DBusiness Daily Update: Speakers and Agenda Announced for 2022 Black Footwear Forum in Detroit, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
The Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design will host the 2022 Black Footwear Forum in downtown Detroit. // Courtesy of Black Footwear Forum
The Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design will host the 2022 Black Footwear Forum in downtown Detroit. // Courtesy of Black Footwear Forum

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Speakers and Agenda Announced for 2022 Black Footwear Forum in Detroit

The Black Footwear Forum (BFF), to be held at Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design (PLC) in Detroit from Sept. 16 to 18 in partnership with the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), announced featured speakers and panels for this year’s event.

“Since its first year, the Black Footwear Forum has evolved into a major industry gathering to celebrate, inspire and acknowledge Black creatives globally who are responsible for the culture of our industry,” says D’Wayne Edwards, founder of PLC. “This year it’s happening in the only city in the US designated a UNESCO City of Design — Detroit, Michigan.”

At the 2022 BFF, attendees, executives, industry leaders and the community of Detroit will gather for a free, three-day event of celebrations, conversations, and networking as BFF continues to highlight, strengthen, and support Black professionals globally in the footwear industry.

“I can’t think of a better city than Detroit, a better place than the Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design, and a better time than now for the BFF to reconvene in-person after a multi-year hiatus,” says Matt Priest, president and CEO of the FDRA. “Excitement for this event has been off-the-charts as registrations and corporate support continue to roll in. BFF Detroit will be the highlight of our year.”

Thursday, Sept. 15 officially kicks off BFF with the first of many community activations for Detroit residents. A collaborative partnership between Merit’s Fate Program and Pensole alumni, who are designers for some of the top brands in the industry, will conduct a PLC footwear design workshop at the PLC, FDRA, BFF Lounge by StockX in downtown Detroit.

This workshop will also be open to the public, who can meet with other Black design leaders from the top brands.

Friday, Sept. 16 will start at University Prep Elementary School for a session called “Kids Are Ready For Design” by A Kids Company About and will feature College of Creative Studies graduate and award-winning designer, entrepreneur and educator Jason Mayden. Following will be the BFF VIP dinner for staff, speakers, and sponsors, at the Detroit Pistons Performance Center, overlooking the Pistons’ practice facilities. The evening will close with a mixer for all attendees at the PLC, FDRA, BFF Lounge.

Saturday, Sept. 17, BFF will begin with opening remarks from PLC president and founder D’Wayne Edwards and Terrence Floyd, founder of We Are Floyd and brother of George Floyd, followed by a variety of talks and panel discussions. A schedule of featured panels and speakers, with more to be added in the weeks leading up to the event, is as follows:

Tappedin: Jazerai Allen-Lord, award-winning and internationally acclaimed sneaker strategist and designer will speak about the new roads that have been paved for women in the footwear industry. Additional speakers to be announced.

Blacklight: Role Models/Hometown Hero: Featuring Cheresse Thornhill-Goldson, design director for Adidas S.E.E.D. Additional speakers to be announced.

Black Genius: Kevin Carroll, author, speaker, performance coach, and founder of Katalyst, will speak on the importance of role models.

Storytellers: Tyrel Kirkham, vice president of brand and marketing strategy for the Detroit Pistons, will share personal projects, or projects of which they are most proud. Additional speakers to be announced.

Tappedin: Career Pathways + storytelling: Featuring Garry Thaniel, general manager of sneakers at eBay. Additional speakers to be announced.

Blacklight the Industry: Jason Mayden, designer, educator, and entrepreneur author of “A Kids Book About Design” will lead a conversation about protecting your IP. Additional speakers to be announced.

Sunday, Sept. 18, the forum will close with the BFF Black Women’s Brunch and Adidas S.E.E.D Creator camp downtown at the PLC, FDRA, BBF Lounge.

All downtown events are free and open to the public all four days.

