Young Leader Meeting

2023 Young Leader Conference

8:00 AM

MotorCity Casino Hotel

About This Meeting

The 9th Annual Young Leader Conference is a must-attend professional development opportunity for those under the age of 40. This one-day conference is designed by Young Leaders (YL) exclusively for Young Leaders, focusing on the theme of Securing Our Future.

Join us as we provide DEC Young Leaders with the tools they need to navigate today’s and tomorrow’s workplace.


Securing Our Future


Whether you are just beginning your career or 10 years into it, this will be a meaningful one-day professional development experience filled with energetic keynotes, thought-provoking breakouts, and networking.

Jacqueline M. Baker

Founder, Principal Consultant & Author
Scarlet Communications

Connect with Jacqueline on LinkedIn

BREAKOUT SESSION: Leading at Any Level

Rising and elevating leaders of the now and the future have an opportunity to step into their potential by first seeing themselves as leaders as they navigate their careers, their business relationships and their growth. This session is designed to educate and empower leaders of their leadership potential, arming them with tools to combat challenges and exciting them to look forward to, and embrace their career futures, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Key Takeaways:

  • Identifying your default leadership style
  • Reframing as a leadership tool
  • Dealing with discomfort, fear, and imposter syndrome on your leadership journey
  • Curating your Leadership Legacy


Jacqueline M. Baker is a speaker, author, leadership consultant and advisor known for her unique approach to modern etiquette and leadership. As the author of The Unexpected Leader: Discovering the Leader Within You and Leader by Mistake: Becoming A Leader One Mistake At A Time, she frequently speaks and writes on the leadership-for-all concept.

Her inspiration and expertise comes from more than a decade as the founder and principal consultant for Scarlet, a consultancy that provides leadership training to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, community organizations and individuals across the globe. She also leverages her experience serving in a number of corporate board and community service roles.

An avid dinner-party hostess, Jacqueline creates space and opportunities to gather groups for compelling conversation, delicious cuisine and untraditional ways for continued leadership development. She is also the host of the podcast, Just Start™: From Ideas To Action.

Keyon Clinton

One Percent Better LLC

Connect with Keyon on LinkedIn

BREAKOUT SESSION: From Idea to Execution

Goal setting is a fundamental process that empowers individuals to achieve their aspirations with purpose and efficiency. It involves outlining objectives and devising a strategic path to realize them. A systematic approach to goal setting enhances focus, motivation, and overall success. This abstract explores the 9 step-by-step methodology for effective goal achievement.

In conclusion, effective goal setting is a structured process that maximizes the likelihood of achieving one's aspirations. By following these steps-clear definitions, sub-goal creation, prioritization, timeline establishment, action planning, adaptability, execution, monitoring, celebration, and reflection- individuals can approach their goals systematically and methodically. This approach enhances productivity, keeps motivation high, and transforms dreams into tangible accomplishments.

Key Takeaways:

  • A clear understanding of how to create goals
  • How to establish an effective approach to goals
  • How to achieve goals


Born and raised in the infamous zip code 48205 of Detroit, MI, one of the world's most dangerous cities, Keyon Clinton is not a statistic! He received his Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University in electrical engineering, but he knew that he had a greater calling in life.

After retiring from engineering at 28, Keyon decided to pursue his true calling, impacting others. Keyon, an advocate for execution, delivers the life changing message of becoming 1% Better daily and it has led him to become an award-winning international speaker. Inspiring others has also led him to becoming the best-selling author of Healing the Living Dead “Habits that shift you from a Morgue mentality to a Forbes mentality”. Understanding that personal health has a direct correlation to your business health; Keyon became a two-time award-winning bodybuilder and created the 1% Better Nation that has trained thousands of people. His philanthropic character has driven him to invest in youth advancement and create the non-profit organization, F.A.M.I.L.Y Forget About Me, I Love You!

Keyon’s global company and brand 1% Better is focused on helping people grow holistically and execute at a high level. As of now they have impacted people in over 15 countries and 34 states. On a mission to help professionals develop their personal lives, businesses and careers Keyon created the 1% Better University which develops professional’s portfolios to increase their revenue and impact within their business. Out of all of his accomplishments at the age of 31, his greatest accomplishment is being a servant of the Lord!

