DEARBORN — The 2013 Shining Light Regional Cooperation Awards will be presented to Ismael Ahmed, Dan Carmody, Noreen Keating and Alexis Dishman for their important contributions to regional progress, cooperation and understanding in Southeast Michigan.
The award recipients will be honored on Oct. 10 at a special breakfast ceremony at the Ford Conference Center in Dearborn.
The seventh annual awards ceremony and breakfast is open to the public. Tickets are $50; tables of 10 are $500. For ticket information, visit www.shininglightawards.com or call 248-336-8623.
• Ismael Ahmed, Associate Provost for Metropolitan Impact, University of Michigan-Dearborn, will receive the Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership for decades of service on behalf of immigrants, children and workers and building bridges and cultural understanding across the community.
The Neal Shine Award honors those who are having a regional impact and are willing to take risks to further progress, cooperation and understanding. Ahmed grew up in the shadow of the Ford Rouge plant, and put himself through school working in auto plants and on ocean freighters.
In 1971, he helped found ACCESS, and helped build it from a storefront staffed by volunteers to a $17 million agency with affiliates in 12 states and a staff of 300 that assists 900,000 immigrants of all backgrounds and people in need with health, education and the arts, and employment.
He also served under Gov. Jennifer Granholm as director of the Michigan Department of Human Services, leading reforms that improved access for low-income residents. He currently serves his alma mater by connecting the university to the region, with more than 3,000 students volunteering and doing research across metro Detroit.
Governor Granholm says of Ahmed, "He insisted that we focus on people who were unseen – the poor, the homeless, the chronically unemployed. He has a heart as big as a barn and a passion for people."
• Dan Carmody, president, Eastern Market Corporation, will receive the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award for his outstanding vision and hard work that have made Eastern Market a nationally recognized regional food hub.
This award recognizes an individual who may not have yet received the widespread recognition he or she deserves for longstanding efforts to serve the community and further regional progress. Under Carmody's leadership, Eastern Market has made $12 million in physical improvements, expanded its operations, and addressed food access, nutrition education, economic and community development, workforce training, job creation and more, contributing to the health and well-being of regional Detroit.
• Noreen Keating, executive director, Oakland Parks Foundation, also will receive the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award for her commitment to bettering the lives of those in need.
From starting the first soup kitchen in Pontiac and transitional housing center in Oakland County, to leading and growing Lighthouse for 20 years from a small operation to a Point of Light Presidential Award winning agency with an $8 million budget and 90 employees, to raising millions of dollars for worthy causes throughout the region, and serving on more than a dozen boards and committees, Keating attributes much of her success to others. She believes in the power of volunteers; giving people the opportunity to come together to do incredible things.
• Alexis Dishman, vice president and alternate group manager at Comerica Bank, will receive the Dave Bing Future Leader Award for her commitment to community service that began while a student at Mercy High School, where she learned to lift others up while making her own progress.
Whether assisting small business clients or fellow employees at Comerica, teaching financial literacy, supporting the arts through dance, or serving on the boards of several non-profits, Dishman puts this principle into practice. She mentors, educates and empowers people around her so everyone can make a contribution and do their part.
Debbie Dingell, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition said, "We are fortunate to have such outstanding honorees. Each of them has made an effort to promote greater understanding and pull people together. This was the toughest year so far for selecting winners because there were so many strong nominations."
The Detroit Free Press and Metropolitan Affairs Coalition launched the Shining Light Awards in 2007 to highlight the critical importance of regional leadership and cooperation to the success of Southeast Michigan.
The awards are named in honor of the late Neal Shine, former Detroit Free Press editor and publisher, who consistently demonstrated his dedication and commitment to the Greater Detroit community.