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images_photos_henry_ford_hospitalNew Detroit, Inc. will honor a major healthcare institution, a non-profit organization that has improved social cohesion and established over 400 block clubs in both the Osborn and Cody Rouge communities, a highly respected Detroit civic leader and a young leader who is making an impact on race relations in the region at its “Closing the Gap” awards dinner Monday, May 16.


All of these individuals and organizations have positively impacted issues and policies to ensure economic and social equity in Southeast Michigan.


The “Closing the Gap” award ceremony and dinner will take place on Monday, May 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Cobo Hall and honor:


  • Business Award: Henry Ford Health System


  • Social Impact Sector Award: Black Family Development, Inc.


  • Young Leader in Action Award: Hanan Yahya


  • John Rakolta, Jr. Leadership in Race Relations Award: Frank Venegas, Jr.


“The ‘Closing the Gap’ awards highlight individuals and organizations who, in their everyday activities advance race relations in a variety of ways, said New Detroit President and CEO Shirley Stancato. “This year’s honorees represent a broad cross section of the community and each, in their own way, has moved racial affairs in our region forward in a significant manner.   Each in their own way has advanced New Detroit’s goal of closing the gap between the races.”

Byna Eliiot is the chair of the dinner committee and David F. Girodat, president and CEO, Fifth Third Bank – Eastern Michigan, is the dinner chair. Awards will be presented by Shirley R. Stancato, New Detroit President and CEO, and William S. Taubman, New Detroit Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Taubman Centers, Inc.


This year’s honorees are:


Henry Ford Health System is comprised of hospitals, medical centers and one of the nation’s largest group practices, the Henry Ford Medical Group, which includes more than 1,200 physicians practicing in over 40 specialties. With a commitment to diversity and more than 23,000 employees, Henry Ford Health System has won numerous awards, including being named one of Diversity Inc.’s Top 10 Hospital Systems and the American Hospital Associations’ Equity of Care Award. The system has an Institute on Multicultural Health, with the vision to improve the health and quality-of-life for underrepresented racial and ethnic populations and to eliminate healthcare-related disparities, as well as a Multicultural Dermatology Clinic, one of only a few in the United States, which specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin, tissue, and hair conditions unique to women and men of ethnic heritage.


In 2009, Henry Ford Health System began its Healthcare Equity Campaign, with the goal to increase knowledge, awareness and opportunities to ensure healthcare equity was understood and practiced by Henry Ford Health System providers, as well as the community-at-large. In 2015, Henry Ford Health System was ranked first in the country among health care systems and hospitals for diversity by Diversity, Inc. The system also partners with many community organizations to help promote diversity, such as ACCESS, Focus Hope, NAACP, North American Indian Association, SER Metro, Wayne County Community College and many others.

Since its founding in 1978, Black Family Development, Inc. (BFDI) has established over 400 block clubs in both Osborn and Cody Rouge communities and has improved social cohesion. BFDI engages the community to be active participants in creating a community environment that supports parents and children residing in Detroit through the Promise Neighborhoods program. Since 2003, BFDI has implemented programs that set the “best practices” standard for youth at risk of delinquent behavior. The organization is committed to helping youth discover their talents and gifts, learn new skills, and experience success that will prepare them for adulthood.

In addition to these programs, BFDI serves as a Care Management Organization with the Wayne County Department of Children and Family Services providing juvenile justice services, ensuring that youth and families receive the services they need to be successfully released from the juvenile justice system. They also provide mental health, substance abuse, prevention and support services, to help make sure the communities they serve have residents that are successful, in turn making the places they live thrive.

Hanan Yahya is a young leader in Southeast Michigan who is making an impact on improving race relations. Yahya is a 2016 graduate from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, where she studied Social Theory and Practice with a concentration in Urban Studies with minors in Entrepreneurship and Community Action and Social Change. Her progressive leadership in race relations as a community advocate in Detroit and surrounding communities has been interwoven throughout her undergraduate career. Yahya has demonstrated her leadership ability as an instructor for two years with the Digital Connectors program at ACCESS (Arab Community Center of Economic and Social Services) where she empowered over 50 students from at-risk communities to be the next first generation digital leaders and social change agents for their communities.


Yahya advocates for higher education in the Yemeni-American communities in Southwest Detroit, Hamtramck, Dearborn, Melvindale, and Coldwater. She served as a facilitator for the Summer Youth Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity Program in the School of Social Work and Institute on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan. This program brings together youth from across Metro-Detroit to engage in dialogues on the state of race relations in our communities.


Frank Venegas’ career as an entrepreneur and dedication to community service has earned him wide recognition and respect as a business leader who is devoted to neighborhood revitalization and youth development in underrepresented areas. Through his leadership as chairman and CEO of The Ideal Group, Venegas and The Ideal Group are known for their community outreach and development activities focused on education and family, sustaining employment opportunities and clean neighborhoods. The Ideal Group collaborated with a Detroit composting company to develop a community garden made from repurposed shipping crates that helped to convert an abandoned lot into a lush communal space that provides a sense of community.


Venegas contributed 62 iPads to predominately Hispanic Cristo Rey High School to overcome a shortage of computers for the students and faculty. In addition, each year, the company affords internship opportunities to Cristo Rey High School students. He received the Mexican government’s highest honor for a civilian living outside of Mexico who has “devoted his or her life to forging a new path abroad for Mexican citizens.”


Individual tickets are Tickets are $200, $140 of which is tax-deductible and a range of sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, contact Joe Ann Walker at 313-664-2042 , jwalker@newdetroit.org or visit www.newdetroit.org.


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