2022 Vanguard Honorees

Monique Marks is the president and CEO of Franklin Wright Settlement, a nonprofit helping the Detroit community help themselves since the late 1800s. 

“The Ford Plants went up; the other plants went up and people were eager to find better work, better opportunities in a very thriving city and so they migrated here,” said Marks. 

Originally a nursery and kindergarten, the Franklin Wright Settlement has evolved into a three-campus community staple. 

“We’ve kept the same premise, that we embrace the entire family,” said Marks.

They offer daycare, parenting classes and ensure our seniors remain healthy-safe and independent. 

“They get enhanced fitness,” Marks said. “They get socialization because many of them are just sitting at home. They’re lonely or they just have the need to connect to other people.”

The center is caring for every generation. 

“We like to look at a family as a whole so we have a holistic approach to families and so when we’re serving the children, we’re educating the children, we equally educate the parent,” said Marks. 

The mission giving families self-direction and growth during good times and bad.

“She makes sure we have everything we need. This program is ran like a family. She brings a lot of community love here to this building,” said Pre-school teacher Theresa Copeland. 

When families need help with food, shelter or utilities, Marks is there 24 hours a day for her families.

“We’ve had some amazing success rates with our families. Over 97% of our families that come see us are successful and we’re striving for that 100.”

Many employees came to Franklin Wright when they were growing up and are now working here and some of the best hires are seniors reentering the work force. 

“I believe in paying people what they’re worth and treating them with dignity and respect,” said Marks.

From teeth cleaning to college tours and in-house entertainment, Marks makes it happen. 

“She brings love to the center,” said Copeland.

Monique Marks – making a difference for every generation in her community!

E’Lois Thomas, Ph.D. is the president of SEEL, LLC, a nationally certified minority business enterprise (MBE), service-disabled, veteran-owned (DVBE) Energy Efficiency program implementation contractor. She is responsible for implementing the vision and growth trajectory of the organization. Her leadership has helped SEEL continue to soar as one the largest African American owned implementation contractors as a force for growth in sustainability, energy justice and energy equality for all. A highly analytical and driven leader, Dr. Thomas cultivates business relationships & advances SEEL’s teams toward top level corporate objectives.

Dr. Thomas earned a Ph.D. in business from Northcentral University, an MBA in Management from Walsh College, and a BA in Accounting from University of Detroit Mercy. Her research includes a qualitative multiple case study on the sustainability of small and medium enterprises with key aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She recently completed the Yale School of Management executive education women leadership program. She is also a six-sigma black belt professional and has a professional certification in green energy management from San Diego State University.

In her role as a leader in the sustainability industry, she serves as the vice-chair of Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), she is the Treasurer of the board for Advancing Women in Energy, a board member with American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE - MI Chapter), a mentor with the Council of Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL), and a member of the Association of Women in Energy. This year, Dr. Thomas was recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as a Notable Leader in Sustainability. In 2020, while serving as Chief Administrative Officer for SEEL, she was recognized by them with the Notable Women in Finance. In addition, she has been honored by the Michigan Chronicle as a Woman of Excellence in 2013 and she was inducted as a Who’s Who in Black Detroit. She also serves as a board member to the Detroit Police Athletic League and Results Mentoring as well as an advisory board member to the MBA program at Siena Heights University. Dr. Thomas is married to a non-profit executive/consultant Charles Thomas, Jr. & has two sons, Charles III, and Isaiah.

Danielle Woods is a Detroit native and twenty-two year veteran with the Detroit Police Department. She is currently assigned to the Chief’s Neighborhood Liaison unit where she coordinates and oversees the operations of the Citizen Radio Patrol and Volunteer Angels detail along with Citywide Events that contribute to the building and continued relationship of Detroit Police and community. Corporal Woods was appointed as the first LGBT Liaison Officer for the police department in 2013. She formulated the first LGBT Advisory Board Committee under the appointment of Chief James E. Craig and is a driving force in the LGBT community in her efforts of “Bridging the Gap” between law enforcement and the LGBT community. 

