2017 Speakers

The 2017 Detroit Fellows met with a key cultural, political and academic leaders in Detroit. The speakers represented some of the most important organizations in metropolitan Detroit, including: ACCESS, Arab American National Museum, Beaumont Hospital, Boggs Center, Build Institute, Cass Community Social Services, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit City Council, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Health Department, Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, FoodLab, Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford Health System, Michigan House of Representatives, Michigan State University, New Detroit, Southwest Solutions, Techstars, The Platform, University of Michigan, Walter Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs.

Experts from outside of Michigan also joined the program, including Richard Rothstein (author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America) and Irene Braam (Executive Director of the Bertelsmann Foundation, a prominent German-American philanthropic think tank). 


Mona Abdallah-Hijazi is a Public Health Coordinator at ACCESS. She leads the ACCESS Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) Community Coalition. She also works with Syrian Refugees in the Building Blocks for New Americans Program at ACCESS. She has worked in Healthcare Administration and Management for over 10 years. She is currently a member of Healthy Dearborn Coalition, Greater Detroit Area Health Council Opioid Task Force, and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Team. She will be conducting research in collaboration with Michigan State on substance abuse among Arab Americans in upcoming year through the Community Based Participatory Research.  She received her MBA in Healthcare Administration from Davenport University in 2012. 


Hanane Abouellotfi is the 2017 Program Intern in Humanity in Action's John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta, Georgia. Born and raised in Heerlen, the Dutch equivalent of Texas, Hanane moved to Amsterdam in 2000. She attended the VU Amsterdam University to obtain her B.A. degree in Political Science. In 2014, she attended the University of Amsterdam where she obtained her Master’s degree in Political Communication. She has been involved in numerous youth civic engagement organizations, such as Mosa (youth radio and debate) and Hi5 (now IZI solutions). Hanane is also a Fulbright Summer Institute Alumni and has worked as technical manager at Kieskompas (Election Compass), a company specialized in developing Vote Advice Applications. In her spare time, she also co-organized Django Girls a free coding event for women. In the future, she is hopeful to find meaningful and effective ways to contribute to social justice and positive change.


Jean-Pierre Adechi graduated from the Lycée Français de New York and attended Wesleyan University for his first year of college. He was forced to drop out after freshman year for financial reasons. Inspired by the Autobiography of Malcom X by Alex Haley, after working temporary and dead end jobs, he took the initiative of launching his first business, Touche de Finesse when he was 19. Touche de Finesse was a high-end French catering company. Touche de Finesse generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue which put him through school at Baruch College. At age 22, he partnered up with a high school classmate to launch Authorized Dealer Films and the Alphabet City Dolly Film Festival which was sponsored by Jameson Irish Whiskey.


Devon Akmon joined the AANM as a curator of community history shortly before the museum opened in 2005; was promoted to deputy director in 2009; assumed control of daily operations in 2012; and became its second director in 2013. As director, Akmon’s work has resulted in the expansion of the museum’s mission and programming throughout the nation. Most recently, Akmon has overseen the physical expansion of the museum with the creation of the Annex, a new community arts space immediately adjacent to the museum. Akmon earned his Master of Science in Historic Preservation at Eastern Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Emerging Leaders Class IX and Leadership Detroit Class XXXIV. In 2013, Akmon was named one of Crain’s Detroit Business magazine’s “40 Under 40” business leaders.


Petra Alsoofy is an Educator at the Arab American National Museum (AANM). She holds a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies and History from Grand Valley State University. Petra’s responsibilities at the AANM include conducting tours and planning and implementing youth programs.


Corey Beckwith graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in History and Secondary Education, and from Wayne State University with a Masters in Social Work (MSW). He is a Certified Prevention Consultant, and has utilized his skills as a Prevention Specialist at The Guidance Center, working with at-risk youth to prevent substance abuse. He currently is the Public Health Coordinator, working on tobacco prevention programming with middle and high school students.


Kathryn Bigelow is an American film director. As of 2017, she is the only woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director, Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, the BAFTA Award for Best Direction, and the Critics Choice Movie Award for Best Director for the 2009 film, The Hurt Locker. Her 2012 hit Zero Dark Thirty won her the New York Film Critics Choice Award for Best Director, the only woman to win the award twice. Bigelow earned her M.F.A. at Columbia University where she studied film theory and criticism at Columbia University. She directed Detroit, set during the 1967 Detroit rebellion.


Rob Bowen is chief financial officer and executive vice president finance & operations at The Detroit Institute of Arts. Bowen is responsible for overall financial management of the DIA, including Accounting and Financial Reporting, Controlling and Treasury.  In addition, Bowen is responsible for Museum Operations, Human Resources, Purchasing, Information Services and the DIA’s Enterprise Activities. Before joining the DIA in 2011, Bowen worked at Chrysler in various finance and operations positions in domestic and overseas assignments. During his tenure at Chrysler, he served as Director – International Finance with responsibility for all finance support for Chrysler operations in more than 125 markets outside the U.S. and Canada. From 1997 – 2003, Bowen was located in Tokyo, Japan serving as Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer for DaimlerChrysler Japan and President of Chrysler Japan Sales. Bowen holds a BA in Economics and a MBA with a concentration in finance from the University of Michigan.