Other guests scheduled are:

  • Matt Priest, president and CEO, FDRA.
  • April Walker, fashion icon, creator, author, educator.
  • Jeffrey Henderson, footwear designer and founder of AndThemPortia Blount, vice president of apparel at Reebok.
  • Scoop Jackson, author and award-winning journalist for ESPN.
  • Sydney James, interdisciplinary artist.
  • Jessica Smith, director of strategy at Adidas.
  • Alexander John, international footwear designer.
  • Lauren Guthrie, vice president of global inclusion, diversity, equity and action at VF Corp.
  • Scott Morris, chair of footwear at Pensole Lewis College.
  • Ashley Comeaux, vice president of product design at Allbirds.
  • Damien Hooper-Campbell, chief impact officer at StockX.
  • Liz Connelly, senior manager of design, education, and growth at Adidas.
  • Che Pope, Grammy winning producer at WRKSHP.

The 2022 Annual Black Footwear Forum in Detroit is a free event thanks to corporate partners including The Athlete’s Foot, Caleres, Carhartt, College for Creative Studies, Detroit Pistons, Designer Brands, Foot Locker, Gilbert Family Foundation, Logitech, MillerKnoll, Nike, Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse, Rack Room Shoes, RG Barry Brands, Target, Steve Madden, Bedrock, Wolverine Worldwide, GM, Adidas, VF Corp, StockX, Ford, PEPSICO, and more.

Register to attend at blackfootwearforum.com.

NBS Commercial Interiors in Troy Now a Premier Dealer of Belgian Outdoor Living Company

NBS Commercial Interiors, an interior integration company that blends architecture, furniture, and technology based in Troy, announces it is now a premier dealer partner for Renson in the state of Michigan.

Renson is a worldwide pioneer in outdoor living concepts headquartered in Belgium. Its outdoor structures are characterized by their durability, quality, and design. NBS’s expertise in integrating and creating amazing workplace interiors can now be taken to the outdoors, offering unique destination spaces that can be enjoyed all year round.

To mark this partnership, NBS will be constructing a new patio space at their Troy headquarters with a Renson pergola, outdoor furniture, and technology.

Washtenaw Community College Starts Fall Semester Today with New and Affordable Offerings

Washtenaw Community College (WCC) in Ann Arbor is gearing up for a new academic year starting today, Monday, Aug. 29, featuring its first no-cost textbook associate degree, a brand-new Automotive Cybersecurity Lab, and frozen tuition for the fifth straight year.

“We are excited to welcome students back to a new school year. WCC’s academic programs, low tuition and many support services prepare students for success in their new careers or completion of their bachelor’s degree at a four-year school,” says Rose B. Bellanca, president of WCC.

New academic certificates are offered starting this Fall to prepare students for careers in robotics and automation, cardiac telemetry, entrepreneurship, and elementary education.

In all, WCC offers 137 affordable programs — 45 of which are completely online. Tuition is among the lowest in the state, with in-district tuition frozen again at $95 per credit hour, or $2,280 annually for a full-time student enrolled in 12 credit hours for the Fall and Winter semesters.

Four start dates offer flexibility for student schedules. Session I begins Aug. 29; Session II begins Sept. 21; Session III begins Oct. 5; and Session IV begins Oct. 20. Shorter sessions cover the same material in a compressed amount of time.

WCC’s first-ever “Z-Degree” is an associate’s degree in general studies in math and natural sciences. This allows students to earn the degree without needing to purchase textbooks, which can range between $300 to $500 each semester depending on the number and types of courses.

Faculty members work with professional librarians to develop high-quality free online content for a variety of disciplines in lieu of traditional textbooks for these Open Educational Resources (OER) classes. Since 2017, the college has helped students save more than $9 million in book costs.

To date, 47 different courses are offered with free online textbook alternatives.

Among the college’s showpieces is its new Automotive Cybersecurity Lab, where students will train for mobility careers protecting driver information from hackers and ensuring vehicle safety.

STEM Scholars is a comprehensive program designed to encourage and facilitate success for students seeking science, technology, engineering, and math careers. Scholarships are available, along with research experiences, transfer programs with alliance institutions, and networking and mentoring opportunities.

The new school year also brings new academic programs — robotics technician, automation specialist advanced, entrepreneurship essentials, and introduction to elementary education certificates. A cardiac telemetry program previously approved will also be available for the first time this Fall semester.

For more information, click here.

Automotive Hall of Fame Announces New Chairman of the Board, Six New Members

The Automotive Hall of Fame, the Dearborn institution for honoring and celebrating individuals and their impact in the automotive industry, is announcing several changes to its board of directors.