Corporal Woods has not limited her career to only patrol calls. She became a “Field Training Officer” while 
working at the 9th Precinct, offering her knowledge and experience to new officers as they join the ranks; conducted undercover operations at the Vice and Narcotic units; performed administrative duties, and never ceasing to obtain training to enhance her role as liaison. In 2014, Corporal Woods composed and submitted training in regard to LGBT Sensitivity, Awareness, and Competency which resulted in approval and certification by M.C.O.L.E.S. (Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards), where she trains new recruits, sworn and civilian personnel of the department, along with other law enforcement agencies throughout Michigan and beyond. She has a great rapport with the community as a whole and does very well in organizing community programs and projects. In 2020, Corporal Woods in partnership with a community activist created the LGBTQ Community Council which she is the Chairs. The Council is made up of both law enforcement and community stakeholders that have united to promote the well-being of LGBTQ+ community members by advising, petitioning, and advocating causes and cases of concern and to improve community relations, devise plans, develop solutions to past, present, and future issues of the LGBTQ community.

Corporal Woods is a 2020 graduate of Cleary University where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business 
Management and has been happily married to her wife of 15 years. 

As a Trust Advisor, LaShawn plays an invaluable role with the ability to be the highest quality trust provider, while growing the business in Wealth Management and the Trust division. In her role, she is responsible for managing clients with a net worth of $1 million or higher. During her interaction with clients, she focuses on their financial and asset management objectives; LaShawn works with a team of specialists to deliver the essential components for a successful Wealth Management relationship. She always fosters a positive customer/client relationship to ensure that the client’s needs are met.

LaShawn has 15 years of banking experience within the Wealth Management division. Her background has always been customer or client focused.
Prior to banking, she was an Executive 
Assistant where she utilized her administration and customer service skills.

LaShawn has volunteered with Tutor-Mate, and My Brother’s keeper organization. Currently she volunteers with The Tarence Wheeler Foundation, along with mentoring youth through school systems in the Metropolitan community, Triumph Church Community Foundation and She is also the chair of the Michigan African American Business Resource Group and a leader on the Women’s business resource group at Comerica bank.

LaShawn received her Bachelor of Business degree from Davenport University and currently is in the Leadership Development Program at Comerica Bank. 

Andre L. Johnson, a native Detroiter, is currently the President/CEO of the Detroit Recovery Project–a multi-service agency that provides a wide spectrum of support services to the city’s recovery community. Such services include: GED preparation; twelve-step support groups; housing assistance; job readiness and employment assistance; and HIV prevention, testing, and counseling services. In addition, the agency also oversees an ex-offender program that helps returning citizens reintegrate successfully into the Detroit community, with an aim of reducing recidivism and/or relapse among this population.

Mr. Johnson has over 32 years of professional work experience, exemplifying a long-standing commitment and dedication to the field of substance abuse. In 2013, Mr. Johnson was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Health of Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to the SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) – National Advisory Council.

Mr. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia), a Masters of Arts degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at Michigan of Psychology. Mr. Johnson is trained certified recovery coach and considered an expert in his field he is invited frequently to present at seminars, workshops, and as a keynote or motivational speaker to not only those in recovery but youth, adults, families, and substance abuse professionals. In 2013 Mr. Johnson was the recipient of the prestigious Vernon Johnson award from Faces and Voices of Recovery. In 2016, President Barack Obama named Mr. Johnson a Champion of Changeand honored him at the White House.

Growing up in Detroit James would play in his Fire Chief car when he was two years old, hoping and dreaming to become a Firefighter someday. His dream became a reality in 1997 when he took the oath to become a Detroit Fire Fighter. Starting his career Engine -51 (ironically that was the Firehouse portrayed on the tv show Emergency which he used to watch reruns of as a child). Four years later James was assigned to Rescue Squad-5 one of the busiest Rescue Squads in the nation at the time. While assigned to Sqaud-5 James was trained on Fire operations, trench rescue, elevator rescue, building collapse, forcible entry, RIT, vehicle extrication, medical first responder as well as how to operate a Fire Engine, Ladder Truck and Rescue Squad.  