Keyon has been featured on WDIV Detroit, Fox 2 Detroit, the Michigan Chronicle, Black Speakers Network, COBO Hall, Ford Field, Little Caesars Arena, Who’s Who in Detroit, 30 under 30 Detroit Entrepreneur and the Magic Johnson Foundation. Keyon Clinton was also a 2018, 2019 and 2020 receipt of The Top 25 Millennials in Detroit. In 2021, Keyon was a recipient of Forbes Next 1000 which highlighted the next 1000 entrepreneurs who are industry leaders impacting the world. Keyon was recently awarded as a 40 under 40 Business Elite honoree.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist

State of Michigan

Closing Keynote Powered by MotorCity Casino Hotel: A Conversation with Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist


Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist has dedicated his career to solving problems. An engineer by training, he uses thoughtful and fact-based practices to solve real problems and make government work better for Michigan families.

As part of the Whitmer Administration, Lt. Governor Gilchrist has focused on helping Michiganders in communities across our state realize their full economic and political potential. From co-chairing the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, to helming the Michigan COVID-19 Task Force on Racial Disparities, to leading efforts to connect over 23,000 unserved locations in Michigan to affordable high-speed internet, Lt. Governor Gilchrist is committed to building a more just, equitable, prosperous, and connected Michigan where everyone can thrive.

Lt. Governor Gilchrist and his wife, Ellen, reside in Detroit where they are raising their twins, Emily and Garlin III, and daughter, Ruby.

Steve Lowisz

Founder & CEO
Qualigence International

Connect with Steve on LinkedIn

OPENING KEYNOTE: Scripting Your Future Through the Language of Influence

Everyone has a message. It might be a simple message for the moment, or a message that endures and influences for a lifetime. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, "The number one criteria for advancement and promotion of professionals is an ability to communicate effectively."

Your road to professional growth and success begins with the stones of effective communication. You may need to communicate the vision for your company. Or lead a difficult conversation. Or present your perspective to a potential client. Or develop a new relationship with a peer. Or maybe your aspiration is as simple as sharing a heartfelt story with a close-knit group. In any case, your success is based on your ability to master the art of communication. But let’s flip the script! It’s not about more chatter, it’s about influencing change, and stirring the pot of progress.

Communicating well is not just about sending a message. It’s about maximizing the influence and impact of your narrative. It’s about understanding that there are always multiple perspectives in any situation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the 5 keys to connecting through communication
  • Master your approach to effective crucial conversations


Steve Lowisz is a successful entrepreneur, author, TEDx, keynote speaker, educator, trainer, and professional coach on all thing’s talent, personal development, and business leadership. Best known as the Founder and CEO of Qualigence International since 1999, Steve is a five-time entrepreneur with over three decades of practical business experience.

Steve prides himself on tailoring every speaking engagement to educate the audience, regardless of the topic. His speaking experience ranges from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, including Starbucks, Dawn Foods, Bissell, Coca-Cola, Cisco Systems, Whirlpool, and more. Steve is a contributor to the Forbes Human Resource Council and the founder of the HR Executive Council.

With experience consulting start-ups, equity-backed, and Fortune 500 organizations worldwide, you can count on Steve for actionable advice and a valuable new perspective.

Jeanette Pierce

Founder & President
City Institute

Connect with Jeanette on LinkedIn

BREAKOUT SESSION: Secure Your Future and Michigan's by Succeeding in Detroit

Have you ever thought to yourself or been asked by someone else, “Why Detroit?” In this engaging presentation, we will answer that question with gusto. From unique small businesses, art galleries, specialty restaurants, and shops to world-renowned architecture and cultural institutions, historic neighborhoods, and unparalleled public spaces, Detroit is full of unique assets that make it an amazing place to call home, and it’s only getting better. It’s ground zero for innovative industries that will transform the future, one of the leading cities for entrepreneurship, and job opportunities abound no matter what your skillset or interest. This presentation will help young leaders see the benefit to themselves, and to Michigan, of being an integral part of taking Michigan into the future.

