As the 2011 Dave Bing Future Leader Award winner, Brian Balasia believes there is a transition taking place within the business community that is pushing younger, creative people to the forefront. He has devoted his career to
helping businesses and communities achieve better outcomes through implementing process improvement methodology. As founder and president of both Digerati and the MORE Program, Balasia has developed initiatives that encourage collaboration among major organizations including national foundations and government bodies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce. His efforts have produced technologies and resources to increase Michigan’s intellectual capital and give its entrepreneurs, innovators, and business owners the tools they need to succeed. Brian Balasia was selected one of Crain’s Detroit Business 20 in their 20s in 2008; in 2010, he was named a Marshall Memorial Fellow as one of the emerging leaders in the United States. He is a special advisor to the New Economy Initiative and has served on the Board of Governors at the University of Michigan, the U.S. Department of Labor’s WIRED Board for Southeast Michigan, and the Detroit Regional Chamber Board. Balasia received a BSE in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan.
For her spirit and passion in addressing economic challenges and improving the lives of vulnerable people, Susan Goodell was chosen to receive one of the Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” awards for 2011. Under Susan’s leadership as President and CEO of Forgotten Harvest for more than 10 years, the organization is now the state’s largest and the nation’s second largest mobile food rescue organization – helping to feed people who face dire need. Under her guidance, Forgotten Harvest has grown from distributing 800,000 pounds of surplus annually to rescuing nearly 23 million pounds of nutritious surplus, fresh and prepared food, and distributing this healthy food to about 165 partner emergency food distribution agencies in Southeast Michigan in 2011. Recognizing the region’s escalating need for emergency food, Goodell replaced a proven business plan with a substantially more aggressive plan, resulting in 100 percent growth (10 million pounds of food) over the past two years. Typical of an unsung hero, Susan effectively deflects credit for these accomplishments, choosing instead to highlight the significant contributions of the many individuals, corporations, foundations, public policy officials, nonprofits, volunteers, and staff that have come together under her leadership to collectively fight hunger in our region.
For exemplifying the courage needed to improve regional cooperation and understanding, Louis Green, President and CEO of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, received the second Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” award in 2011. He has been a positive visible force encouraging corporations in the state and minority business leaders to work as cohesive units, reminding them that while they are separate entities, they share the similar goals of profitability, diversification, economic stability, and a strong Michigan. Green often works quietly behind the scenes, facilitating dialogue to seek real change from an economic perspective. He has invited economic policymakers to see the “real Michigan” story and understand the concerns Michigan-based businesses face in today’s economy. He has brought together corporations and minority-owned businesses to form new partnerships and seek out ways to diversify our economy from a predominantly automotive focus to other manufacturing sectors such as medical devices and alternative energy. His skills are nationally recognized. He was appointed by the White House as an advisor on minority and small business issues and has met with President Obama to highlight the plight of minority and small business owners in Michigan.
Described by former Michigan Governor John Engler as a man of “absolute integrity,” Paul Hillegonds was honored with the fifth annual Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership. Throughout his long and varied career - as a legislator in Lansing and president of a prominent civic organization, to his current role as senior vice president of corporate affairs at DTE Energy – Hillegonds has demonstrated that he is a regional thinker, a skilled win-win negotiator able to reach across political aisles, and a mentor to many following in his civic leadership footsteps. Hillegonds served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1979-1996, and held numerous leadership positions – Republican Leader, Co-Speaker of the House, and Speaker of the House. From 1997-2005, he was President of Detroit Renaissance, a nonprofit civic group of Southeast Michigan business leaders focusing on economic development and public policy issues. In his current position at DTE Energy, Hillegonds oversees governmental relations efforts at the local, state, and federal levels as well as the company’s philanthropy, regulatory affairs and environmental management and resources organizations. He serves on the boards of many professional and community affiliations and has received numerous honors and awards throughout his career.
Jeanette Pierce is the 2010 Dave Bing Future Leader Award winner. She is
Co-Founder of Inside Detroit, a nonprofit organization she helped start in 2005, which runs a Welcome Center and Information Post and offers tours by foot, bus, van, and Segway. A lifelong Detroiter, Jeanette returned after college and launched a career built on championing her hometown and connecting people from throughout the area – and beyond – with the city, the region, and all it has to offer. Jeanette acts on her commitment every day as she inspires newcomers and residents alike to know and love the Detroit community. Inside Detroit has received a grant from the Hudson-Webber Foundation for its work and has been hired by Quicken, Ford, the Detroit Medical Center, TACOM, and others to introduce employees to the city and the region – its neighborhoods, entertainment, history, facts and statistics, local products, and more. She creates energy and encourages others to make their own contributions to the vibrancy of our region.
