2020 Michigan Women in Leadership Symposium
Our annual event offers our attendees an opportunity to observe, learn, network, and hear different perspectives from a diverse mix of female executives who have made the climb up the corporate ladder. The first symposium was held in 2004 in San Antonio, Texas. Currently, they take place in over 40 states and 10 countries around the world. We are proud to announce the Michigan Diversity Council Women in Leadership Symposium, slated for Tuesday, August 18, 2020 via Zoom from 8:00 am-12:00 pm EST.
The theme for our 2020 symposium is, “Creating a League of Your Own: Women in Action”. Despite advances over the past several years, women continue to be underrepresented in the C-Suite and executive leadership teams of businesses across the nation. By bringing together successful women leaders, we hope to educate, inspire, and encourage attendees to reflect on their own goals and status as they strive to advance within their organizations.
Carla Walker-Miller is the Founder and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services (WMES), a 20-year old values driven company that changes lives through energy. Her high performing firm helps electric and gas utilities achieve mandated energy reduction goals that reduce energy waste, create local jobs, decrease the energy burdens on families, and reduce harmful greenhouse gases. Started in 2000 after an 18-year corporate career in technical sales, Carla reinvented her company during the height of the recession, successfully pivoting from electrical transmission and distribution equipment sales to the rapidly growing energy efficiency industry. With 7 times revenue-growth since 2014, and average annual revenues of $25 million, Carla has molded WMES into one of the largest African American and woman owned energy waste reduction companies in the country. Determined to create positive change, Carla is a visionary who leads with both empathy and tenacity. In 2018, she made three transformational decisions in the life of the company. She instituted a $15.00 per hour minimum wage, resolved to only recruit team members who embrace the company’s culture of kind excellence, and adopted second chance policies that give people with criminal records fair opportunities for employment. A long-time Detroit booster, Carla champions diversity, inclusion and equity in the energy industry by aggressively recruiting and training a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of the communities her company serves. Carla is a tireless advocate for the representation of women, people of color, and historically underserved communities, believing that the inclusion of all voices elevates business, drives sustainable policies, and creates equitable opportunities for all. She is a sought-after speaker on issues relating to entrepreneurship, diversity, inclusion & equity, energy efficiency, workforce development, utility affordability and sustainability. She is a well-recognized figure in the Detroit entrepreneurial ecosystem, generously donating her time and resources to mentor smaller businesses. An alumnus of the 2014 Detroit Inaugural Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, Carla has twice shared the stage with Warren Buffet representing the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program. In 2019, Carla was honored to receive the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion’s Humanitarian of the year award along with the Distinguished Business Leader award by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (Great Lakes Chapter). In addition, her company received the Michigan Energy Innovators Business Council’s (MiEIBC) 2019 Business of the Year award. In 2017, Carla received the Ernst & Young, Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Michigan and Northwest Ohio Region. Additionally, the company received both the Small Business of the Year, and the Woman-Owned Business of the Year award by the Michigan Small Business Administration in 2015. Over the years, WMES has received other numerous awards, including the Women Presidents Organization 50 Fastest Growing Woman Owned Companies, The Michigan Chronicle Newsmaker of the Year, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) Inner City 100, and Fortune Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Businesses. Carla’s work has been acknowledged in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Detroit Free Press, The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Energy Perspectives, DTE EnergySmarts Magazine, Essence Magazine, Forbes, Black Enterprise, MSNBC and other media outlets. Driven by her giving spirit, Carla founded the Water Access Volunteer Effort (WAVE) Fund in 2003, while serving as a Commissioner for the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The 501(c)3 non-profit has distributed more than $2 million dollars to help nearly 10,000 vulnerable Detroit families maintain access to safe water and sewer services. Her commitment to diversity and inclusion in the energy industry has led to the planned 2020 renovation of the company’s 31,000 sq. ft. headquarters to one of fewer than 600 Verified Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings in the country. A ZNE building is one that generates as much energy as it consumes in the course of a year. Dubbed the “Emerald Corner”, the New Center Detroit headquarters will serve as a neighborhood energy innovation hub to help provide an on ramp for residents of Detroit to pursue careers, create businesses and thrive in the energy industry. Carla serves on various Board of Directors as apart of her community engagement efforts. Board memberships include TechTown Governance Committee, the Mayor of Detroit’s Workforce Development Board, the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, the Michigan Energy Innovators Business Council, the Michigan Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), the Neighborhood Defender Service, the Water Access Volunteer Effort (WAVE) and several others. Carla received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Tennessee State University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Oak Grove AME Church in Detroit, Michigan.
