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A career mentor’s Journey: From being nervous at the first session to beaming with pride at the last session, we will follow a group of volunteers throughout the year starting with this first of four blog series.

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Male mentor with male student in classroom

Career mentors are the most integral part of our work when connecting with high school and college students in our Workforce Prep and College Success Mentoring program. For new career mentors, the process of getting started can feel like they are embarking on the unknown. Some also feel nervous about how they will connect with students who are much younger and who may deal with issues that the mentor may not have encountered when they were in high school or college.  

Knowing this is a concern, we provide training before the program begins and ongoing support before, during and after every session. This year, it all started with our ’23-24 career mentors participating in our training and orientation program in October at our office in Warren.  

Jessica Hymon, who works as an auditor at Ally Financial, is a career mentor at Cass Technical High School. She shared with us how she was initially nervous about starting as a mentor and has now returned for a second year. 

“The training and support we receive during each session is so helpful,” says Jessica.  

She said the staff at her school always make sure to go over what will happen at each session. They also talk about any key points that the career mentor should keep in mind while interacting with their group of students.  

While our focus is on empowering students to reach their educational and professional goals, they are not the only ones that feel the benefits. Our career mentors also enjoy learning from their students and the joy that comes with working with them. 

Vanessa DeMenech recently retired as a Contract Manager at General Motors. She is a career mentor at Community High School and learned about us when she subbed for a friend at Community High School. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to apply as a career mentor in our school-based program this year.  

“I love meeting students where they are, and seeing how I can help them,” says Vanessa.  

Every career mentor who volunteers with us is essential to our program. They come to us from a variety of different career fields and diverse backgrounds. Some of our mentors work in industries like automotive engineering, banking, information technology, and some are business owners themselves. This is important for our students because we do our best to match students with mentors that have expertise in a career field that the students may be interested in.  

90 percent of our students are people of color, and understanding that representation matters for everyone, it is imperative for us to find mentors that our students can see a bit of themselves in.  

Tae’Vonne Taylor is an Investment Advisor at PNC Bank and is a mentor in our program at Pontiac Academy of Excellence. This is his third year as a career mentor, and he enjoys interacting with his student and understands how important it is for the student to have a male mentor that he can relate to. 

“Kids sometimes need help to see what options are available to them as far as career and education. I want to be a positive influence in that way,” said Tae’Vonne. 

If you are curious about becoming a career mentor, we welcome you to discover more about what we do. We provide training and in-class support to all our mentors, and there is always someone available if you have questions at any point during the process.  

January is National Mentoring Month, and we want to thank and recognize every career mentor in our program this year. 

