Board of Advisors

Joan Abraham | Principal

Co-founder of Detroit Pockets of Cool, Joan Abraham’s focus on the Internet environment for brand building over the last 16 years has created new merchandising and marketing paradigms for a global marketplace. Her understanding of the proper voice and emotional pull needed online creates a distinct rapport between the individual and the brand. Her services adapt to any brand or individual looking to communicate and promote online.

While in New York she produced new media prototype campaigns for General Motors, Cadillac, Chrysler Corporation, NBC-TV, Phillips Van Heusen, and ABC-TV among others.

Since moving back to Detroit in 2008 she has been using these online marketing skills to promote various non-profits including: Michigan Women’s Foundation, Dance Council, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, Ballet Renaissance, and Technion Society of Detroit

Her extensive background in retail marketing and fashion production support her ability to merchandise and market into entertainment. Her work is designed to deliver revenue-generating campaigns that relate to the consumer through entertainment and storytelling.

She currently teaches Social Commerce at Parsons School of Design in New York. She developed the course for Parsons in 1995 and throughout this time has worked with the leading design students from around the world developing her theories into relevant cutting edge case studies for world recognized brands.

Two groundbreaking events in Ms. Abraham’s career clearly demonstrate her ability to deliver this relationship between the brand and the consumer. While based in Chicago Ms. Abraham produced two one-hour specials for the Oprah Winfrey Show using a unique program format. These specialized programs resulted in a 45% increase in retail advertising for WLS-TV in Chicago.

In 1989 Ms. Abraham launched a network of video walls in shopping centers across the country presenting a dynamic video format for place-based advertising. Research conducted on the response to the advertising reported that 68% of the mall traffic recalled seeing the programming and of those 33% made a purchase as a result of what they saw. The dynamic fashion editorial programming provided an attention-grabbing environment for the advertisers among the first to venture into new media opportunities.

During her career she has been responsible for executing press events, public relations campaigns, and producing promotional events and fashion shows nationwide.

She graduated with a B.A. from the University of Michigan

Maggie Allesee | Principal

There are few citizens that have greeted this city as generously as Maggie Allesee. Although a transplant from St. Petersburg, Florida, Philadelphia, PA and London, England, Maggie has endowed this city so richly in the arts and educational institutions. She is 100 % committed to the projects and institutions she touches. She uses her voice to make young groups soluble, more visible, and focused.


  • American Lung Assoc. Women’s Committee: Past President-Cinderella Ball Chm. Expanded ball to include Henry Ford II Achievement Award & American Lung Women’s Volunteer Award
  • Cranbrook Academy of Art: Board of Governors 1998 – Current: Major donor:
  • Wayne State University: Detroit Festival of the Arts: co-chair with President Reid; – 2000 – 2007
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra: Major Donor: Rehearsal Hall for the New Max Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall;
  • Detroit Thanksgiving Parade: Distinguished Clown 1989 – present
  • Eisenhower Dance Ensemble: Board Member 1994 – present; fund raising committee; major donor
  • Henry Ford Hospice: Women’s Committee founder, board member; major donor.
  • Hospice of Michigan: Quality of Life Research Center: Donor and building naming, board member. $3,000,000.
  • Karmanos Cancer Institute: board member; major donor; Circle of Fellows & Development Committee
  • Metropolitan Ballet Theatre: Founding board member and fundraising committee
  • Michigan Opera Theatre: Trustee Board; Chairman Dance Patron Circle; donated Dance Lounge, Educational Center and Library
  • Music Hall Center for Performing Arts: trustee: board member; major donor
  • Oakland University: Presidents Council board member; Music, Theatre & Dance board, EDE board
  • Oakland University School of Nursing: Founder of board of visitors: graduation speaker: Major Donor for Gerontology Masters Program: Fundraising committee
  • Wayne State University: Created The Maggie Allesee Department of Dance: Vice chairman of the University capital campaign for $5,000.000.


Many honors & recognitions over the last 25 years.


Has a degree in journalism from Florida State University; Masters in Education and Post Masters in Gerontology from Wayne State University; Postgraduate Studies in 20th Century English Literature from the University of London England; Three honorary Doctorate Degrees from Wayne State University, 2002. Kendall College of Art & Design / Ferris State University, 2002 and Oakland University 2011. Has spent years writing for newspapers, editor for organizations publications.

Drew Fezzey | Principal

As Chief Creative Officer of Greybear Music and Film, Drew is fluent as a writer, producer, director, composer, musician, and marketing consultant. He is a dynamic and accomplished creative talent with an outstanding history of success in the entertainment, publishing, marketing and advertising industries. Experienced in negotiating, production, sales and international licensing with a demonstrated record of successful business development. Drew is a natural leader, with the ability to motivate and inspire others to achieve and exceed expectations. He has orchestrated strategic partnerships, national and international M&A. with over 30 years experience.


