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Meet the Panelists

Faye Nelson, Black HERstory Panelist, Foundation Sector

Faye Nelson is director of Michigan Programs at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. 

In this role, Faye provides leadership and oversight of the foundation’s investments in Michigan to create conditions that ensure children have opportunities to thrive in equitable communities. Based in WKKF’s Detroit office, Faye leads the foundation’s statewide grantmaking priorities, in collaboration and partnership with grantees, communities, and other stakeholders throughout the region.

Prior to joining the Kellogg Foundation, Nelson served as the 2017-2018 Sojourner Truth Fellow at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Using the transformation of the Detroit riverfront as a case study, Nelson and graduate students – from both Taubman College and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy – examined, over the course of thirteen weeks, the catalytic impact of placemaking and public space development in urban communities like Detroit. 

Previously, Nelson was vice president of DTE Energy, and president and board chair of the DTE Energy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the company.  During her tenure, Nelson co-led the restructuring of the foundation and oversaw its annual grantmaking to over 400 nonprofits throughout the state of Michigan.  

Prior to her role at DTE Energy, Nelson served as the inaugural president and CEO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and led the restoration of the Detroit riverfront. During Nelson’s ten-year tenure, she oversaw the public-private partnership transformation of the abandoned industrial waterfront into a vibrant public space of more than 3.5 miles of parks, plazas, pavilions, and pathways. To date, the riverfront receives more than three million annual visitors and has generated more than $1 billion in public and private investment.

Nelson is actively involved in her community and has more than 20 years of board service experience – 14 of which were with Compuware Corporation. Currently, she serves on the board of several Detroit area organizations, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Henry Ford Health System and Health Network.

Nelson is the recipient of numerous awards, including Crain’s Detroit Business 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan Award in 2016, the Walsh College Jeffery Barry Education Excellence & Community Service Award, the Damon J. Keith 24th Annual Soul and Spirit Humanitarian Award, the Grio’s 100 African American History Makers presented by NBC News, and the Milliken Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Environmental Council.

Nelson earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Mercy College of Detroit and a law degree from the University of Detroit School of Law. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and a life member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Black HERstory Panelist, Medical Sector

Joneigh S. Khaldun, MD, MPH, FACEP is the Chief Medical Executive for the State of Michigan and Chief Deputy Director for Health in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).  In these roles, she provides overall medical guidance for the State of Michigan as a cabinet member of the Governor, and oversees public health and aging programs, Medicaid, and behavioral health for MDHHS. Prior to her MDHHS role, she was the Director and Health Officer for the Detroit Health Department, where she oversaw a robust community health assessment, established a comprehensive reproductive health network, spearheaded new human service efforts, and led Detroit’s response to the largest Hepatitis A outbreak in modern U.S. history.

In previous roles, Dr. Khaldun was the Baltimore City Health Department’s Chief Medical Officer, where she led their efforts to address the opioid epidemic, and expanded and modernized the department’s multiple clinical services and laboratory. She has also held positions as the Director of the Center for Injury Prevention and Control at George Washington University, Founder and Director of the Fellowship in Health Policy in the University of Maryland Department of Emergency Medicine, and Fellow in the Obama administration’s Office of Health Reform in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  She currently serves on the National Advisory Board for the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan, on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, and on the Health and Medicine Committee of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the University of Michigan School of Public Health. 

Dr. Khaldun has received numerous awards including the 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health Award by the National Minority Quality Forum, the de Beaumont Foundation 40 Under 40 Leaders in Public Health Award, and the George Washington University Dean’s 950 Award. In 2020, she was named a Notable Woman in Health and Newsmaker of the Year by Crain’s Detroit. Dr. Khaldun obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, MPH in Health Policy from George Washington University, and completed residency in emergency medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center/Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, where she was elected chief resident in her final year.  She practices emergency medicine part time at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Carla Walker-Miller, Black HERstory Panelist, Corporate Sector

Carla Walker-Miller is the Founder and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services (WMES), a 20-year-old values driven company that changes lives through energy. Her high performing firm helps electric and gas utilities achieve mandated energy reduction goals that reduce energy waste, create local jobs, decrease the energy burdens on families, and reduce harmful greenhouse gases.

Started in 2000 after an 18-year corporate career in technical sales, Carla reinvented her company during the height of the recession, successfully pivoting from electrical transmission and distribution equipment sales to the rapidly growing energy efficiency industry. With 7 times revenue-growth since 2014, and average annual revenues of $25 million, Carla has molded WMES into one of the largest African American and woman owned energy waste reduction companies in the country.

Determined to create positive change, Carla is a visionary who leads with both empathy and tenacity. In 2018, she made three transformational decisions in the life of the company. She instituted a $15.00 per hour minimum wage, resolved to only recruit team members who embrace the company’s culture of kind excellence, and adopted second chance policies that give people with criminal records fair opportunities for employment.

A long-time Detroit booster, Carla champions diversity, inclusion and equity in the energy industry by aggressively recruiting and training a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of the communities her company serves. Carla is a tireless advocate for the representation of women, people of color, and historically underserved communities, believing that the inclusion of all voices elevates business, drives sustainable policies, and creates equitable opportunities for all. She is a sought-after speaker on issues relating to entrepreneurship, diversity, inclusion & equity, energy efficiency, workforce development, utility affordability and sustainability. She is a well-recognized figure in the Detroit entrepreneurial ecosystem, generously donating her time and resources to mentor smaller businesses.

An alumnus of the 2014 Detroit Inaugural Goldman Sachs10,000 Small Businesses Program, Carla has twice shared the stage with Warren Buffet representing the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program.

In 2019, Carla was honored to receive the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion’s Humanitarian of the year award along with the Distinguished Business Leader award by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (Great Lakes Chapter). In addition, her company received the Michigan Energy Innovators Business Council’s (MiEIBC) 2019 Business of the Year award. In 2017, Carla received the Ernst & Young, Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Michigan and Northwest Ohio Region. Additionally, the company received both the Small Business of the Year, and the Woman-Owned Business of the Year award by the Michigan Small Business Administration in 2015. Over the years, WMES has received other numerous awards, including the Women Presidents Organization 50 Fastest Growing Woman Owned Companies, The Michigan Chronicle Newsmaker of the Year, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) Inner City 100, and Fortune Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Businesses.

Carla’s work has been acknowledged in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Detroit Free Press, The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Energy Perspectives, DTE EnergySmarts Magazine, Essence Magazine, Forbes, Black Enterprise, MSNBC and other media outlets.

Driven by her giving spirit, Carla founded the Water Access Volunteer Effort (WAVE) Fund in 2003, while serving as a Commissioner for the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The 501(c)3 non-profit has distributed more than $2 million dollars to help nearly 10,000 vulnerable Detroit families maintain access to safe water and sewer services.

Her commitment to diversity and inclusion in the energy industry has led to the planned 2020 renovation of the company’s 31,000 sq. ft. headquarters to one of fewer than 600 Verified Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings in the country. A ZNE building is one that generates as much energy as it consumes in the course of a year. Dubbed the “Emerald Corner”, the New Center Detroit headquarters will serve as a neighborhood energy innovation hub to help provide an on ramp for residents of Detroit to pursue careers, create businesses and thrive in the energy industry.

Carla serves on various Board of Directors as apart of her community engagement efforts. Board memberships include TechTown Governance Committee, the Mayor of Detroit’s Workforce Development Board, the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, the Michigan Energy Innovators Business Council, the Michigan Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), the Neighborhood Defender Service, the Water Access Volunteer Effort (WAVE) and several others.

Carla received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Tennessee State University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Oak Grove AME Church in Detroit, Michigan.

Alexis Dishman, Black HERstory Panelist, Finance Sector

Drawing on twenty years of both corporate and nonprofit experience, Ms. Dishman is the chief lending officer at Michigan Women Forward.  As chief lending officer, she is responsible for managing all aspects of the lending function including:  the Community Development Financial Institution application for certification, expanding the technical assistance program for borrowers, management of the lending team, managing organizational risk and leading the expansion of the loan fund from 200 loans to over 1500 over the next three years.

As Managing Director at IFF, she led lending teams in Michigan and Ohio through prospecting, underwriting, and closing of $28,000,000 in new loans during FYE 2019.  Her leadership included developing and implementing a strategy with direct reports to expand the Michigan, Ohio, and Education sector (across IFF’s seven state footprint).  As a voting member of IFF’s credit committee her responsibilities included: reviewing all loan originations and decisioning loans.  Prior to promotion to Managing Director, she generated $55,000,000 in new loans over four years, with an average loan size of $750,000. Ms. Dishman was a part of the team that developed the strategy and implementation plan for IFF’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion strategy. 

As an Alternate Group Manager at Comerica Bank Ms. Dishman, co-managed a team of six loan officers while managing a $60,000,000 portfolio.  Additional responsibility included Chairing the African American Business Outreach Initiative and implementing a marketing strategy that generated $20,000,000 in new loans and deposits while managing a $200,000 grant budget over three years.

Dishman currently serves on the Board of Directors of the non-profit Jefferson East Inc, and serves on the Executive committee, she also serves on the board of directors of Neighborhood Services Organization and Racquet It Up. In 2013, Ms. Dishman was recognized by the Michigan Chronicle as a Women of Excellence and received the Detroit Free Press and Metropolitan Coalition Affairs Shining Light Award.  Ms. Dishman was also recognized by Detroit Crain’s Business as a member of the 2013, 40 under 40 class.

Alexis Dishman is a graduate of Michigan State University where she earned a degree in Finance, she also earned a master’s degree in Business Administration with concentration in Finance from Wayne State University. She has two beautiful daughters Elise and Haley and enjoys running and vacationing.

Dr. Rashida Harrison, Black HERstory Panelist & Moderator, Academia Sector

Rashida L. Harrison, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Social Relations and Policy at James Madison College.   She earned her PhD in African American and African Studies with disciplinary foci in Sociology and literature at Michigan State University.  She earned her B.A. from Cornell University in Africana Studies with a minor in Sociology. Professor Harrison’s teaching reflects her interest, and includes courses on social theory, social movements, intersections of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality, Global Citizenships, and Race and Citizenship to name a few.  

Dr. Harrison’s current research project on Black British Women’s Transnational Feminist Activism of the late 1970s-1980s is informed by her multi ethnic experiences with blackness.  Born and raised in New York City’s iconic South Bronx, Rashida engaged the politics of race, gender, and consciousness at an early age. These formative experiences deepened her understanding of the African/Black Diaspora and inspired her early career research into how women build coalitions across social identities, political realities, and national borders.

Dr. Harrison’s research focus on transnational black and multiracial feminist social movements uses the Black British feminist movement as a case study to examine the impact of Western imperialism on black women’s nationality and immigration rights, reproductive justice, and agency within public organizations. More specifically she looks at grassroots periodicals produced during the movement, in order to understand how black women instituted that agency and clarified for themselves and community their social standing in British Society.  

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