OUR TEAM

Khali Sweeney

Founder and CEO

Khali had the passion, determination and bold vision to open DBG in 2007 and as our founder and CEO, he continues to mentor, inspire, innovate, and shape our program to this day. His life’s purpose is helping young people succeed. Khali’s unwavering commitment to our students, our mission, and making the world a better place, helps drive every decision we make. Khali’s own challenging academic and life experiences inspired him to start our program. Among his many honors, Khali is a CNN Hero Top 10 Finalist and a recipient of Michigan’s Governor’s Service Award for Mentor of the Year.

As he often says, “We don’t see bad kids. We see kids who haven’t been heard yet.”

Jessica Hauser

Executive Director

A dynamic nonprofit leader, Jessica wears many hats at DBG. She leads our staff, directs fundraising efforts, builds vital partnerships, provides strategic direction, and much more. Jessica earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Oakland University and completed coursework in International Children’s Rights at the University of Michigan. She is a member of the Michigan Afterschool Partnership which champions statewide access to quality and equitable out-of-school time programs. In addition, she serves on the board of the Detroit chapter of Women in Sports and Events (WISE), participated in Leadership Detroit, and is a Crain’s 40 Under 40 honoree.

Katie Solomon

PROGRAMS DIRECTOR

DBG offers a wide variety of engaging, fun, and life-changing academic and athletic programs and Katie is at the center of it all. As Programs Director, she supports DBG’s athletic, academic, and transportation teams while driving our culture through every decision that’s made. Katie earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Michigan State University. She spent many years teaching in both Detroit and Chicago public schools before joining the DBG team. Katie says she’s inspired to work with such dedicated people “who will do whatever it takes to ensure our students succeed” and loves seeing students discover their passions.

Carolyn Geck

Development Director

DBG’s continued growth, success and ability to serve more students depends heavily on raising the dollars needed to fund our program and accomplish our goals. That’s where Carolyn comes in. She is responsible for driving the strategy for the fund development team, securing funding through donor relationship management, and leading the team to reach goals through corporate and foundation relationships. Additional responsibilities include grant writing, event planning, and donor stewardship. Carolyn has a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University and holds a certificate in Current Affairs Fundraising: Crisis Management from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

deanna miller

GRANT WRITER

Grants help DBG raise the funds needed to operate. DeAnna works with our development team to research and write grant applications. DeAnna received an English degree from Howard University and a master’s in English from the University of North Dakota. She currently attends Wayne State University where she is working toward a Ph.D. in English. DeAnna has taught English composition, community writing, African American Literature and Culture, and gender studies courses at the college level. She is most inspired by the warm family atmosphere at DBG and the close relationships she has developed with students and staff.

meredith potter

development associate

Researching and tracking grants, managing our database and donation platform, and supporting our development director in executing fundraising efforts are just a few of Meredith’s many roles as DBG’s development associate. All of her hard work helps to sustain and grow our community of supporters and friends. A graduate of Mary Washington College and the University of New Hampshire, Meredith was an English teacher, a dorm parent, and a college counselor at a boarding school. What inspires her most about DBG? “There is always something new happening. The energy of curiosity and adventure is invigorating,” she says.

nick mancuso

DONOR EXPERIENCE MANAGER

Nick is responsible for the strategic engagement and stewardship of DBG’s existing individual donors. He also cultivates new donors while managing facility rentals, events, and donation data. In addition, Nick assists with marketing and external communications to

key constituents. Prior to joining DBG, Nick served as a financial advisor at Plante Moran and assistant director at the University of Michigan Athletic Department. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Wayne State University. “I’m most inspired by students who overcome challenging circumstances to graduate from high school and thrive,” he says.

theo pistner

DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANT

nisha patel

ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER

Nisha keeps things running smoothly behind the scenes at DBG, managing calendars and communications for our executive director and CEO and working to drive processes and action–oriented results. She is also a champion for change, focused on improvements for our organization’s long-term growth. An Ohio native, Nisha is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in exercise science and a minor in business administration. She says working at DBG perfectly blends her passions: “I love children and believe education and physical activity are critically important to a students’ growth, development and future success.”

