Dr. Ahmar Zaidi is a pediatric hematologist who focuses on the care of people with sickle cell disease. He works at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and is involved in research looking at pain in sickle cell disease patients.
Owner and Pastry Chef
April Anderson owner and pastry chef of Good Cakes and Bakes, In Detroit unboxes her life. She shares how she’s allowed labels and stigmas to box her in. She talks about the obstacles she’s overcome to achieve success in business. How tragedy could’ve cost her everything, but being a strong black woman helped her. Struggling with imposter syndrome is real!
April is graduate of Spelman College, and university of Michigan. She’s also a 2018 James Beard Chef Boot Camp Alum. In 2019, April and her mother appeared on The Today Show in NYC.
Recovering Politician & President of the Small Business Association of Michigan
The former Michigan Lt. Governor combines the skills acquired from an accomplished private sector career with a heart for public service. He brings a daring, pragmatic and inclusive problem solving approach to public policy. He now leads the Small Business Association of Michigan.
Dan Putt is a licensed professional chemical engineer. He works as a forecasting engineer for Marathon Petroleum, where his day-to-day includes running a 6,000-variable model to calculate optimal refinery operation. When off, he enjoys reading and fixing up the Southwest Detroit home he owns with his wife.
CEO/Founder of Rebrand Cities
In 2011, Hajj Flemings was 1 of 8 entrepreneurs selected for the CNN’s Black in America 4: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley documentary with Soledad O’Brien. During the filming of the documentary, he came to understand the meaning of meritocracy and recognized that lack of access in the tech space was creating a permanent underclass in communities of color. That experience changed the course of his life. In 2017, Hajj launched Rebrand Cities (a global civic design partnership with WordPress.com) with the audacious goal of getting 10,000 businesses online to eradicate the digital divide.
Founder & Inventor, AI + Data Science Expert
Ian is the founder and inventor of one of the world’s smallest EEG wearable devices, nurio. Before and since graduating college in 2018, Ian has worked on numerous emerging technologies and has a deep curiosity for research in Science, Technology, Economics, and Philosophy. Ian currently operates MindBuilder AI which conducts research in Artificial Intelligence and builds solutions for businesses around the world. Ian’s mission is to help other’s unlock their curiosity for the world around them and see the potential in themselves to shape their world.
Writer, Producer, and Comedian
J Chris Newberg is funny. Ask him. He will disagree, but in a way that is probably humorous. He has performed on America’s Got Talent, but lost to dancers that sparkle. He has also been on the Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live & Comedy Central. He has toured with Dane Cook and written songs for American Idol. He has written jokes for some of your favorite comedians who have used them on SNL, Late Night With David Letterman, Chelsea Lately and The Conan O’Brien show.
Award-winning magician who has performed over 8,000 shows around the world, performing for Disney, Hershey, Chevrolet, ESPN, even on the Late Late Show on national CBS-TV.
Entrepreneur, Strategist, and Jazz Saxophonist
Jeff Ponders II is a modern-day Batman. By day, he helps ambitious brands launch and scale. By night, he performs across the world as a jazz saxophonist. Jeff leverages his experiences from the boardroom to the bandstand to help individuals and organizations create harmony amongst dissonance.
World Traveler and Entrepreneur
Jessica Nabongo is a travel expert, photographer, writer and entrepreneur whose work is about making the travel space more inclusive. The former United Nations consultant and London School of Economics alumna got her start with traveling when she was four years old, and recently became the first documented black woman to travel to every country in the world.
Florist & Entrepreneur
Kalin Sheick is an award winning floral designer & entrepreneur. After leaving a career in television to become a florist, she began teaching floral design at workshops & flowering for weddings. She firmly believes we can all leap to the next version of our professional selves without fear. Kalin owns 'Sweetwater' a tiny farm in Northern Michigan where she hosts events, creative workshops & runs her floral design studio.
Pastor, Author, and Musician
Kellen Brooks is a pastor, musician, and author from Metro Detroit. He has authored three books including his latest work "When Shall We Eat Cake?" Kellen has composed and produced music for a variety of artists. He enjoys music, jogging, writing, speaking, and his pet turtle, Deacon.
Indie rock band based in Royal Oak, MI with a passion to create, inspire, and love through music.
Ericka “Kyd Kane” Thompson is a self-taught, multi-disciplined visual and performance artist who uses poetic expression to generate social commentary by exploring themes such as racism, privilege and poverty. Understanding that change comes from within, Kyd encourages self-acknowledgement as a means of acknowledging others.
Kyd’s poetry and visual art has been featured in numerous venues, galleries and institutes throughout the country. Falling in love with creativity in grade school, she now teaches the art of poetry across West Michigan, with the non-profit organization the Diatribe Inc.
Luis Resto is a Detroit-based musician and songwriter who has collaborated with a wildly diverse collection of accomplished artists in a career that has spanned over three decades. Perhaps most notable, has been his relationship with rapper, Eminem.
Matt Liston is a filmmaker and sports activist. For over a decade, he has created films that help people in the world of sports. In his films he becomes an active participant by attempting to give each film the uplifting conclusion it deserves. During the process, he has assisted fans, restored playing careers, and made international headlines. Liston and his work have been featured on ESPN, HBO, CNN, LeBron James’s digital platform, Uninterrupted, and is the host of the new series, HUDDLE FOR 100 which airs across all NFL platforms.
Mike doesn’t have a yacht, a podcast or an MBA, and you won’t hear him talking about being disruptive, leveraging assets or changing paradigms. He is, however, the founder of Global Orange Development and the co-CEO of BIGGBY COFFEE, a fast-growing $100-million-dollar coffee franchise with 250+ locations across the Midwest.
Critical Care Nurse, CEO, Author & Humanitarian
Najah Bazzy, RN, is an internationally esteemed health care consultant, humanitarian, interfaith leader, professor and named a CNN Hero in 2019. She leads Diversity Specialists, a training group that promotes cross-cultural understanding between clinicians and patients, and founder and CEO of Zaman International, a Metro Detroit-based nonprofit providing crisis assistance and vocational training to marginalized women with children. As an interfaith leader, she has educated thousands about Islamic practices and beliefs through books, documentaries, and talks before U.S. and international audiences.
Natasha T. Miller is a Detroit native and world renown spoken word artist. Natasha has toured more than 150 universities, she’s a Detroit kresge fellow, she’s open for The famous band Mumford & Sons, been featured in CNN ads, sprite commercials and is currently working on her first full manuscript “butcher” which will be published by Button Poetry in February of 2021
Vice President - Banking
As the daughter of a orphaned teenage single mom; Portia learned firsthand the benefits of resiliency, hard work and commitment. As a result she has spent her entire career in the financial services industry serving Detroit with commitment and dedication. She is a Certified Public Funds Investment Manager and currently serves as VP of Chemical Bank overseeing the operations of the multi-billion dollar Municipal Banking department. She was the recipient of the 40 under 40 award from both Michigan Chronicle and Crain’s Detroit Business.
Educator, Activist and Founder of the Lyricist Society
Quan Neloms is a 17-year educator whose work focuses primarily on boys and men of color and community partnerships. Quan is the founder of Lyricist Society, a program that uses creative mediums to uplift student voices and In Demand, an initiative with the goal of attracting more Black men to education as volunteers, mentors, and teachers.
Voice Actor and Author
Maybe you don’t know Rob Paulsen, but you know Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, and most of the other animated projects that Paulsen has been part of as a voice actor for nearly three decades. With over 2,000 (yes, that’s right) half-hour programs and dozens of films, video games, and other animated media to his credit, Paulsen has been one of the hardest working, most in-demand, and most beloved voice artists in the industry, earning (so far) a Daytime Emmy and Peabody, three times winning the Annie Award (for voice actors). He's also the host of the Talkin’ Toons podcast on Nerdist, a cancer survivor, and the author of the book "Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life."
Co-Founder and Co-CEO of BIGGBY COFFEE
Bob Fish and Mike McFall have been the Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of BIGGBY COFFEE since it's creation March, 15 1995 in East Lansing Michigan. Bob and Mike (BAM) on a handshake and a few thousand dollars have grown from shop-keepers to leading a franchise coffee concept with hundreds of locations in nine States. Bob travels extensively to coffee origin countries building 'Farm Direct' relationships. Mike is a business author and academic at University of Michigan.
Creator of Sareytales
Detroit-based artist Sarey Ruden’s project Sareytales is a collection of work inspired by the unbelievable messages she receives on dating apps. Using her visual arts background, quirky sense of humor and personal experience, Sarey turns tragic dating app insults into thought-provoking works of art that will leave you in disbelief. Leveraging art as its medium, the Sareytales platform hopes to increase awareness of the cyber-bullying and sexual harassment culture that is so prevalent in the digital dating world.
Chief Technology Officer of Magna
As CTO of Magna, a global mobility technology company, Swamy is responsible for driving all aspects of the company’s product and innovation strategy, as well as research and development activity, at the corporate level and in conjunction with Magna’s product groups.
Environmental Toxicology Professor
Tracie Baker is faculty at Wayne State University and has earned degrees in marine biology, veterinary medicine, and environmental toxicology. Her lab focuses on multidisciplinary, translational research that bridges human, animal, and environmental health.
Former Professional Football Player and Coach
Wendell L. Brown Sr. is a former professional football player and coach. His football experiences are vast as he has played and coached in various continents. This Detroit native uses his work ethic, athletic and academic background along with his passion for community service, and love for uplifting and growing others, as his driving force for success. Wendell speaks on how positive thoughts and words, plus faith in God and oneself can help change negative situations to positive ones. He believes wholeheartedly that these moral principles among others also help prepare one to achieve greatness.
Keynote Speaker, Consultant
Wes Berry is a mason built a $100+ business based on taking excellent care of his customers and being constantly innovative. He was early to embrace the Internet in the 90s and his family flower business really blossomed. He's a great community man and father of four sons.