April Jones Boyle is the Founder and the Executive Director of the Build Institute. She was a founding team member of D:hive, where she was Director of Small Business Initiatives and helped launch the Build program. She is also the co-creator of a number of small-scale ventures including the award-winning family Hootenanny kids concert series and CD, the critically acclaimed Indonesian pop-up restaurant Komodo Kitchen and the all mom rock band The Mydols- featured on the Cable television series Gene Simmons Family Jewels. She sits on the board of Kiva Detroit and the advisory board for Ponyride. She is also co-owner and investor in Gold Cash Gold, building and restaurant, in Corktown. April is married to Model D Co-founder Brian Boyle and is the mother of three amazing boys – Carter, Gram Henry and Rowen.


Irene Braam joined the Bertelsmann Foundation North America as executive director in April 2016. She is also the first vice president and board director of the Bertelsmann Foundation Board of Directors. Irene is an experienced lawyer and media expert, and has worked for over ten years with the Bertelsmann company. She began as director of government relations of the Brussels Liaison Office in 2005 and became senior vice president of government relations in September 2011. After studying law at Maastricht University, the Dutch native began her professional career in 1998 in the music industry. Irene was head of international, legal and business affairs at Naive Records in Paris, in charge of business development for Midbar Tech Ltd. in Tel Aviv, and served as both director of public policy and government affairs and director of legal and business affairs at the Universal Music Group in London and Brussels. Irene is a native speaker of Dutch, and also speaks English, German, French and some Spanish.


Alex Brennan is the Senior Planner at Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) where he has developed innovative new programs at the intersection of housing affordability and transportation. In his 6 years at CHH he has launched successful renter organizing campaigns, secured angel investments in new parking technologies, directed experiments with pedestrian-only streets, and piloted innovative transportation demand management programs for low income residents. Alex is currently leading community engagement for Seattle’s first low income housing project focused on the needs of LGBTQ elders.  Prior to his time at CHH, Alex worked as a planning economics consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. He holds a Masters in City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley.


Raquel Castañeda-López, a lifelong Detroiter, made history in November 2013 by becoming the first Latina elected to the Detroit City Council. A social worker by trade, Castañeda-López has over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector and is committed to working for social justice to improve the quality of life for all Detroiters. She developed a strong resident service program, through grassroots organizing and a mobile office, helping residents and businesses cut through the 'red tape' in order to access services and resources. She is working to ensure Detroiters have a voice on City Council championing policies that promote access, inclusivity and equity.


State Representative Stephanie Chang is serving her second term representing Michigan’s 6th House District (i.e. the cities of Ecorse and River Rouge and part of Detroit). Her legislative work is focused on air quality, affordable and safe drinking water, education and criminal justice reforms. Chang is the Minority Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Law and Justice and serves on the House Committees on Education Reform and Natural Resources, the chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus, a founding member of the Asian Pacific American Legislative Caucus, and part of the Detroit Caucus, Michigan Democratic Latino Legislative Caucus and Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. She also serves on the EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee, which provides advice and recommendations to the EPA administrator to help develop strong partnerships with local governments to deliver environmental services and programs. Chang also focuses much of her work with residents in the district, ranging from saving homes from tax foreclosure to hosting a community baby shower for low-income pregnant women. Chang is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, and a graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Psychology, and a M.P.P. and MSW.


Megan Courtney is an Outreach Archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, at Wayne State University. She was the principal archivist behind the Library's exhibition "12th Street, Detroit, 1967: Employment, Housing, Policing, and Race Relations in Evidence."


Peter D. Cummings is the founder of RAM, a leader in real estate investment, management and development, based in Palm Beach County and active throughout the Southeast. In 2015 he stepped down as chairman of RAM to create The Platform, a Detroit-based venture dedicated to helping rebuild the city through creating new housing and retail developments. Mr. Cummings has been active in real estate development and management in Florida, Michigan, Texas and North Carolina since 1975. Mr. Cummings was educated at Yale University (B.A. 1968) and the University of Toronto (Master’s in English Literature 1969). In 1988, he completed the Owner & President Management Program at the Harvard Business School. He serves on the Max M. Fisher Family Office Investment Committee, on the Board of the Norton Museum of Art, and is chairman emeritus of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, where he has served as a board member for 25 years.


Jennifer Wild Czajkowski is Vice President for Learning & Audience Engagement at the Detroit Institute of Arts, her hometown museum. She is a member of the DIA’s executive leadership team with responsibility for interpretation, education, and public programs. Since the DIA’s successful 2012 campaign for public tax support, Jennifer has re-oriented the Learning & Audience Engagement division to successfully address the DIA’s community partnership commitments while building on the museum’s history of learner-centered practices.  Jennifer was hired by the DIA’s education department in 1997 to apply constructivist learning theory and visitor studies to interpretation of the permanent collection and special exhibitions. From 2002 to 2007, she was the lead interpretive educator on the DIA's innovative and comprehensive reinstallation project. As an interpretive specialist, Jennifer was instrumental in developing cross-disciplinary teams, visitor outcomes, and evaluation processes at the DIA, and has written and spoken extensively about these topics.


