Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist
Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist has dedicated his career to fixing problems for hardworking families. From spearheading campaigns for equality and justice to harnessing technology to solve everyday problems for Detroiters, his focus has consistently remained on serving the public by getting things done.read more
Bringing Michigan’s state government fully into the 21st century is a top priority for Lt. Governor Gilchrist. He brings a lifetime of experience to the task, receiving his first computer at age five and setting up a computer lab in the community recreation center using computers that he built himself at age 16. Lt. Governor Gilchrist studied computer engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, graduating with honors, and later had a successful career as a software engineer at Microsoft, helping to build SharePoint into the fastest growing product in the company’s history.
During his time in Seattle, Gilchrist served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, where he helped launch a national text message program to recruit volunteers. He later served as the first Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C., and spent three years as National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org, where he spearheaded equity and justice campaigns, including fighting to expand Medicaid in states with Republican governors, like Michigan.
This eventually led to his serving as the first ever Director of Innovation & Emerging Technology for the city of Detroit, where he used public data and technology to address every day concerns the community was facing – including an app to report issues such as broken fire hydrants, potholes and broken street lights. This mindset of harnessing technology to solve problems will play a critical role in finding solutions to improve the lives of people across the state.
A native of Detroit, Lt. Governor Gilchrist’s parents are proud lifelong Detroiters. His mother worked at General Motors for 32 years and his father worked in defense contract management for the Department of Defense. His family was active in the community, including serving in leadership roles within their various neighborhood associations, as well as the church. Lt. Governor Gilchrist began speaking at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Detroit at age four, and later honed his skills under Dr. Frederick G. Sampson at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.
Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist and his wife, Ellen, currently reside in Detroit where they are raising their twins, Emily and Garlin III, and newborn daughter, Ruby.
Imperative Leads Table Talk
Dawne Bell has over eighteen years of experience as a nonprofit leader and professional fundraiser, specializing on issues such as early care and education, domestic violence, health care, housing and homelessness and workforce development.read more
Before joining ECIC, Dawne served as a foundation executive in Arizona, was the chief fundraiser for the largest homeless health care agency in New York City and led the fundraising and advocacy departments at award-winning nonprofit organizations in New Mexico and Michigan. Dawne has an MPA from GVSU, a BA from Kalamazoo College and has held the CFRE credential since 2009.
Furqan Khaldun is the Co-coordinator for HSH Imperative #2; Detroit Champions for Hope and has been involved with Hope Starts Here for the past 4 years. Furqan has two decades of experience in Community and Youth Development, his work spans multiple cities including Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City where he got his start at the Harlem Children’s Zone, and 4 years ago he was introduced to Detroit when the preeminent Alice G. Thompson hired him at Black Family Development, Inc.read more
Holding a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Sociology from Hampton University and the University of Pennsylvania respectively; Furqan has always been interested in how multiple systems have historically and currently work together to create the current circumstances in which individuals and communities exist and how individuals and communities come together to create mutually beneficial circumstances where families thrive. Furqan is a supportive husband and active Father of three; who is dearly missing his yearly trip to Bermuda to visit his family and island home where he grew up between the ages 9-18.
Jeff Henze serves as Program Manager for Early Childhood Services at IFF. In this role he is responsible for the overall management, growth, and strategic direction of the Learning Spaces Program.read more
Having previously served as a Senior Project Manager for the Real Estate Solutions team at IFF, he has been involved in the development of the Learning Spaces Program since its inception, and has seen firsthand the powerful impact of working with early childhood providers to create high quality learning environments for children. Mr. Henze holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science-Public Policy from Western Michigan University, and a Master of Community Development from University of Detroit-Mercy.
Bio Coming Soon.read more
Bio Coming Soon.
Jeremiah White is the Implementation Success Manager serving at Hope Starts Here (HSH), Detroit’s Early Childhood Collaborative. Diversity among partners is a critical asset of community change – Mr. White invests his efforts toward building a culture of accountability through organizing partners for equitable contributions.read more
Prior to joining the HSH, Mr. White served as the Collective Impact Manager at the Flint & Genesee Literacy Network in Flint, MI.
