The Shining Light Regional Cooperation Awards are fittingly dedicated to, and named in honor of, the widely respected Neal Shine who promoted his love for Detroit and his vision for stronger ties among all metro communities during his 45-year career with the Detroit Free Press. Mr. Shine passed away in April of 2007.
The seventh annual Shining Light Regional Cooperation Awards recognized four regional heroes:
Alexis Dishman, Vice President and Alternate Group Manager, Business Banking, Comerica Bank, is the 2013 Dave Bing Future Leader Award honoree. Through her professional and personal efforts, Ms. Dishman
supports business, social, educational and volunteer activities throughout metro Detroit. At Comerica, she manages a multi-million dollar portfolio and leads a team of small business lenders. As chair of the bank’s African American Initiative, and in partnership with the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, she helps to empower African American entrepreneurs by increasing access to capital and enhancing business skills and knowledge. She also supports her colleagues’ professional growth by serving on Comerica’s African American Network (CAAN) leadership council, an employee resource group where she offers mentoring, coaching, and other career development opportunities. Her wide array of community leadership positions includes empowering women and girls through the Michigan Women’s Foundation, reaching out to underserved populations with psychological services through the Northeast Guidance Counseling Center and free income tax preparation through the Accounting Aid Society, and providing networking and community service opportunities to young professionals and raising funds for scholarships at The Community House of Birmingham. She also provides financial literacy education through participation with the Urban Financial Services Coalition and Operation Hope’s Banking on our Future program. Alexis, a dancer herself with a deep appreciation for the importance of diverse cultural experiences, has studied and volunteers with the Detroit Windsor Dance Academy, and worked with the Michigan Opera Theatre to bring the internationally celebrated Dance Theatre of Harlem back to Detroit. Her impressive resume reflects her diverse interests and strong drive and commitment to build relationships and help others succeed.
Dan Carmody, President of the Eastern Market Corporation (EMC), is named a 2013 Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” Award honoree. When Mr. Carmody joined Eastern Market in 2007, he brought 35 years of government, small business, and not-for profit management and economic development
experience, combined with a passion for food and the emerging field of regional food systems development. Under his leadership, Eastern Market has become an even stronger regional magnet, drawing customers from Detroit and Southeast Michigan and farmers from across the state. $12 million in capital improvements have changed the face of the Market with renovated sheds and building facades, and plans for a community kitchen where experts from MSU will offer nutrition and food-related entrepreneurial counseling. Beyond the campus, much work has been done to reduce neighborhood blight and connect the Market with surrounding areas. Perhaps the most far-reaching of Dan’s work is his commitment to healthy food access. He has led an expansion of Market operations to Tuesdays to better engage students and seniors about the importance of healthy eating. The Eastern Market Farm Stand program takes fresh produce to senior centers, neighborhoods, office buildings, hospitals, and events throughout the region. Healthy cooking demonstrations have been added to Detroit Community Markets, a network of neighborhood markets EMC helped found. A program with Detroit Public Schools is increasing fresh foods in student meals and teaching children how to grow and harvest crops in 45 school gardens. Dan’s vision and hard work have made Eastern Market a nationally recognized regional food hub in the heart of the city that is contributing to the physical and economic health of the entire community.
Noreen Keating, Executive Director, Oakland Parks Foundation, is named a 2013 Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” Award honoree. Ms. Keating has a long history of service in Southeast Michigan. As executive director and president of Lighthouse of Oakland County she grew the agency from a $150,000 budget and two part-time staff to an $8 million budget and 90 staff. Accomplishments during her tenure to help move people from dependence to self-sufficiency included creating Pontiac Area Transitional Housing (PATH), as well as food pantries, education programs for children, financial training, and career counseling and coaching. She also initiated the Noreen Keating Endowment Fund, raising more than $1million to see that Lighthouse programs continue. After “retiring” in 2005, she formed a consulting service which has helped non-profits with management, fundraising, governance, and volunteers – much of her expertise offered pro bono. She has stayed close to her alma mater, the University of Detroit-Mercy, where she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, and is a founding member and chair of the Dean’s Council for the College of Liberal Arts and Education. Her community leadership resume of service on Boards is lengthy and diverse, focusing on human service, healthcare, education, leadership, and capacity building. From Centro Multicultural La Familia to St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital to City Year Detroit to the Federal Home Loan Bank to Hospice of Michigan – Noreen continues to roll up her sleeves to make a difference. She most recently took on a new role as unpaid Executive Director to reinvigorate the Oakland Parks Foundation as it seeks to better maintain a quality park system and explore new ways to meet the recreational needs and interests of residents. Noreen has excelled throughout her career by encouraging others to step outside their comfort zones, work with non-traditional partners, and seek innovative ways to identify and achieve common goals.
Ismael Ahmed, Associate Provost for Metropolitan Impact, University of Michigan-Dearborn, is the seventh annual Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership honoree. Mr. Ahmed is a nationally recognized expert on poverty, immigration, and social reform. He is of Egyptian and Lebanese descent, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and put himself through school as an auto worker. In his current post, he works for his alma mater to connect academic initiatives with business, government, and community partners to grow the university’s metropolitan vision and improve life throughout the region. Ismael’s most enduring legacy is as co-founder and long serving Executive Director of ACCESS – the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. The largest Arab-American human service organization in the U.S., ACCESS works to assist, improve and empower thousands of immigrants every year in the areas of health, education and training, arts, environmental justice, and employment. ACCESS’s reach extends to 22 affiliates in 12 states, providing technical assistance in capacity building and advocacy on a national scale. Ismael was also instrumental in establishing the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn – a Smithsonian affiliate and the only museum in the United States devoted to Arab American history and culture. Ismael’s passion for the arts has been showcased in a weekly show he hosted on public radio to introduce world music to metro Detroit. He also is founder and a 20-year leader of the Concert of Colors – the largest annual world music festival in the country. Ismael answered Governor Granholm’s call to become Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services during some of the toughest economic times in Michigan history, when demand for assistance skyrocketed. He and his staff of nearly 11,000 employees handled welfare cases and provided medical and food assistance to recipients numbering in the millions, as they worked to reform child welfare laws, eradicate poverty, and improve the lives of those in need. Ismael’s long and varied career in service to the community demonstrates his lifelong goals of empowering people, building bridges, and standing up against discrimination and injustice.
More information on 2013 honorees is featured here:
Four heralded at Shining Light Awards ceremony. Click here for videos.
For information on past honorees, please click here.