Introducing The Skillman Visionary Awards

New Trustees and Staff Changes

The Skillman Foundation is headed into a big year—activating new strategies and partnering with people to transform Michigan’s education system. Contributing to this work, the Foundation has welcomed two new trustees and has announced a staffing change.  

Two new members have been appointed to The Skillman Foundation’s Board of Trustees: Joi Harris and Mohammad Muntakim.   

Joi Harris is president & COO of DTE Energy. She is responsible for leading both DTE Electric and DTE Gas utilities, as well as Customer Service, Information Technology, Corporate Services and the Environmental Management and Safety organizations. Her career with DTE spans over 30 years.  
Joi earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree from Wayne State University. She serves as vice president of the board of directors for the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program. Joi is also a member of the Wayne State University College of Engineering Board of Visitors. She was recognized by the Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence program as Woman of the Year and received Energetic Women’s the Maverick Award, a special recognition to leaders who have set the standard in promoting, connecting and strengthening female leaders in energy operations and engineering in the energy industry. 

Mohammad Muntakim is the second youth to serve on the Foundation’s board and is a Skillman Foundation President’s Youth Council alumnus. He is an undergraduate student at Wayne State University studying public health, with plans to attend medical school. Mohammad is an alumnus of Cass Technical High School, where he graduated as valedictorian. 

Mohammad founded and leads Detroit Muslim Youth Council, bringing Detroit Muslim students together to help build a more inclusive and equitable city through education, advocacy, and service. He also serves as a Base Building Youth Organizer with 482Forward, an education justice organization focused on improving the educational landscape in Detroit. Additionally, Mohammad works as a research assistant for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and as a clinical intern at HUDA Clinic, the largest free clinic in Michigan. 
Other Skillman Foundation board members are Suzanne Shank, Board Chair, CEO & Co-Founder of Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC.; Ron Hall, Jr., Vice Chair, President & CEO of Bridgewater Interiors, LLC; Bill Emerson, Vice-Chairman of Rock Holdings, Inc.; Denise Ilitch, Owner of Ilitch Family Companies and President of Ilitch Enterprises, LLC; Pastor Solomon Kinloch, Jr. Lead Pastor of Triumph Church; Elizabeth Morales, Attorney at Dykema Gossett PLLC; Jerry Norcia, President & CEO of DTE Energy (retiring from The Skillman Foundation board in March of 2024); Angelique Power, President & CEO of The Skillman Foundation; Derrick Roman, CPA;  Jeremiah Steen, student at the University of Detroit Mercy; Linh Song, Co-Founder of The Song Foundation; and Gary Torgow, Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Huntington National Bank. 

“We are so fortunate to have a Joi and Mohammad join The Skillman Foundation board, expanding the diversity of insights and influence our trustees bring to our mission,” said Angelique Power, President & CEO of The Skillman Foundation.  

“Mohammad is the Foundation’s first Muslim board member and our second youth board member. As a high school student, he organized his peers to improve their educational experiences—these insights and more are invaluable to our work. He is a deeply thoughtful human I learn so much from. 

And Joi, she is a trailblazer. She dedicates her time and energy to young people, to mentorship and to STEM education. She sees the possibilities beyond the problems and activates people to be part of transformational change. That’s the spirit we need to rethink Michigan’s education system,” said Angelique.    

Two staff changes also took effect on January 1.

Lauren Hawkins
Punita Dani Thurman

Lauren Hawkins, whose title was previously Controller, now holds the title Director of Accounting and Finance.  

Punita Dani Thurman transitioned to Vice President, Strategy, previously Vice President, Program & Strategy.  

In this new role, Thurman will direct organizational strategies; develop regional, state, and national partnerships; and leverage public and private resources toward the Foundation’s mission.  

The Skillman Foundation will launch a national search for a Vice President, Program this month. This role will lead the Foundation’s grantmaking strategies and team.  
“The Skillman Foundation will be launching new strategies in 2024 to support the reimaging of education. This will require keen attention to our grantmaking strategies and leadership support for our grantmaking team. It will also require holding a bird’s eye view to ensure strategic alignment across all of the Foundation’s efforts, weaving our grantmaking strategies together with cross-sector and community partnerships. Dividing these foci across two executive roles will allow us to move forward more boldly and expeditiously,” said Angelique Power.  

The Skillman Foundation

The Skillman Foundation is a grantmaking organization established in 1960 by Rose Skillman. We have granted out more than $730 million and have served as a vocal advocate to strengthen K-12 education, afterschool programming, child-centered neighborhoods, youth and community leadership, and racial equity and justice.

We are in the process of developing a new strategic framework, co-designed with Detroit youth and their champions.

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