Judge Mariam S. Bazzi was appointed to the bench in May of 2017 after serving as an Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor for over 11 years. She currently serves in the Criminal Division where she oversees a Mental Health Court docket in addition to her regular duties. She also serves on the Court Executive Committee and on the Strategic Planning Team where she is the Judicial Sponsor of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. During her service at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, she prosecuted thousands of criminal cases including violent crimes, drug cases, financial crimes and other complex, and high profile cases. Prior to leaving that office for the bench, she was the Lead Attorney in charge of the Mortgage and Deed Fraud Task Force in Wayne County. Judge Bazzi has been active in many community and civic organizations, including the Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) where she served as the President from 2010 to 2014. Prior to her judicial appointment, she was elected to the Dearborn Board of Education and Henry Ford College Board of Trustees and she chaired both boards. She also served on Michigan’s Middle Eastern Affairs Commission and Michigan’s Environmental Justice Work Group. She currently serves on the Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities (LAHC) Board. Judge Bazzi holds a J.D. from Wayne State University and a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is married to Abdul Bazzi, a Director of Information Technology at General Motors and, together, they have three young children.
Charmaine Brown, President & Founder at Connexions Consulting, Inc., is a recognized corporate leader with over 28 years of experience in strategic HR, diversity & inclusion, talent management, organization development, and HR compliance. Her experience spans a range of industries including real estate, banking, healthcare and nonprofits. Prior to founding Connexions Consulting, Charmaine D. Brown served as Director, Diversity and Inclusion at Forest City Enterprises, Inc., a $9 billion national owner, operator and developer of distinctive and diversified real estate. In this role, she guided the senior executive leadership in the development of corporate diversity and inclusion strategies and actions. Her thought leadership and operational oversight of diversity resulted in Forest City’s recognition as one of the 25 Noteworthy Companies in Diversity by DiversityInc. Charmaine has demonstrated expertise in building diversity and inclusion programs from infancy to national recognition by achieving results in talent management, culture and marketplace strategies. Additionally, she cultivated an extensive network of community partnerships and relationships with national and local organizations to support and further Forest City’s inclusion and philanthropic efforts. Charmaine established a national reputation as a thought leader in diversity and inclusion, talent management strategies and community partnership within the commercial real estate industry. She has shared her expertise as a presenter and speaker to organizations such as NAREIT (National Associate of Real Estate Investment Trust) and ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers). Charmaine was recognized by her industry peers and awarded the Commercial Property Executive’s 2012 Diversity Executive of the Year. Prior to joining Forest City, Charmaine served as corporate manager of diversity and inclusion at Charter One Financial, Inc. During her time at Charter One, she established organization-wide goals for diversity and inclusion and led the development and implementation of a viable corporate diversity and inclusion program. Charmaine is an active executive volunteer in the non-profit community. She currently serves as the President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) for the Greater Detroit Chapter. She has served as a member of the Cleveland Commission on Economic Inclusion’s Membership Engagement Committee. Other non-profit and board involvement includes CollegeNow of Greater Cleveland, Saint Joseph Academy, United Black Fund and Project REAP. Charmaine is the 2019 recipient of the Corp! Michigan’s Salute to Diversity Business Leader award, 2012 Crain’s Cleveland Archer Award, Commercial Property Executive’s 2012 Diversity Executive of the Year and recipient of the 2013 Women of Color Stephanie Tubbs-Jones Courage Award. She is a graduate of the 2009 Cleveland Bridge Builder program, often returning as a facilitator on the topic of Cultural Competence. Charmaine attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. She currently resides with her family in Michigan with her husband and children.
