February DEI Community Forum
February DE&I Community Forum
Saturday, February 20th – 12-1:30 PM via Zoom
Topic: Small Business & Entrepreneurship
Robbya R. Green-Weir’s diversity, equity, and inclusion experience spans over 28 years. Her diversity journey began working for one of the top three health systems in metropolitan Detroit in community-based research on health disparities.
Her expertise includes designing, executing, and facilitating innovative initiatives and translating research for operational change. One of her innovative initiatives, Enterprising Health, was featured in Crain’s Detroit Business
Robbya received corporate recognition for Your Journey to Wellness, a community-based health education program focused on the African American church population. She authored one of Crain’s Innovation through Diversity Award nominating a Multicultural Dermatology Clinic. She facilitated her employer receiving their first Diversity Inc. award. Robbya also has several publications and presentations to professional audiences on various diversity, equity, and inclusion topics.
Her passions include access to care for vulnerable populations, health system approach to addressing social determinants of health, and preparing minority and women students to fill the pipeline to leadership in healthcare organizations.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Pathology & Audiology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; a Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration from Central Michigan University; a graduate certificate in Community Medicine, Research & Evaluation from Wayne State University; a certificate in Diversity Management from Cornell University; and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Eastern Michigan University in Educational Leadership.
She is currently the founder of Destin Reese Collaborative, Inc., and an Assistant Professor at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in the Division of Health Care Management.
Jeremiah Belton is currently employed as a Relationship Manager by PNC Bank. With over a decade of experience in both branch leadership including roles in coaching and mentoring clients, Mr. Belton exemplifies professionalism in the banking industry.
In addition to his banking career, Mr. Belton has worked as an Adjunct Professor of Finance at Davenport University teaching courses on entrepreneurship and corporate finance.
Mr. Belton is a local community leader with a heart that resonates a passion for business owners both established and new. This passion is what drives him to provide exceptional service to assist businesses to open, actively grow, and prosper.
Mr. Belton graduated from the University of South Florida with a BS in Finance. He also completed his MBA in Finance at Eastern Michigan University. A few other accolades include being a recipient of the President’s Circle Award Winner and 30 Under 30 award.
Fay Beydoun is a visionary leader who has devoted her career to serving the business community and the community at large. Since leading the American Arab Chamber of Commerce in 2008, Ms. Beydoun has used her talent and expertise to benefit the Chamber and the community at the local, national and international level.
In 2002, Ms. Beydoun expanded her circle of activities to enhance the relationships between the United States and the Middle East. She became vice president of the U.S.-Arabic Economic Forum, an organization that facilitates economic collaboration, cultural dialogue, and innovation between the United States and the Middle East. The Forum attracts more than 1,000 participants from 35 countries including top Fortune 500 executives and more than 150 global leaders, in the fields of government, business, technology, academics and policy. It fosters powerful opportunities for American and Arab leaders to reinforce existing partnerships and forge new alliances and collaborations between the two regions.
Ms. Beydoun also serves as the Chief Operating Officer of TEJARA, which works to further economic relations between the United States and the Arab World. It has initiated projects such as the U.S. Arab Economic Forum, the Mayors Council, U.S. Arab Women’s Business Council, The U.S. Arab Leadership Program, and more recently she has been instrumental in bringing the TEJARA Global Development Center to flourishing. The Tejara Center an incubator and accelerator will be launched in the summer of 2013 and will focus on Exporting and Entrepreneurship targeting ethnic and minority communities.
Since joining the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Beydoun has reached out to various business, governmental, and academic organizations to facilitate the growth of Arab-American businesses and the community at large. The American Arab Chamber of Commerce is the largest Arab-American business organization in the United States, delivering services and counsel under Ms. Beydoun’s leadership to more than 1,400 companies, ranging from small businesses to multinational corporations and executive professionals. The Chamber is also the a vital business and trade link between the United States and the Middle East, with a current goal of making Michigan a hub of trade for the MENA region.