Key Takeaways:

  • What Detroit can offer young leaders and the value proposition for why they should stay in the area
  • Why people are moving from New York, San Francisco and other parts of the country to Detroit
  • Metro Detroit is full of opportunity regardless of field
  • How young leaders can be a part of making Detroit and Michigan even better than it is now and the many great examples of successful people who did just that


Jeanette Pierce is a social entrepreneur and lifelong city resident who grew up on the city's eastside. She is a data nerd that loves cities and an engaging storyteller with a passion for providing context around complex issues.

She founded the City Institute to help cities attract and retain residents by making sure people feel connected to where they live and work. Jeanette helps cities tell their story so more people not only care about where they live, but actually love where they live. When people love where they live they are more invested in supporting small businesses, volunteering at nonprofit organizations, collaborating with neighbors throughout the city and building an equitable and thriving city.

Since 2005, Jeanette has used experiential learning and non-traditional tours to help more than 150,000 locals and newcomers in Detroit love where they live and work by teaching them about Detroit’s assets, small businesses, historic neighborhoods, city planning & development policies and innovative solutions to the challenges the city faces.

By providing this deeper understanding, residents and stakeholders are inspired to be a part of building an equitable and thriving Detroit.

Jeanette and her team continue to work with companies in Detroit to help their employees have a deeper understanding and connection to Detroit. They combine observations of current conditions, historical facts and recent statistics with powerful anecdotes and individual stories of Detroiters to help clients understand the complexity and dynamism of the city of Detroit.

Jeanette believes that when more people are informed and engaged in shaping a place’s future, there is a much better chance of that city becoming an equitable and thriving place for all. She has presented at more than 200 events including Atlantic Magazine’s CityLab Conference, Full Frame Initiative’s Charlotte Summit, Governor’s Economic Summit, Downtown Las Vegas Annual Meeting and the Oregon Main Street Conference.

She was honored as one of the Top 50 Women Leaders of Michigan in 2022, as one of the Top Forty under 40 by Crain’s Detroit Business, as a Thirty in their 30’s by DBusiness Magazine, and was awarded the Shining Light Future Leader Award from the Detroit Free Press as well as receiving many other recognitions and awards.

She serves on the Boards of the Michigan Municipal League Foundation and Detroit Historical Society.

She has a bachelor’s of arts degree in communication from Aquinas College, and lives with her husband and toddler triplets on Detroit’s Eastside.

Jason Sweet

Sr. Talent Acquisition Specialist
Harman International

Connect with Jason on LinkedIn

BREAKOUT SESSION: The Future is Yours... Go Get It!

Much of our professional success is determined by our willingness to put in the effort to achieve it. But what about those times when it seems like success is merely a product of dumb luck? Or when you have done everything it takes to be successful, but still come up short? The truth is, success typically falls somewhere between the two, and is oftentimes, a very personalized formula. It’s time to crack the code and set ourselves up to take on the next steps of our professional lives!

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand and reflect on your personal journey to career success
  • Redefine what effort means in the context of success
  • Learn to leverage your strengths and sharpen your weaknesses
  • Mentally roadmap your future and go get it!


Jason Sweet is a Sr. Talent Acquisition Specialist at Harman International and has spent much of the last decade entrenched in guiding individuals through their careers.

In addition to his work at Harman, Jason is a public speaker who presents and trains on various topics including personal branding, self-awareness and motivation, career exploration and readiness, interview skills, LinkedIn optimization, and college preparation.

Jason was honored as an Oakland County Elite 40 under 40 as was selected as a representative from the city of Detroit for Harvard Business School’s Young American Leader Program (YALP). He is highly involved the Detroit Economic Club where he has served in various capacities, including as the 2021 Young Leader program Chairperson. He is also an active member, alumni, and volunteer of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.

Jason received his Bachelor of Professional Accountancy from Saginaw Valley State University in 2011 and his Master of Business Administration from Walsh College in 2017.

Michele Lewis Watts, Ph.D.

She Equity Officer
Woods & Watts Effect

Connect with Michele on LinkedIn

BREAKOUT SESSION: Being Unapologetically Authentic

Conforming, code-switching, and cultural norms often prevent us from showing up as our best and most authentic selves at work. Being authentic, however, means that we have to also accept others' authenticity which can be both challenging and beneficial. Using current examples, we'll consider the positives and negatives of being true to ourselves and others.

