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College and Career Pathways, K-12 Education

The Skillman Foundation Appoints Bill Emerson as Board Chair; Names Punita Dani Thurman as Vice President of Program and Strategy

Bill Emerson, vice chairman of Quicken Loans and CEO of Bedrock, has been appointed as board chair of The Skillman Foundation, a two-year term that will run through 2020. He succeeds Jerry Norcia, president and COO of DTE Energy, who served as the Foundation’s board chair from 2016-2018 and will continue as a board member.

“We’re very fortunate to have a leader of Bill’s caliber provide guidance to the Foundation,” said Skillman Foundation President & CEO Tonya Allen. “He is remarkably analytic and strategic, able to diagnose problems and quickly find solutions. This, combined with his passion and love for Detroit, helps power our work.”

Punita Dani Thurman has been named vice president of program and strategy. In this role, Thurman leads strategy and oversees execution for the Foundation’s programmatic work and serves as a member of its executive leadership team which drives organizational strategy and represents the Foundation locally, regionally, and nationally.

Punita Thurman“Punita’s passion and leadership have been of tremendous contribution to our team,” Allen said. “Over the past several years, she has led our education strategy and staff, and supported the Foundation’s contributions to key community collaborations such as the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, Launch Michigan, and Teach 313. I am grateful for her commitment to our work and the additional leadership responsibilities she is taking on in her new role.”

Thuman most recently served as a program director for the Foundation, leading its education portfolio. Prior to joining The Skillman Foundation in 2014 as a senior program officer, Thurman supported the launch of TeachingWorks, an initiative housed at the University of Michigan School of Education focused on transforming teacher training nationally. She also served as executive director of human capital development for the Fort Worth Independent School District where she led the design and implementation of a $15-million performance pay and school transformation initiative. Prior to this role, Thurman worked for more than a decade as a management consultant with Deloitte Consulting, supporting Fortune 500 firms and federal governmental agencies on human capital strategy, change management, and organizational effectiveness.

Thurman was named a 2016 PLACES Fellow, a program that supports education leaders’ efforts in integrating education systems in land and city planning. She is a trustee of the Novi Educational Foundation and has served on the State of Michigan’s PreK-12 Literacy Commission. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance and Management from the University of Michigan and a Master of Business Administration from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Other Staff Changes

Siobhan O’Laoire has been promoted to the role of program officer, supporting the Foundation’s Education impact area. O’Laoire has been a Skillman Foundation staff member for more than five years, serving as an associate program officer, evaluation fellow, and grants manager. She earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan, focused on community organizing and social systems.

Lindse_BarrettThe Skillman Foundation welcomed Lindsey Barrett as a program and impact fellow, a two-year fellowship that supports The Skillman Foundation and the Council of Michigan Foundation with research, programmatic, and grantmaking activities. Prior to joining the Foundation, Barrett spent five years as an educator, teaching second grade and middle school math. She also served as a Bohnett Public Service and Leadership Fellow for the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department.

The Skillman Foundation

A voice for children since 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy that serves as a fierce champion of Detroit children. The Foundation works to ensure Detroit youth achieve their highest aspirations by strengthening K-12 public education, afterschool learning opportunities, and college and career pathways.

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