Amish Dave is a 2006 Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Germany) and a 2007 Sue Mercy Humanity in Action Philanthropy Fellow. He majored in Russian and Eastern European History, Neuroscience, and Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. He went to medical school at the University of Chicago, internal medicine residency at Stanford, and completed his rheumatology fellowship at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. Dr. Dave completed his Masters in Public Health at Harvard with a focus in clinical effectiveness (epidemiology) and received a T32 NIH grant to research musculoskeletal disease. He has worked in an orphanage in Bulgaria and was a Johnson and Johnson Global Health fellow in Uganda. Dr. Dave is currently a rheumatology attending at Virginia Mason Medical Center, where he focuses on patient care, clinical education, quality improvement, and health equity work in both downtown Seattle and Bainbridge Island. He is the founder of the Art and Medicine program with the Seattle Art Museum and co-chair of the Virginia Mason Health Equity and Resource Team. He is currently running the Humanity in Action Seattle summer fellowship programs (2017) with Virginia Mason Medical Center and Capitol Hill Housing focused on the intersection of healthcare and affordable housing.


Kalisha Davis will serve as Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at the Detroit Historical Society for the next two years. For the past 15 years, Kalisha has turned her passion and commitment to making positive and sustainable change for the benefit of young people into a career that has taken her across the country. She has worked in Washington DC, New York, and California, and returned home to Detroit for the fellowship. Known professionally as a connector, storyteller and innovator, Kalisha has worked with such national organizations such as the Forum for Youth Investment and the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth and Education and Families. Outside of work, Kalisha enjoys learning and experiencing life as much as possible while taking in unique city sights and sounds with friends. Kalisha is a 2011 graduate of the National Urban Fellows Program, through which she earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in print journalism from Central Michigan University.


Devita Davison combines her passion for culinary arts with activism and entrepreneurship. She has spoken and facilitated workshops on food justice, entrepreneurship and the localist movement at the Kellogg Foundation Food & Community conference, Just Food Conference, Netroots Nation, Omega Institute and the BALLE conference. As Co-Director of FoodLab Detroit, a non-profit organization that represents a diverse community of food businesses and allies working to make good food a sustainable reality for all Detroiters, Devita works to provide support to over 140+ food businesses through resource connection, mentoring, high-quality workshops, field-trips and networking opportunities --- all with the goal of cultivating good food businesses. A native Detroiter, Devita moved back home after running a specialty food retail shop in Brooklyn, New York and now plays a leading role in Detroit's emerging food scene.


LaNesha DeBardelaben is Senior Vice President of Education and Exhibitions at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. She manages the museum’s education, programming, archives/collections, volunteer, exhibitions, and accreditation teams, and is passionate about educational equity, literacy, and public history. Her extensive professional affiliations and work aim to promote African American art and history. She is also an active member of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit where she is heavily involved in youth ministry. Further, she is a long-time member of the Optimist Club. LaNesha earned a B.A. in history and Secondary Education from Kalamazoo College, an M.A. in history and Museum Studies from the University of Missouri, an M.L.S. in Archives Management from Indiana University-Bloomington, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in U.S. and African American History at Michigan State University.


Abdul El-Sayed was born and raised in Michigan. His family reflects the diversity of Michigan, including immigrants who left Egypt in pursuit of greater opportunity in America, farmers, teachers, and small-business owners who lived in Gratiot County, Michigan. He went to University of Michigan, and later became a Rhodes Scholar, earning a doctorate from Oxford University and a medical degree from Columbia University. As a public health expert, Mayor Mike Duggan asked him to help rebuild Detroit's Health Department after it was privatized during the city's bankruptcy. As Health Director, he worked tirelessly to ensure government accountability and transparency, promote health, and reduce cross-generational poverty. Abdul worked hard to ensure that children attending Detroit schools and daycares were drinking lead-free water. He has also served expectant mothers and women by creating programs aimed at reducing infant mortality and unplanned pregnancy. He built a program to give schoolchildren across the city eyeglasses. Abdul worked with constituents and corporations them to reduce emissions and invest in parks. Abdul lives in Detroit with his wife, Sarah, a mental health doctor.


Annmarie Erickson was appointed in November 2016 as Vice President of Governance for Henry Ford Health System. She is responsible for providing support to the health system board of trustees. Erickson has extensive experience with governance functions and a passion for advancing the efforts of organizations whose missions are rooted in service and commitment to community. Before coming to Henry Ford, Erickson served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Detroit Institute of Arts. As COO, she supervised capital projects and building operations, environmental and visitor services, events and food services, security and volunteer services, community relations and organization development and human resources. Erickson’s governance experience is extensive. In addition to serving on all Board Committees and Subcommittees at the DIA, she also was the staff liaison to the Governance and Nominating Committee. She was instrumental in developing the mission and operating structure for the museum’s Talent and Diversity Committee and created a framework and mission statement to facilitate the formation of a Government Relations Committee. Prior to her tenure at the DIA, Erickson served in leadership roles in marketing and communications for Cranbrook Educational Community. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in English from Wayne State University.


