Brooks Kushman Associate to Present at Embedded Systems Conference in Boston

Brooks Kushman Associate Richard Leach will present during the Embedded Systems Conference on April 13, 2016 in Boston, MA.

Leach and Rod Cope, Chief Technology Officer of Rogue Wave Software, will discuss legal and practical considerations in developing embedded systems using open source software (OSS). Attendees will learn multiple OSS licenses and their terms, various development and integration tools, methods to audit their projects and assess which OSS limitations may not be acceptable to their customers. The session will also explore how recent court decisions have altered the development landscape.

Leach’s practice focuses on open source compliance and patent prosecution in electrical and mechanical arts. Prior to joining Brooks Kushman, he worked in the semiconductor industry for more than 20 years as a system application engineer, IC design engineer, product engineer and test engineer. Richard holds a patent and has authored and presented several articles on digital signal processing and digital control theory.

He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy, a Bachelor of Science in Microelectronic Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas. He is a member of the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s Open Source Committee.

The 2016 ESC Boston Conference Program consists of four general topics with sessions covering all aspects of embedded system design, including Embedded Hardware and Software, Connected Devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) and ESC Engineering Theater. For additional information, visit

About Brooks Kushman P.C.
Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices in Michigan and California, and represents clients nationally and internationally with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm has more than 90 intellectual property professionals specializing in various technical disciplines, and has a reputation for providing leading IP counseling with a focus on the business objectives of their clients.

Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is also recognized by leading legal publications and rankings, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Law360, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing Intellectual Property, World Trademark Review, and Intellectual Property Today.

For more information, please visit

Member Appreciation: Cinnaire Invests in Detroit’s Revitalization

Editor’s note: Cinnaire’s business profile is part of the Chamber’s Member Appreciation Day prize giveaway.

Whether contributing to the development of the Qline (formally M-1 Rail) or providing loans for affordable housing, Detroit Regional Chamber member Cinnaire (Great Lakes Capital Fund), a full-service community real estate financial firm, has invested in Detroit for over 23 years.

Through its creative loans, investments, and best-in-class service, Cinnaire has served over 16,000 customers in the region. These efforts resulted in the development of over 5,000 affordable housing units, creation of over 10,500 jobs, and an investment of over $500 million in economic development. Additionally, the company provided over $1.5 million in grants, and allocated tax credits for the Qline, leveraging over $1 billion in development costs for the streetcar.

“When other companies left Detroit, we stayed. We have always been committed to making an impact in Detroit,” the company said in an interview with the eDetroiter. “We have recently developed strategic partnerships focused on innovative ways to include affordable housing in revitalizing downtown and to bring economic development to underserved neighborhoods outside downtown and midtown.”

Read Cinnaire’s “Reinventing Detroit” report here.

Ghafari Associates’ CEO: Culture of Collaboration, Investing in Employees Critical to Business Success

The success of a business is directly linked to the satisfaction of its employees. From robust benefit packages to training opportunities, investing in employees must be a key component of a business’ long-term growth plan, according to Kouhaila Hammer, president and CEO of Ghafari Associates and a Detroit Regional Chamber Board member. Hammer recently sat down with the eDetroiter to share her secrets for business success. Read the Q&A below and register for Inside the CEO Mind on April 6.

Hammer_KouhailaQ. Ghafari Associates has repeatedly been named one of the “Best and Brightest” companies to work for. In your opinion, what’s the secret to attracting and retaining talent in the region?

A. Since employees spend a great deal of time at work, we believe that the key to attaining and maintaining staff is to offer several resources to balance their personal or professional lives. This includes flexible work schedules, healthy food service alternatives, a Healthy Rewards Program that offers discounts on multiple health programs/services, on-site flu shots/health screenings, in-house fitness center in the Dearborn office, and sponsorship of employee sporting events such as basketball, softball, volleyball, golf and bowling teams.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

A. The biggest challenge facing today’s leaders is the creation of an environment that engages employees not only from diverse backgrounds, but from different generations that have different priorities and needs.

Q. Is there a difference between employee happiness and employee engagement? How can businesses go about increasing both in the workplace?

A. Employees are happy when they feel they are a part of the big picture and are able to work on a variety of assignments. That is why Ghafari strives to provide challenging work assignments that allow our employees to experience a variety of different project types and encourages them to enhance their skills. Employee suggestions to improve quality, save time, reduce cost, and promote better customer service are often encouraged and implemented; and our staff recognizes that they are making a true contribution to not only their success but Ghafari’s success, as well.

Q. How would you describe the culture at Ghafari Associates and how important is culture to employees’ overall well-being?