Ms. Beydoun is a firm believer in empowering entrepreneurs and the greater minority business communities. Growing up in Dearborn, as an immigrant and a daughter of an immigrant family, she has mobilized and directed thousands of volunteers for various causes, social, political and economic, as part of her strong believe in giving back to her community. She cofounded the U.S. Arab Women’s Business Council, is a member of various MENA region chambers of commerce and serves on various Boards, including:New Detroit, Global Detroit, Global Ties, Detroit Strategic Framework Plan, HFCC Citizens Advisory Board, ACLU Advisory Board, Investors-Leadership Council of the Michigan Economic Center, and the Detroit Creative Corridor Center. Diversity & Inclusion Committee, The Detroit Institute of Arts and East Michigan District Export Council. Among her numerous awards, she was awarded the Michigan Women’s Foundation “Top 25 Women Making a Difference” Award and Corp! Magazine 2011 Diversity Leader Award. Most recently, in 2016, Ms. Beydoun was named one of the “100 Most Influential Women” in Crain’s Detroit Business Magazine. Ms. Beydoun has been published in numerous publications, including Forbes M.E.
Ms. Beydoun is also Chief Operating Officer, TEJARA / U.S.-Arab Economic Forum / Tejara Global Development Center, Executive Co-Chairwomen, Council of Ethnic Chambers of Commerce, Chairwoman – Eat Michigan District Export Council.
Dr. Kenneth L. Harris is known for his innovative style and visionary approach to addressing societal and economic challenges within Black and Brown communities. Born and raised in Detroit, Dr. Harris started the International Detroit Black Expo, Inc. (IDBE), which hosted more than 1,000 exhibitors from around the globe and reached 300,000 consumers, becoming one of the largest expositions in the entire country in 5 years. The Honorable Dr. Harris was also elected to the Detroit Charter Commission by 40,149 votes in a highly contested citywide race featuring 54 candidates. Dr. Harris also served as the President/CEO of Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, which became the largest Black chamber in the country with more than 3,200 members. Dr. Harris became the 12th President/CEO of the National Business League, Inc (NBL)., founded by Booker T. Washington in 1900, encompassing more than 150,000 members and 365 local leagues, with access to 2.9 million Black-owned businesses across the country.
Dr. Kenneth L. Harris graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a M.A. in Counseling/Clinical Psychology from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. He also received a Doctor of Humane Letters from Detroit’s Lewis College of Business and an Educational Specialist (EDS) degree from Wayne State University in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Dr. Harris earned a dual Ph.D. at Michigan State University in African American and African Studies and Economics with a specialization in Business and Entrepreneurship from the Eli Broad School of Business.
Dr. Kalvin DaRonne Harvell is the oldest son of Lillian and Calvin Harvell. Dr. Kalvin DaRonne Harvell was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. Upon graduating from Flint Southwestern Academy, he continued his education, earning a B.S. in sociology from Grand Valley State University, an M.A. in sociology from Ohio University, an Ed.S. in educational leadership (Specialist) from Oakland University, and a Ph.D. in global leadership from the Indiana Institute of Technology.
Dr. Harvell is a professor of sociology at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. He has taught an array of courses, including but not limited to, Ethnic and Racial Diversity in Society, Independent Studies, and Leadership in Diverse Communities and Organizations. Furthermore, Dr. Harvell taught in a learning community designed for under-represented males. In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Harvell and his esteemed colleagues coordinate the Black Male and Quintessential, Unique, Essence of Ebony, Necessary, Sisters (QUEENS) Focus Group, an academic and social support network designed to address equity on the campus of Henry Ford College.
Dr. Harvell is member of the Diversity Scholars Network at the National Center for Institutional Diversity (University of Michigan). The past president of the Michigan Sociological Association, Harvell was awarded the Milton Olsen Award for distinguished service to sociology in Michigan. Harvell is also the founder and chair of the Black Male Retention and Success Conference (Henry Ford College). Additionally, he is the chief intellectual officer (CIO) at Harvell & Associates, an educational consulting firm involved in the production of asset-focused, culturally responsive educational programming. Of all his accomplishments and letters, the letters he is most proud and passionate about are-D A D D Y!