  • Directed Anita Bakers’ Grammy nominated music video, “My Everything”
  • Composed and produced theme for MGM Grand. “Where The City Shines”
  • Composer, Sound Designer and Music Supervisor for Charity Island feature film, “Silent Scream”.
  • Recorded with David Crosby, members of The Doobie Brothers, Santana, Bad Company
  • Directed music videos for original members of Santana
  • Produced, directed and scored award winning national commercial
  • Acquired patents and trademarks securing technology and know how associated with Luminescent Color
  • Negotiated licensing deals with multi national corporations
  • Purchasing agent and wholesale distributor of Chinese Products, 1976

Clients Include: National Advertising Agencies, Ford, Chrysler, GM, VW, Audi, Stroh’s, Olympia Development, Illitch Holdings, Little Caesars Enterprises, Vernors, Dominos Pizza, Frito Lay, Nestles, HoneyBaked Ham, Major League Baseball, Toski Golf, Harley Davidson, Hilton, IBM, Oakwood Hospital, Compsat Technology, Flagstar Bank, MTV Music Television, Major Record Labels, MGM Grand, Blue Note/ Baker Records, Disney, ABC, FOX, Charity Island Films, Purple Rose Films, Greektown Casino, Kewaden Casino.

He has served as executive creative director of the Berline Group, chief executive officer of Chromonix Limited where he raised over 2M in start up capital, creative consultant, producer at MTV Music Television, president of Taxi Music Company, a Los Angeles based national commercial music company, and served as creative consultant of Atanas Illlitch Osteosarcoma Foundation, and senior consultant for Motion Picture Sound Stage development to support the Michigan Film Initiative.

Carol A. Goss | President; The Skillman Foundation

Carol A. Goss is president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation, a private independent foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of children in metropolitan Detroit by strengthening their schools and neighborhoods.

Involved in philanthropy for the past 20 years, Goss joined The Skillman Foundation in March 1998 as a senior program officer. She was named President & CEO of the Foundation in 2004. She has also worked as a program officer at the Stuart Foundation in San Francisco and as program director at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich.

Goss was just named by the Detroit News as one of its 2010 Michiganians of the Year, and in 2009, Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families honored her with the 2009 Fred Rogers Leadership Award. In 2008 Goss was selected as the Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” recipient as part of the Shining Light Awards. The Shining Light Awards, launched in 2007 and sponsored by the Detroit Free Press and Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, “honor individuals who are making important contributions to regional cooperation, progress and understanding in metropolitan Detroit.”

Goss’ professional career also includes nearly 20 years’ experience in child welfare, family services and youth development in Detroit and Oakland, Calif. A native Detroiter, Goss has a BA in sociology and an MSW from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

She was the recipient of the 2007 James A. Joseph Lecturer by the Association of Black Foundation Executives, and Crain’s Detroit Business cited her as one of Southeast Michigan’s Most Influential Women, an honor that the respected weekly bestows every five years to the region’s most dynamic and powerful women.

“Family is very important to me,” Goss says. “My husband, Tom, and I have more than 30 children in our extended families. I am passionate about children – especially children who never get the opportunity to succeed.”

In addition to running The Skillman Foundation, which has assets of over $430 million and an annual grants budget of $23 million, Goss is active with numerous nonprofits and philanthropy organizations. In her free time, she sings in her church’s choir and is an avid runner. “Running helps me stay healthy and also helps me put things into perspective.”

The Skillman Foundation recently fine-tuned its program areas to focus efforts on six impoverished neighborhoods in Detroit and on identifying and supporting innovative schools throughout the city of Detroit.

“We want to make Detroit work for children,” Goss says. “Despite all the hardships this city – my hometown – has faced over the past 40 years – ordinary Detroiters are incredibly eager to roll up their sleeves and work with us to make Detroit work for children. We have a long road ahead, but I am emboldened by the good will and enthusiasm in the neighborhoods and in the schools, and I know that if we can keep marching ahead together we will reach our destination.”

Damon J. Keith | Judge; Federal Court of Appeals

Damon J. Keith was born in Detroit, Michigan, and has served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since 1977. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Judge Keith served as Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Judge Keith is a graduate of West Viriginia State College (B.A. 1943), Howard University Law School (J.D. 1949), where he was elected Chief Justice of the Court of Peers, and Wayne State University Law School (LL.M. 1956).