In 2007 James received his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, then in 2010 James completed the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute in Georgia. James became a Senior Firefighter in 2011 where he trained, supervised and mentored Firefighters on everything forcible entry to Firefighter Survival in 2017 James was promoted to Lieutenant. As a Lieutenant in Community Relations James has given presentation to thousands of citizens in Detroit as well as the surrounding metropolitan area. Leading the Detroit Smoke Alarm Program (DSAP) James has helped provide free smoke alarms to Detroit residents. Being highly trained as a Public Information Officer goes hand in hand with James love for public speaking James has taught Middle School students as well as High School students and adults hands on CPR.

 Additionally James is one of the coordinators for the Detroit Fire Departments Junior Fire Cadet Program which teaches youths from ages 14-18 Firefighting skills and life skills as well. James also responds to medical emergencies on Basic Life Support Ambulances and Advanced Life Support Ambulances. Starting in March 2020 James was one of the leaders that coordinated a multi-agency distribution of personal protective equipment for the entire city of Detroit. 

The proud Father of two Daughters James is the past President of the Phoenix of the Detroit Fire Department, a member of The Firemen’s Fund, The Tug a War team and the Public Safety Football team. He enjoys volunteer work with his Fraternities the Masons and the Shriners as well as The Historic Little Rock Baptist Church

Mason is also a radio personality in Detroit, Michigan. He was the host of the extremely popular "Mason in The Morning" on WJLB for 18 years. He was also host of his own radio show on 102.7/105.9 KISS-FM (WDMK). Mason left WDMK in July 2006 as his contract had expired. Mason was offered an intriguing contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team. He declined the offer, saying the Pistons gave him the raw shot to craft his art in their gym. The Pistons have also given Mason the opportunity to serve as PA announcer for an NBA title contender. When Mason replaced longtime Pistons PA announcer Ken Calvert before the start of the 2001-02 NBA season, back when the team still played at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit soon became a perennial contender for the NBA Championship. Mason saw the Pistons win back-to-back NBA Eastern Conference titles in 2004 and 2005, and most notably saw them win the NBA title in 2004, upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games. From 2003 to 2008, Mason saw his Detroit Pistons make an impressive 6 consecutive appearances in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

Mason independently owns his morning show, MASON RADIO INC. Mason is perhaps the only morning show personality in a major market to own his own show. Mason's morning show is a syndicated program, which can be heard live from Detroit on the 50 thousand watt powerhouse 107.5 WGPR. Mason also won a television Emmy for an entertainment video show (Urban Chartbusters) on the local NBC station WDIV Detroit. Mason has also been an acclaimed motivational speaker in prisons throughout Michigan, and schools and universities in Ohio and Michigan. The Fox network comedy hit, Martin starting Martin Lawrence that ran from 1992 to 1997, was based on the radio career of John Mason and characters such as Gina Waters, Bruh Man, Tommy Strawn, and Sheneneh Jenkins were also loosely based on Mason's friends, as well as characters on his Detroit radio show.

Currently, Mason is the host of "Mason and CoCo in the Morning" alongside the female comedian CoCo on KISS 105.9 FM Detroit. He is also the host of a syndicated weekend show entitled "Once Upon a Time in Soul" which features Angie Starr along with his famous radio characters and legendary artist stories. "Once Upon a Time in Soul" is produced by John Mason, co-produced and engineered by Tobias Smith and recorded at Luv2flo Studios in Detroit.

Born on December 26, 1973, Yolonda Green, a.k.a Yody, is a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, and Detroits best hairstylist. Born and raised on Detroits westside, she started off doing hair at her home styling all her sisters and cousins hair.

Since 2004 she has branded her business, her own hair salon, Kut Em Up Barber & Beauty Bar. With her own hairline, Bosslife with her own employees. She has been in every hair magazine in the city and has graced the cover of Detroits Hair Designer magazine.

