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Men’s Club Luncheon Speaker: Mark Heppner, President and CEO of Eleanor and Edsel Ford House

Ken Mokray and Mark Heppner

Our luncheon speaker on November 26th was Mark Heppner, the President an CEO of the Ford House. Mark had previously served as vice president of historic resources and most recently, interim chief of operations over both Ford House and Fair Lane. With nearly 30 years of experience in museums and historic sites, Mark had served historic properties in Ohio and Iowa before moving to Michigan. A native of Ohio, he earned a B.A. studying history at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and an M.A. in American history from Cleveland State University,

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SMC Luncheon Speaker: Ike McKinnon, Ph.D., former Detroit Chief of Police and University professor

Ike McKinnon nd Ken Mokray

Our luncheon speaker on November 12th was Isaiah “Ike” McKinnon, the former Detroit Chief of Police, Deputy Mayor, and Associate Professor of Education at University of Detroit Mercy. Ike earned his B.A. from Mercy College, his M.A. from the University of Detroit Mercy and his doctorate from Michigan State University. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the United States Secret Service School. McKinnon joined Detroit Mercy in 1998.

McKinnon has authored three books and co-authored two others, in addition to numerous articles on crime victims. He won an Emmy as the NBC News/Safety Consultant. He has met six U.S. Presidents and Nelson Mandela, and has appeared on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Oprah,” and “The History Channel.”

Ike began his talk by telling us how he has a wonderful life, even though he was shot at eight times and stabbed twice. The first time he was stabbed, the knife hit his belt buckle and broke. Ike grew up in Detroit, enlisted in the Air Force, came back and joined the Detroit Police Department, rising through the ranks to become Chief. He credits his father for the success he has had. His father had a third-grade education and was a sharecropper in Alabama before moving to Detroit. Ike remembers his father asking him to read the Bible to him, saying that was not a good enough reader to read it himself. Ike later realized that it was a way for his father to teach him how to read and spend time with him. His father used to tell him that he played professional baseball in the Negro league and played with Satchell Paige. Ike said, “Sure you did” not believing his father. But years later Ike was on duty at the Olympia Stadium when the Harlem Globetrotters were playing. Their guest was Satchel Paige, and Ike, wearing his police uniform, walked up to him and asked him whether he ever played ball with a McKinnon. Paige said, “I don’t think so.” But as Ike walked away, Paige turned around and said, “Wait, did you mean Cody McKinnon?” He went on to say what a great player Cody had been and how he would have played in the Major Leagues had the color barrier been broken. When he went home, his father then told him that he didn’t play more because his team went on barnstorming tours and he wanted to stay home and work and take care of his family. He told Ike that he would never lie to him.

Years later, Ike told the story to his sons, and of course they didn’t believe him. They asked Ike what he did and he told them that he almost made the 1964 US Olympic team after winning the Military Olympics as a sprinter. He couldn’t go to the Olympics because he was serving in Vietnam. One of Ike’s sons is now trying to convince his 11-year old daughter that he almost made the Michigan men’s basketball team. Ike thinks it is important to learn to listen to older people. When Ike was serving in Vietnam, he was surprised when his chaplain asked Ike to accompany him to the Danang orphanage. There they held and fed orphan babies that were getting very little attention. They started doing this every weekend, seeing how the infants responded. Recently Ike saw a story on a Sunday morning news program that showed the same orphanage, still in operation.

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SMC Speaker Report: Barbara McQuade

Barbara McQuade and President Ken Mokray

Our luncheon speaker on October 8th was Barbara McQuade, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. She is currently a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

Barbara began by talking about whistleblowers and the Whistleblower Protection Act, a federal law that protects whistleblowers who work for the US government and report possible wrongdoing. The law is intended to protect whistleblowers from retaliation such as firing, demotion or reassignment, but only if their claims are credible and raise an urgent concern. Such protections are important to discourage the leaking government secrets to the press. Barbara cited a number of well-known leakers, such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Reality Winner, and Julian Assange and described how leaking classified documents could damage national security. She mentioned that established media outlets had declined to publish such documents but several internet sites such as WikiLeaks had no such compunctions.  Barbara had a security clearance while serving as US Attorney and prosecuted cases involving terrorism financing, foreign agents, and export violations, so she was able to discuss the different levels of classified documents.

Barbara stayed for a lengthy question and answer session that covered a number of issues, including the current impeachment proceeding. She discussed the elements of the crime of extortion and how it was important in the federal prosecution of Kwame Kilpatrick that she headed in Detroit. Barbara also touched on topics such as the power of Congress to investigate the President, the chance that a President could be prosecuted after leaving office, how she uses remote studios to appear on TV, how experts are compensated by TV networks, and the Michigan Innocence Clinic at Michigan Law School.

SMC Speaker Report: Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press

President Chris Walsh and Phoebe Wall Howard

Our luncheon speaker for our very well-attended and successful 60th Anniversary Celebration on September 10th was Phoebe Wall Howard, the Detroit Free Press automotive writer.

