City of Detroit Fills New Positions Centered on Workforce Development, Health, Planning

The city of Detroit has announced a series of new hires in the administration, including the naming of new leadership for the city’s workforce development efforts and a new chief public health officer.
Detroit skyline
The city of Detroit has made new hires in administration to help further workforce development, health, and planning initiatives. // Stock photo

The city of Detroit has announced a series of new hires in the administration, including the naming of new leadership for the city’s workforce development efforts and a new chief public health officer.

Nicole Sherard-Freeman has been named executive director for workforce development. She has served as president and CEO of the Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., the city’s workforce development arm, since 2017. Under her leadership, the corporation contributed to Detroit at Work, which has provided training to more than 3,000 Detroit residents in skilled trades, health care, information technology, logistics, hospitality, and more.

Sherard-Freeman recently helped turn Detroit at Work into a full-service employment agency for major job generators. Over the past six weeks, nearly 10,000 Detroit residents have completed job readiness fairs geared toward providing new manufacturing facilities with job-ready candidates. A Detroit native, Sherard-Freeman completed graduate studies in organizational management and development at Fielding Graduate University.

“I’m excited to now lead the team that will deliver on the Detroit at Work promise. We will make clear and actionable pathways for Detroiters into the middle-class and will showcase to the nation the ready-and-willing workforce that stands ready to keep rebuilding the economy in Detroit,” says Sherard-Freeman.

Terri Weems, CFO of the corporation, will be interim president and CEO until a permanent replacement is found.

Sheilah Clay will become director of training quality and retention at the corporation, filling a new position focused on delivering and measuring outcomes of Detroit at Work career centers. She retired from the Neighborhood Service Organization last year, where she was president and CEO since 2000. There, she led the planning and development of a $20 million shelter and permanent supportive housing project for the homeless population on the city’s east side. The center is named after Clay and broke ground earlier this year. She also led the redevelopment of the historic Bell Building into new supporting housing and office space for the organization.

Clay will report to Sherard-Freeman. She has experience with health, housing, homelessness, the justice system, and more.

“Sheilah has spent her career fighting for and creating opportunity for Detroiters, and I’m thrilled that she will be bringing her talents and deep community experience to this new role,” says Mayor Mike Duggan.

Dee Marx Prosi has led Detroit at Work branding and promotion and will now serve as its director of outreach and communications. She will work with companies that want to hire Detroiters, helping them identify qualified candidates and training needs. The city’s goal is to make Detroit at Work its employment agency.

Prior to joining the city, Prosi was senior vice president of marketing for the Detroit Medical Center from 2004-2017.

Denise Fair has been named Detroit’s new chief public health officer. She will oversee the city’s public health programs and Animal Care and Control. She previously worked at Henry Ford Health System and has more than 10 years of experience managing medical centers across the region. She is board certified in health care management as a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has a master’s degree in public health.

“Denise is an outstanding leader in the field of health care, and we are extremely fortunate to have been able to recruit her to lead Detroit Health Department,” says Duggan. “She is a talented and collaborative administrator who will be able to provide the vision and leadership stability needed to move the health department forward.”

Bethany Melitz, director of the city’s Lean Processing Team, will fill the new role of chief administration officer. He will lead strategic planning for the city, work on cross-departmental projects such as the city’s metrics and demolition, and oversee the Building Safety, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department.

“As director of our Lean Team, Bethany has demonstrated a real talent for improving city services and processes across departments like police, DDOT, Water and Sewerage, and more,” says Duggan. “She has helped to build a culture of continual process improvement that she will be able to expand into more important city services.”

Melitz previously served as the deputy treasurer for Clinton Township, supporting the operations of billing, collecting, and processing taxes. Previously, he worked as a member of the Lean team, joining the city in 2015. He has a master’s degree in applied mathematics.

Arthur Jemison, current chief of services and infrastructure, will take on a more focused role following the departure of Maurice Cox, planning director, who will become Chicago’s planning commissioner this fall. Jemison will serve as group executive for planning, housing, and development. Duggan also plans to nominate Jemison to take on the duties of the planning director as outlined in the city’s charter. His nomination would require confirmation by the Detroit City Council.

Jemison will also oversee the Housing and Revitalization Department, implementation of the mayor’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund and Affordable Housing Leverage Fund, and act as the primary liaison to the Detroit Housing Commission and the Detroit Landbank Authority.

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