As a member of the federal judiciary, Judge Keith has consistently stood as a courageous defender of the constitutional and civil rights of all people. In United States v. Sinclair, commonly referred to as the Keith Decision, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Judge Keith’s landmark ruling prohibiting President Nixon and the federal government from engaging in warrantless wiretapping in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Judge Keith was heralded for that decision in Joseph Goulden’s book, The Benchwarmers, as “a prime example of an independent federal judge” who “had the courage to say ‘no’” in the face of “a presidency which likened itself to a ‘sovereign.” “The strength of the judiciary,” Goulden wrote, “is rooted in just such independence as that displayed by Keith.”

More recently, in Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, Judge Keith stood up to President George W. Bush during the aftermath of 9/11. Writing for a unanimous United States Court of Appeals panel, Judge Keith memorably declared “Democracies die behind closed doors,” and ruled it unlawful for the Bush administration to conduct deportation hearings in secret whenever the government asserted that the people involved might be linked to terrorism. In his September 2, 2002 op-ed entitled, Secrecy is Our Enemy, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert lauded Judge Keith’s opinion as “forceful” and “eloquent,” noting, “You want an American hero? A real hero? I nominate Judge Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.”

Judge Keith has also vigorously enforced the nation’s civil rights laws, most notably in the areas of employment and education. In Stamps v. Detroit Edison Co., Judge Keith ruled the Detroit Edison Company had practiced systematic racial discrimination, resulting in fines against the company of $4 million and against the employee union of $250,000, and an order for the company to institute an aggressive affirmative action program. Within the context of education, in Davis v. School District of Pontiac, Judge Keith found that the city had unlawfully built schools to coincide with segregated housing patterns. Accordingly, he ordered the implementation of city-wide busing to promote integration and to guarantee equal protection under the law for all children.

Judge Keith’s fidelity to the U.S. Constitution has been well recognized. In 1985, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger appointed Judge Keith Chairman of the Bicentennial of the Constitution Committee for the Sixth Circuit. In 1987, Judge Keith was appointed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist to serve as the National Chairman of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Bicentennial of the Constitution. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush followed suit and appointed Judge Keith to the Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution. In recognition of Judge Keith’s service to the Bicentennial Committee, Bill of Rights plaques commemorating this important constitutional anniversary bear Judge Keith’s name. These plaques adorn the walls of courthouses and law schools throughout the United States and Guam, as well as the FBI Headquarters and the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Center in Washington, D.C.

Judge Keith is also the recipient of numerous awards, most notably, the NAACP’s highest award, the Spingarn Medal, whose past recipients include Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall, Mrs. Rosa Parks, and General Colin Powell. Other prominent honors bestowed upon Judge Keith include the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the National Anti-Defamation League, and the Detroit Urban League’s Distinguished Warrior Award.

In 1998, Judge Keith was chosen to receive the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award. The recipient of the Devitt Award is selected each year by a panel comprised of a United States Supreme Court justice, a federal circuit judge, and a federal district court judge, and honors the recipient as an outstanding federal judge of national stature. The Devitt award is the highest honor a federal judge can receive.

In January 2000, at the Eighth Annual Trumpet Awards in Atlanta, Georgia, Turner Broadcasting Systems presented Judge Keith with the Pinnacle Award. In February 2000, Judge Keith’s career was profiled by Court TV as part of a program saluting “America’s Great Legal Minds” in honor of Black History Month. The National Urban League also presented Judge Keith with its highest honor, the Whitney Young Award, at its National Conference in July 2004

In 2005, Harvard University’s Department of Afro-American Studies included Judge Keith in its African American National Biography, a collection of biographies profiling eminent African Americans. Also in 2005, Judge Keith served as co-chair of the National Victory Celebration for the Farewell to Mrs. Rosa Parks, organizing memorial services across the country for Mrs. Parks. Twenty-six years earlier, Judge Keith had proudly presented Mrs. Parks with the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Award, in Louisville, Kentucky.

As a community leader, Judge Keith organized local businessmen to provide housing for Mrs. Parks, after she was robbed and physically assaulted in her house. In 2004, Judge Keith was again responsible for rallying members of Detroit’s African-American business community, this time to save the city’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History from bankruptcy. The Detroit Board of Education has dedicated one of its primary schools in his honor, naming it “The Damon J. Keith Elementary School.”

Judge Keith has received over forty honorary degrees from colleges and universities across the country. His most recent is an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree bestowed by Harvard University, on June 5, 2008. The citation states “Avatar of independence, champion of equal justice under law, a just and humane jurist who has shared and shaped the action and passion of his time”. Harvard’s honorary degree provides only a small window into Judge Keith’s distinguished career.