Key Takeaways:

  • Evaluation of experiences that limit and promote our authenticity
  • Best practices that lead to more inclusive organizations


Dr. Michele Lewis Watts is co-founder and She Equity Officer of Woods and Watts Effect, an equity and inclusion consulting firm. She also consults for youth and gender-based sports initiatives. Her professional experiences include creating programs for community integration into large scale events including Super Bowl XL and Final Four, leading efforts to move girls and women toward social and economic empowerment at Michigan Women Forward, and piloting programs on behalf of low-income utility customers while with The Heat and Warmth Fund.

Born and raised in Virginia, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Marketing from North Carolina A&T State University, and a Masters in Sports Administration from Ohio University. Dr. Chel completed her doctoral research at Wayne State University on the impact of stereotypes on the gender and athletic identities of middle school African American girl athletes. A former collegiate volleyball player, she coaches girls’ volleyball in Detroit, mentors players and is a co-founder of the Detroit Volleyball Coaches Association.

BREAKOUT SESSION: Bridging Corporate and Community: How to Leverage Your Skills, Talents, and Passions as Professionals to Create Positive Change

Corporations have large platforms to use when it comes to change. As young leaders, we need to use our voices to speak up on issues and topics that are important to us within our organizations. Millennials and Gen Zs comprise a majority of the workforce and employers are eager to hear from us. When we come together to speak up, we can collectively influence corporations to make changes that benefit society. Right now our society is at a tipping point - Affirmative Action, Roe vs. Wade, Climate Change, amongst other issues – as young leaders how can we leverage our skills, talents, and passions to encourage change and set us up for success in the future and other generations to follow.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to leverage skills, talents and passions to encourage change
  • How to set up success for generations to follow
Moderator: Orlando Bailey, Director of Engagement of BridgeDetroit

Panel Speakers

Ghida Dagher

President & CEO
New American Leaders

Connect with Ghida on LinkedIn


Ghida Dagher is the CEO and President of New American Leaders and New American Leaders Action Fund, the only national organizations championing New Americans as crucial participants in the political system by providing resources to ensure immigrant, first and second generation American leaders have the skills and support they need to run, win, and lead at every level of our democracy.

She previously served as the Director of Appointments for Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the State of Michigan. As a member of the Governor’s senior team, Ghida oversaw the appointment of 2100+ individuals to Michigan’s 350 boards and commissions, as well as judicial and senior administrative appointments.

Prior to her tenure at the Executive Office of the Governor, Ghida was the Director of Government Partnerships & Community Affairs at United Way for Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM) where she led in the design and implementation of strategies that drive impact and awareness of education, economic prosperity, and health policy and resources in the Greater Detroit community. Before joining UWSEM, she led a variety of local and national policy initiatives on immigrant, civil, and voting rights at the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)/ACCESS. Ghida has also served as strategist on local, state, and national issue and political campaigns.

Having moved to the U.S. at age of 9, Ghida’s family came seeking asylum from Lebanon and Sierra Leone. This immigrant experience and her real-world understanding of struggle and opportunity have shaped her leadership. Ghida serves on the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Huntington Bank’s Emerging Leaders Advisory Board, and is a German Marshall Fund Marshall Memorial Fellow. Her leadership and work has been recognized by the International Peace Honors, CNN, Politico, The 19th*, Crain’s Business Detroit, Arab America Foundation, and others. Most recently, she was honored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York as a ‘Great Immigrant, Great American’.

She has a bachelor's degree in political science and Middle Eastern North African Studies from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Vance Jackson

Executive Director
Renaissance of Hope

Connect with Vance on LinkedIn


Vance K. Jackson, Jr., currently serves in the Mayor’s Office—City of Detroit, as a Social Impact Fund Development Officer, where he serves on a 4-member Fund Development team that has raised more than $1 Billion Dollars in public, private, philanthropic, and corporate investment.

A frequent conference speaker, author, and a newly appointed University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Professor, Vance has more than 15 years of multi-sector experience across Business, Government, Corporate, and Philanthropy, Vance integrates his background in Business, Government and Banking to advise government leaders, corporate executives, and the philanthropic community.

Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office in 2018, Vance served more than a decade at J.P. Morgan, where his financial career spanned across the breadth of the global bank. He served in J.P. Morgan’s Commercial Bank—Middle Market Treasury, where he specialized in constructing Global Treasury solutions for Multi-National Middle Market Corporations with annual revenues ranging from $100 Million - $2 Billion.