Robin Schwartz

Communications & PR Consultant

Robin serves as DBG’s chief storyteller, overseeing all aspects of communications, including PR/media relations, social media, writing, blogs and web content, video production and more. Robin is an Emmy award–winning former TV news anchor/reporter with Fox 2 News in Detroit. She also previously served as a corporate PR executive. Robin has a passion for Detroit, seeing Detroit students succeed, DBG, and the ongoing story of our efforts to change lives and help young people thrive. She owns her own PR and video production firm, Robin Schwartz PR. Members of the media can send inquiries to [email protected].

TANYA TARLETON

human resources director

Since 2007, our DBG team has steadily grown. Tanya manages all human resources functions within DBG such as policies and procedures, performance management, payroll, benefits, and more. She previously served as director of human resources for a manufacturing, marketing and health insurance company. Tayna has an MBA in strategic management from Northwood University and a master’s degree in human resources from Central Michigan University. “The commitment, dedication, services and relationships that are built with DBG’s students, families and staff are amazing. The CEO has an amazing vision for the present and future of the children,” she says.

asiya el

TRANSPORTATION & ENROLLMENT COORDINATOR

You could say Asiya, one of our DBG parents, keeps the wheels turning and things moving at DBG. As our transportation coordinator and enrollment manager, she oversees all aspects of our bus and van fleet and transportation program. She also manages student enrollment and parent communication. Before joining our team, Asiya was an assistant Montessori teacher. She also has expertise in cosmetology, music and recording, and can belt out the National Anthem with the best of them. Her favorite part of being on our team? “Seeing the children’s faces each day and interacting with them,” she says.

asiyah williamson

APPRENTICE TO THE CEO, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS

As a DBG alum and proud graduate, Asiyah has personally experienced the benefits of DBG’s mission. She oversees all aspects of our athletic department and aims to expose our students to sport sampling and various different forms of physical activity. As an apprentice to our founder and CEO Khali Sweeney, she is learning the ins and outs of what it takes to run a successful nonprofit, grow the program, and keep our mission alive for generations to come. Before joining DBG, Asiyah renovated properties in Detroit through the Detroit Landbank and worked in the mortgage industry.

dan finegan

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, ACADEMICS

A dynamic and caring academic coach, Dan manages DBG’s high school education curriculum, college and career readiness program, and alumni success. He also acts as a liaison to DBG middle school students and families in the high school selection process. Dan received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. He previously taught in Detroit and Lansing public schools and was a City Year AmeriCorps member at a Detroit elementary middle school. In addition, he served as a Residential Director for Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development.

NICOLLE HALL JOHNSON

Associate Director, Academics

An expert in early childhood education, Nicolle oversees academic programming for DBG’s elementary and middle school students and the STEAM Lab. Her focus is to make sure our students receive the best educational and socio-emotional services to support their growth. Nicolle earned an associate degree from Henry Ford College and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Michigan University. She has been an educator since 2004, teaching everything from math to biology. “What inspires me is the unique niche we have at DBG to ‘stand in the gap’ by offering support that would normally go unfilled,” she says.

SHAQUANA SUGGS

HEALTH AND WELLNESS MANAGER

“My grandmother who raised me was a chef,” Shaquanna says. And that’s one of the many reasons she’s a perfect fit as DBG’s health and wellness manager. Shaquanna prepares and serves nutritious meals for our students every day. She also plans and oversees weekly menus, develops and facilitates educational programs around nutrition, ensures that all student dietary requirements are accommodated appropriately, works with our transportation coordinator to ensure weekly food deliveries and pickups, manages kitchen staff, mentors students, and so much more. Shquanna holds a Food Safety Manager Certification and has lifelong experience in the culinary industry.

AKAYLA WATKINS

kitchen assistant

BRANDON PERSICO

ACADEMIC SUPPORT SPECIALIST

BRIAN SAMUEL

driver

brittany foote

High School Coordinator, College and Career Readiness

Helping DBG students prepare for college, careers and beyond is Brittany’s focus at DBG. She develops and maintains our college and career readiness program and organizes career days, field trips, internships and more. She also meets with our high school students to develop educational development plans. Brittany is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is working on additional certifications in nutrition, personal training, sports counseling, and athletic administration. She has previously worked with students to increase post secondary success in a variety of roles.