Vernice Davis Anthony
Vernice Davis Anthony was honored with the Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” Award for her determination and vision to make health care more efficient and available across our region. She is President and CEO of the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC). Her background in health care includes working as a registered nurse, serving as former director of the state health department, and as a senior officer at St. John Providence Health System. As the only African-American woman running a health coalition in the country today, Vernice leads a remarkable organization that brings together 70 diverse stakeholders, including leaders of health systems from across the region, to drive improvements that save lives, save dollars, and serve the poor and underinsured. Her own experience as a breast cancer survivor only fuels her passion for working collaboratively to find ways to improve information access and care for all patients. She works tirelessly for real progress in health care for people from all walks of life in Southeast Michigan.
Ed Bagale also received the Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” Award for his commitment to collaboration that helped launch the Rouge River Gateway Partnership, a nearly 20-year old group of about 20 municipalities, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits with four key goals for the river: historic preservation, environmental restoration, increased recreational opportunities, and economic development. He has helped transform the Rouge River from among the most polluted bodies of water in the state to one that is showing true promise with 27 species of fish now swimming in it. His day job is Vice Chancellor for government relations at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where he helps to promote the university’s “metropolitan vision.” He is a man who believes in building bridges, and has a strong commitment to education, young people, public service, and cultural communities. He is an advocate for good government and civic leadership, and had a key role in the university’s partnership with Detroit Public Television and the Center for Michigan in the creation of MiVote.org.
Ed Deeb was the recipient of the fourth annual Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership. He was honored for his more than 50-year career distinguished by helping others, building bridges between diverse populations, and creating new opportunities for young people and others in need of a champion. Ed is President of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association; and Founder, President, and CEO of the Michigan Business & Professional Association. He is founder of Metro Detroit Youth Day, which is now the largest youth event in Michigan and includes an ambitious scholarship program. He is also creator of the annual Women and Leadership in the Workplace conference, now in its 14th year. He is founder of the Eastern Market Merchants Association, and the catalyst behind the market’s ongoing restoration. The region’s leaders know him as a peacekeeper and problem solver, a thinker and a doer. Ed’s extraordinary gift is bringing people and resources together to get things done that make a difference in people’s lives and make our community a better place.
Brittany Galisdorfer is the 2009 Dave Bing Future Leader Award winner. She was Program Director at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance and was honored for her efforts to promote intergovernmental cooperation and innovation. Her mission is to unite us as one region with a strong Detroit at its core. Examples of her professional accomplishments include creation of UniverCities Connection, a unique government internship program; work with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to craft and manage their Cool Cities Internship Program; and serving as the driving force behind the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office, pulling communities together to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. She is also pursuing an advanced degree in Public Policy at the University of Michigan and serves an elected post on the Downtown Detroit Citizens District Council. Brittany’s energy and dynamic leadership made her an excellent candidate for this award.
Mariam C. Noland
Mariam Noland was honored with the Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” Award for her inspirational and visionary leadership. As founding president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Mariam has been quietly committed to improving the quality of life of our region for 25 years. During that time, the Community Foundation has granted more than $360 million to charitable causes. Mariam has been a guiding force behind many major projects in our region, including the Detroit RiverWalk, which draws scores of people daily to enjoy the riverfront; the Greenways Initiative, which created more than 100 miles of trails and pathways linking communities and providing access to recreation and the region’s natural beauty; the New Economy Initiative, which is helping to propel the region’s transformation to an innovation-based economy through $100 million in funding from 10 major foundations; the Community Foundation Challenge, in partnership with the Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan, which raised $4.8 million in less than 12 hours for arts and culture organizations; and recently, surprising 25 area non-profit agencies with special $25,000 grants to commemorate the Community Foundation’s 25th anniversary. Mariam’s leadership, and the strength of the Community Foundation which she built, continue to have a profound impact on individuals and organizations throughout our region.