Denise is a leading executive in the industry with more than 30 years of experience in managed health care. She has deep roots in both west and southeast Michigan and has a reputation for collaboration and building high performing teams through strong communications and relationship skills development. Denise began her career in Grand Rapids successfully building a start-up HMO into the $200 million enterprise now known as Priority Health. She moved on to hold executive and sales leadership roles with: SelectCare Inc., a multi-hospital system-owned health plan in Detroit; United Healthcare Inc. in Minneapolis; and with Humana in Michigan. In 2013, Denise launched iSelect Custom Benefit Store, Michigan’s first multi-carrier private insurance exchange for the employer group market. Joining Marsh & McLennan Agency in 2017, Denise brings her visionary and creative thinking to help the Michigan Employee Health & Benefits team continue to grow.
Darlene King began her career with the Michigan Diversity Council-MIDC, a division of the National Diversity Council, in 2015. As the executive director, her charge is working with corporations and organizations in developing diversity and inclusion initiatives, programs, processes, and procedures. She also oversees the growth of the council in the area of business development throughout the entire state of Michigan. Prior to her tenure with the MIDC, she held the role of director of events, consultant services, training and development for all 34 school districts under the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency for over 10 years. Her territory covered implementation and execution of all workshops and conference as well as maintaining CEU’s for teachers and administrators within Wayne County MI. She managed more than 60 consultants as well as county-wide, signature events such as the Teacher Job Fair, County K-12 Art Fair and the Cultural Collaborative for Learning. Darlene was also an inaugural member of the Diversity Strategic Planning Committee, which rolled out a county-wide diversity plan for all districts. Darlene’s background is widespread. She spent six years as a national concert promoter, traveling around the world with some of today’s most popular artists in the industry. She has produced and promoted shows at every concert venue in Detroit and beyond. In 2008, she launched her consulting company, Life’s Journey Training and Consulting. Competing in today's global market, Life’s Journey offers services in industries ranging from education to automotive, medical, non-profits and manufacturing. Its area of expertise consists of diversity and inclusion, leadership development, marketing, and public relations. Life’s Journey has provided service deliverables to Wayne County Head Start Programs, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, The Order of the Fisherman, The Detroit Medical Center, Revival Home Health Care, RTM Music Group, Real Times Media, Stonecrest Behavioral Health, Detroit Area Agency on Aging, Universal Studios, Detroit Community Schools, MASCO Corporation, Diversity Lansing and many more. Darlene is a native of Michigan and enjoys spending time with her family, nephews and niece. She says her faith in God, family, passion for people and her love of traveling and gardening are the drivers which keep her on a Life’s Journey. Darlene has a passion for people and earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Wayne State University in Detroit. She has been operating in this capacity as well as in education and organizational development for 25 years. Darlene earned her National Certification as a Certified Diversity and Inclusion Professional in 2018.
Josh Landon is happy to be back home in the D. Born in the City of Detroit, raised on the City's east side, he graduated from Denby High School, and earned his degree in broadcast journalism from Eastern Michigan University. Go TARS!!! Go EAGLES!!! Josh Landon started working in Lansing, Michigan as a reporter. From there, He worked in Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, and now back home. He had been gone for eight years before the wonderful opportunity to work FOX 2 came his way. Local TV news has been in Josh since he was a kid. His mother used to make me watch the local news in Detroit growing up. She taught him that it's important to know what's happening around you. At some point during his childhood, the local news became COOL to Josh. Josh recalls a time when he was maybe four or five years old, his cousin Andre and I were at the Detroit International Auto Show. They were two little kids sitting in the car, checking it out, and out of nowhere a news crew walked up to interview them. They made the news later that. That was a cool experience Josh still remembers to this day. From the moment Josh watched anchors and reporters doing their jobs, he was officially hooked, and knew this was the job for him, and he’s happy to be back home.
|7:45am-8:00am||Guest Check- In|
|9:10am-10:10am||Panel Session I|
|10:10am-10:30am||Questions and Answers|
|10:40am-11:40am||Panel Discussion Session II|
|11:40am-11:55am||Questions and Answers|
|11:55am-12:00pm||Closing Remarks / Adjournment|
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