Detroit Homecoming 2021

Virtual: August 17, 24 & 31  |  In-Person: September 23-26

Detroit After the Pandemic – Challenges and Opportunities

Save the Date: September 14-16, 2022

Questions/Suggestions for 2022?  Email

Detroit Homecoming 2021 will comprise of virtual and COVID-safe in-person programming. Enjoy neighborhood tours, connect with local leaders, and expand your professional network. Strengthen your roots in the city of Detroit.

Apply to Attend 

Apply to Attend 

Apply to Attend 

Apply to Attend 

Apply to Attend 

Apply to Attend 

Notable Speakers

Detroit Homecoming’s virtual and in-person programming will allow for attendees to learn from local leaders and industry experts.

Know Your Price, Author

Andre Perry

Andre is the author of "Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities." He is a Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, a scholar-in-residence at American University, and a columnist for the Hechinger Report.

A nationally known and respected commentator on race, structural inequality, and education, Andre is a regular contributor to MSNBC and has been published by The New York Times, The Nation, Washington Post, The Root and CNN. He has also made appearances on CNN, PBS, National Public Radio, NBC and ABC.

Andre's research focuses on race and structural inequality, education, and economic inclusion. His recent scholarship at the Brookings Institution has analyzed Black-majority cities and institutions in America, focusing on valuable assets worthy of increased investment.

Author, Playwright

Dominique Morisseau

Dominique is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT).

She is also the TONY nominated book writer on the new Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial Theatre). Dominique is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference.

Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie’s (Premiere Stages).

PlayVS, Founder and CEO

Delane Parnell

Delane is currently the Founder and CEO of PlayVS, the venture-backed startup building the infrastructure for amateur esports. He is also a partner with Detroit Venture Partners.

Prior to starting PlayVS, Delane worked at IncWell Venture Capital where he became the youngest black venture capitalist in The United States. Delane was then part of the early team at Rocket Fiber that raised$31M and focused on retail strategy directly with the CEO. While at Rocket Fiber, Delane founded Rush Esports, an esports team that was acquired by Team Solomid.

A lifelong entrepreneur, Delane started his first job at 13, working 40 plus hours a week during the school year. At 17, Delane used the money he saved to purchase three cell phone stores and joined the founding team of Executive Car Rental that now has 16 locations across Michigan.

Ford Foundation, President

Darren Walker

Under Darren’s leadership, the Ford Foundation recently became the first nonprofit foundation in US history to issue a $1 billion social bond in the US taxable bond market to increase grant making to stabilize and strengthen nonprofit organizations in the wake of COVID-19. He is a member of Governor Cuomo’s Reimagining New York Commission and co-chair of NYC Census 2020.

He also chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy. Before joining Ford, Darren was vice president at Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs. In the 1990s, he was COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, Harlem’s largest community development organization.

Ford Motor Company, President & CEO

Jim Farley

Jim is president and chief executive officer, Ford Motor Company, effective October 1, 2020. He also serves as a member of the company’s board of directors. As CEO, Jim is focused on accelerating Ford’s transformation through operational excellence that benefits customers and delivers sustainable profit growth.

In his previous role as Chief Operating Officer, Jim worked to strengthen Ford’s automotive operations, overseeing all of Ford’s global markets and automotive operations including Product Development, Purchasing, Enterprise Product Line Management, Manufacturing & Labor Affairs, Marketing, Sales & Service, and Quality & New Model Launch. He also oversaw Mobility Partnerships and Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC.

He also represents Ford on the U.S. China Business Council Board of Directors and has been appointed co-chair of the Future of Mobility Commission.

Managing Director, Detroit Program Kresge Foundation

Wendy Jackson

Wendy is managing director for the Detroit Program. She leads The Kresge Foundation’s efforts to revitalize Detroit and to strengthen its social and economic fabric. Her work supports organizations providing economic opportunity for low-income people and addresses the needs of vulnerable children and families.

Prior to joining Kresge in 2008, Wendy was a program director for Children and Family Initiatives and executive director for education initiatives at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in Grand Rapids, Mich. She taught at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., and has co-authored and assisted in the publication of several reports and publications that address community needs and problem-solving.

