Gov. Whitmer announces local appointments to the Black Leadership Advisory Council

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently made appointments to the Black Leadership Advisory Council, which brings together a diverse group of Black Michiganders to serve in an advisory capacity to the governor and develop, review, and recommend policies and actions designed to prevent and eradicate discrimination and racial inequity in Michigan.

“Listening to a diverse group of leaders and creating partnerships in our communities has been a priority for my administration since day one. Since I was sworn in as governor, I have worked to ensure a diverse group of voices at the table, creating the most diverse cabinet this state has ever seen. And today, I am proud to appoint dedicated individuals from across the state to the Black Leadership Advisory Council,” said Whitmer. “In order to confront systemic racism head on, we need members like those on this council to inform our work in state government. This group of leaders includes experts in economics, public policy, health, technology, the environment, and more. I know that those on the Council will continue to be a force for change in Michigan, and I am excited to work closely with them to create a more equitable and just state for all.”

“With the creation of the Black Leadership Advisory Council, we are affirming a truth that Michigan has benefited from for generations: the leadership shown by Black Michiganders in all areas of life and work is critical to the vitality and prosperity of our state,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. “The Council affords the state’s largest racial minority group an empowered presence at the tables of policy- and decision-making. These leaders’ diverse perspectives will be essential as we work to fight to against systemic inequalities experienced by far too many Michiganders. I am eager to work alongside them to create a Michigan that enables all Michiganders to pursue their fullest dreams and potential.”

The Black Leadership Advisory Council is among a set of diverse ethnic commissions within the state of Michigan. Although African Americans are the largest racial minority in the state, this Council is the first of its kind in Michigan to elevate Black leaders.

The Governor has appointed 16 individuals to represent Black leadership in various fields. Among the appointees was Christopher Burtley, of Flint, an associate attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP. Burtley is appointed to represent Black leadership in law, and a member between the ages of 18–35, for a term commencing Nov. 12, 2020 and expiring Dec. 31, 2021.

Also named to the council was Theresa Roach, of Flint, is the program director of active communities for the Crim Fitness Foundation. She was appointed to represent Black leadership in health and wellness for a term commencing Nov. 12, 2020 and expiring Dec. 31, 2021.

Appointed from across the state were: James E. Atterberry, Sr., of Benton Harbor;

Donna L. Bell, Ph.D., of Southfield; Jerry L. Clayton, Sr., of Ypsilanti; Kelli A. Ellsworth Etchison, of East Lansing; Justin N. Onwenu, of Detroit; Kelsey Perdue, of Grand Rapids; Kathy Purnell, Ph.D., of Kalamazoo; Rochelle Riley, of Detroit; Joel Rutherford, of Warren; Michele Samuels, of Farmington Hills; Seydi Sarr, of Detroit; Michelle Sourie Robinson, of West Bloomfield; Carl M. Williams, of Saginaw; and Robert Womack, of Grand Rapids.

Additionally, Rep. Brenda Carter, of Pontiac, will serve on the council as an honorary representative of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus.

The Black Leadership Advisory Council is housed in the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and will act in an advisory capacity to the Governor and develop, review, and recommend policies and actions designed to eradicate and prevent discrimination and racial inequity in this state. The Council will also work to identify state laws, or gaps in state law, that create or perpetuate inequities, collaborate to promote legislation and regulation that ensures equitable treatment of all Michiganders, serve as a resource for community groups, and promote the cultural arts in the Black community.

These appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. — G.G.