The award winning hairstylist has won the “313” BEST IN BLACK AWARD for Detroits Best Hairstylist and Detroits Best Salon in 2016 and 2017. She also won the DAVES’ CHOICE AWARDS for Detroits Best Hairstylist in 2018, and the DETROIT CHOICE AWARD for Best Hairstylist in 2020 and 2021.

Famed award-winning concert producer Quentin Perry is a legend. He’s successfully sustained his business for over five decades, and at the age of 72, he’s still going strong. He was the sole concert promoter of record for the late, great music legend and icon Prince, from 1980 through 1994. He started with Taurus Productions and his very first concert was done back in 1968 with Ray Charles at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. He was responsible for introducing some of our most favorite and beloved artists to the world, including Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, the O’Jays, Marvin Gaye, The Gap Band, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Earth, Wind & Fire, Mike Epps, the Kings of Comedy, Jeezy, Yo Gotti and Future. Even Russell Simmons, one of the pioneers of hip-hop, cited Perry as being one of the few promoters in the business with integrity.

Perry is also making history this year by being the first African American concert promoter to produce a concert at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena in 1980 with Teddy Pendergrass, Ashford & Simpson, and A Taste of Honey, as well as being the last African American concert promoter to close out “the last show at the Joe” with Summer Jamz 20 featuring Jeezy, Remy Ma, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert, Tee Grizzly and many more.

Born and raised on the west side of Detroit, and a 2006 graduate from Detroit Northwestern High School, Officer Bryant L. George is a proud member of the Detroit Police Department. As a four-year veteran, Officer George takes great pleasure in serving and protecting the citizens and visitors of Detroit, through community policing, which he feels is the best form of policing. Officer George’s primary assignment is through the Chief’s Neighborhood Liaison Office, at the Detroit Police Athletic League. At Detroit PAL, Officer George helps youth find their greatness while having a positive experience with a law enforcement officer. Officer George has first-hand experience of the impact that officers can make through Detroit PAL, because he played basketball for a Detroit Police Officer as a kid and helped lead his team to winning the ‘Think Detroit PAL’ Boys’ Basketball Championship in 2002. As a first-generation college student, and two-sport scholar athlete (Basketball and Cross Country), Officer George graduated in (2010) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. In addition, Officer George earned his Master’s Degree in Higher Education Student Affairs & Administration (2019) and became a Distinguished Alum Honoree from Madonna University on May 11, 2019, (where both of his degrees were earned).

Before joining the Detroit Police Department, Officer George worked at Madonna University for nearly five years as an Admissions Officer and Founder and Director of the Bridging Lost Gaps (BLG) Program. Officer George created the BLG Program in 2011 to help increase the enrollment, retention and graduation rates of Black male students from Detroit, at Madonna University. Officer George created mentoring, academic, social/ emotional, physical and mental health support and outlets for Black male students through the BLG program. In 2013, The BLG Program at Madonna University was awarded with a National Noel-Levitz – Retention Excellence Award due to maintaining a Black male student retention rate of over 80%. 

Officer George graduated from ProsperUS Detroit – Entrepreneur Training Program on June 2, 2021, as he became the Founder & Owner of Game Game Mobile & More, LLC – Mobile Video Game Business. Over the past several months, Game Game Mobile and More has serviced the metro Detroit area for birthday parties, graduations, corporate and communitypartnerships/ events, and school events just to name a few. On August 28, 2021, Game Game Mobile & More was honored at Big Sean’s D.O.N. Weekend event with a Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council. Game Game Mobile & More is a mobile resource that gives children and adults an opportunity to create memories forever through a luxury gaming experience.

A few of Officer George’s awards includes the Detroit Branch NAACP - Great Expectation Award (2021), four Spirit of Detroit Awards (2005, 2014, 2015, and 2021), a recipient of the (2019) National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives - National Associate Member “Shining Star” Award. A 40 under 40 recipient from the Michigan ChronicleNewspaper (2015), a recipient of the (2018) Class of Michiganians of the Year Award through the Detroit Newspaper, a recipient of the Michigan Commission of Law Enforcement Standards – Outstanding Performance Award (2017), an Awardee of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, Corporation for National and Community Service (2016), and a proud recipient of the Black Male Engagement (BMe) Leadership Award (2014).

