Detroit Regional Chamber > Racial Justice & Economic Equity > Golden Moments of Grace: Celebrating Michigan Chronicle’s 2024 Women of Excellence

Golden Moments of Grace: Celebrating Michigan Chronicle’s 2024 Women of Excellence

April 2, 2024

Photo credit: Monica Morgan

Michigan Chronicle
March 30, 2024
Ebony JJ Curry

On the beautiful evening of Thursday, March 28, Detroit’s Huntington Place – with its breathtaking views of the Detroit River and Canada – played host to the 17th annual Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence Awards ceremony. This prestigious event honored an exceptional class of 50 local Black women who embody the essence of “Living my life like it’s golden” through their impactful contributions and leadership across various sectors of society.

The ceremony was not just an evening of accolades, but a vibrant testament to the power and grace of these women, who seamlessly blend roles as professionals, mothers, wives, and more.

In its 17th iteration, the event inducted 50 remarkable women from a pool of hundreds of nominees, bringing the distinguished society to more than 850 Women of Excellence. These honorees are champions of economic empowerment, diversity, education, and community service, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to uplifting those around them.

As soon as doors opened to the grand venue, guests were met with a scene that was both fierce and graceful: vibrant pinks and radiant golds filled the room with an air of sophistication and allure. The event, attended this year by more than 800 individuals, was alive with the energy of celebration and fellowship. The sound of glasses toasting to success mingled with animated conversations, while the buffet was a spectacle, offering an endless array of delectable meals, each dish more enticing than the last, ensuring no one could resist the temptation to indulge. Against this backdrop of refined elegance and jubilation, the presence of Black excellence was undeniable, casting a powerful and proud aura throughout the space.

Hiram E. Jackson, the vibrant Chief Executive Officer of Real Times Media and Publisher of the Michigan Chronicle, ignited the evening with an energy that was both invigorating and reassuring. With his words, “It is with immense pride that I extend heartfelt congratulations to an exceptional group of individuals – the 2024 Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence honorees,” he not only conveyed the profound respect and admiration Real Times Media and the Michigan Chronicle hold for the honorees but also underscored the significance of their remarkable achievements and contributions to the community. He reminded everyone, “This is a safe space to let your hair down when you hear your favorite song,” setting a tone of freedom and celebration.

Jackson’s message was clear: amidst the accolades and acknowledgments, the evening was also about joy, about reveling in the moment, and about being unapologetically oneself in a gathering that felt like family. His assurance that the ceremony was a moment to “bask in the recognition you so richly deserve” resonated deeply, inviting honorees and guests alike to fully embrace and celebrate their successes in an environment brimming with support and shared triumph.

“You, the honorees, exemplify the pinnacle of professional dedication and community service. Your relentless pursuit of excellence in your respective fields has not only set a benchmark for success but has also paved the way for future generations,” Jackson noted. “As we prepare to honor you at the forthcoming Women of Excellence Awards and Induction Ceremony, please know that this is a moment to bask in the recognition you so richly deserve. This accolade serves as a testament to your hard-earned accomplishments and the positive impact you’ve made on both the local and broader stage.”

Among the night’s highlights were the special awards that shone a spotlight on the transformative impact of these dynamic women. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Faye Alexander Nelson by her husband, celebrating her extensive contributions to Michigan’s community, particularly through her leadership at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and other significant roles. Nelson’s dedication to fostering equitable opportunities and her involvement in various influential boards mark her as a true pillar of excellence and service.

“What has truly been the highlight of my career are the lessons learned along the way,” Nelson stated as she accepted her award. “The importance of giving grace. Giving grace to others and giving grace to yourself. I’ve learned that nothing will ever be perfect and that we just have to do our best. Also, embracing purpose. Living a life of purpose and meaning, always remembering to give back. And certainly, last but not least, faith. Knowing that nothing that you do or accomplish, the challenges that you have experienced, you are never alone, and you are loved. So, with grace, purpose, and faith I extend my deep gratitude to the many individuals who have provided their support to my growth and development. To the Michigan Chronicle and Real Times Media, thank you for thinking enough of me to honor me with such a prestigious award.”

Denise Brooks-Williams was honored as the Woman of the Year, an accolade powerfully presented by figures close to her heart – a mentee, a Soror and her best friend, and her daughter, highlighting an evening charged with emotion and pride.

“In addition to her ability to be an amazing health care professional and leader, I get to shed light on what an amazing mother my mom is,” said Williams’ daughter, Jasmine Williams. “From a young age I realized my mom was very different because I grew up in spaces like this. I got to see and witness what it was like to be raised by a true trailblazer. I’ve always been aware of my mother’s excellence but as an adult and someone who has recently entered the corporate space, I can fully appreciate the hard work and dedication it has taken for her to get to where she is. I’m so honored to be here as your daughter but also one of the many young women you continuously poor into. So, when I get to say I get it from my momma, it means something very different to me.”

With a distinguished career in healthcare spanning three decades, Brooks-Williams’s visionary leadership at Henry Ford Health System has been instrumental in advancing health equity and operational excellence, making her a beacon of professional and community dedication.

“Congratulations, congratulation, congratulations!” expressed Denise as she accepted her Woman of the Year Award. “Thank you, Real Times Media, for lifting us. I know many of us have been honored in spaces, but this one is particularly positive because it’s us and it’s for us by us. I don’t take that for granted. All they have done for our community; this recognition is something incredible.”

The event was not just a ceremony but a celebration of sisterhood and achievement, with co-founder and managing partner at Great Lakes Legal Group PLLC Jehan Crump-Gipson, as the emcee and the guiding voice of the night, weaving stories and achievements into a tapestry of inspiration. Cathy Nedd, the driving force behind Real Times Media as President, orchestrated the event with a masterful touch, ensuring every moment resonated with purpose and warmth. And then there was DJ Fingers, whose jams did more than fill the room with melodies; they sparked a collective energy, prompting both the honorees and their cheerleaders to embrace the rhythm of celebration, together in shared joy and accomplishment.

