twice appointed the Interim United States Attorney. He has also served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division for the United States Department of Justice. From 2008 until 2014 he was a professor at the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he taught criminal law, criminal procedure, white collar crime and evidence. He has served as an adjunct professor at Wayne State University and  the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. In 2014 he was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court as the Grievance Administrator for the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission where he served until his retirement in 2019. He was recently appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to the Attorney Discipline Board.

Lynn Helland, Executive Director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission

Former Assistant United States Attorney Lynn Helland currently serves as the Executive Director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.  His significant experience with Michigan legal ethics as a professional responsibility officer, discipline hearing panelist, and ethics instructorhas been responsible for helping colleagues comply with the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct,

Helland’s 34 years as a federal prosecutor have been devoted to complex crimes involving public corruption, health care fraud, national security, and civil rights. He has investigated complex economic, environmental, and non-drug money laundering crimes. In addition, he has worked internationally within the legal systems of the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong (before and after the 1997 transition), Switzerland, France, Ireland, England, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Japan, and Canada to obtain documents and/or testimony for prosecution of complex economic crimes.

In the spring of 2009, Helland was honored with the prestigious Leonard R. Gilman Award, presented annually to “an outstanding practitioner of criminal law who exemplifies the excellence, professionalism, and commitment to public service” of the award’s namesake. The award was created in 1985 by the Federal Bar Association for the Eastern District of Michigan in honor of Gilman, who died that year following a distinguished career as U.S. Attorney in Detroit. Helland joined a list of award winners that includes such notable attorneys as David DuMouchel, Paul Borman, Neil Fink, Alan Gershel, Tom Cranmer, and former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Maura Corrigan.
A Plymouth resident, Helland also served as senior legal adviser for the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. During his stay in the war-torn country, Helland promoted the rule of law by mentoring Afghan narcotics investigators, prosecutors, and judges in international standards, with emphasis on systemic improvements, group training in critical case analysis and investigative methods, and analysis of individual cases to identify appropriate investigative steps and review for prosecutive merit. Additionally, Helland advised the government of Latvia concerning laws against official corruption, in order to facilitate entry into the European Union.

Helland is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School, magna cum laude. He served as a law clerk to Judge Cornelia Kennedy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit before beginning his career with the U.S. Department of Justice.

His community involvement includes serving as a board member for Save the Afghan Children, a charity that supports a girls’ orphanage and school in Kabul. He also was a board member for Veahavta, a charity that helps supply funding for a girls’ orphanage in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. In addition, Helland served as a board member and president of the Parents’ Association, Oak Trails Montessori School.

Over the past decade, Helland and his wife, Dr. Cheryl Huckins, have participated in numerous humanitarian trips to Sri Lanka and Haiti, assisting with relief efforts following the devastating tsunami that rocked Southeast Asia in December 2004 and the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that ravaged the tiny Caribbean country.

He and his wife have two sons, Kyle and Kelsey, and one daughter, Erica. Kyle holds an engineering management position with Lockheed Martin, the giant aerospace and defense company. His brother Kelsey, a graduate of Stanford Law School, is an attorney with Gibson Dunn in San Francisco. Erica, a former English teacher, now is an administrator for Concordia University in Ann Arbor. The couple also has five grandchildren.

An avid golfer and bicyclist, Helland also enjoys reading, traveling, and attending U-M sporting events and Detroit Symphony Orchestra concerts.

Helland took  the reins at the JTC in February 2017.



Chief Mike Jaafar- Wayne County Sheriff's Office Chief of Operations

Chief Mike Jaafar is Wayne County Sheriff’s office Chief of Operations.   Chief Jaafar has dedicated his life to law enforcement and to the protection of the citizens of the Great State of Michigan.   He started his career in the Detroit Police Department Anti-Narcotics and Gang Squads.   He has extensive background in forensics and crime prevention methods.  He has served on a multitude of national and local police task forces.  He’s an expert on anti-terrorism training and community safety. He is also the first  Arab American from Dearborn to graduate from FBI National Academy. 

Najibah Rehman MD, Medical Director, Detroit Health Department


Najibah K. Rehman MD.