A. Recognizing employee accomplishment is an important part of Ghafari’s culture. We pride ourselves on providing the highest level of customer service, both to our clients and to the professionals who work hard to help us achieve our business goals. Ghafari also nurtures continuous improvement. We encourage employees to develop their skills and further their education, and support their efforts by offering a tuition reimbursement program and reimbursement for professional registrations and certifications.

Q. How do you encourage creative thinking within an organization?

A. Ghafari nurtures team-oriented working environments in which employees across various offices connect to provide specific solutions for our clients’ projects. These include applying past collective expertise in resolving project issues such as syncing client-specific design standards within international built environments and designing client spaces to serve as tools to progress their respective business goals and cultures. In addition, we pride ourselves on being technologically advanced and consequently incorporate the latest tools available in our industry. We provide training in utilizing these tools while encouraging integration of different disciplines to solve problems.

Person to Person

Operation HOPE’s No. 1 counselor offers guidance as someone who understands

By James Mitchell

Page 12

Crystal Nickson didn’t become a nonprofit agency’s top financial counselor just because she knows about accounting or tax law. Education only goes so far without the practical knowledge of what clients are going through. “How else do I say it? I grew up around what I’m facing every day,” Nickson said.

It wasn’t just the poverty, which she experienced at the rawest levels while growing up “super poor” in Detroit. Her family had struggled, and she’d been homeless for a brief period before a personal epiphany set her on a stabilized path.

“I had to learn about money,” said Nickson, now 36. “I didn’t say I had to get a job, but I had to learn about money.” That was the singular goal she took to Baker College 10 years ago. Nickson approached her courses – while working two jobs and tending to a new baby – with a clear and practical ambition.

“I didn’t go because I loved numbers,” Nickson said. “It was strictly to not be poor anymore.”

That’s the connection between “Coach Crystal” and her clients at Detroit’s first HOPE Inside Center, a certification that couldn’t be learned from textbooks.

“I’m not judging them,” Nickson said. “Empathy is tops for me. The only reason I know how to do this is I’ve done it; I went through the same thing.”

Hope Found Inside

Launched in May 2015, the HOPE Inside Center is a nonprofit collaborative launched by Operation HOPE, Fifth Third Bank and the city of Detroit’s Bank On Detroit initiative. Byna Elliott, Fifth Third Bank’s community and economic development director, said the push for financial literacy and credit counseling needed to reach the people most in need.

The Northwest Activities Center on Meyers Road was an ideal venue as the city’s largest community center that welcomes more than 300,000 people each year. people felt comfortable there, elliott said, and putting people at ease was a priority more than a perk. The need was reflected in a population that elliott said carried misconceptions about banking in general.

“Sometimes there’s a stigma about banks,” Elliott said. potential customers needed to learn that their credit rating could also impact job prospects and insurance rates.

“The goal is not to say ‘no’ to people,” she added. “It might just be ‘not yet.’”

Mostly, they need to hear it from someone they could relate to. For that, said Ryan Mack, Operation HOPE mid-Atlantic market president, there was little doubt that Nickson was the perfect counselor to launch the effort.

“The reception had a lot to do with her personality,” Mack said. “It kind of snowballed from there. It was a perfect storm of how we wanted to launch.”

Been There, Done That

The goal was to succeed where other initiatives failed in reaching their target audience.

“Traditional methods of getting the information to people haven’t worked,” Mack said, citing as evidence the disproportionate number of Detroit residents who don’t have bank accounts and instead make use of high-fee check cashing or payday loan services.

“You can’t walk a block in some neighborhoods without seeing those places,” he said. “people say they do it for convenience, or they don’t think they can open an account. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant, but there’s something wrong with staying ignorant and not fixing it.”

Enter Coach Crystal, whose well- and hard earned accounting degree was coupled with practical experience and a desire to give back. She often volunteered her services at tax time and earned a local reputation that made her the first and best candidate for HOPE Inside’s counselor position.

The numbers confirmed the need. HOPE Inside met first-year goals within six months of opening. Nickson said she sees between 20 and 30 potential clients each week, about half of whom come back for more.

“Some people aren’t ready yet, but that’s okay,” Nickson said.

Those who were ready have posted remarkable results. Some have improved credit scores by 100 points within a month. And upgrades of 50 or more points have become routine courtesy of a back-to-basics program of paying off debts through installments, opening a checking account and other efficiencies. Future plans include branches at Wayne State University and Detroit Medical Center, more workshops and seminars, and finding more counselors like Nickson to connect with clients.