Ramzi Hermiz, member of the board directors since 2002 and chairman of the board since 2017, is transitioning to emeritus status. Jonathan Husby, current first vice chairman and president and CEO of ADAC Automotive has been appointed the new chairman of the board.

“The entire Automotive Hall of Fame leadership team and I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Ramzi for his leadership, guidance, and commitment to the Hall during his tenure as chairman of the board,” says Sarah Cook, president of the Automotive Hall of Fame.

“Under Ramzi’s leadership we have instituted several critical initiatives that will positively impact the mobility industry for years to come. We also welcome Jon into this role and look forward to executing his vision for the organization.”

In addition to these changes, there are also six new members joining the board of directors:

Regan E. Grant, global advanced manufacturing and mobility marketing leader at EY:

With 13 years at EY, Grant leads the firm’s global manufacturing and mobility marketing, including go-to market efforts for the EY-Nottingham Spirk Innovation Hub in Cleveland. Before returning to EY in late 2020, she spent two years at Stoneridge, an electrical and electronic systems supplier, as the director of global strategic marketing.

Prior to this role, she served as global automotive and transportation marketing leader for EY, managing a global team. She is actively involved with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, where she sits on the Campaign and Tocqueville Society Cabinets.

Omar Hoda, principal at Deloitte Consulting:

Hoda is a principal at Deloitte Consulting where he has served automotive clients for the past 15 years. As a leader in Deloitte’s strategy practice, he focuses in the areas of corporate and business unit strategy, value chain analysis, scenario planning, and marketing and commercial strategy.

Over the past several years he has served as Transportation sector leader and Automotive leader for Deloitte’s Future of Mobility Initiative, which focuses on the cross-industry disruption driven by autonomous technologies and the sharing economy. He has co-authored several articles on the transformations taking place in and around the automotive and transportation industries.

Ben Kaminsky, general manager of SEMA Garage Detroit at Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA):

Kaminsky is responsible for the overall management of services and facilities at the 45,000-square-foot SEMA Garage to assist members with new product development and integration. Prior to joining SEMA, he worked at General Motors as a senior design and release engineer.

He oversaw the design, development, validation and release of Chevrolet Performance air intakes, exhausts, and components for use in performance applications. He also worked closely with GM emissions compliance and legal groups to ensure that engineering hardware development and release processes consistently delivered products that met and exceeded regulatory requirements.

Stephen M. Rowley, president of Cox Automotive:

Rowley is president of Cox Automotive, a global automotive services and software company whose vision is to transform the way the world buys, sells, owns, and uses cars. Steve is responsible for a family of brands that together make transportation retailers more successful and car buyers more satisfied, including auto industry leaders such as Autotrader, Dealer.com, Dealertrack, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, NextGear Capital, vAuto, and Xtime.

Neeta Salvi, group CFO, senior vice president of finance, and head of strategy — region America’s at ZF Group:

Salvi currently serves as CFO and head of strategy at ZF Group, America’s where she is responsible for corporate governance, risk and compliance for regional financial results and providing strategic direction to support ZF with achieving its transformation objections within the region.

Prior to joining ZF in Sept. 2021, she served as CFO of the commercial vehicles division, region NAFTA, for Mercedes Benz USA. In her various executive roles, she has overcome challenges for end customers, dealer franchisees, and MBUSA that they face in supply, financial controls, and risk management. Neeta focuses on digital transformation, formulates strategic action, and develops creative solutions to architect a more profitable outcome for our global stakeholders.

Sean Silver, Michigan market executive for global commercial banking at Bank of America:

Silver is the Michigan market executive for global commercial banking at Bank of America. In this role, Sean leads a team of relationship managers who support middle market private and public companies, across all key industries in the state.

This team is Bank of America’s primary middle market automotive supplier coverage group, with dedicated support for emerging growth companies developing next generation automotive technology. Sean is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He currently serves on the boards of MICHauto, Inforum of Michigan, and Starr Commonwealth.

“I am grateful to these individuals who believe in the mission and vision of the Automotive Hall of Fame enough to serve as new board members,” says Cook. “We welcome them and look forward to incorporating their ideas and expertise into our operations.”