Stanford J. Wilkinson's unrelenting drive, would be commendable at any age. Having amassed an extensive list of accomplishments at only thirty, makes his journey even more impressive. This focused young man is 3RY Magazine's Millennial Of The Year!  

He's the founder and executive director of DEFY (Determined Exceptional Fearless Youth). It's a non-profit organization that provides access, exposure and mentorship opportunities to youth. He's also the director of operations for uniteStem, which is driven by the belief that everyone deserves access to excellent STEM education. It focuses on the technical side. 

The pandemic didn't decrease Mr. Wilkinson's resolve to make an impact. In fact, quite the opposite. Both organizations have merged and acquired a new facility, with multiple classrooms. One that houses full computer labs, 3D printing machines, a music & podcast recording studio along with screen printing & heat press; devoted to entrepreneurship endeavors.

A few examples of Mr. Wilkinson's accomplishments, include providing over 1,500 meals to local families, supplying more than 800 backpacks containing school supplies for students and executing the "313 Day" in partnership with SNIPES, Adidas & The Detroit Pistons; where food and gear are supplied to thousands of families- at no cost. 

His strides in leadership are numerous, as well. A few amid a long list: In a short period of time, he's raised over $75,000.00 in support of Detroit non-profits, served on the Detroit City Council Taskforce in the area of Black Male Engagement; recognized by them as Man of the Month. He consistently makes his presence known. 

Mr. Wilkinson acknowledges the influence of strong family ties. His parents were always active in his life, but he was raised by his grandparents. Tge best of both worlds. He founded Jarrett Global, llc in memory of his grandfather; Jarrett Carter. Through this real estate and development venture, he's expanding his horizons, while simultaneously honoring the memory of his well-respected patriarch. 

In a day and age where many stories can be particularly discouraging for our youth, Stanford J. Wilkinson offers a new hope!  

"Have a vision. Be demanding" -Colin Powell

We are all volunteers. It is dangerous but we are just tired of all the things going on in our neighbourhoods," Ford says. "We're just regular citizens trying to make a difference. We go after individuals and help police get leads so they can make arrests. A lot of people don't like talking to the police, but will talk to us. The 'no snitching' rule isn't right when it comes to beating up on an old lady or raping a young girl. We go into neighbourhoods and we don't leave until something is done or someone is caught."

The spark for the formation of Detroit 300 was the horrific rape of a 90-year-old woman in her home in 2010. She survived the attack but died later that year. At the time, outraged locals helped police track the rapists and were credited for obtaining information leading to the arrest of three teenagers. That was the start of Detroit 300 which was subsequently launched. In 2014 leadership was turned and Eric Ford was voted President of the Detroit 300 Community Action Team.

Mr. Ford is among the countless Detroit community activists who work, often without fanfare, to improve the quality of life for residents. In the nation's most violent city, that usually means addressing crime, either directly or indirectly.

Through the years, Ford has organized citizen patrols, passed out flyers about unsolved crimes and missing persons, and led protests of drug houses. He, along with volunteers hail from all walks of life with: business people, law enforcement, ex-law enforcement and clergy working together to make Detroit streets safer. Detroit 300 is dedicated to the principles of protection and justice for those they call the "innocents," women, children and senior citizens.

DETROIT 300’s sole focus is to help communities organize to eradicate crime by policing targeted areas & collectively pursuing individuals who wreak havoc, mayhem & terror.

My life is not my own but for those that come thereafter.

Ericka Murria is a survivor of many things including domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness. Over the past 10 years she has worked on several tasks force, cohorts, and advocacy project to impact change in Detroit and the Black community with a National, Statewide, and local platforms.

