New Detroit Inc.’s board has named Michael Rafferty president and CEO. The Detroit-based nonprofit organization is focused on racial justice. He will begin May 20.
Rafferty succeeds Shirley Stancato, who held the position for the past 18 years. Rafferty brings more than 20 years of career experience, much of which is in the nonprofit sector, and has expertise in community economic development and public policy. He was most recently vice president of Detroit Economic Growth Corp., leading the organization’s small-business portfolio.
“Mike brings a depth of experience and vitality to steward New Detroit as we implement a new strategic plan to impact racial equity,” says Rachel Tronstein Stewart, board chair of New Detroit. “His experience managing major programs in collaboration with government entities, community groups, and residents throughout metropolitan Detroit will prove incredibly valuable as we build a broad coalition to advance race relations in our region.”
In his previous position, Rafferty grew the small-business practice to a 25-person team that implemented a portfolio of small-business and entrepreneurship economic development programs. His efforts helped to open more than 50 small businesses in Detroit in three years with a pipeline of 150 businesses set to open in the next several years.
“Mike has done great work during his time at the DEGC to help grow the number of minority-owned small businesses in Detroit through programs like Motor City Match,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “I know that he will use his new role as CEO of New Detroit to expand on the work he already has done to bring greater economic equity to our city. The board of New Detroit made a great choice.”
Prior to his time at Detroit Economic Development Corp., Rafferty led the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s metro Detroit office, focusing on policy and technical support for nonprofits in nine counties. He also worked in economic development at Wayne County, as a program officer for the Local Initiates Support Corp. in Detroit, and as a policy analyst for the Detroit city council.
“As I have worked to bolster the economic growth throughout the region, I identified that racial inequities and cultural segregation was a common barrier to continued advancement,” says Rafferty. “As CEO of New Detroit, I have an opportunity to build on the organization’s legacy to address these systemic inequities at their core to help create a better outcome for our region’s people and places.”
Rafferty will be recognized at New Detroit’s Closing the Gap awards dinner on May 1 at Cobo Center.
New Detroit was founded on Aug. 10, 1967, soon after the five-day Uprising of 1967, which began July 23. Acting on the request of then-Gov. George W. Romney and then-Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, Joseph L. Hudson Jr. convened 39 leaders from all segments of the Detroit community. The group was to determine the root causes of the rebellion that had just occurred and establish preventative measures against potential similar future events.
The organization offers financial literacy courses for youth in Detroit Public Schools; a multicultural leadership series designed to educate leaders about the history, culture, and socio-economic issues of communities of color; summer business camps for high-school students; and programs to help community organizations build their capacity to serve.
Its leaders are from civil rights and advocacy organizations, human services, health and community organizations, business, labor, foundations, education, media, and clergy.