Medical Director, Detroit Health Department


  • Residency 2018, General Preventive Medicine , School of Public Health , University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • Internship 2015, Internal Medicine , Wayne State University School of Medicine
  • M.D. 2014, Biomedical Research, Wayne State University School of Medicine
  • Master’s 2009, Public Health , Bloomberg School of Public Health , Johns Hopkins University
  • Baccalaureate 2005, Human Biology and Anthropology , Natural Sciences , Michigan State University


    • American Board of Preventive Medicine. Eligible.

Licenses & Certifications

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support, American Heart Association
  • Basic Life Support, American Heart Association
  • Controlled Substance, State of Michigan
  • Medical License, State of Michigan
Heaster Wheeler: Michigan Assistant Secretary of State


Assistant Secretary of State for the State of Michigan

Heaster Wheeler, assistant secretary of state. Wheeler is a past assistant county executive for Wayne County and served as executive director of the NAACP’s Detroit branch for more than a decade. He has been chief innovation officer with Black Family Development and is the founder and CEO of his own company, providing leadership, community engagement and government affairs consultation. Wheeler has an associate degree from Wayne County Community College and nonprofit management certification from Harvard University.

When you peruse Heaster Wheeler’s background, his commitment to community is pristine. His activism in the political, civil rights and the social justice advocacy process goes back to junior high school when he was a member of the Black Student Union. His straightforward, honest leadership style garners respect as he leaves a trail of allies from many sectors of the community.

Mr. Wheeler’s extraordinary passion for doing things right has taken him from the City of Detroit’s Fire Department as a Fire Fighter to a member of the Department’s Community Relations Speakers’ Bureau and President of the Phoenix (Detroit’s Black fire fighters’ organization). Next, he worked as Legislative Assistant to then State Representative Carolyn Kilpatrick, managing constituent inquiries and fundraising.

When he accepted a lobbyist position as Manager of State Government Affairs for Ameritech, he managed a legislative tracking and analyst system and co-managed the Political Action Committee with a $450k budget and helped shape important public policy relating to telecommunications. Later, he lobbied for the Detroit Public Schools – Office of Government Relations and was responsible for monitoring House, Senate and Executive committees, tracking budget, policy issues, stakeholder management and all public education legislation.

Later, he worked in State government as Deputy Director of Communications for Curtis Hertel, the Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives. His responsibilities included campaign planning, literature development, budget forecasting, convening public hearings and town hall meetings, candidate recruitment and incumbent protection. He was also co-convener of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus Summit.

In October 1999 he was appointed as the Executive Director of the Detroit Branch— National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In this appointed position  , he tackled major issues including: regressive juvenile justice laws, driving while black issues, employment discrimination, the take over of Detroit Public Schools, voting rights and voter intimidation issues.

During the 2000 elections, Mr. Wheeler served on the executive committee of “All Kids First,” a Michigan campaign to defeat school vouchers. This effort resulted in a 4 to 1 victory for Detroit citizens and 2 to 1 ratio statewide. He also provides much focused leadership in collaboration with the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and NAACP leaders from around Michigan.

Early in 2003, he was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to serve on the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council and contributed to a set of recommendations impacting urban revitalization, transportation, land use and sprawl.

In 2003, Mr. Wheeler helped coordinate and lead 57 busses to Washington D.C. and the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to demonstrate in support of Affirmative Action.  He also helped organize 15,000 people in the 40th commemoration ‘March Down Woodward’.  This was in memory of Dr. Martin Luther Kings’ march and 1st rendition of ‘I Have A Dream’ in 1963.

Also, in 2003, he participated in groundbreaking conversation on Mackinac Island regarding ‘Race Relations’ held during the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’ Public Policy Summit.  This program was taped by WDIV – Channel 4 and aired during a special showing of ‘Flashpoint’.

In 2004, Mr. Wheeler provided very focused and strategic leadership and served as one of the primary spokespersons to help defeat Proposal E in the City of Detroit and restore voting rights for the school board.  The proposal was defeated by 65% to 35%.