Harley Etienne is an Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan. He teaches in the areas of urban community development, inner-city revitalization, neighborhood change, urban poverty, and qualitative research issues in planning. Etienne’s research focuses primarily on the intersection of social institutions and their relationship to processes of urban neighborhood change. He is keenly interested in the role that colleges and universities play in contributing to neighborhood-level change and regional economic development. In 2012, he released, Pushing Back the Gates: Neighborhood Perspectives on University-Driven Change in West Philadelphia on Temple University Press. After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, he worked on several projects examining the role of land tenure policy and land rights in the post-earthquake recovery of Port-au-Prince. In 2014, he co-edited a volume, Planning Atlanta which surveys the history, challenges and successes of planning in that city from its earliest beginnings to the present day. His current projects include quantitative and qualitative studies of the adaptation and survival strategies of community development corporations (CDCs) in Baltimore, Cleveland and Detroit. He is also expanding on his work in West Philadelphia with studies that evaluate the long-term impact of college students on housing affordability and displacement in college and university-adjacent neighborhoods.


Reynolds Farley is the Dudley Duncan Professor Emeritus of Sociology and a research scientist at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan. Farley's research interests concern population trends in the United States, focusing on racial differences, ethnicity, and urban structure. His current work focuses upon the revitalization of Rust Belt metropolises. He maintains a website describing the history and future of Detroit (www.Detroit1701.org). He received his PhD from the University of Chicago. At the Ford School, Farley teaches about the history and future of Detroit.


Kimberly Farrow is the Chief Medical Officer at Detroit Central City Community Health. Kimberly is also an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University. She received her MD from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2009 and her Bachelor’s from the University of Notre Dame in 1999.


Rich Feldman is a community and labor activist committed the Next American Revolution.  He is a Board Member of the James & Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, committed to the inclusive education movement and the Disability Rights and Pride Movement. He co-edited the book End of the Line: Auto Workers and the American Dream. He is a former autoworker and recently retired from his position as a staff representative of the International United Auto Workers in Detroit.


Charles Ezra Ferrell is the Director of Public Programs at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Full biography is forthcoming.


Rev. Faith Fowler is the Senior Pastor of Cass Community United Methodist Church and Executive Director of Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), a Detroit nonprofit agency which responds to poverty with programs for food, health care, housing and employment. She has held these roles since 1994. Beyond her work at CCSS, Rev. Fowler has served as a Board Member for the Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corporation (CCNDC), an advisory Board member of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging, as well as a Board Member and Trustee for the General Board of Church and Society. She currently Chairs the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee.


John Gallagher is a veteran journalist and author whose book, Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City, was named by the Huffington Post as among the best social and political books of 2010. His most recent book is Revolution Detroit: Strategies for Urban Reinvention. John was born in New York City and joined the Detroit Free Press in 1987 to cover urban and economic redevelopment efforts in Detroit and Michigan, a post which he still holds. His other books include Great Architecture of Michigan and, as co-author, AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. John and his wife, Sheu-Jane, live along Detroit’s east riverfront.


David Gamlin, Sr. is the Program Manager for Education at New Detroit, Inc. and Executive Vice President and Program Director for Midnight Golf Program. He is responsible for training, programming, mentoring and program evaluation. His work includes enhancing relationships with funding partners which including Skillman Foundation, Bank of America, McGregor and the Jacobs Family Foundation. The value delivered is consistently designing, developing and delivering best practices in youth development. Between 1983 and 1996, Mr. Gamlin was as a successful institutional global equity trader for two major Wall Street investment firms. Between 1996 and 2003 he worked in operations, sales and marketing with two Detroit area automotive suppliers. David Gamlin, Sr. earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business and French from Hillsdale College. He also studied Community Problem Solving at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


Judith S. Goldstein founded Humanity in Action in 1997 and has served as its Executive Director ever since. Under Judith’s leadership, Humanity in Action has organized educational programs on international affairs, diversity and human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands and the United States. She received her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and was a Woodrow Wilson Scholar for her MA studies. Judith has written several books and articles about European and American history, art and landscape architecture. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and several boards and advisory groups.


State Representative Abdullah Hammoud is serving his first term representing the 15th House District, which comprises most of the city of Dearborn, where he was born and raised. He is the son of immigrant parents and a proud product of Dearborn Public Schools. He has been unwavering in his commitment to the state of Michigan and the city of Dearborn, serving his community for more than a decade as a volunteer, advocate or community activist.  Rep. Hammoud earned his B.S. from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and his M.P.H. from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. After working for three years as a health care consultant in Michigan, he felt a profound need to serve the international community, which led him to serve as a volunteer with the United Nations Relief and Work Agency. In 2014, he was nominated and elected as the youngest board member for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, where he has worked to protect Michigan’s land, air, and water. As a national and state health policy expert, Hammoud previously worked as a professional health care adviser for Henry Ford Health System and Health Alliance Plan.


Detroit native Stephen Henderson has been editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press since 2009. He previously wrote and edited for the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and Lexington Herald-Leader, and spent five years covering the U.S. Supreme Court for Knight Ridder Newspapers. He’s responsible for the paper’s unsigned editorials, and also edits columnists Brian Dickerson and Nancy Kaffer, as well as cartoonist Mike Thompson. Henderson’s columns strike a note of decided balance - taking the best of left and right, and combining them to reach pragmatic, rational solutions. Equanimity is his trademark. That does not equate, however, with timidity. Henderson’s opinions come down hard on excessive partisans, those who betray the public trust and the foolishness inside and outside of Detroit that brought the city to its financial and managerial knees. Henderson’s work has been honored with more than a dozen national awards, including the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. He lives in downtown Detroit, and is raising two children in the city.


