Society: Teach for America Detroit Gala honors partners

Chuck Bennett
Special to The Detroit News

The Cass Tech Marching Band perfectly set the tone at the Teach for America Detroit Gala held at the Max Fisher Music Center on May 7. The drums, the brass instruments and the fancy green and white uniforms in the reception hall were a festive representation of what was to come.

Once inside, some 230 guests enjoyed cocktails and a seated dinner as Teach for America Detroit honored three important partners in its work to address educational inequity in Detroit. The honorees were Alice Thompson, the CEO of Black Family Development Inc.; Brenda Belcher, principal of Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine; and Matthew Simoncini, president, CEO and director of Lear Corp.

In addition to performances by the Cass Tech Marching Band, the program also featured slam poets from the Detroit International Academy for Young Women, as well as poignant spotlight speeches from a number of current and former Teach for America teachers.

The host committee for the gala included Gayle and Richard Burstein, Margaret Cooney-Casey and Brian Casey, Susan and Clark Durant, Carol and Tom Goss, Mitra Jafary-Hariri, Christine Beck and Dana Locniskar, Sharon Madison, Denise and Conrad Mallett, Robyn Paul, Dr. Glenda Price, Leora and Mark Tapper, Rachel Tronstein, Katherine and James Van Dyke, and Caroline Blaum and Chuck Wilbur.

Teach for America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for poverty-stricken children. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. The organization has operated in Detroit since 2010. Tickets to the gala were available in three tiers — $500, VIP; $250 general admission; and $125 for young professionals. Nearly $100,000 was raised.

Event sponsors included Beaumont Health System, Lear Corporation, Detroit Medical Center, PVS Chemicals, the Locniskar Group at Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Investment Group, the Ford Building, Black Family Development Inc., Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Tapper’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry, Gardner-White, Hour Detroit, the General Motors Foundation, and Somerset.