Leadership

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
  • Richard F. Carson
  • Keith Cooley
  • Jane Fernanders
  • Brian Flaggs
  • Dawn R. McCloud, Esq.
  • Bruse J. Ross
  • Donele Wilkins
STAFF MEMBERS
  • Donele Wilkins, President / CEO
  • Christina Alexander, Adjunct Instructor
  • Domiana Carter, Project Manager
  • Deborah Collins, Bookkeeper
  • Tyeisha Hodges, Project Assistant
  • Jordan Irving, Program Assistant
  • Quinton Jenkins, Albert Schweitzer Fellow
  • Leila Meikas, Project Manager
  • Carolyn Mitchell, Office Manager
  • Jerry Peoples, Job Developer

DONELE WILKINS, PRESIDENT/CEO

Leader, visionary, result-oriented, Donele Wilkins has demonstrated servant leadership in her hometown Detroit for nearly 20 years. First by leading the local movement for environmental justice on the front-lines, and secondarily expanding to achieving true sustainability for all. Her leadership style has motivated many to take their place in a truly transforming movement. Her achievements include: participating in the development and adoption of an Environmental Justice Policy in the state of Michigan, and conceiving and launching the first Green Jobs Training Program in the city! She’s been an advocate for citizen involvement in Brownfield Redevelopment as well as other environmental policies, placing environmental stewardship on the agenda of many community leaders and decision makers.  Ms. Wilkins is noted for inspiring young people to take a lead in their communities.  As the founder of The Green Door Initiative, Donele plans to take not only the city of Detroit to the next level of environmental stewardship but the nation. GDI stands out as a national model for sustainable living through civic engagement for everyone!


RICHARD F. CARSON

Richard F. Carson has over 15 years of workforce development, media and community relations experience. Richard is a Doctoral candidate and holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. He is a Certified Public Manager (CPM) and Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP). Richard has been extensively involved in community organizations. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Committee for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. He is a past board member of New Detroit, Inc., the Detroit Urban League, the Pontiac Area Urban League, and BEST Academy.  Richard is an Eagle Scout and past Assistant Scoutmaster. He is a member of several organizations including the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., the National Association of Black Journalist, the National Black MBA Association, the American Academy of Certified Public Managers, and the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals. Richard has achieved many of these accomplishments while a dialysis patient suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) or a two time kidney transplant recipient.


Keith Cooley

Keith Cooley is a strategist and management consultant focusing his inventive problem-solving skills on linking America’s recovery to a “Green Collar” Agenda of developing cutting-edge technology to combat issues of environmental crises/justice and training underserved communities as the next generation of technologists in support of these sectors.

His specialty is troubleshooting the tough business problems that keep executives awake at night and he is a first class relationship manager, able to spot potential roadblocks early and effectively neutralize them. Cooley provides “seasoned” counsel to help senior leaders plan for a smart, sustainable future and forms imaginative partnerships to connect business, academia and community leaders in pursuit of initiatives arising from common interests.

In addition, decades of service in corporate, not for profit and governmental settings makes him the perfect choice for interim executive level assignments in areas like Engineering, Operations, Management and “Clean Tech”… to assure business continuity in the face of the loss of a key executive

Peers and colleagues often cite his grasp of technical issues and outstanding people skills as keys to his success. These qualities have made Cooley a sought after speaker for audiences of all kinds… from local (Detroit) public and charter schools urging urban youth to stay in school to The National Defense University (Wash. D.C.) speaking to issues of national security and The Hannover Industrial Fair (Germany) promoting foreign investment in U.S. clean tech initiatives. Over the last several years he has been a guest lecturer in ethics at Wayne State University Business School and in career decision-making at the University of Michigan’s College Engineering.

Equally comfortable working with clients across the political spectrum, Keith served as a cabinet member to Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm, advised (then French Presidential candidate) François Hollande on future energy trends and hosted Vice President Biden’s announcement of a $1.3 billion award to Michigan for vehicle electrification. Named a national public opinion leader by the Bush Administration in 2006, he was chosen to visit U.S. troops deployed in the Middle East, touring and observing the day-to-day operations of active military installations.

Now CEO of the management advisory firm, Principia, LLC, he was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of NextEnergy. There at the request of Governor Granholm, he helped the organization, considered Southeast Michigan’s premiere convener, collaborator, and service provider accelerating the growth of advanced energy companies, technologies, and industries, reconnect to vital foundation funding.

