Mayor Mike Duggan today announced the appointment of Charity Dean as the City of Detroit’s new Director of the Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity, the agency that investigates discrimination complaints and enforces requirements that eligible economic development and city construction projects include Detroit-based contractors and employ Detroit residents.
Dean, who begins her new role August 27, succeeds Portia Roberson, who left the city to become CEO of the venerable civil rights and antipoverty organization, Focus: HOPE.
Dean’s appointment was approved Thursday by the City’s Human Rights Commission. She is a lifelong Detroiter who previously served as the director of the City’s Bridging Neighborhoods Program, which is using $32 million in community benefits funding from the government of Canada to pay for optional relocation of residents of the Delray neighborhood impacted by the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. The program is using the funding to rehabilitate homes owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority for Delray residents who choose to move to other city neighborhoods.
“Charity is brilliant and energetic manager, as well as a natural leader,” said Mayor Duggan. “Her legal background, combined with her passion for creating opportunity for all Detroiters, makes her a perfect fit for her new role.”
Before helping launch the Bridging Neighborhoods Program, Dean was sales and programs manager for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, where she was responsible for the development and administration of the land bank’s successful core programs: auction, direct sales, and side lots. She also was responsible for developing and implementing a program for the thousands of DLBA owned-occupied properties. To date, the Land Bank has sold more than 2,500 homes to new families and nearly 10,000 side lots.
Dean previously worked as a community advocate in southwest Detroit before attending law school at University of Detroit Mercy, where she served as vice president of the Student Federal Bar Association and Black Law Student Association. She was honored with a service award at UDM for creating a yearlong program for high school students, teaching the students law and leadership, implementing a mock trial program and ending the program with a scholarship opportunity for participating students.
“I am thrilled to continue serving the city I love in this new capacity,” Dean said. “I’m excited to continue the great work Portia has done on creating inclusion and opportunity for all Detroiters.”
Dean, 34, lives in Detroit with her husband, Erik Dean, and children Elijah and Lauren. She currently serves on the board Grandmont Community Association, the board for Youth-Works Detroit and as an advisory committee member of the Detroit Women’s Leadership Network. She is a member of the Wolverine Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan.
Dean was a fellow with the Michigan Political Leadership Program in 2015 and is participating in the Michigan Municipal League’s Inaugural Women’s Municipal Leadership Program.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Oakland University and a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.