The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School will officially open October 19, 2011. The Center—which honors and memorializes the life and legacy of Judge Keith as a civil rights icon—is a leading source for the legal history of the Civil Rights Movement and the historic accomplishments of American lawyers and judges dedicated to social justice. The Center is dedicated to promoting research and community outreach related to the modern challenges to civil rights and racial justice.

Judge Keith was married for fifty-three years to the late Rachel Boone Keith, M.D. They had three daughters, Gilda Keith, Debbie Keith, and Cecile Keith-Brown. Cecile and her husband, Daryle Brown, are the parents of Judge Keith’s granddaughters, Nia and Camara.

Dr. Ronald T. Brown | Provost; Wayne State University

Ronald T. Brown is provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Wayne State, which has 13 colleges and schools, is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university “with very high research activity.” This designation places it among only 2.3 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities. The university is one of the region’s largest employers and contributes more than $3 billion to the economy each year.

As senior vice president, Dr. Brown oversees a budget of more than $500 million. His direct reports include the university’s schools and colleges as well as information technology, the University Archives, the Archives of Urban and Labor Affairs, and the Wayne State University Press. He also presides over the Academic Senate. At Wayne State, Dr. Brown has directed a major retention and academic success initiative and an online learning program.

Dr. Brown previously was dean of the College of Health Professions and Social Work as well as interim dean of the School of Dentistry at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. Under his leadership the college experienced unprecedented growth in enrollment, philanthropy and research funding. He chaired several projects at Temple, including the college’s strategic planning and key hiring initiatives. As part of Temple’s capital campaign, he raised more than $20 million, including funding for endowed chairs and major scholarship programs. He has continued his fund-raising activities at Wayne State. Dr. Brown has held academic positions in public and private institutions including Emory University, the University of Illinois and the University of Adelaide. He also has provided leadership for a variety of national associations.

Dr. Brown received the Scholar of the Year Award and the Mitchell I. Rubin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Advancement of Medical Science in the Field of Health Care in Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina. He has served on the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association, where he also was president of the Society of Pediatric Psychology. He received the society’s Martin P. Levin Award for Mentorship and the Logan Wright Distinguished Research Award. He has been a member of the Behavioral Medicine Interventions and Outcomes study section at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He also chaired several special panels at NIH, including an intramural review of the Pediatric Oncology Branch, and served on the advisory board of the Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Sickle Cell Branch. Dr. Brown is president-elect of the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers. Other boards of which he is a member include the American Academy of Pediatrics, Psychosocial Committee; Detroit Receiving Hospital; and the Center on Work and Family at Claremont McKenna College.

Dr. Brown graduated with high honors from Emory University and earned his doctorate from Georgia State University in 1978. His research and publications focus on clinical and pediatric psychology; he has published nine books and more than 300 articles. He is past editor of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and is editor-elect of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. He has received more than $20 million dollars in federal grants from NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Office of Education. A licensed and board-certified psychologist, Dr. Brown has directed a pre- and post-doctoral clinical psychology program and served as a consultant to attorneys, universities and the federal government.

Judge Kurtis T. Wilder | Michigan Court of Appeals Judge

Judge Kurtis T. Wilder serves as one of 28 judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals. He was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Governor John M. Engler in December, 1998, elected in 2000 and reelected in 2004 and 2010. Previously Judge Wilder served as chief judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court. Judge Wilder holds memberships in the State Bar of Michigan; the Fellows of the Michigan State Bar Foundation; the Michigan Judges Association; the Association of Black Judges of Michigan; the Federalist Society; and the Wolverine Bar Association. He is a former chairperson of the State of Michigan Community Corrections Advisory Board, and previously served as a member of the State Bar of Michigan Standing Committee on Justice Initiatives, and the State Bar‘s Judicial Ethics Subcommittee.

Judge Wilder serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW), Trustee of the Interlochen Center for the Arts and chair of Interlochen’s Audit Committee, a member of the President’s Advisory Council at Walsh College, in addition to being a member of the Board of Advisors of Detroit Pockets of Cool.

Keith Cooley | Principia

Keith Cooley is something of a phenomenon.

He has been since his days at U-M, back in the 1960s, when he was one of very few African-Americans roaming U-M’s campus. That was rare enough. But he also was a third-generation African-American student. How many such families could claim that in 1967? That was the year he earned his bachelor’s degree in physics, followed in 1972 by his master’s degree in nuclear engineering.

Add to that Cooley’s participation on U-M’s 1966 Big Ten Championship gymnastics team. Cooley competed on the trampoline.   He loved to bounce and threw himself into the sport with great passion.

With that kind of intelligence, drive, and passion, it’s no surprise Cooley hurdled every challenge he faced in his career. At that point at 60, he’d put in 25 years at General Motors, a few more at Motorola and General Electric, and had founded his own business.