In 2005, Mr. Wheeler became the chairman for the Detroit Alliance for Fair Banking.  As chairman, he meets regularly with banking officials to help ensure that residents of the city are not victims of predatory lending and that banking institutions are reinvesting into the community.

In 2006, Mr. Wheeler served as campaign co-chair for One United Michigan, a coalition formed to help preserve ad protect Affirmative Action in Michigan.  As campaign co-chair Mr. Wheeler traversed the state and the country to inform the community about the importance of Affirmative Action.

In 2007, Mr. Wheeler was a lead panelist again on Bridging the Racial Divide II, which examines the costs of segregation in Metro Detroit.  These telecasts were aired on WTVS Channel 56. 

In 2008, Mr. Wheeler was a recipient of the “Men of Excellence” award given by the Michigan Chronicle and the UAW Pioneer Award.  In 2009, Mr. Wheeler was bestowed the honor of the 33rd degree in Masonry (Prince Hall Affiliates).

Family is important to Mr. Wheeler, and he is married to Jennifer and has three children, Khari, Jeneva and Jeremiah. He has four grandchildren, Kaylin, Khari II, Kennedy and Kristopher.  He is a member of Fellowship Chapel Church in Detroit.  In 2006, Mr. Wheeler and his wife served as co-chairs for Fellowship Chapel’s 40th Anniversary.

He graduated from Wayne County Community College in 2008 and Detroit Public Schools (Northwestern High).  He has attended Wayne State University and Clark Atlanta University. He has received extensive training in public speaking, public policy, campaign management and strategic planning.

In July of 2010, Mr. Wheeler was chosen to attend Harvard Business School.  He received a certificate of completion in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management.


He is also active or serves with:

·                     Mayors Bing’s Detroit Works Initiative;

·                     Detroit Workforce Development Board

·                     DTE Community Advisory Committee 

·                     Detroit Public Library Literacy Council


Freedom fighting and the protection of civil rights is the cornerstone of his life’s commitment.


Zaineb Hussein: Mi Secretary of State Deputy Chief of Staff


Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson appointed Zaineb A. Hussein  as Michigan Department of State deputy chief of staff where she began her post on Feb. 10.

“Zaineb brings a combination of government, policy and engagement experience and insight that will serve our team tremendously,” said Benson. “She has exceptional knowledge of how to work with people to advance common agendas, which will benefit the department’s employees and the many customers and communities we interact with across the state.”

Hussein previously served as deputy director of external affairs for Wayne County, serving more than 1.7 million people in 43 communities that make up Michigan’s most populous county, and the 19th most populous county in the United States. In this capacity, she directed diversity, inclusion and equity work; led planning efforts for the 2020 Census; and oversaw strategy and activities to support immigrants, refugees and minority communities.

Hussein’s previous experience includes working in the Michigan Department of Human Services, State Senate District 5, and the City of Dearborn Heights. She serves on the board of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and eMgage. She previously served on the board of the League of Women Voters. Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed her to the 2020 Census statewide Complete Count Committee. Hussein holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in counseling from Spring Arbor University.

“I look forward to helping Secretary Benson and her administration achieve their goals in the coming years,” said Hussein. “Increasing voter participation and better serving all Michiganders as they interact with state government is critical to our democracy and directly aligns with my passion and values.”

Hussein replaces Sarah Gonzales Triplett, who joined the Whitmer Administration in early 2020.


Khyla D. Craine: Mi Secretary of State Associate Legal Director

Attorney Khyla D. Craine serves as the Associate Legal Director for the Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson. In this role, Ms. Craine provides legal guidance to the Secretary while tackling a variety of issues in the Department from risk mitigation, data integrity, and the implementation of the State’s new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and voting laws.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan native is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and South Carolina State University. Ms. Craine served as the 2016-2017 Chair of the National Bar Association’s (NBA) Young Lawyers Division (YLD). Through her leadership, the YLD was named Division of the Year by the President of the NBA.