calvin hobbs

ACADEMIC SUPPORT SPECIALIST

clay coda

STEAM LAB COORDINATOR

Clay is DBG’s go-to guru on science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM.) He runs our STEAM Lab, one of DBG’s key enrichment programs, and exposes students to innovative concepts, opportunities and people in the sciences and arts. Clay works to inspire students with hands-on projects and equip them with the skills to pursue STEAM careers. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and worked for years as a tutor, caretaker and board member at a grassroots Detroit community center before joining the DBG team. “I’m most inspired by the endless possibilities of our program,” he says.

damon hogan

ACADEMIC SUPPORT SPECIALIST

DIANE McKINNEY-EL BEY

driver

JACKIE BIVINS

driver

JERRI BIVINS

driver

KALONNIE BROWN

kitchen assistant

ken cain

ACADEMIC SUPPORT ASSISTANT

laila hamilton

PROGRAMS TEAM ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

LEASHELLE YOUNG

driver

LESTER LITTLE

driver

Mei Elhusaini

Athletic Coach

morgan parr

ACADEMIC SUPPORT SPECIALIST

SKYLAR BURKHARDT

PROGRAMS DATA COORDINATOR

Ensuring students have the support they need to read at or above grade level is one of the hallmarks of DBG’s academic program. Skylar helps facilitate our partnership with Center for Success to provide literacy programming for DBG’s 3rd through 6th graders. She also supports data collection and applications. Skylar is a graduate of the University of Michigan and worked for years coaching and teaching writing. “Working at DBG is inspiring when I see students deepen their connection to reading and writing, and in return, learn more about themselves and the world we live in,” she says.

tone perry

athletic coach

VICKIE TARLETON

driver

2021-2022 Board of Directors

Officers

Rakesh Aneja

Board Chair

Rakesh has twenty years of experience in diesel powertrain development, including engineering leadership and program leadership responsibilities in the fields of advanced engine, aftertreatment and OBD system development. His core competencies include technology and product development (from technical concept through field sustaining); engineering project and platform management; global organization development and collaboration; people development; and continuous improvement via process and tools optimization. Rakesh received his master of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, Indiana, U.S.A. and his bachelor of technology degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India.

Peter Fezzey

Vice President

Peter Fezzey is the VP of Growth for Skidmore Studio where he leads all account and business development functions. Fezzey has over 15 years of experience helping organizations position for growth through strategic partnership development, brand strategy and integrated marketing. As a native Detroiter, he is committed to supporting the community and has helped many local causes, including Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Karmanos Cancer Institute. Peter was first introduced to the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program while leading development efforts at Forgotten Harvest. He has been actively involved and on our board since 2014.

Joe Schmidt

Treasurer

Joe Schmidt is a Deals Senior Manager at PwC. With a background in both transaction services and external audit, Joe has provided a variety of services for both public and private companies. As a member of the Deals team, he has worked on a variety of projects across industry sectors, company size and geographies. Joe is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Michigan and received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management with an emphasis in accounting from Albion College. As an individual with a passion for athletics and continued learning, Joe strongly believes in the mission and community built at DBG. Joe has been actively involved with the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program since 2017

Gary Wilson

Secretary

Gary Wilson is a Senior Vice President of JPMorgan Chase & Co. In this role, he oversees all volunteerism for the firm in the state of Michigan. Gary is based in Birmingham and also serves as an ambassador for the firm locally, engaging the business and nonprofit community to showcase JPMorgan Chase’s civic engagement. Gary also serves on an advisory panel for the mayor’s office with the City of Detroit. Gary resides in Commerce Township, MI with his son Logan. Gary holds a degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Board Members

Jeff Addison

Jeff Addison is an investor and provides financial advisory services to companies. Previously, he served as a managing director with Conway MacKenzie where he provided turnaround and crisis management services for corporate and government clients. Jeff has been actively involved with the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program since 2014 and is a member of the Detroit Athletic Club.

Dennis Blender

Dennis is an organizational psychologist primarily serving family-business and non-profit organizations. His professional practice has been focused on strategic planning, leadership development and building strong organizational cultures. Dennis launched his own firm, Blender Consulting Group, in 2002. Prior to that, he was a partner at Plante & Moran. He has a Ph.D. from Wayne State University in educational psychology. Dennis is married to Anita, and has 2 daughters, 1 son-in-law, and 2 grandchildren. In addition to consulting, Dennis teaches yoga and meditation. He has hiked the world’s famous trails on 6 continents.