“There’s always a way to get this done,” Nickson said. “There’s this big push for financial literacy, but I don’t care how much money you throw into a neighborhood, you need someone people can relate to. “

And there’s the empathy, an understanding that can’t be taught, only earned. Nickson said it’s not unusual to see herself when hearing client stories.

“I’ve been there and done that,” Nickson said. “It’s a little selfish, but maybe I can find a young Crystal and save her from going through that. Maybe I’ve got my own agenda.”

Once in a Great City

Pulitzer-Prize winner David Maraniss explores Detroit’s past and present

By James Martinez

Page 16

Prior to his keynote address at the 2016 Detroit Policy Conference, the Detroiter caught up with David Maraniss of the Washington Post to discuss his book “Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story.” The book focuses primarily on 1963, and highlights the course of events in that pivotal year as the iconic city enjoyed the peak of its 20th century success and influence leading up to the city’s infamous decline.

(Note: portions of the interview have been shortened or edited for clarity)

What has been the reaction from the rest of the country to the book?

There was a feeling that some people had that it would just be a regional book. But in fact, Detroit is much bigger than that. It represents a lot to the country and to the whole world. So I found a really strong positive reaction everywhere I went, from Los Angeles to Nashville to Chicago and New York. And I was interviewed by German magazines and newspapers from other places. I think Detroit was moving from a symbol of ruin to a symbol of hope in some way and people were interested in that transformation.

How writing it impact your overall view of Detroit?

The book takes place, most of it, more than 50 years ago. I saw a little bit of echoes of what’s going on today fifty years ago. I think that, for instance, race has always been the American dilemma and you can see it in Detroit then, and see it across the country the last couple of years.

Even though I was born in Detroit, I was only there the first seven years of my life. The whole process of writing this book deepened my affection for the place in ways I wasn’t even expecting. Sort of solidified the long and not forgotten, but almost buried feelings I had for Detroit.

There are no shortage of influential and great leaders as your book points out, and many of them were optimistic about the city. How is it that the fate of the city took such a starkly different path from that optimism in 1963?

Some of it was forces beyond Detroit’s control. The transformation of manufacturing jobs to the rest of the country and overseas. Some of it, it could have controlled. The auto industry could have seen more clearly then how important the city of Detroit was to its own future and health and not sort of abandoned it emotionally and financially. The sort of block-busting of that era and the racial tensions, some of that was common to cities across the country. Some of the urban renewal of that era served counter and actually accelerated white flight and the abandonment of the city in many ways. And then some of it was just bad leadership over the next several decades.

Were the leaders unaware, oblivious, head in the sand, in denial?

Some of it was beyond their control, but rather than saying they had their head in the sand, I’d use the metaphor that they were blinded by their own success and they thought it would continue and only grow and they didn’t really see what was coming because they thought they were doing well. It is often hardest to see trouble ahead when you’re not in trouble in that moment. So, they thought the newer and better, revitalized Detroit was what was in the future, when it was just the opposite.

Today is another time of great optimism today. What are the key lessons for Detroit to take away?

One is diversifying. In that sense, Detroit is much less reliant on one industry than it was in that era. I think another is to the best that leadership can, (ensure) that no one is left behind. That means honoring the infrastructure that every human being deserves. I think that Flint is a bigger lesson than that right now than Detroit, although Detroit schools are going through some of those issues at this point. Those are very difficult, larger sociological problems, but nonetheless you can’t really say a city is booming or in a renaissance if there are still a majority of people who are suffering. That’s not to say that what’s going on in Detroit isn’t positive, because I think it is. And I think that people realize the need to connect the positive events that are happening downtown and midtown with the rest of the city, and I think that’s essential.

The book ends by questioning if Detroit can come back. What’s your assessment on Detroit’s progress in making a full comeback a reality?

As a journalist I am always skeptical but positive. That’s sort of where I’m at. I’m skeptical, but I think Detroit is making most of the right steps to make that possible. I think from the mayor on down there are a lot of people committed to trying to making that happen and understanding the issues that need to be dealt with.

There were so many iconic figures in the book, who did you find most compelling or fascinating?

Oh boy (laughs) I don’t I would choose. Reverend Franklin was incredibly colorful. Walter Reuther was one of the under-recognized figures in 20th century American life. Berry Gordy, with Motown is a fabulous story. I think those three probably caught me the most. Of course, Henry Ford is as colorful as Reverend Franklin in some ways.

You mentioned race as the great American dilemma and we’re coming up on the 50th anniversary of 1967 riots and there’s talk about how to not have that happen again. What type of conversation does Detroit have to have around the 50th anniversary of 1967?

