About Downtown Boxing Gym
How We Serve
The Downtown Boxing Gym currently serves more than 150 students between the ages of 8 and 18. Our students come to us from 30 different zip codes and 57 schools across Detroit and nearby suburbs.
Our programs are 100% free to all our students. Our ever growing waiting list now exceeds 1,300 children. How do we empower students? Check out the graphic below.
Through education, athletics, mentorship and intervention, the Downtown Boxing Gym empowers Detroit students to be positive and productive members of society.
The Downtown Boxing Gym’s fleet of vans picks up and drops off students daily to ensure that transportation is not a barrier to participation. Our vans reach every corner of the city. Take a look!
The Downtown Boxing Gym is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Every dollar contributed helps to shrink our waiting list and allows us to serve more students.
Meet Our Team
Founder and CEO
Chief of Staff
Academic and Programs Director
Associate Director of Academics: High School, College and Career Readiness, Alumni Success
Associate Director of Academics
Nicolle is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University where she earned a degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education-Integrated Science. She has been an educator since 2004 and has taught every grade level from Headstart to High School within urban, suburban and rural metro Detroit areas. Her true passion is Math and Science. In all her years of teaching, Nicolle has found that in order to be an effective educator and make an impact on your students, you must be consistent, authentic and their biggest cheerleaders with their best interest at heart. Nicolle is truly grateful to be part of the DBG family and is excited to join in their mission of empowering young leaders in our community.
Athletic Programming Lead
As Athletic Programming Lead at DBG, Brandon’s primary focus is to promote physical fitness and life skills development through competition-based programming. He is a Detroit native and proud Cass Tech alum. Brandon earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from Kentucky State University where he was also a member of the football team. Prior to joining the DBG family, he worked in student-athlete support, primarily advising football, men’s/women’s basketball, volleyball, and softball programs at various universities across the country. Brandon is passionate about the development and preparation of our youth for future success in physical education. He has returned to Detroit to help shape and mold its future leaders at DBG.
Elementary Homeroom Lead & Volunteer Coordinator
2019-2020 Board of Directors
Plez Williams is a mortgage banking and real estate professional with more than 25 years of experience. He currently serves as First Vice President at Flagstar Bank where he has worked since 2003. In his current role, Mr. Williams is an operations manager in the mortgage fulfillment department. His primary responsibilities include quality assurance and problem resolution. Prior to his work at Flagstar, he was a licensed real estate agent, serving the Detroit metropolitan area. As a native Detroiter, Plez is passionate about making an impact in the Black community and has been a participant in several grassroots community organizations. Plez received a Master of Science in Finance from Walsh College, and a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Michigan University where he began his collegiate studies after receiving a full athletic scholarship to play football. Married with two sons, he and his family reside in metropolitan Detroit.
JJ Vélez is the Director of Public Spaces for the Quicken Loans Community Fund. He previously served two years as the Deputy Director for Parks & Recreation with the City of Detroit. Prior to joining the City of Detroit, Vélez was the Assistant Director of Special and Summer Programs at Cranbrook Schools, providing oversight for aftercare, enrichments, and private music lessons.
JJ comes to his work with unbridled enthusiasm and positive energy, knowing full-well the critical importance of robust community engagement and responsible partnerships to drive inclusive and equitable access to public spaces. He is currently on the boards of the Chandler Park Conservancy and Brilliant Detroit, and lives in Detroit’s historic Indian Village neighborhood with his wife and two kids.
2019-2020 Advisory Board
John C. Carter
Dr. Farshad Fotouh
Dr. Farshad Fotouhi is currently Dean of the College of Engineering at Wayne State University. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Michigan State University, College of Engineering in 1988 and joined the faculty of computer science at Wayne State University in August 1988. He served as the department chair from January 2004-February 2011. Before joining WSU in 1988, he was a faculty member of the Lyman Briggs School, Michigan State University, while earning his Ph.D.
Dr. Fotouhi’s current research interests include biomedical informatics, semantic web and multimedia systems. He has published over 180 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings. His research has been supported by NSF, NIH, National Institute of Drug Abuse, Michigan Life Sciences Corridor, Ford Motor Company and many other industries.
Jennifer Hammond is a beloved television sports anchor/reporter at Fox 2 News in Detroit. For more than two decades she has covered the Detroit Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons along with Michigan and Michigan State sports.
Among the many things she does to support the Downtown Boxing Gym, Jennifer hosts an annual fundraiser called “Hammer’s Bar Stars.” This high-energy event includes local athletes and celebrities serving as bartenders, helping to raise dollars and awareness about our Books Before Boxing program.
Yodit Mesfin Johnson
Bruce Nyberg joined Flagstar Bank’s board in March 2015, after serving as interim director of Community Banking. As a board member, he serves on the company’s risk committee.
Prior to Flagstar, he was regional president-East Michigan for Huntington Bancshares Incorporated for six years. He had a 28-year career at NBD Bancorp (now Chase Bank), where he led Michigan Commercial Banking, Retail Banking Operations, Marketing, Information Technology, and Electronic Banking. Among his board memberships are the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees, Forgotten Harvest, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion
Jennifer Miller Oertel
Jennifer Miller Oertel is a shareholder in the law firm of Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, PC, where she leads the firm’s Tax-exempt Organizations and Impact Investing Group. Jennifer utilizes her corporate & securities law and governance skills to serve tax-exempt clients, and impact investors and social entrepreneurs in all aspects of their activities. She is the first-ever Impact Investing Expert in Residence for the Council of MI Foundations, working on developing and furthering the impact investing ecosystem in Michigan and beyond.
John Owens held Senior Management positions in Marketing and Communications with major Midwest financial institutions. He was privileged to complement his career experience with an “encore” stint as a Director of Communications at Forgotten Harvest, a metro Detroit human services organization.
He is involved in his local community as a Precinct Delegate in Bloomfield Township.
Stephen Luigi Piazza
Matthew Roling is a professor and chair of Wayne State University’s Accounting Department. Prior to joining Wayne State, Matthew worked in a variety of management consulting and entrepreneurial roles – most recently serving as the CEO of a venture-backed financial technology start-up. A CPA and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Matthew loves to cook, travel and read in his free time.