Cooley’s background reflects work across a variety of organizations that speak directly to his operational leadership talent. That includes CEO/COO of Focus: HOPE where he led the nationally known Detroit civil/human rights nonprofit through one of its most difficult periods… closing 1st tier auto supply operations in order to save the institution from certain disaster as the American automotive industry nearly collapsed in the “Great Recession”.

As an Engineering Director at Cadillac Motor Car his frequent interactions inside vehicle assembly and quality operations with the UAW helped grow an honest, open relationship between union and management and as lead engineering executive for the Cadillac Allanté body his diplomatic skills settled a long standing dispute between the Italian automaker Pininfarina, its union workers and Cadillac.

He worked side by side with assembly personnel at several GM plants to understand the challenges that hinder better union/management relations; toured the NUMMI vehicle assembly plant (a unique GM/Toyota partnership) for insight into operational performance enhancement; and is a long standing advocate of Deming’s principles of quality management.

Cooley’s professional activities and affiliations include service with The University of MichiganNuclear Engineering Advisory Council; Michigan State University’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams; the Michigan Environmental Council and the Public School Academies of Detroit.

He has been recognized by Who’s Who in the World, named a Tau Beta Pi Eminent Engineer, and received the Apollo Alliance (now BlueGreen Alliance) “Right Stuff” Award for work that exemplifies the organization’s clean energy, good jobs mission. Cooley was also chosen by the Bush Administration to visit U.S. troops deployed in the Middle East.

Cooley received a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics and a Master of Science degree.


Jane Fernanders

Jane Fernanders is the Chief Financial Officer of Black Family Development,  in her role as CFO, Jane is responsible for fiscal management of the Agency’s current $20 million dollar budget as well as assuring that the Agency will remain a going concern.  Jane is also responsible for HR, Facilities, and Risk Management.  Jane’s qualifications include 20 years plus experience providing; annual audit oversight that lead to clean audit opinions with no findings, organizational and capacity building oversight that transitioned Black Family Development from annual revenues of 1.3 million to 28 million.  22 years plus experience providing; data and systems management that tracks daily, monthly and annual cost of care, days of care and trends and patterns analysis by cost area. Jane’s fiscal and systems management experience includes; non-profit, governmental, for-profit accounting, accounts receivable, accounts payable, general accounting, cost accounting, fixed asset accounting, payroll and inventory control. In addition to her role as CFO for Black Family Development, Jane’s experience includes 21 years plus providing fiscal oversight and government accounting and auditing management to Hope Academy Charter School.  Jane’s other qualifications include; Managing Integrated Accounting systems, performing critical analysis of computer software and hardware needs. Jane is trained and proficient in; Cougar Mountain, Microsoft Excell, InfoMC and ETO software and Minimum Data Set, (MDS), understanding OMB circulars; grant accounting and administration; advanced tax issues for non-profits; tax exemption & reporting and FASB standards, developing multi-year budgeting plans and forecasts, understanding: Statistical Process Contro, Pareto Analysis, Cause and Effect Relationships, and supervision of MIS (Management Information Systems).  

Jane’s professional experience is equally matched by her educational studies which include; PhD Studies in Higher Education with an anticipated graduation date 2022, Michigan Global Education Policy Fellowship studies at Oxford and Cambridge, in the United Kingdom. Jane also holds a Master of Arts – Human Resource Management, a Master of Arts – Pastoral Care & Counseling, and a Bachelor of Business Administration & Accounting (Cum Laude).  Jane’s other advanced graduate course work includes; Harvard University – Executive Leadership and Corporate Governance Training, Wayne State University – Total Quality Management, MSU – Activity Based Cost Accounting, IIRP – Restorative Practices In Education and JJDV, FFU – Debt Management and Financial Freedom, MDE GASB-34 Reporting, NRC – 2 CFR 200 parts A- F Changes in Accounting, Audit & FASB Standards, 2016 Changes IRS Form 990, NABA – The Ethics of Accounting and Business Management, Fiduciary Management, Analysis, Budget Management, Ford Motor Company – Team Oriented Problem Solving Model and the Implementation of ‘Kaizon’ –Total Quality Management, Current Accounting and Audit Issues of Not For Profit Organizations, Enterprise Risk Management, Grant Accounting & Administration, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Training, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University  – Financial Literacy Certification   

Jane is an avid believer in volunteerism and giving back to communities, and her volunteerism efforts include working with, Board Of Directors of;  Communities In Schools – adhoc sustainability committee, New beginnings cathedral – executive board member, Hope Academy – audit and finance committee, Nonstop Inc., – board officer, Thomar Publishing  – board officer, 501 Alliance – board officer. 