Alex B. Hill is Food Access Program Manager and Epidemiologist for the Detroit Health Department. He works to address the impacts of health disparities from chronic diseases through data analysis and community engagement strategies. Alex's personal research is focused on food access, health disparities, and racial justice. Alex's projects and research focus on the need for greater community involvement at all levels and specifically highlights the intersections of power, privilege, and race. In his free time he advocates for citizen engagement in open data and regularly writes a map and geography focused blog, DETROITography.com.


Lauren Hood specializes in community engagement and authentic dialogues. She leads Live6, a nonprofit development organization whose mission is to enhance quality of life for residents living in Northwest Detroit. Prior to joining Live6, Lauren spent her career in leadership positions in economic development for the City of Highland Park, as the Director of Community Engagement at Loveland Technologies, and Principal of her racial equity consultancy, Deep Dive Detroit. She serves as a Mayoral appointee to the City of Detroit's Historic District Commission and speaks regularly on panels, conducts workshops and facilitates dialogues on community engagement and inclusive development. In addition to being a regular guest columnist in local Op-ed pages, she is active at her alma mater, University of Detroit, Mercy where she received a Master’s in Community Development and undergraduate business degree.


Baba Jamon Jordan is an educator and historian. He conducts lecture tours dealing with ancient African history, African cultures and traditions, and African American history, including the period of slavery, Black nationalism, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement. He has conducted lectures in Detroit and throughout the state of Michigan, and other cities like Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, New York City, Washington D.C. Baba Jamon has also lectured on numerous topics including the African Origin of Humanity and Civilization, the Importance of Ancient Egypt, African Queens, African Warriors, the Myth of Christopher Columbus, and Lies We Learn in School.


Ufuk Kâhya serves as Humanity in Action’s Associate Program Director for the John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta. Ufuk currently serves as the Leader of the Green Party on the City Council of Hertogenbosch, a municipality in the south of The Netherlands, and as a senior advisor for Kompass, the Dutch civil rights and liberties organization. He has an academic background in public administration, political science and international relations.  Ufuk has experience as a senior trainer for United World Colleges on leadership, conflict transformation, community building and inclusion. He worked with diverse groups of young people internationally, such as the indigenous young people of the Marowijne, Suriname. Ufuk has served as a policy advisor to Congressman A.L. Hastings in the Lantos-Humanity in Action Congressional Fellowship and is a member of the Transatlantic Inclusion Leaders Network of the German Marshall Fund. He serves on several boards, is a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and a Fulbright Alumni. Ufuk is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Amsterdam 2012).


Munira Kassim is the program supervisor for Psychosocial Rehabilitation Center for Survivors of Torture and Refugees at ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) in Dearborn, Michigan. Munira’s extensive experience includes working with Victims of Crime, Abuse, and Torture in southeast Michigan. These programs help clients with mental health recovery, healing and justice by providing counseling, psychiatric services, case management and legal advocacy. They serve victims of torture, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual abuse, rape, hate crimes, robbery, assault, theft, burglary, and survivors of homicide. Munira is currently a member of the National Capacity Building Advisory Group for the Survivors of Torture. Munira is a clinical psychologist with an MA in Clinical Psychology from the Michigan School of Professional Psychology and a BS in mental health from Madonna University. Munira is also an active member of the community as she serves as a guest lecturer at many faiths based institutions and maintains her role as a mentor to many of the underserved youth within her community.


Danielle McGuire is an award-winning author and historian of racial and sexual violence. Her first book, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance–a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award and the Lillian Smith Award. She is the editor with John Dittmer of Freedom Rights: New Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement. She is currently at work on a book about the 1967 murder of three young black men in the Algiers Motel murders in Detroit. McGuire earned a Ph.D. from Rutgers University and an M.A. and BA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Mona Makki is the Director of Community Health and Research Center (CHRC) at ACCESS, the largest Arab American nonprofit organization in the U.S. Makki previously served in the capacity of Deputy Director of the CHRC, overseeing the operations of more than 50 programs focusing on mental health, public health and the Center’s entire medical division. Makki began her long, distinguished career as a victims advocate at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office. A valued ACCESS leader since 2005, she was promoted to supervisor of the Victims of Crime Program in 2007 and became the Mental Health Program manager in 2012. Her solid and dedicated leadership over the years has contributed to the growth of numerous programs within the CHRC. An impassioned proponent of rights for underserved members of the community, Makki has fearlessly advocated against crime and domestic violence for over a decade. Makki received her Masters in Clinical Psychology from the University of Detroit Mercy in 2004 and has conducted research, in collaboration with local universities, on topics including cardiac arrest and trauma and loss among Arab American, American Indian and Alaskan Native youth.


Noura, a millennial foodie, channels her childhood in her grandmother’s kitchen in rural Egypt, as she explores the culinary landscape of the southeast Michigan Area and beyond. Aside from tasting and exploring, Noura uses her love for history and culture to create an immersive experience for her guests and allow them to live the simple joy of a delicious well-made meal!