Presently, Vance lends his financial expertise and Social Impact background as an Executive Board Member for several Non Profit, For-profit, and Social Impact organizations across the United States and throughout the globe.

Vance K. Jackson, Jr., holds a Masters in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor and serves as a Board Member on the Board of Governors for the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work.

Vance is married to Nina Jackson, for more than 14 years and they reside in Detroit, MI with their 2 children.

Kamilia Landrum

Executive Director
Detroit Branch NAACP

Connect with Kamilia on LinkedIn


Kamilia Landrum is a top millennial leader in Detroit’s non-profit industry. She is the youngest Executive Director in the history of the Detroit Branch NAACP; a Branch known for its extraordinary leadership and membership base, robust community engagement, and iconic Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner. In her 15-year commitment to the Association, Kamilia has been at the forefront social justice advocacy issues from the fight to uphold Affirmative Action in Michigan to historical legislation such as Promote the Vote which expanded voting access for millions of Michiganders. She has traveled across the country for civil rights demonstrations such as Jena 6 in Louisiana and the 50th Anniversary of the Edmund Pettus Bridge Crossing in Selma, AL. Most recently she traveled from Jamestown, Virginia to Jamestown, Ghana with a delegation of NAACP leaders to recognize the 400-year mark of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

At the Detroit Branch NAACP, Kamilia oversees the implementation of strategic partnerships and programming the Association’s five game changers: education, economic sustainability, criminal justice, civic engagement and health and heath care access. She has served in numerous leadership capacities of the local, state and national level of the organization. Kamilia has engaged hundreds of youth leaders across the country by reactivating NAACP college chapters, training students on advocacy and civil rights issues, and mentoring students as they developed as leaders. In her first year as Executive Director, Kamilia hosted the 110th NAACP National Convention in Detroit, MI. The convention brought 10,000 people to the City and over $11.5 million in economic impact to the region.

Kamilia is a graduate of Lewis Cass Technical High School and holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and a Master’s of Public Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Policy and Management from Wayne State University. In her community, Kamilia serves on the board for Neighborhood Legal Services Michigan, Detroit Future City, and the Wayne State University Social Justice Action Committee. She is also a current member of the Detroit Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Alumni of New Leaders Council Detroit, and member of the Renaissance (MI) Chapter of the Links, Inc. Her leadership skills and dedication have earned recognition as a Detroit Young Professionals 2019 Vanguard Awardee, Leadership Detroit Class XLI (41) Fellow, Michigan Chronicle’s 40 under 40 Awardee, and Walker’s Legacy Power25 Awardee for women in business.

Event Experience

Rebel Nell Mural-Making Experience

Rebel Nell exists to provide employment, equitable opportunity, and wraparound support for women with barriers to employment.

By repurposing meaningful materials into wearable art, they mark life's important moments and connect them to your personal journey.

During the Young Leader Conference, each attendee is encouraged to paint a word on the mural based on a series of questions and prompts, with a hidden message revealed at the end!

The YLC mural will be made into jewelry and accessories that will be available for purchase during the conference and shipped at a later date.

To learn more about Rebel Nell, click here.


Complimentary professional headshots will be provided by Q11 Photography for attendees.

Book Swap

Have a professional development book you want to share with another Young Leader? Bring it to the conference!

Look for the Book Swap table in the Lobby and leave your book(s) with your contact information inside the cover. You will receive a DEC bookmark to claim a swapped book(s) at the end of the conference.

Vendor Village

Blue Room Custom: Blue Room Custom offers custom suits by Charley Marcuse.

Mars Illustrations: MarTenya Shawhan of Mars Illustrations is a Black Visual Artist and Graphic Designer, born and raised in Detroit MI. Art has always been a big part of her life. Art carried MarTenya through life and will always. Portrait art is her main focus.

CJW Consulting Group: CJW Consulting Group has been recognized as an industry leader in professional/career services industry. The firm offers services including but not limited to resume and cover letter revamps, personal statements, salary negotiations, and LinkedIn optimization while facilitating career transitions and fostering personal growth.

Thank you to our 2023 Young Leader Conference Sponsors!

Share This Meeting