Jane’ s  membership affiliations include; Michigan State University – Education Policy Fellow, Harvard Executive Leadership Co-op, New Beginnings Cathedral, National Association of Black Accountants, NAACP, Michigan Minority Business Development Council, National Association of Female Executive, Who’s Who Executive Portfolio, Who’s Who 500 most influential people of Detroit, Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce, Marygrove College Alumni Association, Jane’s published works include; Reaching an Economy of Scale in the CMO-A breakeven analysis, The need for religious affiliation in the workplace, and Blessed Broken and Given a Holy Communion.


Brian Flaggs

Mr. Brian Flaggs is a native Detroiter.  He is a proud graduate of Cass Tech, Michigan State and holds a Master’s Degree from Central Michigan University.

Mr. Flaggs has over thirty years of business experience in many industries including Automotive, Transportation, Education and Food Services. He is a serial entrepreneur with business/partnerships in several companies.  Currently Mr. Flaggs serves as the General Manager of ABC Student Transportation in Detroit which he is responsible for the transportation of (10,000+) students daily.  His current and past civic/community activities include but are not limited to Detroit Public Schools, Oakland Schools African American Student Associations, First Tee, Midnight Golf, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, West Bloomfield Optimist Club and Michigan State University Black Alumni Association. 

His success can be attributed to his faith in GOD, integrity, generosity and commitment to excellence.  


Dawn McCloud

In 1996 Attorney McCloud joined the elite and trailblazing demographic of pre-millenial Americans who are among the first in their family’s lineage to obtain a college degree. At Spelman College in 1996, she received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. With this trailblazing and pioneering spirit, a client inherently gains an attorney who is hard wired to persevere! Ms. McCloud left Spelman College, a private all-women’s institution in the heart of the south (Atlanta, Georgia) after graduating with both departmental and institutional honors. In the spring of 1996 she was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the elite and coveted English honors society. Your attorney can write persuasively and on your behalf! Her motions set before a judge on your behalf will get the job done.

A 2003 graduate of Michigan State University Law School, Attorney McCloud is proudest when she is serving the people of the great state of Michigan.  

“Becoming a licensed attorney in the State of Michigan was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and I cannot adequately express how important is to return home and become a life-long public servant.”

Dawn McCloud, September 2017 

Professional Expertise

Although I recently secured a large settlement for a motorcycle accident victim against AAA, it was more satisfying to me that I was able to do so by maintaining  the integrity and honesty that is synonymous with The Accountable Justice Firm.

In 30 years, I want others to be able to say the same thing about this firm and the members of our team. The Accountable Justice Firm offers a client a passionate fighter, a lover of justice and truth, and bridge to integrity, compassion, and hope. 

Criminal Law

Legal representation for Michiganders in the area of criminal law extends to Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, Lenawee and St. Clair counties. I COME TO YOU! Whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, you do not want an attorney who is there to plea bargain your life away. I am a litigator and I will fight for you!

Family Law

I fight for the children. They are our future. Sometimes life gets unpleasant and messy but, I counsel all of my clients on what’s best for their children ARE the successful result. Want a different viewpoint? Find another firm. 

That’s the living legacy of The Accountable Justice Firm.

Probate Law

Tying up the loose ends of a loved one’s estate or securing protection for a loved one who is unable to make decisions for them self is a daunting task. The legal issues are complex and confusing. Let me help.

Close and Personal

Want to know where you can get the greatest high heels? Call Dawn! 

Want to know where to grab the best Lebanese food in Michigan? Call Dawn!

Want the best legal representation for criminal litigation? Call Dawn!

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Yes, they say all those things about me from my personal and professional life. But what is it that I want you to know about me? 

I love my husband, and after fourteen years of marriage, I still gush when he walks into a room.  Samson, my overgrown bull mastiff thinks that he deserves as much attention as my husband. No kidding.