A frequent speaker across the country, Ms. Craine has presented for the Federal Bar Association, National Bar Association, NAACP, Fried Frank LLP, among others. In 2014, Ms Craine co-authored an article entitled Returning Citizens: How Shifting Law and Policy in Maryland Will Help Citizens Who Return from Incarceration in the University of Baltimore Law School’s Law Forum. She has also written op-eds and columns for The Root Magazine.

For her work, she has received numerous awards, including the 2019 National Bar Association Equal Justice Honoree and President’s Award Recipient; 2016 National Bar Association Top 40 under 40 Nation’s Best Advocates Award; 2016 Young Alumni of the Year, Washington, D.C. Chapter, South Carolina State National Alumni Association; 2015 NAACP Youth and College Division Director’s Award; and 2014 National Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Chair’s Award. Her work in service to the community continues through membership in the National Bar Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., where she serves on the National Social Action Commission. 

Brenda Jegede: MDHHS Manager of Equity and Minority Health

Born and raised in Detroit, Brenda Jegede fondly refers to herself as an Eastsider. To some that means that she’s tough and street smart; to others, she is resilient fighter. Brenda rarely initiates friendship. Yet, once you win her over, you gain a loyal friend for life. Most would describe Brenda as reserved, calm and cool; but you must see her during an adventure when she suddenly burst with excitement.

Give Brenda a project to work on or an event to plan and she is in her element. Brenda has worked in HIV, infant mortality and injury prevention within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for more than fifteen years. Brenda currently serves as the manager of the Office of Equity and Minority Health. Her office works to improve health outcomes for Michigan residents, with a persistent focus on populations of color.

Brenda and her spouse own a MEEMIC Insurance Agency in West Bloomfield, MI. Prior to working for a decade as an owner and executive director of Sylvan Learning Centers, Brenda was a social worker in hospital emergency rooms and at a health clinic.

The Jegedes are tried-and true, blue Wolverines. Brenda, her husband and their daughter are all Michigan graduates. Brenda’s son is a senior in his undergraduate program at the University of Michigan. Brenda has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Master’s Degree in Public Health and Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan.

Brenda works hard and when it is time for vacation, it’s “See ya!” After sending her children around the globe, now Brenda’s got “next”. Brenda and her husband of 24 years are LOVING their empty nest life and they LOVE to travel! Brenda cherishes memories of exploring Venice, St. Lucia, Cancun, Belize, London, Paris, Rome and Nigeria, and becoming one with the ocean on her first seven-day cruise.

What makes Brenda happiest is her relationship with God and the peace and strength He gives her. She knows that her prayers resulted in her finding her soul mate and husband; helped her raise the best daughter and son; and give her the overall ability to function as an independent woman, entrepreneur, daughter, sister, aunt, business partner, servant and friend.

Zenell Brown: Executive Court Administrator of the Third Circuit Court in Wayne County
Zenell B. Brown

Zenell Brown currently serves as the Executive Court Administrator of the Third Circuit Court.  She has previously served as the Friend of the Court, Enforcement Director, and Senior Staff Attorney, as well as mediator at the Third Circuit Court.  She is a certified diversity professional, and co-author of a State Court Administrative Office approved mediation training curriculum.


With a vision to stir up conversations of inclusion and good trouble, Zenell shares stories and lessons learned in Coffee and Conversations: Inclusion and Belonging which is available on Amazon.


Her commitment to delivering quality judicial services runs deep and wide.  She has spearheaded and contributed to the reconstruction and transformation of court operations such as the amnesty program, judicial strategic planning, and juvenile justice.  Inside the legal profession, she has trained attorneys and court professionals in multiple areas including domestic relations mediation, creating an inclusive work environment, managing the multi-generational workforce, and caseflow management.  She has presented before the Michigan Judicial Institute, the Association of Family and Conciliation Court, the National Association of Court Management, and National Black Child Development Institute audiences.


Zenell serves on the board of the Detroit Bar Association, the board of the Michigan Diversity Council, several committees of the National Association of Court Management, the faculty of the Michigan Judicial Institute, and the faculty of the Institute of Court Management.  A forever learner, Zenell holds a Juris Doctor (Wayne State University Law School), Graduate Certificate in Public Administration (Central Michigan University), and Judicial Administration Certificate (Michigan State University).