Clifford Brown

Clifford Brown is a managing partner of Woodborn Partners and analyst with Ford Motor Company. He graduated with an undergraduate degree and an MBA in finance from The Ohio State University. He serves on the trustee board of Metropolitan Church of God and is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Julie Lodge-Jarrett

Julie Lodge-Jarrett is Senior Vice President and Chief People Person at DICK’S Sporting Goods. She previously served as Chief Talent Officer (CTO) at Ford Motor Company. Julie, her husband, and their two children lived in Shanghai, China, for nearly 5 years and are avid travelers and adventurists. Julie is a strong champion of Better World initiatives, and has invested countless hours volunteering around the world, helping to make lives better in the communities in which she’s lived, worked and traveled. She was hooked – figuratively and literally – from the first day she walked into DBG, and has previously served as our board chair, helping DBG grow and become the organization we are today.

David Moss

David Moss is the senior partner of Moss & Colella, P.C. He has successfully litigated thousands of cases in Michigan state and federal courts on behalf of clients for more than 30 years. He is highly respected by both plaintiff and defense litigators and regarded as a skilled and tenacious advocate. David is also recognized as a Michigan “Super Lawyer” and is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocate organization. Mr. Moss is a loving father and family man. He is also committed to helping others and enjoys a variety of outdoor activities.

Michael Perkins

Michael Perkins is a Partner Liaison for iHeartMedia’s BIN: Black Information Network, the first and only 24/7 national and local all-news audio service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective. Michael is responsible for creating partnerships with companies locally and nationally providing them access to all of iheartmedia’s many different media assets and platforms in addition to the black information network. Michael Perkins joins iHeartMedia Detroit from WDET FM, Detroit’s NPR station, where he served as a senior sales rep and sales manager for close to 15 years. He is an undergraduate of alma college and has an MBA from University of Detroit.

Shawn Riley

Shawn has 20 years of experience in wealth management. As an investment advisor with Plante Moran Financial Advisors, he works with high-net-worth individuals and families to help manage and grow their wealth. Through utilizing resources in the firm’s trust and tax departments, Shawn provides comprehensive strategies to manage a family’s full balance sheet. Many of his clients have significant charitable goals where Shawn assists with structuring gifts in a tax-efficient manner.

Shawn was introduced to the Detroit Boxing Gym (DBG) through a stand-up paddleboard race on Belle Isle where he taught some students how to paddleboard. He immediately recognized the impact DBG had on students’ lives and has supported the program since 2017.

Todd Sachse

Todd Sachse is CEO and founder of Sachse Construction, and vice president of Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services, Inc. Over the past 22 years, he has developed a loyal clientele of high-end customers who require detailed expertise in design and construction. Todd earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan in 1985. He is a licensed builder in dozens of states, certified LEED Accredited Professional and a Senior Level Certified Development, Design and Construction Professional (SCDP)

Plez Williams

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

JJ Vélez is the Director of Public Spaces for Gilbert Family Foundation. 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, Brilliant Detroit, Belle Isle Conservancy and lives in Detroit’s historic Indian Village neighborhood with his wife and two kids, two dogs, and cat.

Brian Vieaux

 Brian is the President of FinLocker, a consumer-enabled financial data platform. He formerly led the Third Party Originations channels for Flagstar Bank, a role he held since May 2012. Prior to joining Flagstar Bank, he held senior officer roles with market leading financial institutions. Brian began his mortgage banking career with Source One Mortgage Services Corporation and was part of the integration team assembled after CitiMortgage’s acquisition of Source One in 1999. Brian’s experience includes strategy, business development, sales and marketing, compliance, quality control and risk management. He is experienced in building business channels in both large and mediumsized companies and has significant experience in all phases of management, including sales production management, human resources, administration, operations, and risk management, as well as training and development. In 2005 Brian attained the Mortgage Bankers Association industry designation of Certified Mortgage Bankers (CMB). Brian is an alumnus of Michigan State University. Brian is a former RESBOG member and sits on the Flagstar Bank CRA and PAC committees. Brian and his wife of 27 years, Amy, have three children, Cameron 24, Ethan 22 and Devon 20.