He followed his corporate years by becoming COO and later CEO of Focus: HOPE, Detroit’s renowned civil rights and anti-poverty organization. He was the first non-founder and the first African-American to hold the top job there. He loved the work, which put him in charge of an enormous and potent organization that, among other things, trains impoverished people for manufacturing and other jobs. He was making a difference in ordinary people’s lives.

Then the governor called. Turns out Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s staff had been gathering background for months on Keith Cooley. She needed a new Director for the Department of Labor and Economic Growth (DLEG). They already had heard about what Cooley was doing at Focus: HOPE with workforce development, a key strategic area for the governor. But as her team looked further into Cooley’s credentials and his past—particularly his chops in corporate management—it was, like, wow.

Cooley’s passion for the young Detroiters he saw coming through Focus: HOPE’s unique education and training programs was the main catalyst for his career direction up to the present. What captivated him much more was what Focus: HOPE accomplished. “Taking young folks from out of this urban environment, where many of them don’t think they can be successful, and many of the schools don’t think they can be successful. And in spite of all that, we send them off to careers where they soar—as machinists, information technology specialists, as engineers. We figured out how to do it….We get people to believe in themselves.”

That’s why after a stint at DLEG and as CEO of the business accelerator, NextEnergy, he returned to Principia and his first love of pairing new work opportunities in alternative energy with new work force entrants trained to work in that area.

Today as CEO of Princpia he is matching emerging resources for alternative energy, with companies and institutions that need to adapt to more efficient energy operations….all the while pushing for training of underrepresented youth in these new disciplines.   It is this committment to merging our need for a more efficient future with the young entreprenurial talent developing these solutions that distinguish Keith in the Detroit community.  

“With his passion for connecting Michigan workers with higher education and good jobs, Keith will be instrumental in ensuring that we have a 21st century workforce to attract new jobs and employers,” she  [Granholm] said when she announced his appointment. 


Marjorie Sorge | Executive Director Detroit Regional News Hub

Marjorie Sorge assumed the role of executive director of the Detroit Regional News Hub in November 2008.

Marge was previously vice president of corporate communications at Metaldyne Corporation. Prior to that, she headed her own company, Sorge Communications.

She also served as director of corporation communications for Visteon Corporation and as executive on loan from that company to Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth. She was a member of Michigan’s Council on Labor and Economic Growth (CLEG) and was it’s immediate past chair.

Before moving into the corporate world, Marge spent 23 years as an automotive journalist. She was editor-in-chief of Automotive Industries magazine, executive editor of Ward’s Auto World, labor editor at Automotive News and a staff writer at The Detroit News. During her career in journalism she covered all areas of the auto industry including boards of directors, finances, labor negotiations, new products, manufacturing, new business trends and the environment. She also provided the auto reports to WJR radio and covered the auto industry as a stringer for Reuter’s news service.

As a reporter she received the Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award, several Detroit Press Club Foundation awards as well as awards from Gannett, Crain Communications and the Chilton Company.

Marge has also been honored with the Leaders, Legends and Luminaries award from the Lakeshore Economic Coalition in 2011; led Detroit Regional News Hub team that received the 2010 Vanguard Award from Women in Communications Detroit Chapter; the Greater Good Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners Greater Detroit in 2010; the 2007 Arts and Communication Woman of Achievement by the YWCA of Western Wayne County, and the Individual Good Scout Award by the Clinton Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America in 2006. She was also named one of the Women to Watch by Crain’s Detroit Business in 2009.

Marge is member of the Kettering University Board of Trustees and is on several boards of directors including the Society of Automotive Analysts, Automotive Press Association, Forgotten Harvest and ARISE Detroit. She is on the advisory panel for the Automotive Hall of Fame and a member of the Advisory Board for the MBA and Master of Management program at Walsh College.

She earned a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.

Mary Kramer | Publisher; Crain's Detroit

Mary Kramer was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and had 16 years of reporting and management experience at daily newspapers before joining Crain’s Detroit Business in April 1989 as editor.

Crain’s Detroit Business (CDB), which was launched in February 1985, covers business news in the five-county metropolitan Detroit area. Circulation is 30,000, with an estimated readership that brings the total readership to nearly 140,000 people each week.

In 1990, Mary was named associate publisher and was named publisher in 2005, responsible for sales, circulation and editorial operations.

In 1994, she was named a vice president of Crain Communications Inc.

Active in a number of personal and professional organizations, Kramer is a former president of the Alliance of Area Business Publications, a national trade association for regional business publications.

She is the first woman to be elected president of the historic Detroit Athletic Club. She holds honorary doctorates from Grand Valley State University, Alma College and Eastern Michigan University.