Alena Zachary-Ross: Ypsilanti Schools Superintendent

Alena Zachery-Ross is currently the Superintendent for Ypsilanti Community Schools. She is the former Superintendent of Okemos Public Schools and Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System, the nation’s first self-managed charter school and local k-12 school district: Muskegon Heights Public Schools Academy System. The district is in its fifth year of operation. Mrs. Ross previously served in Van Dyke Public Schools in Warren, Michigan for nine years where she served as an Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, elementary school principal and middle school principal. As a middle school principal, she began her turnaround career. While under her leadership, the building moved from a grade of “D” high alert to “B” in only 3 short years and made AYP 5 of her 6 years as principal. She has also served as a teacher consultant, school psychologist, and teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. Mrs. Ross is a sought after speaker and professional developer and is currently serving as the Pastor of Lane Memorial CME church in Jackson, MI.

Diane Wolfenden : Vice President, East Region at Priority Health

Diane Wolfenden is currently the Vice President, East Region at Priority Health.  Versatile, innovative, strategic leader with an indelible reputation for consistently delivering results through strategic planning, developing and implementing effective marketing, pricing and business initiatives that grow market share and achieve financial goals. Progressive track record in Health Insurance Underwriting and Sales as a highly-adaptable, productive, analytical and collaborative leader. Successful servicing small, middle and large local and national accounts, agents and consultants while solving issues in fast paced, dynamic, challenging environments. She served as Vice President of Salus as well as a 16 year career with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan prior to joining Priority Health as its Eastern Region VP.

Judge Noah Hood: Wayne County 3rd Circuit Court Judge

Judge Hood was appointed by Governor Whitmer to the bench at the 3rd circuit court. He was appointed to succeed former Judge Connie Marie Kelley for a term expiring at twelve noon on January 1, 2021. Noah was an assistant United States Attorney and prior to that position, he worked for a top law firm. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School with an undergraduate degree from Yale University. He was valedictorian of his high school class.

Mike Esseilly: Executive Director of Special Population in Dearborn Public Schools

Mike Esseilly was appointed Executive Director of Special Populations for Dearborn Public Schools in 2019. Esseilly had served as interim director. He attended Dearborn Public Schools and graduated from Fordson High School in 2000. He coordinates the implementation of all federal special education mandates and leads several innovative special education models throughout the district. One of the models include co-teaching, which pairs a regular education and special education teacher in the same classroom to benefit all students 

Jaleelah Ahmed: Superintendent of Hamtramck Public Schools

Jaleelah Ahmed began her new position as  Hamtramck, MI Schools Superintendent on July 1, 2019.  Ms. Ahmed was the English Language Development (ELD) Director for Hamtramck Schools since the fall of 2016.  Her 22 years as an educator also include successful experience as a principal and district resource teacher, bilingual teacher and Title I specialist.  In addition, she is currently a part-time faculty member and coordinator at Wayne State University and a School Improvement Consultant. 

Ms. Ahmed holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and Master of Arts degree in Education with a K-12 Educational Leadership Endorsement as well as endorsements as a K-12 Literacy Specialist and in ESL.  She is currently working toward earning her Doctorate degree in Curriculum Instruction and Educational Leadership at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus. 

In her new role Ms. Ahmed has focused on strengthening connections she has already established in Hamtramck to lead all stakeholders forward in a process of continuous growth and improvement, focusing on the learning and well-being of each and every student.  She states, “It is an honor to serve Hamtramck Public Schools and I look forward to collaborating with the school board, staff, families, community and organizations.  Collectively, we will make a difference in the lives of our students. It is an exciting time for us and I am thrilled to work with so many talented people to ensure that students receive the maximum opportunities for them to thrive in a global society.”


Register here for the Virtual 17th Annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference


Register here for the Virtual 17th Annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference

Thank you to our 2019 Conference Partners without whom we cannot produce Images & Perceptions! 

Thank you to our 2019, 16th Annual Images & Perceptions Diversity Conference Speakers

Thank you to our 2018, 15th Annual Images & Perceptions Diversity Conference Speakers