Again I don’t talk about it as giving advice. But I think talking about how to prevent it is the wrong way to look at it. In other words that is a negative approach to just wanting to stop something from happening, as opposed to thinking about why it happened, which is a different way of looking at. I think the answers are pretty obvious, but they are difficult to deal with. The only way to do it is with consistent hard work and a willingness of the entire community to see it as something worth doing, and that takes leadership.

JVS Seeks Employers for May 11 Job Fair in Southfield

Employers: fill your job openings by meeting and prescreening job candidates at the third annual JVS Job Connection from 9 a.m. to noon, May 11, at the Southfield Pavilion in Southfield. Open to the general public and veterans at no charge, the job fair is expected to attract hundreds of job seekers.

Job Connection will feature more than 30 companies, including Little Caesars, Speedway, Sunset Grown, Cintas, Oakland County, Robert Half and more.

A few recruitment booths for companies are still available. Companies interested in participating may contact Linda Baker at or (248) 233-4274.

JVS, a career resource for job seekers and employers, sponsors the event in partnership with Oakland County Michigan Works!, the City of Southfield and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

About JVS
JVS is an award-winning human service organization with four main locations in metropolitan Detroit that helps people realize life’s potential through a variety of programs to maximize their self-sufficiency. The agency provides counseling, training, support services and comprehensive programs to the frail elderly, at-risk youth, individuals with disabilities, unemployed workers, and people who are economically disadvantaged.

Nemeth Law founder to receive Wayne State University Law School Distinguished Alumni award

Patricia Nemeth, founder of Detroit-based labor and employment law firm, Nemeth Law, P.C., will be honored with the Distinguished Alumni award by Wayne State University School of Law at the annual Treasure of Detroit on Thursday, April 21, 2016, at the historic Gem Theatre. The Treasure of Detroit, which began in 1998, is Wayne Law’s premier event for honoring those who have made significant contributions to the practice of law, as well as the growth and success of the Law School. In addition to Nemeth, three other alums will be honored with the award.

Nemeth received both a Juris Doctor and Master’s degree in Labor Law (L.L.M.) from Wayne Law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of Michigan.

An attorney since 1984, Nemeth founded Nemeth Law as a solo practitioner in 1992. The firm is now the largest woman-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes. Nemeth specializes in the labor and employment arena as an arbitrator, mediator, investigator, litigator, consultant and negotiator. Her areas of expertise include religious, ethnic and gender discrimination; workplace sexual, race and ethnic harassment; wrongful discharge; union organizing activities; and multi-party lawsuits. Industries served include healthcare, nursing homes, retail, manufacturing, gaming, insurance and government entities. Nemeth serves as a certified mediator for all types of civil litigation matters, including employment. She also serves as an employment arbitrator and commercial arbitrator.

Active in civic and professional activities, Nemeth is a member of the American Bar Association, ADR International Committee; American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section, Insurance Law Section, Dispute Resolution Section and Litigation Section; and State Bar of Michigan, Labor and Employment Law Section, ADR Section and International Law Section.

She has been a Board Member of the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit since 2014. Immediately prior, Nemeth served Vice Chair and Executive Board Member of Vista Maria for 12 years. In 2011, she received an award from Vista Maria for Outstanding Board Leadership.

Nemeth’s legal awards are numerous and include Michigan Leading Lawyers, Michigan Super Lawyers, including Super Lawyers Top 25 Women Business Leaders in Michigan and Best Lawyers in America. In 2009, she received the inaugural Michigan Leaders in the Law honor from Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

About Nemeth Law, P.C.
Nemeth Law specializes in arbitration, mediation, workplace investigations, employment litigation, traditional labor law and management consultation/training for private and public sector employers. It is the largest woman-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes.

Brooks Kushman Shareholder To Discuss Post Issuance Proceedings At IP Enforcement Summit

Brooks Kushman Shareholder Sangeeta Shah will serve on a panel at the Centerforce IP Enforcement Summit in Chicago on April 12, 2016 for the third consecutive year.

Through the adoption of the America Invents Act (AIA), inter partes review has transformed the patent litigation landscape. Shah’s panel will focus on proactive and effective strategies for patent owners to navigate post issuance proceedings, understanding how infringers are using the process, and discuss common pitfalls to avoid. Shah will discuss recent developments, effective strategies for Petitioners and Patent Owners and the impact of Federal Circuit appeals on this changing landscape of post-grant proceedings with two other panelists.

The IP Enforcement Summit explores benchmarks and challenges the enforcement strategies that companies are currently implementing, how they can be improved and where current trends are heading.

