DTE CEO honored by Detroit Goodfellows

Charles E. Ramirez

A charity Friday honored DTE Energy’s chairman and CEO for his leadership and vision in reshaping Detroit.

The Old Newsboys Goodfellow Fund of Detroit presented Gerry Anderson with its Edward H. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year award.

Anderson was given the award at the Detroit Goodfellows’ 28th annual Tribute Breakfast at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.

Corporate representatives, community leaders and elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, joined him at the event. About 800 attended the breakfast.

“There’s nobody more fitting to be honored here,” said Evans. “DTE has been helpful in a number of ways to the county and this region.”

Known for its “No Kiddie without a Christmas” mission and for giving holiday packages to children in Detroit and other cities, the Detroit Goodfellows annually gives the award to distinguished and noteworthy individuals who have significantly contributed to the community.

The group said Anderson is receiving the honor because of his impact as a corporate leader and for being a catalyst for civic and community improvement in the region.

“He really cares about people and he’s very deserving of the award,” said Mike Jennings, the Detroit Goodfellows’ president. “He exemplifies the Goodfellows’ mission.”

Under Anderson’s leadership, DTE Energy has helped Detroit’s recovery by working with nonprofits, the city and the Detroit Public Schools Community District. One of the projects is working with the city on a $10 million effort to train workers at the Randolph Career Technical Education Center for jobs. DTE Energy’s most recent civic project, the new Beacon Park at Cass and Grand River was unveiled this summer.

Anderson said the award was humbling.

“It’s clear this is a very special honor and more than flattered to receive this award,” Anderson said. “I would like to accept this award on behalf of the thousands of DTE Energy employees who participate in this endeavor.”

Previous winners of the award include President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc. Christopher Ilitch, Kid Rock, Judge Damon Keith, former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the Detroit Police Department.

Anderson, who has been DTE Energy’s CEO since 2010 and its chairman since 2011, joined the company in 1993.

He also serves on the boards of the Michigan Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, The Henry Ford, the McGregor Fund, Business Leaders for Michigan, the Downtown Detroit Partnership, and the West Michigan Policy Forum.

Also Friday, the charity presented at the breakfast its first-ever Ernest Lofton Junior Goodfellow of the Year Award to a young community member who is making a positive difference.

The award pays homage to longtime Detroit Goodfellow and United Auto Workers labor leader Ernest “Ernie” Lofton. Lofton died on Aug. 4, 2016.

Jeremiah Steen, a junior at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, was selected as the award’s first winner. Steen, 16, of Grosse Pointe volunteers as a youth soccer coach with Soar Eagle Sports Club and for the Detroit Area on Agency Aging Holiday Meals on Wheels program.

“I’m very blessed to be among some of the great people I hope to be like someday,” Steen said. “I never thought I would get this kind of an award. It feels great.”

The Detroit Goodfellows is an iconic Detroit nonprofit that’s been around from more than a century. James J. Brady, who was director of the Internal Revenue Service in Detroit, started the charity in 1914 after seeing a cartoon of a forlorn child in The Detroit News.

The group has about 300 members who distribute holiday gift boxes to kids ages four to 13 in Detroit, Higland Park, River Rouge, Hamtramck and Highland Park. The gift boxes contain warm clothing, toys, books, games and candy and are distributed with help of the Detroit Police Department.

Every year, the charity raises more than million dollars to fund its programs. It’s larges fundraiser is the Detroit Goodfellows Sales Day, when its volunteers take to Metro Detroit's streets the Monday after Thanksgiving to sell special editions of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The group raised more than $40,000 last year. This year, Sales Day will be held on Monday, Nov. 27.