Sara McDonnell is a Program Coordinator at the University of Michigan – Flint. She is a connector who focuses on finding mentors for aspiring and operating business owners. She enjoys inspiring others to follow their passion -- and make money in the process. She has cultivated a wide network of community members and displays a deep understanding of governmental processes through her work with municipalities and townships. A former business owner, Sara can share lessons learned and recently received her MBA from UM-Flint.


Nick Micinski is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and Research Associate at European Union Studies Center and the Future UN Development System Project. Nick’s research focuses on cooperation between the EU and UN in responding to migration flows in the Mediterranean Sea. Previously, he worked in the NGO sector in London for five years on refugee issues and social enterprise. He holds a B.A. from Michigan State University in International Relations and Political Theory. Nick’s research interests include immigration and refugee policy, peacebuilding, post-conflict reconciliation, civil society, and human rights. Nick is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Amsterdam 2010) and founded the Project on Peacebuilding that hosts an annual week long workshop for human rights activists in Bosnia.


Juanita Moore is the President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, MI), the largest museum of its kind in the nation. Prior to assuming her current post, she served as Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum and the Gem Theater located in the 18th & Vine Historic District (Kansas City, MO). Ms. Moore served as founding Executive Director of the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN). In that capacity, Ms. Moore oversaw the construction and opening of the museum located at the Lorraine Motel, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Prior to Memphis, Ms. Moore spent several years planning and subsequently opening the National African American Museum and Cultural Center (Wilberforce, OH). As a senior member of the planning team, she was pivotal in developing a strategy and concept for building a nationally donated collection. Ms. Moore began her career with the Ohio Historical Society, where she served as the first African American curator. She also served as Director of the Kuumba Na Nia Dance and Theatre Company. In 2014, the Association of African American Museums presented Juanita Moore with the Dr. John E. Fleming Award for lifetime achievement. She has served as the President of The African American Museums Association, and is currently a member of International Council of Museums (ICOM-USA), Midtown Detroit, Inc., and the Freedom Trail Commission.


Nicholas Mukhtar is the Founder and CEO of Healthy Detroit. Healthy Detroit is a public health organization working to build a culture of preventative health in Detroit through implementation of the National Prevention Strategy. He received his B.A. in Biological Sciences at Wayne State University, and his Masters in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.


Marsha Music, writer and self-described Detroitist, is the daughter of Joe Von Battle, a prominent pre-Motown record producer. She grew up in Highland Park, then a lush, suburban city within the city of Detroit, and around her father’s record shops on Hastings Street and 12th Street, exposed to many musical genres. She has seen much - her father's store opened in 1945, and she saw it relocated in 1960 during the height of urban renewal, and its demise during the '67 rebellion. She saw the economic decline of the city, and she is seeing the revitalization of sections of Detroit and urban life. She is a noted speaker, storyteller, blogger, and contributor to numerous oral histories, narratives and films.  She is a 2012 Kresge Literary Arts Fellow, and a 2015 Knight Arts Challenge winner for her conversation series "Salon De'troit”.


Paula is the Interim Director of Outreach and has been a lecturer of Economics at the University of Michigan – Flint for the past 20 years, and the Director of our Center for Economic Education for the past 8 years. She is a graduate of the Honors Program at UM-Flint, and holds an MA in Economics from MSU and a JD from Wayne State University Law School.  Paula is passionate about community engagement, specifically in connecting our students with local business, education, civic, health care, and municipal leaders through a variety of initiatives.  She is an active volunteer with many civic organizations and serves on the Grand Blanc City Council. Paula is eager to continue to expand and broaden meaningful relationships between UM-Flint and the community in ways that will benefit our community partners and our students, faculty, and staff alike.


Rebekka Parker, Education Program Coordinator, develops and coordinates programs and partnerships for K-12, teen, and university audiences at the DIA. Ms. Parker has been a DIA staff member for eight years and her current work is focused on curriculum resource development and learning experience design. She is also a Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) trainer and coach. She supports the DIA’s professional development offerings for a range of audiences in this role. Ms. Parker graduated with High Distinction from The University of Michigan-Dearborn, and earned her dual Bachelor of Arts in Art History–Museum Studies and Anthropology. Ms. Parker is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Education at the Leadership in Museum Education program at Bank Street College of Education in New York City.


Payal Patel is an infectious diseases physician at the University of Michigan and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.  She is also the medical director of antimicrobial stewardship at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. Her research interests are on healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial stewardship.  She works nationally with the CDC to improve care at struggling hospitals within the US and is also working internationally to develop infectious disease programs in India. In practice, she takes care of HIV and other ID patients in clinic and attends on internal medicine at the VA with medical students, pharmacists and internal medicine residents and on the infectious disease consult team at the VA and at University of Michigan.