She is a single mother of two daughters, Imani & Alise, who often have attended trainings and participated in her advocacy efforts, including the HBO Documentary Film, “I am Evidence.” In the film Ericka participated as the Luminary and shared her rape survivor story and journey to healing. Ericka holds full ownership of the name “I am Evidence”. It was produced by Actress/Activist Mariska Hargitay (Joyful Heart Organization) with a partnership with the Michigan Wayne County Prosecutor, Kym Worthy to highlight the Detroit and National problem of rape kit backlogs in all 50 States. This film has won multiple awards and has been recognized internationally by survivors and victims of sexual violence that needed a voice.

Currently, Ericka a Consultant and Cohort Leader for UJIMA: The National Center on Violence against Women in the Black Community, “Women Transforming Families (WTF): Rising to End Violence, Oppression and the Legacy of Trauma” project as a Fellow. In the project Ericka serves with the Detroit Informing change with our Voices and Actions (D.I.V.A) cohort. The purpose of this project is to empower Black, Native American and Latinx cohort leaders and their respective communities at large with knowledge, skills and resource tools to provide leadership in transforming the safety, health and wellbeing of survivors of violence against women and their children who are, or who are at risk of being surveilled and monitored by the child welfare system.   

Ericka is also a consultant and an advisor on the Futures without Violence’s Child Welfare Accountability Webinar Series planning committee. This series seeks to change the perspective of policy makers, and policies that are harmful to survivor families who are in the child welfare system. 

Supreme Transitions is a grassroots non-profit organization in Detroit, MI that Ericka founded, and she is the Executive Director. The purpose of Supreme Transitions is to support community members with resources to enhance their self-sufficiency. Ericka is a National Speaker, Entrepreneur, Podcaster, Mentor & Social Justice Advocate.

Additionally, Ericka has been empowered to serve her community in Detroit as a Candidate for the 2021 Detroit City Council - District 7 primary election. She plans to continue to build & cultivate relationships with Congressional, State House Members, Local Organizations and community members to create measurable change in the world.

Tarence Wheeler is a highly respected professional with over 20years of experience in community relations and philanthropic activities, specializing in community and corporate partnerships and relationship building. He currently serves as Director of Corporate & Community Affairs for the River Rouge School District. He is a former Mayoral Appointee, serving as the community relations liaison for Mayor Dave Bing and the City of Detroit.  

Mr. Wheeler has extensive experience in community outreach, mentoring, and fostering partnerships to support educational achievement. During the pandemic, he led the effort to distribute over 4.3 million meals to the downriver community via a partnership with Forgotten Harvest. He founded the All-Star Giveback Thanksgiving Turkey Drive, which currently provides over 3,000 turkeys with all the trimmings to families in need. 

Although Mr. Wheeler has been seen serving on a national level with celebrities and the like, his greatest passion is in helping to enrich the lives of at-risk young people in communities throughout the Metropolitan Detroit area. He is often inspiring and motivating students at Detroit-area schools, using a transparent and authentic approach to reaching young people and ‘meeting them where they are’. His first-hand knowledge and experience with growing up in a less-fortunate environment increased his ability to make a direct connection with his young audience.  

Mr. Wheeler has received numerous awards and honors including: Michigan Chronicle Men of Excellence Award, C.L. Trone Community Outreach Award, Community Health Unsung Hero Award, Native Detroiter Community Leader Award, FBI Director’s Community Award, NAACP Image Awards Hometown Champion, Pac-12 Conference Hall of Honor, NCAA Celebration of Champions Award, Alice H. Parker Mentor Award, Michigan Community Service Commission Volunteer of the Year Award, GMAAN Community Enrichment Award, and the FCAAN Community Champion Award. He was also featured as WXYZ Channel 7 Person of the Week.

Mr. Wheeler graduated from Southwestern High School. He received a basketball scholarship to Arizona State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. He earned a Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of Detroit Mercy. He also received a Certificate in Advanced Educational Leadership from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He serves on various boards including: Youth Solutions Board of Directors, Vanguard Community Development Corporation, Detroit Public Television Advisory Board, and the Salvation Army Advisory Board.