Shah serves as co-chair of the firm’s post grant proceedings practiced as well as the chief diversity officer. Her practice is primarily focused on post-grant challenges and patent opinions. She represents several Fortune 500 clients for whom she provides strategic counseling and guidance on their global IP portfolios. She is frequently called upon to counsel clients in developing best practices and strategic planning of their patent portfolios, including writing successful patent applications in complex and novel situations, in anticipation of possible future litigation.

Shah holds a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Economics from Kalamazoo College.

For more information on the conference, visit the event home page.

About Brooks Kushman P.C.
Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices in Michigan and California, and represents clients nationally and internationally with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm has more than 90 intellectual property professionals specializing in various technical disciplines, and has a reputation for providing leading IP counseling with a focus on the business objectives of their clients.

Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is also recognized by leading legal publications and rankings, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Law360, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing Intellectual Property, World Trademark Review, and Intellectual Property Today.

For more information, please visit

Brown & Brown of Detroit Employees Raise Money for Community Non-Profits 

Todd Piersol, Executive Vice President, is proud to announce that Brown & Brown of Detroit employees raised $1,140 for the Detroit Police Athletic League during the office’s first quarter Blue Jean Day fundraiser. Every Friday, the office’s more than 60 employees have the option of wearing jeans to work, in exchange for a $5 donation to the non-profit of the quarter.

The Detroit Police Athletic League is a non-profit organization positively impacting the lives of more the 12,000 children each year. Since 1969, the group has worked to create safe and supportive places for kids to play. They also train and certify more than 1,500 volunteers each year to become encouraging coaches and mentors to the city’s youth.

For the second quarter, Brown & Brown of Detroit has chosen to raise money for The First Tee of Greater Detroit. This organization strives to impact the lives of young people in Greater Detroit by offering affordable and accessible golf facilities to those with limited exposure to golf, resulting in character development and life enhancing values.

Brown & Brown offices in Michigan comprise the third largest segment of insurance brokerage in the state, placing over $500 million in insurance premiums for our clients. The firm is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brown & Brown Insurance, the fourth largest insurance intermediary in the United States.

More college degrees good for Detroit

Detroit News

March 27, 2016

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced last week a program that would offer two years of free community college to all city high school graduates. While that’s good news to a city in need of more education, the challenge will be adequately preparing Detroit students so they can take advantage of the opportunity.

The new Detroit Promise Zone will eventually dedicate a portion of tax dollars to fund the two-year scholarship program. It will benefit all city students, including those who attend charter and private schools. There are no income restrictions to participate.

In the meantime, the Detroit Scholarship Fund will continue to operate the program, as it has since 2013. The scholarships are supported by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, which receives funds from companies, nonprofits and individuals, and are operated by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The program will offer all students graduating this spring two years of tuition-free schooling that could translate into an associate degree or technical certificate at one of five participating community colleges.

Shortly after taking office, Gov. Rick Snyder said he wanted to provide Detroit high school graduates with the option of a free community college experience. The chamber’s program was designed to meet this benchmark.

It’s a worthy goal. As Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Chamber, says, more educational attainment is key to Detroit’s recovery, and the chamber is working to boost the number of area residents who have some degree or certificate beyond high school. Right now, about 25 percent meet that standard, but Baruah would like to raise the number to at least 40 percent.

The scholarship fund is one piece that can help meet that target.

“There is no silver bullet for the economic challenge facing Detroit,” he says. “This is one element of the things that must happen in concert.”

In the years the chamber has run the program, scholarship coordinators have registered roughly 3,200 out of Detroit’s 5,000 seniors each year. About 500 of those students actually enroll in classes each fall through the fund. That’s a fairly good number, although there’s clearly room for growth.

Fewer students — about 110 per class — have taken advantage of the chamber’s Detroit Compact four-year college scholarship program. A new pilot version of that scholarship is now available to city students.

“We’ve already demonstrated the program works,” Baruah says. “It’s just a matter of how many will take advantage of it.”

The number taking advantage of the program is important, but the greater challenge is keeping students in college. Only 35 percent return for the second year of community college, according to the chamber.

That’s largely because many Detroit students aren’t graduating from high school prepared to do college-level work. Detroit Public Schools continues to hold its place as the worst urban school district in the country.

Although the scholarship fund covers remedial courses, it only applies to two years of college. That means if students have to spend much of the first year doing makeup work, then they’d likely be on the hook for paying for a third year.

So improving the city’s K-12 schools is just as important as giving students access to community college. But the promise of free college should help more students feel that a higher education is within their reach.