Phoebe is a sixth-generation Detroiter whose family arrived in Detroit in 1850. They ran a small painting business in Corktown. She was the first in her family to grow up in Grosse Pointe. Phoebe went to Grosse Pointe South where she worked for the Tower newspaper. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia and has worked in the Midwest, South and California covering business, politics, government regulation and labor negotiations. She returned to Detroit to cover the auto industry for the Detroit Free Press in 2017. Phoebe has a background in magazine, newspaper, radio and TV news with an expertise in political polling and social media. Today, Phoebe covers the automotive industry for the Detroit Free Press with a focus on Ford Motor and industry news for investors. Read more

SMC Speaker Report: Laura Burton, Forgotten Harvest

Laura Burton serves as Director of Community Engagement at Forgotten Harvest of Oak Park, Michigan. She is a graduate of Central Michigan University and earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. As our luncheon speaker on August 27th, Laura told us how Forgotten Harvest has been busy driving hunger from our community for almost 30 years.

The mission of Forgotten Harvest is relieving hunger and preventing nutritious food loss. As long as the need exists, no one will be forgotten.

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SMC Speaker Report: Mac Gallagher, Max Box

Our luncheon speaker, Mac Gallagher, the owner of Max Box, spoke to us on August 13th about the benefits of physical activity in staying healthy and living a longer life. Max Box gym is at 29057 Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods and teaches seniors and others how to box. Mac is the Line Coach for the Blue Devils Freshman team at Grosse Pointe South High School. Coach Gallagher is a former Penn State football player and Golden Gloves champion who started the Hit Smart Boxing Program designed to implement hand to hand combat strategies in order to prevent players from hitting with their heads.

Mac said that physical activity improves both health and mental ability. Science distinguishes between two types of exercise: cardio or endurance exercise and strength or resistance training. Boxing combines both of these. His boxing program involves punching speed or heavy bags while learning footwork. The heavy bag provides the resistance while the punching and footwork builds endurance. Boxing also benefits the brain because it involves bilateral communication between the two halves of your brain.

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SMC Speaker Report: Neil K. Hitz, Author

On July 9th, Neil K. Hitz, a member of our Club, spoke to us about his book My Life Directory. My Life Directory is a simple, easy to use, confidential 48 page book or fillable PDF that lists the location of  important documents and contacts needed for someone else to carry on when you are unable. What better way to put your “affairs in order”?

My Life Directory is a simple booklet that serves as an information hub for locations when the owner suddenly leaves this life on earth. The booklet identifies 16 Categories and more than 100 topics of information that, depending on one’s individual circumstances, should be known by those that step in to assist in the final arrangements at this stressful time. The book aggregates publicly available information from government, social, and other sources, plus personal reviews written by others. This third-party data is then indexed through methods similar to those used by Google or Bing to create a listing. Because My Life Directory only collects this data and does not create it, the subsequent result is only as good and useful as the owner desires it to be. Read more

SMC Speaker Report: Dan Carmody Eastern Market Organization

Our luncheon speaker, Dan Carmody, President of The Eastern Market Organization in Detroit, gave our luncheon members an up to date report on today’s new Eastern Market.Dan Carmody

Since it began in the 1800s, Eastern Market has gradually become a cornerstone, nourishing its residents by providing fresh and nutritious food throughout Southeastern Michigan. In more recent years, Eastern Market Corporation has built an infrastructure around the market to support our unwavering mission to enrich Detroit—nutrition-ally, culturally and economically. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, their goal is to maintain Eastern Market’s contribution to Metro Detroit’s importance. Read more

SMC Salutes Grosse Pointe North and South Honors Students

At a luncheon meeting on May 28, the Senior Men’s Club of Grosse Pointe honored the seniors from Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South High Schools who had earned a cumulative 4.0 or higher grade point average. After introductory remarks by Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jon Dean, each student was introduced and presented a certificate by South Principal Moussa Hamka or North Principal Kate Murray.

Seniors from Grosse Pointe South with Dr. jon Dean and Moussa Hamka
Seniors from Grosse Pointe North with Dr. Jon Dean and Kate Murray
Past President Marty McMillan, Kate Murray, Moussa Hamka and President Chris Walsh

SMC Luncheon Speaker: Deirdre Groves of Challenge Detroit

Deirdre Groves, left, with President Chris Walsh and former Fellows of Challenge Detroit

Deirdre Groves, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Challenge Detroit was the Senior Men’s Club Luncheon Speaker on Tuesday, May 14th. Deirdre gave us a short history of Challenge Detroit and then introduced four former Fellows of Challenge Detroit and asked them to tell their story.

Challenge Detroit is a leadership and professional development program that invites approximately 30 of tomorrow’s leaders to live, work, play, give, and lead in and around the greater Detroit area for one year. During the course of the year, Fellows contribute intellectually and through hands-on service making incremental impact in the community. Learning by doing is a cornerstone of the program and the Fellows have the courage, passion, and drive to make a difference. Challenge Detroit was founded in 2008 by Doyle Mosher and Deirdre Groves. Both saw the need to attract and retain young talent in the greater Detroit area. And, in the true spirit of entrepreneurialism, the two made countless sacrifices to bring the idea to reality.

Fellows live in Detroit and around the city of Detroit engaging in the city throughout their daily lives.  Each Fellow works for a host company in Detroit approximately four days per week. One day a week they participate in challenge projects designed to positively impact the community while keeping the Fellows as well as the followers of Challenge Detroit engaged.

Challenge Detroit has continued the success of the program. When the program launched in 2012, the city was facing its largest population decline in its history. Since that time, Challenge Detroit has attracted over 4,000 applicants and drawn nearly 225 leaders to join as Fellows. Following each year, approximately75% of the Fellows receive offers from their host companies and 85% make their home in Detroit.

For more info on Challenge Detroit, see their website.

Thank you, Deirdre and your four Fellows, for reporting on this new venture in Detroit.

Reported by George Arsenault