Jackie Lovejoy is president of the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce since June 2013. Jackie worked the prior 15 years in several capacities with Davenport University, including Director of Job Development, Director of the Romeo and Oxford campuses, Admissions Training Manager, and finally as Regional Employment and Internship Manager. Prior to joining Davenport, Jackie worked as a pharmaceutical sales manager, an area manager for Nutri System, and a variety of sales positions.
Active in her local communities throughout her career. She currently serves on local boards including Services to Enhance Potential, the Dearborn Education Foundation, the Friends of the Animals of Metro Detroit, The West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, the Henry Ford College Foundation, the US Chamber Foundation’s Board of Regents, The Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals, the American Association of University Women, and a member of Dearborn Rotary & Centurions.
She has been a board member, president-elect and emcee for the Romeo Washington Chamber of Commerce and a committee member for the Macomb County Chamber. Her other civic involvements include past board member for Winning Futures and 9-year mentor, as an executive steering committee member for WEDO, and the Women’s Economic Development Outreach Tour. She earned her BA in Psychology from Wayne State University.
Jackie’s husband Joe is Technical Director at Cox Automotive in Troy, Michigan with their 4-legged children Ruka and Bella.
Laura Sigmon has more than two decades of senior corporate management experience with demonstrated abilities to anticipate and capitalize on market trends. Her career accomplishments are steeped in her ability to identify profit potential, and position business units or segments to maximize market share.
Laura acquired her management experience by controlling regional business units for FedEx National, USF Holland and United Parcel Services (UPS). She has strong management oversight as a change agent including strategic planning, human resource management, operations improvement, budget/finance and sourcing. She has devoted her entrepreneurial pursuits to developing and growing small businesses throughout the State of Michigan. She has successfully helped to launch and expand more than 600 small businesses in Metro Detroit and more than 90 small businesses in Flint, Michigan.
Laura holds an MBA in Business Administration with special concentration on her under graduate degree in Management and Organizational Development.
Mrs. Sigmon launched in 2008 Best Practices Consulting Services, LLC (BPCS) a consulting firm designed to partner with small businesses seeking direction in strategic planning, business development, marketing, process modeling and government contracting. BPCS has a founding principle of working to expand market share and sustainable profitability for local small businesses. She supports the Motor City Match program in Detroit and the Flint Small Business Initiative by hosting small business training sessions for 1st stage and 2nd stage entrepreneurs. In partnership with the City of Flint, BPCS introduced an economic gardening program that supports “been ups” who are struggling to maintain their brick and mortar establishments.
Additionally, Best Practices Consulting Services is contracted to provide technical assistance to entrepreneurial clients in SWOT City Detroit for marketing and strategy, C2BE business process design and funding. At the Detroit Development Fund she provides distressed assets strategy to weather their revenue shortfalls, strategy for underutilized assets, and global SWOT reviews for operations, leadership development and modification.
Since 2008 she serves as an Adjunct Professor at Mott Community College, in Flint, Michigan where she teaches Small Business Management, Principles of Management, Strategic Marketing, Business Leadership, Organizational Development and Introduction to Business.
Portia Powell is an innovative banking leader with over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. With a background that includes business, municipal and retail banking, lending operations, sales coaching, staff development, public speaking, community development, mortgage and CRA, she has consistently advocated for Women and Minority Owned Businesses, working with internal teams and external partners to create a broad spectrum of funding and resources.
Powell holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Wayne State University. As a life-long Detroit resident, she has a personal mission to empower people from metro Detroit, and spends time in the community, teaching financial literacy, sitting on boards, and helping nonprofit organizations.
Ms. Powell’s leadership and impact in the banking industrty have led to major recognition in the City of Detroit, including the Detroit Young Professionals’Vanguard Award, Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40, and both the Spirit of Detroit Award and Distinguished Services Award from Detroit City Council.