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Our most important ingredient: 2022-23 Career Mentors

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If you ask pastry chefs to identify the most important cake ingredient, you’ll likely get a variety of answers. Many will say it’s the flour. Some might say it’s the eggs. And others might say it’s butter, sugar, salt, or a variety of other things.

When it comes to our Workforce Prep program, there’s no question about the most important ingredient – it’s the local businesspeople who serve as career mentors, coaching our students as they figure out what they’ll do after high school, and helping them learn life and job readiness skills they will need for success.

In the 2022-23 school year, we had 176 amazing career mentors in our program. And while they came from a variety of backgrounds and workplaces and have different reasons for getting involved, they all had one thing in common; a sincere desire to help local students find their passion and achieve their dreams.

Matthus “Matt” Joshua is the owner of E-MAD, LLC, and former executive director of purchasing at General Motors. He spent this past school year career mentoring Josh Hudson who was in our Workforce Prep program at Harper Woods High School and is currently in our College Success Mentoring (CSM) program and studying electrical engineering at the University of Michigan.

Matt recalls a time in high school when he was talking with a classmate about their future plans. While the classmate said he wanted to go to college, Matt quickly realized that his friend wasn’t prepared for college and didn’t know how to get there.

“My parents were a strong force in my life,” said Matt. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have someone who shows them the same level of interest as my parents did with me, helping them take the necessary steps to be successful. To me, it’s very important that people have equal access. It’s something that I feel very strongly about.”

Tracey Yacks is a teaching and learning specialist at Ferndale Public Schools. She spent the previous school year mentoring Angelica Tibbitts who was in our Workforce Prep program at Pontiac Academy for Excellence and is now in our CSM program while finishing up her studies in education at Saginaw Valley State University.

Tracey was recruited to be a career mentor by her sister who works at Winning Futures and was looking for someone in the education field to coach Angelica through her studies at SVSU. While Tracey did just that, she also gained some valuable insight.

“Through our teacher and diversity training, we had a presentation about breaking the cycle of poverty,” said Tracey. “I kept thinking about Angelica and how she is going to break the cycle because of her determination and positive outlook. Because I knew someone personally who was in that process, it made that professional development even more impactful. Sometimes we get in ruts and forget about why we became teachers. Having these conversations and reliving those moments with Angelica has helped me bring back some of that joy of teaching.”

Jason Hurley is an inside sales leader at McNaughton-McKay Electric Company. He spent this past school year career mentoring Samer Alzuhairi who is in our Workforce Prep program at Warren Mott High School in Warren.

Jason’s parents divorced when he was young. He recalls an uncle who took him under his wing, and helped coach him through life’s challenges.

“I’m a big believer that every kid deserves a chance to excel,” said Jason. “My parents were divorced, and I was just kind of out there. My uncle took me under his wing and guided and steered me. He’d say, ‘What do you want to do with your life? What’s your vision and plan?’ He wanted me to excel in life and helped me find a path. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

We recently started a new school year with another group of career mentors. While we are excited to begin working with the ’23-24 crew, we’d be remiss to not recognize last year’s. Their names and companies are listed below. If you happen to know one or two, or bump into them at the local coffee shop, take a minute to recognize the importance of their work and thank them for helping our students. And, if you feel inclined to do so, apply to be a career mentor for the next school year or learn more about our program.

2022-2023 Winning Futures Career Mentors

Sami Abu-Soud, Flex
Brian Agar, Stellantis
Chinonso Agubosim, U of M Hospital
Simran Ahmed Rushing, Comerica Bank
Rasha Al-Naji, Flex
Bailey Altman, Ally Financial
Michael Anderson, General Motors
Jessica Anderson, Ally
Dimitar Angelov, General Motors
James Austin, Ally
Gerard Baltrusaitis, Jewish Vocational Services
Kelly Banks-Cobbin, Ally Financial
Ignacio Barrera, Shiloh Industries – Dura Automotive
Mary Barton, Equitable Accounting Solutions PLLC
Brianna Batton, Ally Financial
Ruaa Bibi, Stellantis
Kelly Bolman, Henry Ford Health System
Joshua Borden, Rocket Mortgage
Jeffrey Bradley, Comerica Bank
Chanese Shawntel Brown, Park State Bank
LaJoyce Brown, Wayne State University
Chris Cahill, Winning Futures
Candace Campbell, Goodwill Industries Of Greater Detroit
Taylor Carter-Willbanks, GreenPath Financial Wellness
Thomas Clemons, Comerica Bank
Shawn Coleman, General Motors
Michael Colias, Wall Street Journal
LaShawn Cooks, Comerica Bank
Earline Crawford, Ally Financial
Mae Daniels, Extra Credit Union
Ellyn Davidson, Brogan & Partners
Brian Davis, State of Michigan
Brenda Ann Dennis, Magna
Julie DiCicco, TD Auto Finance
Juman Doleh-Alomary, Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc.
Emily Donohue, DNV
Taryn Dover, The Mortgage Calculator
Robert Doyle, Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA)
Ken Elkins, Black Leaders Detroit
Charles Ellias, Charles Michael Designs / North American Lapidary Laboratory
Brianna Ellison, Verizon
Eric Emmi, Marsh McLennan Agency
Kinikia Essix, U.S. District Court
Christopher Ethridge, State of Michigan
Velita Faulk, Stellantis
Pamela Ferrara, Ford Motor Company
Shawanna LaShon Fletcher, Nexteer Automotive
Ashley Fordyce, Extra Credit Union
Colleen Fournier, Blue Cross Complete of Michigan
Christopher Gattis, Visteon
Voncile Mercedes Gillespie, Blue Cross Complete Of Michigan/Amerihealth Caritas
Cassandra Gilliam, Stellantis
Brigitte Gillis, White Glove
Elise Goulbourne, Black Family Development
Sarah Gregory, Detroit Regional Partnership
Lori Gulecki, Kelly Services
Alexis Hammerle, BNY Mellon
Gavin Haque, Gavin Haque Enterprises
Brian Harris, Nexteer Automotive
Colleen Hau, Newlab
Errol Hau, Cap Trust
Jubbar Hill, Blue Cross Complete Of Michigan
Linda Hockney
Kevin Hurley, Robert Bosch Automotive Steering LLC
Jason Hurley, McNaughton-McKay Electric Company
Jessica Maria Hymon, Ally Financial
LaKisha James, Amrock
Jenifer Janhevich, Blue Cross Complete of Michigan
Ashley Johnson, General Motors
Charles Johnson, Kelly Services – Ten-Year Mentor Award Winner
Ariana Johnson, Rocket Central
Ashley Johnson-Varner, Kresge Foundation
Jennifer Jontz, Shiloh Dura
Matthus Joshua, E-MAD, LLC
Mariam Kamel, Blue Cross Complete
Kimberly Kersten, Comerica Bank
Tallette Kitchen, Leidos
Lida Ann Kuehne, General Motors
Matt Lambert, Veoneer
Hilary Lancaster
Sun Young Lee, StradVision Technology USA
Robert Lenz, Peak Management
Brandon Leslie, Barton Malow Company
Brenda Lever, Blue Cross Complete of Michigan
Clifford Lyons, General Motors
Ashley Mabbitt
Beverly Maddox, BFM Consulting Group – Five-Year Mentor Award Winner
Hunter Main, McNaughton-McKay Electric Company
Andrew Makar, Salesforce
Michael Malaga, Comerica Bank
Amy Markus, Pontoon Solutions
Clarence Martin, Eypex
Michael McBride
James McNeary, General Motors
Besima Mello, Ally Financial – Ten-Year Mentor Award Winner
Matthew Michayluk, Complete Prototype Services
Cheri Mitchell, Brilliant Detroit
Zabebah Mohamed, Comerica
Dorian Moore, Aflac
Andrew Moore, Lear Corporation
Tonya Moore-Bouchard, Saft America
Emily Moorhead, Henry Ford Health
Allicia Teresa Najor-Malmgren, General Motors
Kevin O’Connell, Michigan CAT – Power Systems Division
Ayesha Oglesby, CVS Health
Angela Oleksiak, Samaritas
Ashley Parker-Ozier, Plante Moran
Adam Petrovich, Comerica Bank
Bruce Pierce, Ford Motor Company
Nicole Ploshehanski, Amrock
Anquinett Pope, Rocket Mortgage
Tony Popovski, General Motors
David Postwaite, General Motors
Thomas Gerard Pullis, Comerica Bank
April Reed, Gordon Food Service
Tamika Richardson-Carden, Tenneco-Federal Mogul Powertrain
Anitra Dianne Riddle, TD Bank
Lawrence Robinson, Wayne State University
Kenneth Rogers, General Motors
Reggie Roland, Interior Environments
Stephen Ross, Lear Corporation – Five-Year Mentor Award Winner
Todd Russell, Pet Menders Animal Hospital
Amanda Rymiszewski, O’Keefe
Karla Saez, Stellantis
Carlos Sanchez Osorio, Shiloh Industries And Dura Automotive
Ana Sandoval, Tenneco
Prayush Saraswat, Autodesk
Kelly Savela, Publicis Groupe
Dan Schmelzer, Lear Corporation
William Schrage, Admazing Co.
Michelle Serafino, Brose North America
Cortez Settles, General Motors
Douglas Sharpe, Medline Industries
Catherine Smith, HAP
Phillip Smith, National Grid
Tomika Snodgrass, Confident Heart Coach
Andrea Spade, Kelly Services – Ten-Year Mentor Award Winner
Ashley Steele, Detroit Public Schools Community District
Mark Strayhan, Marsh
Jennifer Sutherland, Trustwave
Christine Swart, Celanese
Steven Swiftney, Comerica Bank
George Taylor, Walker-Miller Energy Services
Tae’Vonne Taylor, PNC Bank
Krystal Thompkins, Delta Dental of Michigan
Gregory Thompson, Stellantis
Steffen Toennies, Brose North America
Chad Toms, Reliance One – Five-Year Mentor Award Winner
Benny Vann, BCS-Automotive Interface Solutions – Five-Year Mentor Award Winner
Senthil Vivekanandan
Patrick Vondette, Ally Financial
Gregory Walker, Walker-Miller Energy Services
Loria Walker, University of Detroit Mercy
Bryan Walker, General Motors
Brandi Washington, Rocket Mortgage
Tavon Watkins, Detroit Police Department
Carlton Watson, DTE Energy
Valencia White, Pacific Life Insurance
Leavetta White, Rocket Mortgage
George Michael Wooley, Flex
Krista Wortman, Summit Family Dental
Tracey Yacks, Ferndale Public Schools
Christian Yost, Ally
Samuel Young, Smile Ventures Co., Ltd 
Pablo Zambrano, LG Electronics
Sarah Zigila, Orbis Holding Group