James Pedersen is a retired International Representative of the United Autoworkers Union, UAW, now working as a Continuing Education Specialist at the Center for Labor and Community Studies University of Michigan – Dearborn. Pedersen hired into the Ford Motor Company Saline Plastics Plant in 1977, and joined UAW Local 892, where he was elected a Committeeman, Vice President and President. Pedersen was placed on the staff of the UAW at Region 1A in 1998, where he served as the Education Representative until 2006, when Director Jimmie Settles added the Community Action Program assignment. Pedersen was transferred to the International UAW CAP Department in 2008, where he was assigned compliance, outreach, lobbying, conferences and field work. While at UAW Region 1A in Taylor, Michigan, Pedersen worked with the Michigan Labor History Society Program Committee and on the Labor Legacy Project. Other work with MLHS includes reports to the annual meeting, education projects like the Detroit Labor History bus tours, and maintenance of the labor history monument, “Transcending.” Pedersen received his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 1992, and is currently enrolled in a Master of Arts program at Eastern Michigan University concentrating in History.


Lonnie Peek, Jr. is the President and CEO of eBusiness Strategies, a Detroit based project management consulting company. He is Senior Consultant to the Chancellor of Wayne County Community College, and has served as the Director for Religious Studies at WCCCD. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity and is also the Chair of their Public Relations Committee. Rev. Peek is an ordained minister and serves as Assistant Pastor at Greater Christ Baptist Church in Detroit. He holds a B.S. from West Virginia State College, a M.S.W. from Wayne State University, and M.A. in Biblical Studies from Ashland Theological Seminary.


Sophia Philip is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Paris 2015) and is currently a Fellow in the Virginia Mason-Humanity in Action Fellowship in Seattle. She is originally from New York City. Having studied ethnography, education and the arts in undergrad, Sophia’s professional work has varied from producing TEDx conferences, leading literacy classes for young adults, facilitating dialogues on anti-racism in school settings, teaching girls’ empowerment art classes to developing curriculums on consent with Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention team. The Virginia Mason-Humanity in Action Fellowship in Seattle is an incredibly enriching opportunity to better understand how different skills sets are applied to diminish health disparities and, more importantly, better understand the small, incremental steps of work that must be done to ensure sustainable change can be made.


David has been an HIV and LGBT community activist since 1994. He is currently the supervisor of the Infectious Disease Prevention & Care program at ACCESS and has served in this role for the last seven years. Prior to that David joined ACCESS as an outreach worker in 2002. David has served on the board of Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, Michigan AIDS Coalition, Community Co-chair of the Michigan HIV/AIDS Council, & Needs assessment Chair. He was a founding member and current board member of Al GAMEA the LGBT Middle Eastern organization. He has volunteered for many community organizations including Affirmations Health Equity Council & Multicultural Advisory Committee. Trans day of remembrance, Higher Ground, Community Pride Banquet and countless others. David’s current passion is the implementation and dissemination of information about PrEP and growing the PrEP clinic at ACCESS. He has committed himself to fighting the spread of HIV and breaking down the stigma associated with HIV, sexual health, STD’s and homosexuality.


Andy was a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Warsaw 2016) and the Program Intern for Humanity in Action (Netherlands 2017). As a student at Colorado College, he helped grow Colorado Springs Food Rescue (CSFR), a non-profit that has redistributed over half a million pounds of food that would otherwise be thrown away to communities in need. Through CSFR Andy helped create Mobile Meals, a food truck that partnered with a local LGBTQ center to make delicious meals with the youth. Andy's interest in health, nutrition, and food sovereignty led him to co-write and produce a play about an urban farm in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans called Our School at Blair Grocery. As the Humanity in Action-Capitol Hill Housing Fellow, he hopes to meet the affordable housing needs of elderly LGBTQ individuals in Seattle and explore the intersection of health and housing.  Andy is a jazz keyboardist, and a proud owner of a thirteen-year-old rabbit.


A former New York Times columnist, Richard Rothstein is currently a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute, a fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and of the Haas Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. Rothstein has spent years documenting the evidence that government not merely ignored discriminatory practices in the residential sphere, but promoted them. The impact has been devastating for generations of African-Americans who were denied the right to live where they wanted to live, and raise and school their children where they thought best. He is the author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. The book recovers a forgotten history of how federal, state, and local policy explicitly segregated metropolitan areas nationwide, creating racially homogenous neighborhoods in patterns that violate the Constitution and require remediation.


Richard Casey (Rick) Sadler, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine who engages in Flint public health research through the MSU College of Human Medicine’s Division of Public Health. A Flint native, he attended the University of Michigan-Flint (BSc, 2007), then earned his PhD in geography from the University of Western Ontario in 2013. Dr. Sadler's research is aimed at strengthening the understanding between the built environment and health behaviors/outcomes, with the goal of shaping land use policy to build healthier cities. His work is integrated with community organizations, and uses qualitative and spatial analysis to address disparities in the social determinants of health. He says, “My experiences growing up in the Flint region--where industrial growth, subsequent deindustrialization, and fragmented planning practices have had a profound influence on the built form--shaped my drive to resolve inequalities that arise from imbalances between the salutogenic and pathogenic properties of urban areas.” He adds, “My work is underpinned by an upbringing oriented around compassion and stewardship, experiential training in cultural competence, and a recognition of historical processes of discrimination which have exacerbated spatial and health inequalities.”