Mr. White was born and raised in Flint Michigan. He is dedicated to serving and improving the life outcomes of children and families. Mr. White was awarded the Emerging Scholars Award and LEAD Scholarship honor at Fisk University, located in Nashville Tennessee, while earning his Bachelor of Arts in General Psychology. Mr. White has also been certified as a Results-Based Accountability (RBA) Professional and Scorecard Administrator through Clear Impact Academy. Mr. White is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, the Epsilon Upsilon Lambda Graduate Chapter. He is also actively engaged in community and serves as a Youth Advisor/Mentor to the Alpha Esquire Mentoring and Leadership Group, supporting young men of high school-age to succeed in school and transition to post-secondary education.
Working with a sector-leading organization, Hope Starts Here, much of Jeremiah’s work is covering new ground for the children and families in Detroit. While research provides insights into both distances already covered and the territories ahead, there are certainly more opportunities and challenges to be faced. Mr. White, a community-change agent, is committed to driving bigger outcomes, larger effects, and sustainable scale, commensurate to the life-skills gap facing the children and families of his community.
Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D., M.S.
Kimberlydawn Wisdom is the Chief Wellness and Diversity Officer at the Henry Ford Health System and is a part of the Advisory Committee on Minority Health. She previously served as Michigan’s First Surgeon General from 2003-2010 and went on to be appointed to the Advisory Group on Prevention by President Obama.
Break Out Session 1
Mina Hong, Senior Policy Manager at Start Early, formerly known as the Ounce of Prevention Fund. Start Early’s mission is to advance quality early learning for families with children, before birth through their earliest years, to close the opportunity gap. Mina Hong is a senior policy manager who provides policy and advocacy consultation and support to states to strengthen and expand high-quality early childhood programs and services.read more
Previously, Mina was a Senior Policy Associate at Michigan’s Children, a policy advocacy organization focused on children’s issues from cradle to career. There, she led the organization’s early childhood advocacy work, playing a key role in state budget and policy wins including an expansion of the public preschool program, stronger family-focused child care subsidy policies, and Michigan’s first state appropriation for IDEA Part C for families affected by the Flint water crisis. Mina also has experience supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at the University of Michigan Division of Student Life and New Detroit, Inc., a racial justice organization; and has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Mina holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
Chioke Mose-Telesford is the Director of Systems Alignment and Policy for the Office of Workforce Development at the City of Detroit. Her work focuses on reducing systemic barriers to employment for Detroit at Work jobseekers and creating better opportunities for adults with criminal records, skills gaps or disabilities.read more
Prior to this role, Chioke worked at a tech training institute as Director of Community Programs. In this role, she partnered with schools, nonprofits, workforce agencies, and employers to develop programs that built an inclusive tech workforce in Detroit including a software apprenticeship for Detroit residents. Chioke has also worked in operations management in Atlanta and in the education sector in New York City and Detroit (with a brief stint in Vietnam) where she focused on academic achievement and college access for underrepresented and first generation youth.
Chioke was a member of the 2017 Detroit Workforce System Leadership Development Academy, a part of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunity Fellows Network. Chioke holds a BA in African and African American Studies from Stanford University and serves as President of the Stanford Club of Michigan. Chioke resides in historic Detroit neighborhood of Sherwood Forest and is a member of the Detroit Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Kenyatta Stephens serves as Chief Executive Officer of Black Family Development, Inc. Black Family Development, Inc. (BFDI) is a comprehensive non-profit family counseling agency created in 1978 by the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers, committed to equity and supporting families throughout the lifespan.read more
Kenyatta has 27 years of Human Service experience, and has provided leadership at the local, state and international levels. Kenyatta has a passion for education, equitable access to resources, and youth.
She serves as a 2019 gubernatorial appointee for the Early Childhood Investment Corporation Board of Directors. Additionally, for the last 11 years, Ms. Stephens has served 3 Governors on the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice as a Subject Matter Expert.
Ms. Stephens was blessed to attend Harvard University Business School’s 2015 class of Performance Management for Non-Profit Organizations. In 2013 she attended the Georgetown University’s Juvenile Justice Reform Certificate Program.
Kenyatta acquired her Master’s in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, Child and Family, from the University of Pennsylvania, and Bachelor’s from the University of Michigan. She is married, the mother of three children, and active at Middlebelt Baptist Church in Inkster. She enjoys researching information and outdoor activities.
Amy Zaagman is the executive director of the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health. In that role, she is a member of Michigan’s Home Visiting Workgroup and an advocate for home visiting for young children and their families in Michigan.read more
Prior to joining the council in 2009, she was associate director of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards. Before that she was chief of staff for state Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom. Zaagman received her bachelor’s and master’s from Western Michigan University.
Break Out Session 2
Kathleen Alessandro serves as Executive Director of Everybody Ready, an early childhood non-profit in Detroit/Wayne County. She manages a team of incredibly smart, passionate, can-do people who are laser-focused on building and maintaining an accessible, equitable early childhood system in Detroit/Wayne County.read more
Kathleen has managed several nonprofits in her career. She is at her best when bringing an organization from neutral into overdrive.
Kathleen has been a speaker at numerous national settings, designed the nation’s first dislocated worker program, testified before Congress and served as the principal consultant on two documentaries focusing on the permanent workforce changes (“LAYOFF” and the NBC White Paper, “AMERICA WORKS WHEN AMERICA WORKS”). She provided technical assistance to employment ministers attending the G-7 Economic conference regarding the public policy responses to structural unemployment.
She is Past President of the National Association of Women Business Owners Greater Detroit Chapter. Kathleen is also a co-author of three books on organizational productivity.
Kathleen is a proud graduate of Marygrove College with a B.A. in Political Science. She tries to live up to Marygrove’s three C’s, Competence, Compassion, and Commitment
Jaye Clement is the Director of Community Health Programs and Strategies at Henry Ford Health System. She is responsible for aligning the System’s commitment to its communities by engaging partners and managing metrics that contribute to community health improvement strategies.read more
In her role, Jaye staffs the Detroit Regional Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force and holds administrative oversight for their nationally-recognized, award-winning Women-Inspired Neighborhood Network: Detroit program. She also directs a Community Health Worker Hub for the health system.
Jaye earned her MPH and MPP from the University of Michigan. Jaye is a mother of two boys, wife and life-long Detroiter.
Paul Elam, PhD
Public policy research and evaluation expert covering racial and ethnic disparities for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.read more
Paul Elam is Chief Strategy Officer of MPHI, a Michigan-based and nationally engaged, non- profit public health institute. He is a collaborative leader who brings an abiding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Elam believes that sound analysis should include an examination of whether all people are being treated fairly and equitably. Dr. Elam with discuss the importance of conducting our work using Culturally Responsive and Racial Equity Tenets to ensure the people who are most impacted are at the center of conversations which seek to find solutions to problems affecting them. Dr. Elam earned a PhD in Family and Child Ecology from Michigan State University.
Shondra L. Marshall
Shondra L. Marshall is the Implementation Policy and Research Manager at Hope Starts Here: Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership. In this role she explores the impact of early childhood education and the intersectionality of policy, data, research, and practice.read more
Shondra research agenda focuses on, child development, teacher preparation, exploring best practices and strategies to best serve students, examining pedagogy, academic performance, educational experiences, and literacy activities of African American students. Her current research efforts are exploring racial socialization and parental influences of African American students. Shondra is a native of Flint Michigan but has a special affinity to Detroit and Lansing Michigan. She graduated from Michigan State University with her Bachelor of Science degree in Retail Management (Business Cognate) and with a Master of Arts degree in Teaching and Curriculum with a specialization in literacy and language instruction. Shondra received her Ph.D. in Educational Studies: Urban Education from Eastern Michigan University. Two of her most recent publications include a book chapter entitled Interrogating “Trouble”: An ecologically centered approach to race-related socialization factors as moderators of disruptive behaviors and achievement outcomes among African American boys (Johnson, Banerjee & Marshall, 2019) and her dissertation entitled: Can place-based teacher preparation be culturally responsive? An exploration of one promising program (2019).
She is a Michigan State University Black Alumni lifetime member, currently serves as the treasurer in the Oakland county chapter and as the National President for MSU Black Alumni Inc. Shondra serves on two endowed scholarship committees at MSU: Dr. Paulette C. Walker endowed scholarship and Michigan State University Black Alumni Oakland County Endowed Scholarship. Shondra is a member of the Southfield Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. She is dedicated to community empowerment, equity and access. One of her guiding principles in her life is “it is better to give than to receive”. In her spare time, she enjoys spending quality time with family, reading and working out.
Break Out Session 3
Matt Gillard is the president and CEO of Michigan’s Children, where he oversees all of Michigan’s Children’s programs and operations. As former state representative for the 106th District, Gillard served six years in the Michigan House of Representatives, concluding his service in 2008 due to term limits.read more
A strategic leader with extensive experience in high-level negotiation and policy development, Gillard is dedicated to supporting the implementation of relevant and innovative public policy.
Formerly an attorney from Alpena, Gillard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Albion College and Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School. He is a member of the Michigan State Bar. Gillard also built a successful advocacy and consulting business, providing guidance to various organizations, constituencies, and decision-makers relative to education policy issues.
I have over 25 years years of legislative experience, 15 years of government executive management experience and 35 years of community leadership beginning 1988 as the President of the Davison Association of Neighborhood Block Clubs to today where I serve on the Board of Directors of Detroit Future City and Co-Leader with Impact Detroit.read more
In 2010 while working as a Planner with the City Planning Commission I had the honor to work on the African Town project that culminated into a new Paradise Valley in downtown Detroit, I was mentored and encouraged by Marsha Bruhn, then CPC Director to complete my Master’s Degree work. I enrolled in the U of D Mercy School of Architecture Masters of Community Development program, completed the program and was afforded an opportunity to further my skills by taking a position with MSU Extension.
While with Extension I received Zoning Administrator certification, training as an Entrepreneurial Counselor and served as the Land Use Extension Lead Educator in St. Clair County. I grew up with 4-H Extension programs in Detroit beginning 1972 planting gardens in Indian Village. I was excited to be able to work in a place that brought me so much joy growing up. However, I was assigned to work in Port Huron, St. Clair County. I wanted to work in Detroit where my newly gained skills would benefit my community.
In 2012 while in Montana studying Permaculture, I received a call from The Honorable Kwame Kenyatta asking me to consider applying for the BZA Director position. Today, 6 years later I am proud to be able to say that I am a product of this institution – The Detroit City Council. The Youth Advisory Commission, The Honorable Clyde Cleveland, the City Planning Commission and today the Board of Zoning Appeals. It is rare today to have someone with this vast amount of experience and institutional knowledge.
My work with Detroit Future City is the foundation for my community work. I am currently serving my second term of the Board of Directors, I am working with Impact Detroit to restructure our mission and what our work looks like in post COVID-19 world and I serve as the advocacy coordinator for Hope Starts Here Imperative #2 – Detroit Champions for Hope. All of this work is a direct result of the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework looking our 50 years. (https://detroitfuturecity.com/strategic-framework/)
Pat Sorenson rejoined the Michigan League for Public Policy in September 2012 as a senior policy analyst working on state budget and tax policies. Pat was the senior director for policy and advocacy at the Early Childhood Investment Corporation; vice president for policy at Michigan’s Children; and a senior planning and research associate at the League, serving as the organization’s first Kids Count director.
Alicia Guevara Warren
Alicia Guevara Warren is the Director of Statewide Policy Initiatives for the Early Childhood Investment Corporation. Guevara Warren is also one of 15 members in the 2019–21 class of the Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship.