Her previous daily newspaper experience included editing positions at the Kalamazoo Gazette, Grand Rapids Press, Ann Arbor News, Greenwich (Conn.) Time, and Buffalo (N.Y.) Courier-Express.

Mike Fezzey | President; Huntington Bank

Mike Fezzey is the president of Huntington National Bank’s East Michigan region. Prior to joining Huntington, Mike was the president and general manager of WJR-AM radio. In addition to leading WJR from 1994 – through 2010, he also launched and ran Radio Disney Detroit programming for ABC.

A native of Detroit, Mike’s service to the community has been broad based with particular emphasis on improving the region’s philanthropic giving and the image and reputation of SE Michigan. He has served, or currently serves, on a number of boards including, Cornerstone Schools, New Detroit, the Children’s Center, Habitat for Humanity, The Detroit Economic Club, the Parade Company, For the Kids Foundation, Sweet Dreamzzz Detroit and Forgotten Harvest.

Mike is the former chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s marketing committee, and former president of the Detroit Advertising Association.

In his role with WJR, Mike earned the prestigious Peabody Award from the University of Georgia, the Neil Shine award for philanthropy in journalism, and was honored, along with his wife, with the 2010 John Dingell Heroes for Babies award. Mike also holds an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Central Michigan University.

Mike and his wife Suzy have three children.

Nanci J. Rands | Hall & Hunter, Christies International Realty

Nanci J. Rands is a broker with Hall and Hunter Realtors, Christie’s International Real Estate in Birmingham and has been a Realtor® for 40 years. She and her daughter Meredith Colburn, business partners for 20 years, are widely respected in the residential real estate community.

Nanci has been President of Metropolitan Consolidated Association of REALTORS® (MCAR) and is a director of both the Michigan (MAR) and National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Recognized as Michigan’s REALTOR® of the Year, Nanci has also been named to the Crain’s Detroit Business List of the 100 Most Influential Women. She is used as a frequent resource and spokesperson for media coverage of the real estate market.

Nanci served as the MAR REALTOR® PAC (RPAC) chair, the Major Donor Whip and will serve as the national chair of the RPAC Trustees. She is the NAR Federal Political Coordinator for Senator Carl Levin, formerly having served in that capacity for U.S. Representative Sander Levin.

Additionally, Nanci is the immediate past national chair of Project Interchange, a non-profit organization that sends non-Jewish influentials from the US and 60 countries around the globe to Israel for educational and fact finding seminars. She is also a member of the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee, locally and nationally. Amongst Nanci’s many community commitments, she has chaired events for Temple Beth El, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, the Eye Research Foundation and the Orchard Children’s Service.

Paige Curtis | The Curtis Group

 Paige Curtis founded the Curtis Group in 1983, a strategic marketing consultancy, with a network of experienced professionals throughout the Midwest. The agency’s current accounts are: Alternatives for Girls, Beaumont Hospitals, Chateau Des Karantes Vineyard, City of Detroit Volunteer Campaign, Cornerstone Schools, Eagle Eye Distributors, Inlet Square Mall, Northwood University, Oakland Mall, UHY advisors and the University of Miami Health System.

Among their past accounts are Comerica Bank, Detroit Country Day School, Handleman Company, Health Alliance Plan, MIDA Dental Plans, Mount Clemens General Hospital, Oakwood Healthcare System, OhioHealth, Personal Home Care Services, Proctor & Gamble, Security Bancorp, Inc and Walsh College.

Among the recognition and awards the agency has received are 17 Clio Awards, 105 Healthcare marketing awards, 45 Communicator Awards for Radio, and recognition for Do you have a Beaumont doctor? Campaign in Crain’s 20/20 list.

Rishi S. Jaitly | John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Rishi S. Jaitly joined Knight Foundation in 2011. He directs Knight’s grant making in Detroit.

Previously, Jaitly co-founded and led Michigan Corps, a social network of Michiganders committed to change in their home state. He continues to be the volunteer chairman of the board.

Prior to founding Michigan Corps, Jaitly worked as director of strategic partnerships and public policy at College Summit Inc., America’s leading non-profit organization increasing the college enrollment rate of lower-income high schools. He also was head of government affairs and public-private partnerships for Google in South Asia; he began his tenure with the company in Silicon Valley where he supported communications for Google’s CEO and led’s product partnerships with the United Nations. In Asia, he successfully convinced the government of Pakistan to end its nationwide block of Blogger and YouTube (2008, 2009) and the government of Bangladesh to end its nationwide block of YouTube (2009). In India, he led the development of a Google product that informed and engaged voters by showcasing critical governance data during the 2009 general election.