Hussien Saleh received a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Political Science and a law degree from Wayne State Law School. Saleh is licensed to practice law in Michigan and is also admitted to the Eastern District Court in Detroit. He has broad experience in the areas of bankruptcy and family law. Saleh has advised thousands of clients on a variety of legal matters. Saleh is also the head attorney at a non-profit organization that assists individuals who have been victimized by any type of crime. He has assisted clients in all issues pertaining to family law and understands the sensitivity of family law proceedings. Furthermore, Saleh is a trained and licensed mediator who incorporates his mediation training in all aspects of his legal philosophy.


Salvador Salort-Pons was appointed director, president and CEO of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) October 15, 2015. He was hired at the DIA in 2008 as the Elizabeth and Allan Shelden Curator of European Paintings. In 2011, he became director of the DIA’s European Art Department and in 2013, added the role of executive director for the Collection Strategies and Information division. Prior to coming to Detroit, he was senior curator at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, assistant professor at the University of Madrid, and exhibition curator at the Memmo Foundation/Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome. He holds a master’s in geography and history (University of Madrid), a master’s in business administration (Cox School of Business, SMU) and a doctorate in the history of art (University of Bologna).


David Serio is an Education and Public Programming Specialist at the Arab American National Museum (AANM).  He holds a M.A. in Near Eastern Studies and Arabic from Wayne State University.  Mr. Serio joined the AANM in January of 2011, initially as an AmeriCorps, later being hired as a full-time Educator and Public Programmer.  As an Educator and Public Programmer, Mr. Serio has conducted educational presentations and workshops throughout the Mid-West.  Mr. Serio also helps in the planning and implementation of youth programs and cultural events, such as the SURA Arts Academy, a youth photography program.  Mr. Serio is also the Curator of the Arab Film Festival and manages all of AANM’s film programming, both at AANM and at offsite locations around the world.  Mr. Serio is also the Volunteer Coordinator and responsible with growing and managing the volunteer program.  Mr. Serio continues to implement educational and cultural programming to audiences far and wide.


Asha Shajahan is a board-certified family physician who trained at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, MI. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. She is the Medical Director of Community Health for the Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe, MI. She worked for former United States Senator Carl Levin on health policy and disparities in Washington, D.C. She also worked to augment healthcare access for the uninsured in Detroit through the Office of the former Governor Jennifer Granholm. Dr. Shajahan aims to improve community health by educating physicians on social detriments and cultural humility. She helps underserved neighborhoods through multi-disciplinary partnership and an emphasis on prevention. She believes in natural therapies for wellness which includes empowering her patients to create their own tool box for health by combining art and medicine. She is the chair of the Arts and Health Michigan Committee for the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and the founder of the DIA’s annual Arts and Health Symposium.


Thomas J. Sugrue is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History, the founding Director of the Collaborative on Global Urbanism, and the Director of the Program in American Studies at New York University. The author of four books and editor of two others, he contributes to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the London Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Nation, and Salon.  He is a frequent commentator on modern American history, politics, civil rights, and urban policy and housing. He was born in Detroit, MI.


Susan Troia, Manager of Gallery Teaching at the Detroit Institute of Arts, oversees the training and development of DIA gallery teachers. She has been a DIA staff member for 19 years and has extensive training in Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). Ms. Troia leads teacher workshops and professional development opportunities in VTS. She has developed workshops and presentations for Eastern Michigan University, Marygrove College, Wayne State University, The College for Creative Studies and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Early Childhood. She studied education and art history at Wayne State University.


Ashwin Warrior is Communications Manager for Capitol Hill Housing (CHH). He oversees all marketing, messaging and public relations in support of CHH’s mission to keep Seattle affordable and build vibrant and engaged communities. Ashwin’s expertise is public interest communications. Prior to CHH, he worked for a communications agency helping nonprofit and foundation clients accelerate progress on issues related to the environment, racial justice and health equity. Ashwin is most passionate housing and homelessness. He currently serves on the public policy committee of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, the state’s largest advocacy group for affordable housing, and on the board of Street Soccer Seattle, an organization using the sport of soccer to support homeless youth.


Michael Alan Williams is a native Detroiter, a creative, and MBA candidate at the Harvard Business School. He is passionate about making the communities we live in more beautiful, equitable and sustainable places. Michael has participated in and led community engagement and civic education projects in his hometown of Detroit as well as Vietnam, South Africa, Poland, and Germany. A Spirit of Detroit Award recipient, he credits his upbringing and community involvement in Detroit for inspiring his resolve to shape more beautiful and socially just cities. In his most recent role, Michael served in the New York City Mayor’s Office as the senior analyst for OneNYC – a comprehensive, multi-billion dollar plan funding over 200 initiatives to address New York’s profound social, economic, and environmental challenges. He intends to apply lessons from business school and his diverse experiences towards the development of Detroit and other challenged cities. Michael is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow (Warsaw 2014) and previous Program Intern (Berlin 2016.


Malik Kenyatta Yakini is co-founder and the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN).  DBCFSN operates a seven-acre urban farm and is spearheading the opening of a co-op grocery store in Detroit’s North End.  Yakini views the “good food revolution” as part of the larger movement for freedom, justice and equality. He has an intense interest in contributing to the development of an international food sovereignty movement that embraces Blacks communities in the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa.