Leigh Ann Hello

Vice President, The Cabinet Studio

Leigh Ann Hello is the vice president of The Cabinet Studio, a Windsor-based business that designs and sells non-toxic, green kitchen cabinetry. She has been with the company since 2005.

Prior to joining The Cabinet Studio, Hello worked in engineering, marketing, and business. She earned a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Windsor.

Hello has been published in local and national magazine, such as The Art of Luxury Living. She has received awards for her design from The National Kitchen and Bath Association. Hello has also been recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by The Women’s Council of Realtors Birmingham-Bloomfield Chapter and most recently was featured in a film photography exhibition celebrating twenty of Windsor’s most influential and impactful women.

Najah Bazzy

Executive Director and Founder, Zaman International

Najah Bazzy, is the executive director and CEO of Zaman International, a metro Detroit-based nonprofit providing crisis assistance and vocational training to marginalized women with children.

In addition to Zaman International, Bazzy is the CEO of Di­versity Specialists and Transcultural Health Care Solutions, a training group that promotes cross-cultural understanding between clinicians and patients. As head of that organization, she has conducted workshops for health care administrators, practitioners, educators and policymakers on cultural and spiritual considerations for service delivery, ethical decision-making, staff training, and end-of-life care.

Bazzy was recently profiled on CBS 62’s “Eye on the Future: The Power of Women” along with Suzanne Shank, Mary Barra, Gretchen Valade and Andra Rush. She earned her nursing degree from Madonna University with a specialization in critical care and transcultural nursing, which promotes cultural and spiritual competency within health care.

Christy McDonald

Christy McDonald is the anchor and moderator of “MiWeek,” a weekly news and political analysis show on WTVS – Detroit’s PBS. McDonald also anchors WTVS special coverage including the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. She has appeared on the PBS “NewsHour” and CNN reporting on Detroit, Michigan politics and the 2016 presidential election.

McDonald has moderated panels at the Detroit Economic Club, Detroit Policy Conference, Mackinac Policy Conference, Great Lakes Conference and Michigan Political Science Association Conference.

As an Emmy-winning anchor and reporter, McDonald connected with Detroit viewers for 10 years on WXYZ-TV 7 on big stories, from 9/11 in New York to political corruption in the city of Detroit. She has received reporting honors from the Associated Press and Michigan Association of Broadcasters for anchoring and breaking news coverage. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s James Madison College.

Adrienne Bennett

President and CEO, Benkari LLC

Adrienne Bennett is president and CEO of her contracting company, Benkari LLC. In this position, she leads a team of operational personnel, negotiates contracts, consults on water conservation and commissioning, and has worked on projects that include the construction of the Little Caesars Arena. She is the first black female master plumber in the nation.

Prior to starting her own business, Bennett served as a consultant in project management and design for Products Direct LLC, serving clients including Comerica Park, Ford Field and Atlantic City. In this position she worked with a team to create hospital plumbing and piping and led preventive maintenance programs.

Bennett is active in several professional organizations including the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, the American Society of Sanitary Engineers, and the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council.

A Message From Sandy Baruah, President and CEO

As 2018 comes to an end, Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah reflects on the Chamber’s priorities over the past year while looking forward to 2019.

Thank you to all of our members, investors, Board members, government leaders and stakeholders that made this year prosperous for the Detroit region.

Walsh Honored for Architectural Design Excellence

TROY, Mich., Dec. 18, 2018 – Valerio Dewalt Train Associates announces that Walsh’s Troy location at 3838 Livernois Rd. has been awarded a Citation for outstanding design in Informa’s American School & University® 2018 Architectural Portfolio. The project is featured in the November/December 2018 edition of the magazine and also online at www.SchoolDesigns.com. An annual competition honoring education design excellence, the Architectural Portfolio spotlights projects representing today’s most effective learning environments.

“We believe it’s essential to deliver a practical and progressive business education, and we also want to ensure that our students have an engaging environment that enhances their learning experience,” said Marsha Kelliher, president and CEO of Walsh. “We are honored to be recognized for the thoughtful and beautiful additions to our Troy location.”

A jury of American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Education members and education administrators evaluated submissions from architectural firms, schools and universities across the country. One hundred sixteen projects were chosen for publication in AS&U. Awarded projects exhibited clarity of concept, innovation and creativity in response to the specifics of program, users, community, and site. Other considered criteria included: clarity of idea, sense of place/atmosphere, unique identity, healthful interior environment, anticipates user needs, security, flexibility/adaptability, pushing envelope, suited to community, and economy.

Founded in 1928, American School & University is devoted exclusively to education facilities/business administration. The authority for information about the educational facilities market, AS&U delivers an insightful combination of exclusive reports, special focuses and how-to articles. For more information about Walsh, visit www.walshcollege.edu.


Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate and graduate business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of the region’s largest business schools and Michigan’s third largest graduate business school, offering classes in several locations as well as online. Our nationally ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit www.walshcollege.edu.

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (www.acbsp.org).

How Gov. Snyder’s ‘Relentless Positive Action’ Is Helping Detroit Win

With Michigan’s new governor and legislators poised to take office in the new year comes an opportunity to support Detroit in its continued growth and revitalization.

Three years after exiting bankruptcy and nearly a decade since the Great Recession, Detroit is coming back — the Detroit MSA labor force is up 6.2 percent, employment is up 15.9 percent, and per capita income is up 34.2 percent. It has been a remarkable turnaround, and so much of the success is attributable to the earnest work of Gov. Rick Snyder and his administration.

That he has been able to garner statewide support for Detroit’s transformation without criticizing others or resorting to the lack of civility that is so common in today’s public discourse is remarkable – and appreciated.

Gov. Snyder’s unique willingness to bring the business, community, government, nonprofit and the public and private sector together as “One Michigan” paid dividends for Detroit, our state and region during his tenure. His positive message that “when one community wins, we all win,” resulted in a city and region more unified than when he took office.

The results of the Governor’s collaborative spirit is evident in the work being done and the relationships forged between the business community and groups across the city and state in everything from economic development legislation, the Gordie Howe International Bridge project and foreign business attraction to support for the landmark passage of the “Grand Bargain” facilitating Detroit’s exit from bankruptcy.

Part of this success is the result of the Governor’s message that cities, of all shapes and sizes, play a role in fostering economic growth and talent attraction. Gov. Snyder’s leadership in the comeback of Detroit was not just critical to Southeast Michigan, but his “ignore the politics” approach resulted in a transformation that the nation is still talking about – and has made Detroit a city that once again makes all parts of the state proud.

Under the leadership of the Governor, Detroit has achieved more than anyone could have expected in 2010. You need look no further than the growth of our economy and the vibrancy of places like downtown.

There is still much left to do for Detroit to experience its full renaissance. It is paramount that Governor-elect Whitmer and the soon-to-be-sworn-in members of the state Legislature take a page from Gov. Snyder’s playbook and set aside their differences, avoid politically-charged attacks and come together on key issues like education reform, broadband access, transportation and mobility, and other economic issues that will allow our business community to thrive.

In his exit interview with the Detroit Economic Club the Governor said, “The greatest threat to our country is our lack of civility between one another. It’s not about who is on the other side and why you should insult them or call them a name or anything else. What’s the problem we are there to solve?”

Let’s show the world how Detroit and Michigan can disagree without being disagreeable, how we can debate without personal attacks, and how we can solve more problems together than we can apart.

Accelerating Our Electrified Autonomous World

By Claire Charlton and Glenn Stevens

Michigan has long been known as the global epicenter of automotive design, research and engineering. As the industry undergoes one of its most profound changes, companies large and small are leading the charge in developing next-generation technologies that are ushering in a new era of mobility solutions around connected, electrified and autonomous vehicles.

As major players in this space, global parts supplier Magna International and Ann Arbor startup May Mobility are changing the paradigm of industry collaboration, working together to bring electric, autonomous shuttles to the masses and contributing to Michigan’s mobility transformation. Each bring unique contributions to the industry and their partnership as providers of technology.

The Detroiter interviewed Swamy Kotagiri, chief technology officer for Magna International, and Edwin Olson, CEO and co-founder of May Mobility, on how they are leveraging the decades-old experience and know-how of a traditional supplier with the innovative prowess of a startup to forge solutions for today’s mobility needs with clear eyes on the future to help solve tomorrow’s global challenges.

How is Magna’s R&D expertise helping expand the global automotive industry’s commitment to electrification?

KOTAGIRI: There are a lot of bold predictions about the future of mobility. For Magna, we believe the future is, at least in part, electric and autonomous. If we look at the overall Magna product portfolio, we are addressing mobility as a whole including key areas of autonomy, electrification, connectivity and shared mobility.

On electrification specifically, Magna is engaged in not only hybrid and electric powertrain systems, but also with developing electric and electro-mechanical systems.

What was once six or so basic powertrain architectures will balloon to more than 50 by 2025. Magna is focused on the development of scalable building blocks to support such proliferation. Our deep understanding of vehicle system requirements helps us ensure these developed solutions support powertrain system level needs for all the different areas of mobility.

Magna is committed to innovative partnerships to bring technology to the market. What led Magna to partner on May Mobility’s automated, electrified shuttle?

KOTAGIRI: We are excited to support new mobility efforts like this one, which will ultimately help getting around crowded city centers easier. Partnerships like with May Mobility provide the opportunity to continue playing a role in the startup ecosystem and serve as cornerstones to Magna’s “open for business” mindset. Through this approach we look at all aspects of mobility, including privately owned vehicles, ride-sharing, ride-hailing, and mobility as a service, and we consider how we can help build solutions for startups like May Mobility.

May brings a pure startup mentality to this partnership. Magna is an established global tech supplier. What are the challenges and opportunities of this partnership?

OLSON: Magna International is our manufacturing partner. While the vehicle design and autonomy stack is engineered by May Mobility, Magna helps bring our vision to life at scale, enabling us to retrofit hundreds, and eventually thousands of shuttles. Magna shares our high technical standards and excitement about servicing the growing demand for self-driving vehicles to meet today’s transportation needs. This deal demonstrates our commitment to scale operations with a partner who understands quality and reliability in the build process, and who can match the exacting process that makes us a trusted community partner.

Experts assert that low-speed, shared electric shuttles on a fixed route are the first widely-deployed autonomous vehicles. Why is this an appropriate beginning?

OLSON: Deploying low-speed electric shuttles on limited route networks is a practical solution to many existing transportation problems using technology that’s ready and safe now. By giving real people, not opt-in test subjects, a chance to experience self-driving vehicles in a controlled setting, we believe we will be able to scale the technology more quickly. And by easing people into the whole idea of self-driving cars in a way that helps them in their daily routine, we are also able to collect early-stage data and customer feedback.

For new technology partnerships to emerge and new mobility solutions to be brought to life, what are the critical success factors for Michigan? 

KOTAGIRI: Around the world, the next generation of mobility and the requirements for mobility as a service are being defined in part by a new class of service providers, like May Mobility. Large cities are beginning to dictate requirements for powertrain, especially EVs, full autonomous capability and vehicle use cases, such as no single occupants. Sharing of mobility and making it multifunctional are the next steps in improving city access, passenger movement and access to services. Partnerships will ensure there is support in place for implementing new solutions driven by mobility’s transformation.

What have you learned from your pilot programs in Detroit and Michigan and how will that data drive your decisions on EV shuttle deployment?

OLSON: The value of getting out to market as the first fleet of self-driving shuttles is immeasurable. From user experience to business models to corner cases experienced in the streets of Detroit, we’re learning something every day about how real people want to use and interact with self-driving vehicles in their everyday lives. We’re able to draw on years of experience with the talent that’s available in the Motor City, while drawing some of the best minds from research and academia to develop our cutting-edge technology.

Claire Charlton is a metro Detroit freelance writer and Glenn Stevens is executive director of MICHauto.

Following the EV Leaders

By Dawson Bell

Epic. Generational. Transformative. Not the kind of words temperate-minded engineers, technicians and business leaders traffic in lightly. Except lately, when they talk about the not-so-distant future of automotive technology, and the rapid, revolutionary transition to electric powertrains. Buoyed by eye-popping projections for growth and billions in investment, the future of electric transportation is happening now. Look at what some of the region’s standouts in electrification are working on.

Michael Bly
Vice President, Business Development and Electrification, American Axle & Manufacturing

​​American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) has a century-long history as a producer of drivetrains. For most of it, they were powered by internal combustion engines. Times are changing. Bly has been working on EVs for 10 years, including on the team that launched General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt. “There have been lots of starts and stops,” Bly said. “But in the last three years we’ve seen market acceptance…and progress is measurable.”

In some regions, government incentives are driving explosive growth, he said. AAM provides the propulsion system for an AWD EV being produced in Poland, and a plug-in hybrid for another European automaker set to be introduced in 2020, Bly said. “We see (EVs) as not a niche, but a conversion point. We’re invested,” he said.

Ted Cannis
Global Director, Electrification, Ford Motor Company

The iconic automaker is “all in” on EVs, Cannis said. Consider some of the numbers: Ford investment in electrics through 2022, $11 billion; 40 EV models, 18 of them all-electric by 2022; a Mustang-inspired electric SUV with a 300-mile range in 2020; $740 million electro-centric re-development in Detroit’s Corktown, including the reclamation of the historic Michigan Central Station. A lot of factors are at work in the rapid expansion of electrification, Cannis said.

Fuel efficiency, climate change, economics, charging options, consumer confidence all point to more EVs. “Our goal is to make great ones…with power, speed, handling and passenger space,” he said.

Vince Carioti
Director, E-Mobility North America, Phoenix Contact

“I’m a firm believer that we’re going to get to full electrification (of vehicles worldwide),” said Carioti. “It is accelerating now, with (Tesla’s) Elon Musk pulling the market in that direction…China’s commitment. There is buy-in from the top at all the OEMs.”

Phoenix Contact E-Mobility is already a major supplier of charging inlets for EVs across North America, Europe and China. It is also heavily involved in developing and deploying technology for EV charging stations, with plans for high-power (500-amp/1,000-volt) superchargers —aimed at reducing range anxiety among EV drivers — to be released in 2019. “We need to build out the infrastructure,” Carioti said, “but there’s plenty of enthusiasm out there. It’s going to happen.”

Mary Gustanski
Chief Technology Officer, Delphi Technologies

​​The automotive industry is at an inflection point, Gustanski said. According to Delphi’s forecasts, by 2030 as many as half of all vehicles manufactured globally will be powered, at least in part, by electricity. Gustanski says Delphi is “an agnostic” about the eventual configuration.

“We don’t care. We do propulsion; as long as they need to move, they need Delphi,” she said. Among the company’s EV-related products are inverters (which convert DC battery power into AC for propulsion) and software engineering for controllers (which allow an EV to run like a vehicle instead of a light switch). Although a relatively small share of overall revenue today, Gustanski said Delphi has added more than $5 billion in lifetime revenue to its books just since 2011.

Heather Klish
Vice President, Operations, AxleTech

AxleTech provides drivetrains for brawny vehicles — buses, heavy-duty trucks, military, etc. “Heavy duty stuff that lasts forever,” Klish said. For the last century, that “stuff” was mostly mechanical. Not anymore, Klish said. The growth in demand for electrified drivetrains is off the charts.

“We have a new customer coming in the door every month,” she said. If anything, the market for electric in commercial, off-road and heavy-duty production may be more explosive than for passenger vehicles, Klish said. “The skeptics are no longer asking whether it will happen or not, but ‘how quickly will it ramp up?’ (EVs) could be half of our revenue by 2020 or 2022.”

Lisa Stevenson
Senior Vice President, Research and Development and Operations, XALT Energy

Some of the strongest demand for EVs comes from the operators of big vehicles in big cities, i.e., urban transit and school systems. Hundreds of their buses around the United States and Canada run on lithium ion batteries developed by XALT Energy, said Stevenson. The incentives for more — fuel costs, emissions, public policy — are growing rapidly, she said.

“They want to electrify,” Stevenson said. And XALT is “perfectly poised” to capitalize on that emerging market. The company also produces batteries for maritime use, electric grid storage and management systems, and in 2018 entered a four-year U.S. Department of Energy contract (in partnership with Ford Motor Company, General Motors and FCA) to develop breakthrough 12-volt battery technology for EVs.

Qiong Sun
Vice President, Electrification, Lear Corp.

A 101-year-old Fortune 500 company with 165,000 global employees and $20.5 billion in sales does a lot of different things. But in 2018, “meeting (vehicle manufacturers’) increasing demand for high-power electrical and electronic products…has been a major part of Lear’s strategy for growth,” said Sun.

Lear is a major provider for vehicle charging, power conversion, battery management systems and high-power electric distribution for EVs. One of the company’s current efforts is the development of “revolutionary technology that provides drivers with worry-free, hands-free charging…by simply parking over a charge pad,” Sun said. A recently-created electrification business unit within Lear will “accelerate the speed of product development and business growth.”

What’s Driving Electric Vehicle Rollout?

By James M. Amend

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra says the automotive industry will witness more change in the next few years than it has in the last 50 years, and that change largely will be driven by electrification.

The electric vehicle has the potential to eliminate the harmful tailpipe emissions of traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, as well as help make autonomous vehicles expected to reduce traffic fatalities and congestion a reality because their big batteries can feed power to the myriad sensors and cameras the cars relay upon to operate safely.

Beyond the vehicle itself, electrification could fuel an entirely new transportation infrastructure creating new jobs and economic opportunities, while widespread adoption also could uncover new, more reliable forms of renewable energy to phase out coal from the energy-making equation and move EVs to truly zero-emissions vehicles.

While there remains little doubt that this technology will have a significant impact on the industry and society moving forward, the Detroiter took a closer look at several factors that will determine just how quickly electrification will penetrate the market.

Learning to Walk Before We Run

 For all the promise of EVs and the billions of dollars automakers are funneling into their development, the segment currently accounts for less than 3 percent of global vehicle sales. The lack of widespread adoption, in addition to setbacks or outright failures at some EV startups, has created warranted skepticism.

Technology costs also remain high. But with automakers committed to the technology, Brandon Mason, the Americas leader of PwC’s Autofacts group in Detroit, forecasts global EV production to rise to 6 million units annually by 2024.

“We anticipate an uptick driven mainly by the regulatory environment in China and Europe,” Mason said.

U.S. Rides Shotgun, At Least Initially

After lagging on emissions standards, China now employs light-duty carbon-dioxide emissions standards as stringent as Europe and often compared with those in California, a global clean-air pioneer. China also employs incentives for consumers to buy EVs, including granting those buyers precedence in its license plate registration process.

PwC estimates the total Chinese automotive market to reach between 30 million and 40 million units by 2024 from about 25 million in 2017, so even a slight uptick in EV sales would be significant.

The regulatory environment also is driving EV adoption in Europe, where the Volkswagen diesel emissions-cheating scandal has led some countries to plan an outright ban of gasoline and diesel engines, beginning with city centers.

“You’re starting to see the end-game there,” Mason said.

Playing the Long Game in the U.S.

Regulatory levers and consumer incentives also are at play in the United States. President Trump has signaled a desire to roll back stringent fuel-economy standards written under the Obama Administration, but automakers such as General Motors and Honda have recently pushed back with a national zero-emissions plan potentially putting 7 million EVs on America’s roads by 2030.

The United States also is a market of millions of full-size pickups and SUVs, which makes electrification challenging due to their size. As such, pure EVs comprise just 1 percent of the 17 million vehicles sold annually.

PwC expects incremental gains as more nameplates enter the market but does not envision mass adoption of EVs until their total cost of ownership reaches parity with ICEs sometime around 2027.

Michigan’s Pole Position in EV Race

Michigan enjoys a lead in research and development of EV technology, dating back to Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration when the governor’s office took advantage of President George W. Bush-era incentives to lure battery companies. As the nation teetered on the Great Recession, the seeds of Michigan’s battery industry were sowed with the arrival of LG Chem, A123 Systems, Dow Kokam (now Xalt Energy) and Johnson Controls.

Mid-Michigan, as well as the west and southeast portions of the state became ground zero for electrification, including applications in plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid vehicles. There have been growing pains, but the gamble paid off, said Jim Saber, CEO of NextEnergy.

“Everything was in its infancy 10 years ago, but Michigan was leading development of the electric vehicle in the U.S.,” Saber said, pointing to the 2010 release of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in. “And Michigan still leads.”

James M. Amend is a senior editor at WardsAuto in Southfield.


ElectricVehicles.jpg: Electrification is considered among the “game-changers” that will help drive General Motors’ future. The diverse lineup includes the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Cadillac CT6 PHEV, Buick LaCrosse hybrid and Opel Ampera-e. Photo courtesy of General Motors.

Chevrolet Volt.jpg:

A new 7.2 kilowatt charging system on the 2019 Chevrolet Volt cuts recharging times nearly in half by adding about twice the all-electric driving range per hour of charge. The new system headlines a number of additional enhancements for the 2019 Volt.

NissanLeaf: Nissan added two new DC fast-charge stations in Novi and Howell, adding to the growing infrastructure of electric vehicle fast-chargers in the state. The stations are located at USA 2 GO convenience stores in the towns, along the I-96 expressway.

FocusElectric: A look under the hood of Ford Motor Company’s 2017 Focus Electric.