The Honorable Damon J. Keith
The Honorable Damon J. Keith, United States Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, was the recipient of the third annual Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership. He was honored for his lifelong commitment to the constitutional and civil rights of all people, which he embraces on the bench and in his efforts on behalf of our community. Judge Keith is a giant in our country’s judicial system. He has issued more than 600 rulings, many of them landmark status, most notably in the areas of employment, education, and open government. He is known as a champion for justice and social change, and an inspirational standard bearer for everyone who believes in the future of our City and region. His many community efforts include helping to launch the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner; serving on the Michigan Civil Rights and Detroit Housing Commissions; leading the effort to keep the doors open at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; and helping to raise a $2.1 million endowment and donating his legal papers and records to the Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African-American Legal History at Wayne State University Law School. These, and many other significant contributions, epitomize Judge Keith’s dedication to breaking down barriers and working for understanding, cooperation and fairness.
Carol Goss was honored in the Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” category for her support of educational and community initiatives that have contributed to the growth, safety and prosperity of the region. Ms. Goss is president and chief executive officer of The Skillman Foundation. For the past ten years, she has quietly worked to improve the lives of children in metropolitan Detroit by strengthening their schools and neighborhoods. It is especially appropriate that she won an award named for Eleanor Josaitis, as both strong women have dedicated their efforts to helping others lead self-sufficient and prosperous lives. Carol is working to support and strengthen schools, neighborhoods, parents and families. She serves as a transformational change agent in our community. Her leadership, with the strength of The Skillman Foundation behind her, is building safe and healthy environments for our children.
Kerry Doman received the 2008 Dave Bing Future Leader Award. Kerry is founder and chief executive officer of After 5 Detroit. She was honored for her efforts to attract and promote the region to young adults. Ms. Doman brings a very positive attitude and energy to her mission to get young people really excited about living in this area. When other 20-somethings were busy packing their bags to leave the state, Kerry returned to Michigan to invest in her hometown. She identified a need and established a now-thriving Web-based business designed to get young adults from throughout the region engaged with each other and connected to the vibrant urban scene in downtown Detroit. Kerry is doing her part to halt the drain of young talented people from our region and state, and is helping to improve the region’s quality of life, serving as cheerleader and promoter of great fun things to do with new friends in a more energized environment.
Dr. David DiChiera, founder and general director of the Michigan Opera Theatre, was the recipient of the second annual Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership. He was honored for his innovative efforts to foster regional progress and understanding through culture. DiChiera has made an enormous contribution to the cultural life of ourregion. From the very beginning of his impressive career, David has sought innovative ways to use culture to foster understanding, cooperation and progress without boundaries. He has demonstrated this commitment through diverse programming and educational opportunities, as well as outreach to schools and communities. But perhaps his greatest achievement is the courage and tenacity he showed in building the Detroit Opera House complex, which has been a major catalyst in the renaissance of the theatre district in Detroit. Attracting opera lovers from far and wide, these attendees have a first-hand opportunity to see Detroit in a very positive light, which helps to establish stronger relationships and regional ties between city and suburbs.
Marian and Michael Ilitch
Marian and Michael Ilitch, chairman and vice chairwoman of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., received the inaugural Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership in recognition of their many contributions to our area. The Ilitches made the decision to move to and invest in Detroit when many others were reluctant, and their entertainment facilities and sports teams have attracted countless suburbanites who otherwise would not have experienced what the City has to offer. Having opportunities for suburbanites to see and experience Detroit in a positive light lays an important foundation and builds support for establishing stronger city/suburban relationships. Future Neal Shine Awards for Exemplary Regional Leadership will recognize individuals in the public spotlight who are taking risks and demonstrating courage to improve regional cooperation and understanding.
Eleanor Josaitis received a Shining Light Award named in her honor – the Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” Award. Her impressive career as co-founder of Focus:HOPE has been directed at some of the region’s most significant impediments to building regional cooperation – racism, poverty, and social injustice. Though now widely known, in the early years of Focus: HOPE Josaitis worked principally behind the scenes, with Father Cunningham serving the more public role. Among her many accomplishments, she spearheaded a supplemental food program for mothers, children, and senior citizens that now serves the tri-county area. Future recipients of the Eleanor Josaitis “Unsung Hero” Award will be individuals who may not have yet received the widespread recognition they deserve for long-standing efforts to further regional cooperation and understanding.
Dave Bing, Mayor of Detroit and founder of The Bing Group, received a Shining Light Award, which is also named in his honor as the Dave Bing Future Leader Award. Bing, a regional hero for his “Hall of Fame” achievements on the hard court, is playing a leading role in transforming Detroit and is recognized for his work with youth and schools. He represents an outstanding role model for the younger generation. In future years, recipients of the Dave Bing Future Leader Award will be young adults involved with enhancing regional understanding and cooperation within our metropolitan community.