2023-2024 Winning Futures Career Mentors 

Sami Abu-Soud, Lead Wiring Design Release Engineer, Flex 
Brian Agar, 2nd Shift Wing Engineer, Stellantis 
Mahfuj Ahbab, Senior Data Analyst, Driven Brands 
Zereen Ali, Sr. Communications and Marketing Specialist, Martinrea International Inc. 
Rasha Al-Naji, Director, Program Management, Flex 
Michael Anderson, Assistant Program Purchasing Manager, General Motors 
Jessica Anderson, Sr. Analyst, Physical Security, Ally 
Dena Austin, Director Population Health, Blue Cross Complete 
James Austin, Underwriter, Ally 
Juretta Bailey-Grajewski, Career Consultant, Oakland University 
Gerard Baltrusaitis, Internship Employment Specialist, Gesher Human Services 
James Bishop, System Test Engineer, HARMAN International 
Nicholas Boguth, Portfolio Manager, Center for Financial Planning 
Kelly Bolman, Talent Selection Specialist, Henry Ford Health System 
Joshua Borden, Senior WFM Scheduling Analyst, Rocket Mortgage 
Chanese Brown, Mortgage Underwriter, Park State Bank 
Stefan Buerkle, SVP, Head of Sales – Cross Domain Computing, Robert Bosch LLC 
Diane Burns, Supply Chain Consultant, Allegis Global Solutions 
Robert Bush, Account Executive, Blue Cross Complete of Michigan 
Chris Cahill, Director of Operations, Winning Futures 
Candace Campbell, Corporate and Partnership Engagement Manager, Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit 
Taylor Carter-Willbanks, Grants and Major Gifts Development Manager, GreenPath Financial Wellness 
Natalie Chipot, Validation Engineering Manager, Forvia 
Thomas Clemons, VP, Principal Product Manager, Comerica Bank 
Kelly Cobbin, Compliance Manager, Ally Financial 
Maria Cook, Information Technology Project Manager, Comerica 
LaShawn Cooks, Escrow Operations Analyst, Comerica Bank 
Karla Cordova Azuara, Technical Project Lead, FORVIA (Faurecia) 
Lacey Cornell, School & Community Relations Coordinator, Extra Credit Union 
Tyler Cox 
Earline Crawford, Audit Talent Management Analyst, Ally Financial 
Mae Daniels, Public Relations and Events Coordinator, Extra Credit Union 
Ellyn Davidson, CEO, Brogan & Partners 
Melissa Davidson, Internal Medicine/ Pediatrics Physician, Bronson Medical Group 
Brian Davis, Payment Assistance Worker, State of Michigan 
Ruth Davis, Retired, General Motors 
Scott Dawson, Investor, SMD Investments and Capital Partners 
Vanera DeMenech, Contract Manager, General Motors 
Brenda Dennis, Supplier Quality Engineer, Magna 
Ashley DiFonzo, Product Trainer, Autobooks 
Dane Dillon, Energy Engineer, DNV 
Robert Doyle, President and CEO, Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA) 
Charles Ellias, Owner / Designer & Gemologist Appraiser, Charles Michael Designs / North American Lapidary Laboratory 
Eric Emmi, Assistant Plan Analyst Manager, Marsh McLennan Agency 
Christopher Ethridge, Assistant Division Director, State of Michigan 
Pamela Ferrara, Program Management Analyst, Ford Motor Company 
Eric Fields, Desktop Administrator, Aptiv 
Shawanna Fletcher, Key Account Manager, Nexteer Automotive 
Ashley Fordyce, School and Community Relations Coordinator, Extra Credit Union 
Colleen Fournier, Community Health Educator, Community Outreach, Blue Cross Complete of Michigan 
Joshua Friday, Design Release Engineer, General Motors 
Torri Garland, Engineer, General Motors 
Anthony Garnett, Global Platform Manager – Ford C.B.U., Forvia Clean Mobility 
Jennifer Gasiecki, General Counsel, Continental Service 
Cassandra Gilliam, Head of Cost Management & Tool Engineering, Stellantis 
Brigitte Gillis, Director of Product, White Glove 
Martin Gojcaj, Sr. Buyer, General Motors 
Elise Goulbourne, Vice President of Behavioral Health, Black Family Development 
Todd Grafton, Global Lead Buyer, General Motors 
Sarah Gregory, Director, Talent Solutions, Detroit Regional Partnership 
Thomas Gregory, Senior Software Engineer, Amrock LLC 
Lori Gulecki, Talent & Acquisition Coordinator, Kelly Services 
Alexis Hammerle 
Gavin Haque, Retired, Gavin Haque Enterprises 
Brian Harris 
Krystal Harrison, Account Manager – Labor Relations, Delta Dental of Michigan 
Errol Hau, Senior Vice President Financial Advisor, Cap Trust 
Colleen Hau, Consultant  
Kaila Hobson, Staff Accountant, Dykema Gossett PLLC 
William Holley, Pharma Program Manager, AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy 
Bryan Howard, Director of Programs, Winning Futures 
Irelle Hughes, Admission Representative, National Heritage Academies 
Jason Hurley, Customer Account Specialist, McNaughton-McKay Electric Company 
Kevin Hurley, Finance Manager, Lear Corporation 
Carleen Huszti, Tax Accountant, Stellantis 
Jessica Hymon, Senior Auditor, Ally Financial 
Adam Izer, ER Veterinarian, The Izers LLC 
LaKisha James, Director, Amrock 
Jenifer Janhevich, Community Health Educator, Blue Cross Complete of Michigan 
Charles Johnson, Director of Customer Success, Adecco 
Ashley Johnson, Manager of Student Corp, Corporate Giving, General Motors 
Ariana Johnson, Trainer, Rocket Central 
Ashley Johnson-Varner, Program Officer, Kresge Foundation 
Jennifer Jontz, Corporate Human Resources Director & In-House Employment Counsel, Shiloh Dura 
Tina Joshua, Floater Pharmacist, Sam’s Club Pharmacy 
Matthus Joshua, Owner, E-MAD LLC 
Mary Beth Kaminski, Engineering Technical Lead, Interiors, General Motors 
Charity Kemp, Accountant/Financial Literacy Advisor, Financial Abundance Services LLC 
Kimberly Kersten, Senior V.P. & Director Business Banking – Michigan, Comerica Bank 
Benjamin King, Director of Information Technology, Expeditus Transport 
Tallette Kitchen, TeamLead, Leidos 
Lida Kuehne, Supplier Quality Value Stream Engineer, General Motors 
Matt Lambert, Director of Engineering, Veoneer 
Chad Larsen, EDS Global FP&A Financial Analyst, Aptiv 
Marina Lekocaj, Assistant Director of Employee Engagement, DirectRX 
Robert Lenz, President, Peak Management 
Brandon Leslie, Vice President – Strategic Development, Barton Malow Company 
Brenda Lever, Director, Provider Network Management, Blue Cross Complete of Michigan 
Ashley Mabbitt, Director, Provider Relations, McLaren Health Plan 
Hunter Main, Systems Engineer, McNaughton-McKay Electric Company 
Andrew Makar, Senior Manager – Consulting Services, Salesforce 
Michael Malaga, Vice President, Comerica Bank 
Kathryn Marquette, Graphic Designer, Bedrock Real Estate 
Gregory Martin, Manager of Business Development, DTE Energy 
Clarence Martin, President, Eypex 
Kier Mathieson, Product Engineering Manager – Infotainment, General Motors 
Michael McBride, Retired 
Besima Mello, Treasury Manager, Ally Financial 
Klara Michael, Practice Manager, KAREGO HOME CARE AGENCY 
Matthew Michayluk, Director of Sales, Complete Prototype Services 
Gail Miciuda, Automotive Product and Business Development Manager, Thermoflex Corporation 
Valetha Mitchell, Marketing Product Manager, General Motors 
Dorian Moore, Health, Life and Disability Agent, Aflac 
Andrew Moore, Senior Quality Manager, Lear Corporation 
Lydia Munn, Attorney, Dickinson Wright PLLC 
Karim Murray, Financial Analyst, Lear Corporation 
Allicia Najor-Malmgren, Business Planner / Financial Coordinator, General Motors 
Peter Nguyen, Senior Principal Engineer & Security Architect, United Wholesale Mortgage 
Kevin O’Connell, Advanced Energy Systems Manager, Michigan CAT – Power Systems Division 
Ayesha Oglesby, Family Nurse Practitioner, CVS Health 
Kevin O’Keefe, Regional President, Robert Bosch 
Angela Oleksiak, Director of Workforce Integration and Talent Development, Samaritas 
Uslind Palokaj, Finance Associate III, DTE Energy 
Erynn Pannell, Manager, Talent & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Innovid 
Michael Parent, Director, CX Research, StockX 
Ashley Parker-Ozier, DEI Sr. Consultant, Plante Moran 
Adam Petrovich, Senior Vice President – Group Manager, Comerica Bank 
Mercy Pettes, Team Lead, HAP 
Bruce Pierce, Retired, Ford Motor Company 
Tony Popovski, Purchasing Manager, General Motors 
Regina Porter, Mental Health Therapist, Crescent Academy Charter School 
David Postwaite, Engineer, General Motors 
Frederick Pruitt, Database Developer, United Wholesale Mortgage 
Thomas Pullis, Commercial Banking Portfolio Manager, Comerica Bank 
Rebecca Ramirez, R&D Controller, Harman International 
Alva Randall, Retired, Detroit Public Schools Community District 
Anna Reseigh, Quality, Ascension Macomb Oakland Hospital 
Philip Reseigh, Retired, HP 
Tamika Richardson-Carden, Manager, Payroll Tax and Accounting, Tenneco-Federal Mogul Powertrain 
Anitra Riddle, Business Analyst, TD Bank 
Melissa Roberts, Feature and Infotainment Planning, Stellantis 
Lawrence Robinson, Jr., Project Coordinator, Wayne State University 
Kenneth Rogers, General Motors 
Reggie Roland, President, District by Design 
Stephen Ross, Program Manager, Lear Corporation 
Lindsay Russ 
Amanda Rymiszewski, Marketing Manager, O’Keefe 
Kashif Saleem, Director – US Tax, Martinrea International 
Carlos Sanchez Osorio, Executive Director of Global Quality and Program Management, Shiloh Industries and Dura Automotive 
Ana Sandoval, Accounts Receivable Accountant, KOSTAL Group 
Prayush Saraswat, Sales Manager, Autodesk 
Kelly Savela, Digital Content Strategist, Publicis Groupe 
Stephen Sawyers, Owner, Blacklight 
William Schrage, Senior Client Partner, Admazing Co. 
Scott Seltzer, Owner, Chester Street Residence 
Paloma Shah, Campus Recruiting Specialist, Deloitte 
Laurelle Smith, Sr. Commodity Manager, Adient 
Catherine Smith, Vice President Population Health, HAP 
Tomika Snodgrass, CEO & Founder, Confident Heart Coach 
Lawrence Sommers, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Comerica 
Andrea Spade, Director, People Leader Journey, Kelly Services 
Matt Spatafora, Account Executive, WDIV 
Ashley Steele, Early on SLP, Washtenaw Intermediate School District 
Kyle Suminski, Owner and Physical Therapist, Health Quest Physical Therapy 
Christine Swart, Marketing Communications Manager, Celanese 
Steven Swiftney, Senior Vice President & Group Manager, Comerica Bank 
Tae’Vonne Taylor, Assistant Vice President, Investment Advisor I, PNC Bank 
Warford Taylor, Business Development Manager, Walker-Miller Energy Services 
Kimberly Taylor, Vice President – Employee Relations Consultant, Comerica Bank 
Alexis Thomas, Environmental Engineer, DTE Energy 
Gregory Thompson, Senior Manager Global Quality, Stellantis 
Laura Tiesler, Product Marketer, Rocket Mortgage 
Steffen Toennies, Digitalization Systems & Processes, Brose North America 
Natalie Tolbert, Producer, Notes For Notes 
Chad Toms, Vice President of Sales & Strategic Accounts, Reliance One 
Benny Vann, Sr. Engineering Manager, BCS-Automotive Interface Solutions 
Nidia Vargas, Senior Quality Engineer, Lear Corporation 
Jorge Vasquez, Sales and Marketing Manager, OSRAM 
Senthil Vivekanandan 
Patrick Vondette, Director, Ally Financial 
Jamie Walker White, Billing Manager, HAP 
Tavon Watkins 
Leavetta White, Trainer, Rocket Mortgage 
Valencia White, Pacific Life Insurance 
Kelsea Wilhelm, Product Marketer, Rocket Central 
George Wooley, VP Business Development, Flex 
Krista Wortman, Dentist/owner, Summit Family Dental 
Samuel Young, Co-Founder, Smile Ventures Co., Ltd (Brand Name Catchfashion.Com) 
Pablo Zambrano, Senior Sales Director, LG Electronics 
Anthony Zamora, Sales Account Manager, Muller Textiles 
Sarah Zigila, VP of Operations & Partnerships, Orbis Holding Group