Jaitly, a former member of Princeton University’s Board of Trustees and Commissioner of Higher Education in New Jersey, has a bachelor of arts degree in history from Princeton.

Faye Alexander Nelson | President; Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

Committed to the revitalization of Detroit, Faye Nelson joined the newly formed Detroit RiverFront Conservancy in 2003 as President & CEO. A native Detroiter, Nelson is putting her management and strategic skills to work as she leads the transformation of Detroit’s Riverfront.

Tasked with public access development of the Detroit riverfront, Nelson is overseeing the massive restoration and permanent stewardship of the riverfront, with over three miles of the project completed to date, towards an ultimate goal of 5 ½ miles of public space along the Detroit River which includes a riverwalk, plazas, pavilions and green space.

Prior to joining the Conservancy, Nelson was Vice President, Governmental Affairs for Wayne State University, where she led the development of the Wayne State University Research and Technology Park, now known as “TechTown”.

Nelson is committed to working for progress in her hometown. She serves on the Board of Directors for Compuware Corporation, the University of Detroit/Mercy, TechTown, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and The Parade Company. She is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, Wolverine Bar Association, Life Member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, Michigan Women’s Forum, Leadership Detroit, Detroit Athletic Club and the Economic Club of Detroit.  Most recently, Nelson was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Michigan State Parks and Outdoor Recreation Blue Ribbon Panel.

Nelson is the recipient of numerous awards including The Damon J. Keith 24th Annual Soul and Spirit Humanitarian Award, “the Grio’s” 100 African American History Makers presented by NBC News, the Milliken Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Environmental Council, Crain’s Detroit Business as one of Metro Detroit’s Most Influential Women, Corp! Magazine as one of Michigan’s Extraordinary Women Leaders, the Michigan Chronicle as a Woman of Excellence, Inforum as one of Southeast Michigan’s Most Influential Women Leaders and the Greater Good Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) for Greater Detroit.

Nelson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Mercy College of Detroit and a law degree from the University of Detroit School Of Law. She has four daughters and is married to Albert Taylor Nelson, Jr., of counsel to Giarmarco, Mullins and Horton, PC.

Tavi Fulkerson | The Fulkerson Group

With 30 years experience in major event marketing, sponsorship sales and public relations, Fulkerson has sold, negotiated and serviced hundreds of sponsorship contracts for the leading industry, sports and civic events held in Detroit. These events include the

The North American International Auto Show (under contract 1992 – present),

Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize (present), The Business of Plugging In (present) the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix (2007 – 2008), The National Summit, (2008 – present), River Days (2007 – 2009), Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee (under contract

2003 – 2006), the University Musical Society (2005 – 2006) and The Parade Company, producers of America’s Thanksgiving Parade and the Target Fireworks (under contract – 1996 – present).

In 2008, Fulkerson was named a Power Seller of The Year by Crain’s Detroit Business. The publication recognized the top eight salespeople in the Detroit metropolitan area and Fulkerson was the only woman honored. 

With an office in Birmingham, Michigan, The Fulkerson Group raises between $12-$15 million annually for their current major event clients. Individual sponsorship contracts negotiated range from $50,000 to more than $2 million each and reflect title, official and presenting sponsorships, event radio and television broadcast rights, concession arrangements, on-site display contracts, hospitality, signage, Internet and cross-promotional programs.

In combination, Fulkerson’s sponsorship contacts are extensive and include access to marketing executives and sponsorship decision makers in all industries including the world’s leading automakers, Tier 1 automotive suppliers, retailers, advertising agencies, financial companies, Internet, fast food, and entertainment companies. 

Prior to moving to the Detroit area in 1991, Fulkerson owned a public relations firm for 10 years in Ann Arbor, Mich. In the 1970s, Fulkerson hosted both a radio and television interview talk show and wrote a weekly newspaper column for the Ann Arbor News. Fulkerson is a communications graduate (B.A.) from the University of Michigan (1974).

She is married to Bill Hampton, publisher of AutoBeat Daily publications. His daily e-newsletters are distributed to automotive executives throughout the world. They have one daughter (Georgia – 18 years old) and live in Bloomfield, Michigan.

Sandy Hermanoff | Hermanoff Public Relations

Sandy opened her firm in 1985. She has extensive PR experience with radio and television; corporate, retail, government, healthcare, real estate and financial sectors; major fund-raising and political campaigns; and employee communications programs in the United States and Canada. A frequent speaker and lecturer, Sandy has published various articles on public relations and marketing.