Prior to her latest appointments, Guevara Warren worked with the Michigan League for Public Policy in 2014 as tax policy analyst, and became the Kids Count in Michigan Project Director in June 2015. She worked with Michigan’s Children, Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, and School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan.read more
Growing up in a close-knit family of migrant farm workers, Warren saw friends and loved ones struggle to gain a foothold. For some youth, brushes with the adult justice system had lifelong consequences; others were stymied by the choice between pursuing education and financially supporting their family.
The first in her generation to attend college, Warren has worked tirelessly to build better systems for all children to reach their potential. As the director of the Kinship Care Resource Center at Michigan State University, she coordinates a variety of activities across multiple systems and works with policymakers to better support children and youth in the care of relatives during times of transition.
Table Talk: Resilience In The Face of Adversity
Denise is the first implementation director of Hope Starts Here Detroit Early Childhood Partnership. Denise brings to this role a wealth of experience as an early childhood leader in Detroit and throughout the state of Michigan, rooted in her deep, personal commitment to children, families, and community. Her visionary leadership will propel the implementation of Hope Starts Here to new levels of effectiveness.read more
As Implementation Director, Denise will be responsible for implementing the Hope Starts Here framework, which was developed through a year-long community engagement process that drew on more than 18,000 Detroit residents to identify priorities for the city’s early childhood development system. Reflecting Hope Starts Here’s commitment to a distributed leadership model, Denise’s primary role will be to facilitate connections between the many community-based organizations supporting Detroit’s young children and families, strengthening the network of early childhood partners behind a common vision and set of strategies that come together to form a coherent early childhood development system, striving for a Detroit that puts its young children and their families first.
Denise is a native Detroiter, and for more than six years has focused her efforts on collaborative, community-based work to improve the early childhood education and care system for children and families in our most vulnerable communities. She also sits as a co-chair of the executive committee for Michigan’s Pritzker Prenatal-to-Age-Three grant and serves as one of 13 appointees to Michigan’s PreK-12 Literacy Commission.
Before returning to her hometown to continue leadership in early childhood system-building, Smith served as the executive director of the Flint Early Childhood Collaborative and Educare Flint, a system-level address to the needs of young children and their families as a result of the Flint water emergency. Previous posts have included vice president of early learning at Excellent Schools Detroit, and director of Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s statewide and tiered quality rating and improvement system at the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.
Her expertise also includes extensive experience designing, managing and consulting of early learning and care programs. Denise completed her undergraduate work in both Communication and in French at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and her graduate degree in Human Development, Education Leadership and Infant Toddler Development, from Pacific Oaks College, CA.
Wendy Ellis, DrPH, MPH
Wendy Ellis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health and Director of the Center for Community Resilience at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. The Building Community Resilience (BCR) collaborative and networks are implementing the BCR process — a strategic approach for cross-sector partners to align resources, programs and initiatives with community based efforts to address adverse childhood experiences and adverse community environments– or as Ellis has coined it “The Pair of ACEs”.read more
The strengths based approach is aimed at building the infrastructure to promote resilience in vulnerable communities by improving access to supports and buffers that help individuals ‘bounce back’ and communities thrive. BCR National Networks are in nine states and the District of Columbia made up of cross-sector partners including health care, social services, housing, public education, law enforcement and criminal justice and business development partners. In 2019, Dr. Ellis launched the Resilience Catalysts in Public Health using a novel framework that leverages local health departments. Dr. Ellis co authored an article detailing the BCR process, “A New Framework for Addressing Adverse Childhood and Community Experiences: The Building Community Resilience Model” which can be found in the September 2017 Journal of Academic Pediatrics.
Dr. Ellis has spent the last decade developing and working to grow a ‘resilience movement’ to address systemic inequities that contribute to social and health disparities that are often transmitted in families and communities from generation to generation. In 2018 Dr. Ellis was selected as an Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow.
Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka
Dr. Iruka is a Research Professor in Public Policy and Director of Early Childhood Health and Racial Equity at UNC-Chapel Hill where she will focus on Early Childhood Health and Racial Equity. Her former posts include chief research officer for HighScope Educational Research Foundation, director of research and evaluation at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the Univ. of Nebraska and associate director at the FPG Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill.