Detroit-based nonprofit Focus: Hope announced Friday night that Jason Lee will be its next CEO, replacing the retiring William Jones Jr.,who served in the position since 2009.
Lee will start in his new position Aug. 8.
“The Focus: Hope board of directors is grateful for the years of dedicated service that William Jones has provided to the organization and looks forward with anticipation of the renewed focus and energy that Jason Lee will bring,” Glenda Price, chair of Focus: Hope’s board of directors, said in a statement. “We look toward a positive future of working with him to achieve our goal of eliminating poverty, racism and injustice.”
Lee formerly served for 12 years as executive director of the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program, working toward increasing the STEM educational program capacity for metro Detroit, “specifically for young people from historically underrepresented backgrounds,” according to a release.
More than 200 applications were considered by the board of directors before selecting Lee, Focus: Hope said. Jones had been planning his retirement in conjunction with the board of directors for nearly a year and will assist Lee during the transition period.
“We know how critical of a hire this is, and we were seeking someone with a diverse background in community organization, education and executive nonprofit experience,” Focus: Hope board member Elliot Forsyth said in a statement. “Jason has strong ties in each of these areas and has played a role in providing local residents with impactful personal and career opportunities.”
Lee has received many community awards, including Michigan Chronicle‘s Men of Excellence 2014, Corp Magazine‘s 2014 Diversity Business Leader Award and Oakland County’s Elite 40 under 40.
“The work of Focus: Hope is as relevant today as it was when the organization was founded in 1968,” Lee said in a statement. “Focus: Hope is a model for the nation; I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this Michigan asset that is making an impact in the lives of this great community.”
Lee also formerly worked at Ford Motor Co. in the powertrain and product development organizations. He graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and theUniversity of Michigan.
Lee, an 18-year resident of Southeast Michigan, credits his engineering and automotive background to his ability to derive solutions to complex problems and identify opportunities for growth.
Focus: Hope was founded in 1968 as a civil and human rights organization. it specializes in developing career training and community development programs, with nearly 100 students participating in them.