2021-2022 Advisory Board

John C. Carter

John C. Carter has worked for 35+ years in commercial banking for JPMorgan Chase and predecessor organizations, serving as a manager or executive in charge of various lending and corporate banking groups which provide operating and capital raising services/products to corporate clients. He serves on various internal bank committees and has involvement in several outside organizations, as either member or director: YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit (Director and Past Chairman of Board), YMCA Foundation (Director), Forgotten Harvest (Board and Executive Committee Member), Judson Center (Past Chairman of the Board and Trustee), Judson Center Foundation (Director), Business Leaders of Michigan (Director), Detroit Chamber of Commerce (Director), Detroit Historical Society (Director), Downtown Detroit Partnership (Director), Detroit Riverfront Conservancy (Director), Detroit Economic Club (Director), and Detroit Workforce Development Board.

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.

Ron Fournier

Ron Fournier is the President of Truscott Rossman, where he leads a high-caliber team of experienced strategists, journalists, public affairs specialists, digital media experts, writers and communicators. He was formerly the associate publisher for Crain’s Detroit Business. Fournier Ron led editorial content strategy and worked to expand new business and audience opportunities for the publication. Prior to joining Crain’s, Fournier served as editor-in-chief of the National Journal for two years and as senior political columnist for the National Journal and The Atlantic. Fournier has won many journalism awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award and the White House Correspondents’ Association Merriman Smith Memorial Award. A graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy, Ron began his journalistic career in Hot Springs, Arkansas moving to Little Rock to cover then-Governor Bill Clinton. Fournier is the author of Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations, which became a NYT bestseller. He serves on the senior advisory board of the Harvard Institute of Politics.

Jennifer Hammond

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.

Jody Kohner

Jody Kohner is the Executive Vice President of Global Enablement at Salesforce. In this role, Jody inspires a culture of learning at every level of the company. She and her team build world-class learning experiences that are relevant, actionable, measurable and predictable; enabling all employees to pursue their own growth and ultimately fuel the growth of the company.

Jody started with Salesforce in 2011 and is proud of the diverse and eclectic journey that she’s taken with the company, which includes leadership across Product Marketing, Human Resources and Sales.

Jody has established a track record of developing innovative new programs and building high-performing teams. Prior to Salesforce, she spent 10 years at Robert Half International, where she worked in brand marketing. She also oversaw the development, implementation and management of the company’s first marketing automation system.

Bruce Nyberg

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 member of the law firm Bodman, PLC, where she co-chairs the firm’s Tax-exempt Organizations and Impact Investing practice group. Jennifer chairs the Nonprofit Corporations Committee of the State Bar of Michigan (Business Law Section) and is certified in nonprofit governance by Georgetown University. Jennifer utilizes her corporate & securities law and governance skills to serve tax-exempt clients, 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

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

Stephen Luigi Piazza (SLP) was our rock, mentor, cheerleader, outside-the-box thinker, big dreamer and most importantly, our dear friend. He loved our program, our students and the city of Detroit – and we loved him back. He joined the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program Advisory Board in February of 2014 and worked tirelessly to support efforts to grow our program. We were devastated when SLP passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. He remains a benefactor to the Downtown Boxing Gym through his Shamrock 555 Foundation and his legacy lives on at DBG.

Matthew Roling

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.

Jim Ryan

Jim Ryan founded JPRA Architects, an award winning architectural firm specializing in national and international commercial projects, and directed design and marketing activities until his retirement in 2008. He serves Lawrence Tech University on the Alumni Board, Steering Committee, and Distinguished Architectural Alumni. Jim serves as the architectural advisor to the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program.

Hubert Sawyers, III

Hubert is principal at SORSAW Enterprises, a digital marketing consultancy that specializes in optimizing search and social efforts to enhance business activity. Hubert has supported other local causes, including North Rosedale Park Civic Association and Michigan Humane Society. A Michigan State University graduate, he studied both International Relations and Japanese. Born and raised in Detroit, he now resides in Ferndale, and spends time collecting records, cooking, and staying physically active.

Tahir Whitehead

Tahir Whitehead was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Temple University. Whitehead, who became one of the teams most valuable players on special teams through his first two seasons, moved into the starting lineup at middle linebacker for Detroit September 28, 2014. Whitehead finished an impressive season with 86 tackles, 2 interceptions and 5 passes defended. After spending six seasons in Detroit, Whitehead continues his NFL career in Oakland for the Raiders. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Whitehead has found his niche working with youth in the Metro Detroit area, with a primary focus on education. Since September of last year, Whitehead has hosted events with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Public School Systems Proud Strong Learners Program and Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program.