As the 2024 Women of Excellence Awards drew to a close, it was evident that the night was a resounding affirmation of the brilliance and resilience of Black women. It was a celebration of not just the honorees but of the collective strength and grace of women who lead, inspire, and transform their communities and beyond. The Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence Awards continue to be a beacon of recognition for those who, through their leadership and service, illuminate the path for others to follow.

Women of Excellence is more than just an award, it is a sisterhood that stands the test of time, a sisterhood that continues to uphold its very foundation; Women of Excellence are those who exemplify the stature, poise, and grace that characterize the essence of a womanhood, all while maintaining the delicate balance of filling the roles of helpmate, mother, teacher, and professional. Women of Excellence are the champions of our economic empowerment and diversity, the backbone of our religious and educational organizations, and driving forces in politics and community service. In character, in manner, and in style, we believe you embody virtues of not only excellence but self-confidence and dignity as well. We celebrate you for your personal code of ethics, exceptional courage, unwavering conviction, and extraordinary grace. It is truly an honor to induct you into our society of Women of Excellence.

2024 Honorees

Tonya Adair
Chief Development, Diversity and Engagement Officer
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Teberah Alexander, RN, BSN, CDP
President and Chief Executive Officer
Kathelene’s Adult Day Care and
Nurse T’s Body Bar

Brianne Boles-Marshall
Diversity Media Strategy and Investment Lead
General Motors

Deidre L. Boyd, MBA
Chief Human Resource Officer
DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital
Tenet Healthcare

Nikkiya Branch Penson, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department

Tamika Brown
President and Chief Executive Officer, RSVP Premier Group and The Harmon Group

Britta Brown
Senior Director of Basketball Administration, Detroit Pistons

Marca Brown
Senior Manager, Fleet Optimization, DTE Energy

Tinetra Burns, MS, RSST, CADC
Clinical Specialist, Innovation and Community Engagement, Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network

Khalilah Burt Gaston
Executive Director, Song Foundation

Ronneshia Carter
Executive Director, NeuroRestorative – Michigan

Shenetta Coleman, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Residential Opportunities, Inc.

LaJuan Counts
Director, Detroit Construction and Demolition Department, City of Detroit

Rose Dady
Director of Community Engagement, US Department of Energy

Michelle Davis
Principal, Davis Aerospace High School
Director, Golightly Career and Technical Center

Briana DuBose
Executive Director, Eco Works

Norma Joan Early
Senior Manager, U.S. Accounting and Consolidations, General Dynamics Land Systems

Robin Gamble
Owner, Robin Gamble Photography

Mikiah Glynn
Owner, Brix Wine

Hon. Nicole Goodson
Judge, Wayne County Circuit Court – Family Division

Beverly Hannah, AIA
President and Chief Executive Officer, Hannah Architects

Andrea A. Harp
Chief of Staff/Director of Culture and Community for the Office of the President & Chief Executive Officer Michigan Science Center

Shuna K. Hayward
Vice President of Programs, Connect Detroit

Dr. April Y. M. Hearn
Executive Pastor, New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church

Dr. CharMaine Hines
Vice Chancellor, Academic Accountability and Policy at Wayne County Community College District

Kyra Joy Hope
2nd Deputy Chief, Detroit Police Department

Jessie Katherine Kimbrough, MD, MPH
Board of Regents, Eastern Michigan University

LaTonia Stewart-Limmitt
Deputy Chief Procurement Officer, Office of Contracting and Procurement, City of Detroit

Tanisha Manningham
Principal, Denby High School, Detroit Public Schools Community District

Anita Milson
President and Chief Executive Officer, MentorScope Community Outreach

Kerrie M. Mitchell
President and Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Public Schools Foundation

Dominique Morgan, MPH
Chief Operating Officer, Health Leads USA

Jessica Parker
Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Mayor’s Office for the City of Detroit

Tashawna Parker
Chief Operating Officer, Focus Hope

Jacqueline Pritchett
Deputy Chief, Detroit Police Department

Teresa Mask Recinto
Director, Department of Public Communications, Oakland County

Dr. Tara M. Reid
Director, Office of Learning and Teaching, Wayne State University

Hon. Victoria Roberts
Federal Judge, U.S. Eastern District of Michigan
Kimberly Renee’ Rogers, EdS, LLPC, SCL
Principal, Northwestern High School, Detroit Public Schools Community District

Charli E. Rose, FD
Division Director, Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office

Dr. Karen Russell, MD, MSPH
Owner/President, Amity Internal Medicine, PC and Amity Total Body, PLLC

Rinia Shelby-Crooms
Portfolio Manager, Southeast Michigan, Ballmer Group

Denise D. Steele
Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, JP Morgan Chase

Elmeka Steele, Esq.
Deputy Director/Drain Commissioner, Wayne County Department of Public Services

Jeanne K. Wardford
Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Donna Wellington, MBA, BSN
Senior Vice President, Chief Ambulatory Officer and VP System Primary Health and Behavioral Health Services Henry Ford Health System

Kimberly Keaton Williams
Vice President, Talent Acquisition and Development and Chief Diversity Officer, McLaren Health Care

Angela Whitfield-Calloway
Detroit City Council Member, District 2, City of Detroit

Krystle Woods-Hollier, PhD, LP
Director, Metro Detroit, Lifestance Health, Inc.

Dr. Teniesha Nicole Wright-Jones
Physician, Family Medicine, Family Medicine Residence Program Director, Chair of DEI-ABIDE, Ascension Providence Hospital, Southfield