Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroiter Magazine > Leadership Detroit

Leadership Detroit

October 2, 2019
Leadership Detroit, a signature initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber, offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for professionals to take their leadership skills to the next level. Leadership Detroit takes a unique behind-the-scenes approach to understanding the inner workings of the region for existing and emerging regional leaders. Participants tap into a diverse pool of professionals with a variety of opinions to enhance their contribution to the community. This year, the Chamber graduated its 40th cohort of Leadership Detroit which featured 67 executives from across the region, representing a cross section of the community including business, organized labor, government, education, media, civic groups, health services, and community organizations. 

Class XL: Transforming Leadership

Leadership Detroit Class XL embarked on a 10-month journey together, kicked off by two days “unplugged” at Camp Tamarack in Ortonville, Michigan — home to 100 acres of woods, lakes, and nature trails.  

Throughout the year, the class visited regional gems, including the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit PAL Corner Ballpark, Freedom Hill Banquet and Event Center, and the Innovation Exchange inside the General Motors Learning Center. Class members not only built a solid foundation for their future leadership practices, but also fostered relationships extending beyond graduation. 

Concluding the invigorating learning experience, the cohort graduated at the Garden Theater in Midtown Detroit. During the ceremony, Leadership Detroit recognized alumni who exemplify leadership and contribution to the community. Recipients include Co.act Detroit’s Allandra Bulger, DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s Luanne Thomas Ewald, and Mosaic Youth Theater’s Rick Sperling. 









Marc Berke

The experience I had will have a positive impact on the rest of my life, both professionally and personally. Spending 10 intense months with remarkable people from all over the Detroit area, learning important and hard-hitting issues facing our community, and looking at where you are as a leader can impact your community and your organization. I am so appreciative that I had this opportunity to be a part of something that will continually help shape the leader I want to be in Detroit.” 

Joshua Best

Although I was aware of Leadership Detroit’s track record before I applied to the program, the personal and professional development and relationships I gained far exceeded my expectations. The challenges our region faces are complex and interconnected, requiring a collaborative approach and a multidimensional strategy to identify and execute solutions. My experience broadened and deepened my understanding of adaptive leadership, providing tools and resources that I now use on my leadership journey. Leadership Detroit’s intentional focus on bringing together leaders that represent multiple sectors, diverse perspectives, and different geographic boundaries is a microcosm of the recipe needed for transformational change in our region.” 



Elizabeth Cutrona 

When I first moved to Detroit two years ago, I fell in love with the palpable energy around the city’s revival. Lifelong and new Detroiters I met expressed a readiness to think differently about challenges and band together to ensure the city’s revival. This was only deepened as I connected with my Leadership Detroit class. I was struck by how our class was able to develop a more nuanced vision for the future after taking the time to grapple with the city’s past — especially the persistent legacy of institutionalized racism. As my class engaged in candid dialogue, I was hopeful about a brighter, more equitable future for our region.” 

Cynthia Gardner

One of the most valuable takeaways of my Leadership Detroit experience was connecting with an amazing group of leaders from across the region. This experience showed me that there are people who are deeply passionate and committed to the success of the Detroit region. As our class gained greater knowledge about the opportunities from local leadership, there was an energy of becoming united in a singular desire to move the region forward. And it hasn’t ended with graduation. It continues — an ever burning fire of commitment.”

Amanda Hanlin

My experience in Leadership Detroit really helped me tap into creative ways of thinking about the most significant challenges and opportunities in our region. I found new perspectives and developed deeper connections that have already helped me bring a more holistic viewpoint and more effective strategies to my work. I also feel grateful for the adaptive leadership toolbox that the program provided me. It has made me more confident and helped me remove barriers to progress in my organization. Overall, I feel inspired and better equipped to contribute something positive to broader regional causes.” 

Zaineb Hussein

Since the Great Recession, transformational change across the region has occurred quicker than many expected, yet we are reminded often how far we have to go. As Leadership Detroit highlighted, we must address serious issues like affordable housing, education, workforce development, and inclusion head on. As a region we must establish an equitable, strong, and vibrant region where all can prosper and pursue the best version of ourselves. Ultimately, I walked away from the program understanding that lasting change is difficult, takes time, and must be intentional. Luckily, I walked away with a new family to help achieve just that.” 

Kristina Robinson 

Leadership Detroit Class XL afforded me the distinct honor to join a group of individuals who share my passion for making a difference in the community, build long-lasting relationships, and expand my understanding of the Detroit region. I gained insight and appreciation for transformational leadership by taking a deep dive into problem-solving discussions, learning to challenge the process, and the importance of asking myself, ‘Where am I?’ I now humbly serve the city of Detroit as a judge at 36th District Court and as a conscious leader who remains committed to learning, listening deeply, speaking unarguably, and enabling others to act.” 

Alok Sharma

I’ve been assembling and leading teams for almost 20 years and Leadership Detroit was a reminder that there is always something to learn. The Leadership Detroit adaptive leadership curriculum lead me to reexamine the way I categorize project challenges and how I tailor an approach to these categories of challenges. The impact of the sessions didn’t stop with me; I was able to relay the lessons to my team.” 

Shannon Smith

One key takeaway from my Leadership Detroit experience is that the time for leadership and collaboration has never been more important. This region has the potential to become a global economic hub, and it’s hard for me to see us achieving that without meaningful collaboration. Leadership Detroit was the first time in my life where I witnessed leaders from this region work together to achieve something great for all. In order to balance the needs of people, planet, and profit we have to start thinking about collaborating to expand the pie for all and not compete for a slice of it.” 

Angela Vincent

As an entrepreneur, Leadership Detroit had a direct effect on my business model by teaching me specifics about my leadership style and what effect it has on my bottom line.  I have been able to take it a step further with my staff and management by opening up the dialogue regarding their assessment of my leadership.  This allowed us to quickly attack weak areas within the company.  Our approach has led to increased moral and a stronger work ethic collectively. The transformative leadership lessons I learned in the program have prepared me for my next stage of entrepreneurship excellence.”

Jamie Kaye Walters

What I know for sure is that leadership doesn’t come automatically with a job title. Leadership Detroit helped translate my experience, curiosity, and perspective into practical tools in my career and my community. The program gave me time to evaluate my place in my professional and personal journey while exposing me to new people and perspectives. Those in my cohort were the most valuable takeaway from the program. Because of them, Leadership Detroit truly “has legs” into the future. The conversations, relationships, and honest engagements we started will continue for years, even after we’ve returned to our smaller spheres throughout metro Detroit.”