In 1994, Sandy was named a member of the College of Fellows, the highest honor in the Public Relations Society of America and in the profession. In April 2009, Sandy was inducted into the PRSA Hall of Fame, which reflects a candidate’s significant contribution to the profession, to the PRSA Detroit Chapter and the community. She is a past member board member of the Council of PR Firms and currently sits on the Worldcom board. She is an accredited member of PRSA and an active member of the Counselors Academy, where she has served on the board in various capacities since 1996. In 2000, she chaired “The Changing Dynamics of Leadership” Conference in Tucson, Arizona.

In 2007 she was named one of the 11 Sages in the country by the Counselors Academy. She is a past president of Detroit Counselors Academy and a past vice president/public relations of Women In Communications. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Economic Club of Detroit and serves on the scholarship committee; she has also chaired sustaining membership.

Sandy is a board member of Arise Detroit, and on the Executive Committee of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. A past president of Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit, she also is a former board member of Music Hall, and the board of advisors of University of Detroit/Mercy College of Business Administration.

Her honors include the Top 10 1998 Women Business Owners of Distinction Award presented by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Greater Detroit Chapter. She received the Athena Award in 1996, which is presented annually by the Farmington/Farmington Hills Chamber of Commerce in recognition of business, professional and community services.

She is the creator of the I’m a Believer Campaign that is changing the minds and hearts of thousands of Detroiters to volunteer and make Detroit a great city again, working with the Mayor’s office and dozens of leaders.

Sandy graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, specializing in public relations. Sandy is recipient of the coveted Gerlach Award, the highest recognition of volunteerism at the University. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors, The Ohio State University Alumni Association.

Vivian Pickard | President; GM Foundation

Vivian R. Pickard was named President of the General Motors Foundation and Director of Corporate Relations for General Motors Company in December 2010. She is responsible for leading the company’s efforts to strengthen communities across the United States through partnerships and investments in the areas of education, health and human services, environment and energy and community development. Over the past decade, the foundation has donated more than $350 million to send students to college, keep teen drivers safe, educate parents on child passenger safety, promote diversity and support vital non-profit organizations.

A community advocate and philanthropist, Ms. Pickard currently serves on the board for the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, Inforum, Friends of African and African American Art (Detroit Institute of Arts), Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation, The Parade Company, New Detroit The Coalition, Fifth Third Bank – Eastern Michigan, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Council of Michigan Foundations, and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. In addition, she is the Immediate Past-President for The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. and serves as a member of The Executive Leadership Council and on the Executive Committee for The Links, Inc. 

Ms. Pickard has been widely recognized for her dedication to serving others recently receiving the 2011 Bridge Builder Award from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the 2011 Alpha Award of Honor from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the 2009 Women of Excellence Award from the Michigan Chronicle. She was also a 2010 Inforum Inner Circle Honoree.

A 33-year veteran of General Motors, Ms. Pickard has also held several other key roles at the company, including administrative and management positions within the Finance, Human Resources and Public Policy functions.

Born and raised in Sturgis, Mississippi, and then moving to Flint, Michigan, Ms. Pickard earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Ferris State University and a Master of Science from Central Michigan University. She is a lifetime member of the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Black MBA Association and Leadership Detroit.

Sandra E. Pierce | Charter One Bank
Carla Schwartz | Director of Community Affairs and Advocacy at the Beaumont Health System.

Carla Schwartz is the director of Community Affairs and Advocacy at the Beaumont Health System. She joined Beaumont in 2007 as the manager of the department and was promoted to the director in 2010.

Previously, she was the editor of Style magazine, a local publication from Renaissance Media. She is recipient of two Detroit Press Club Awards and a Simon Rockower award. She is currently on the board of the West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and the Jewish Community Relations Council. She is also is a West Bloomfield Cable Commissioner.

Matt Seeger | Dean; Wayne State University

Matthew W. Seeger, (Ph.D., 1982, Indiana University) is Dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and Professor of Communication at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, USA. 

The College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts (CFPCA) serves over 2,500 students majoring in 16 undergraduate and 12 graduate programs through its five departments of the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Communication, The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, the Department of Music. 

Seeger’s research interests concern crisis, and risk communication, crisis response and agency coordination, health communication, the role of media in crisis, crisis and communication ethics, failure of complex systems and post-crisis renewal.  

He has worked closely with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on communication and the anthrax attack and on pandemic influenza preparedness. He is an affiliate of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense where he studies issues of food safety and recalls.  He is Co-PI on the National Science Foundation Grant, Multi-Agency Jurisdictional Organized Response, a project involving crisis coordination in complex social-technical systems.  Seeger also works with the National Center for Border Security and Immigration. 

His work on crisis, risk and communication has appeared in over 100 journal articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings.  Seeger is the author or co-author of six books on crisis and risk communication. He has advised over 35 doctoral dissertations.