Watch the Replay

Tuesday, August 17 – Coming Home

– Creating pathways for family-owned/privately held companies that want to sell

– Expats who have “come home” to new opportunities here in the Motor City

Tuesday, August 17

Virtual Webcast: Coming Home

4:00 PM-5:00 PM

PART ONE: Have you ever wanted to own or run your own company? Two new funds in Michigan are hoping to match operators with family-owned/ privately held companies that are looking for an exit. Both funds are focused on creating pathways for family-owned/privately held companies that want to sell — but don’t like the idea of selling out to a traditional private equity fund that may not respect the legacy of a company in the community in which it’s based.

Doug DeVos
Co-Founder, Michigan Opportunity Fund
Co-Chair, Amway Corp's Board of Directors
Jeff Helminski
Managing Partner
Auxo Investment Partners
Doug Lepisto
Sleeping Giant Fund
Ranvir Gujral
Managing Partner
Sleeping Bear Capital

PART TWO: We’ll talk to expats who have “come home” to new opportunities here in the Motor City.

Aaron Averbuch
Chief Technology Officer
David Smith
Loyola High School
Rod Hardamon
Chief Executive Officer
URGE Development Group
Christine Liedtke
Tuesday, August 24

Virtual Webcast: Arts

4:00 PM-5:00 PM

How will performing arts emerge from the pandemic? Hear from the heads of Detroit’s premiere cultural institutions on their future. INTERMISSION: Learn from Author/Playwright Dominique Morisseau about her new project on West Grand Boulevard;

Gretchen Davidson
Musician and Arts Patron
Rochelle Riley
Director, Arts & Culture
City of Detroit
Howard Handler
313 Presents
Omari Rush
Executive Director
Robin Terry
Motown Museum

What other American city has the concentration of major arts and cultural institutions within a 6-block area — flanked by an urban research university and an arts-centric college of design? See the plans for connecting the dots in ways that can benefit Detroit for generations to come — and experience some of those spaces “live” at Dlectricity during Detroit Homecoming VIII.

Anya Sirota
Associate Professor, Associate Dean of Academic Initiatives
University of Michigan
Darin McKeever (Moderator)
President & CEO
William Davidson Foundation
Neil Barclay
President & CEO
Charles H. Wright Museum
Sue Mosey
Midtown Detroit, Inc.
Tuesday, August 31

Virtual Webcast: Philanthropy & Workforce

4:00 PM-5:00 PM

PART ONE–PHILANTHROPY: FORD FOUNDATION STRENGTHENS FORD FAMILY TIES A conversation between Darren Walker and Ford Foundation Trustee Henry Ford III.

Darren Walker
Ford Foundation
Henry Ford III
Board Member
Ford Motor Company

PART TWO–WORKFORCE: WILL BIG TECH ADD DETROIT TO ITS JOB MAP? CEOs are professing devotion to equity. Companies are newly focused on ESG concerns. How can this play out to Detroit’s advantage? How will Detroit prepare Detroiters to take advantage of new jobs and industries in the city and the region?

Farah Stockman (Moderator)
Editorial Writer/Author
New York Times
Josh Edmonds
Director of Digital Inclusion
City of Detroit
Ingrid Guerra-Lopez
Professor, Learning Design & Technology
Wayne State University
Maureen Krauss
President & CEO
Detroit Regional Partnership
Terrell Lockhart
Manager, Tree Trimming Academy
DTE Energy
Frank Courtney
External Engagement - Michigan Central Development
Ford Motor Company
Thursday, September 23

Real Estate Forum & Tour

Noon-4:00 PM
The Brakeman, 22 John R at Farmer

In this session, we’ll look at Detroit’s neighborhoods and the future of downtown real estate in a hour-long forum and then we’ll hit the road as a group and tour some of the region’s most exciting projects in person.  Box lunch served at noon.

Fireside Chat:

Debra Hoge (Moderator)
Global Director, Real Estate
General Motors
Kofi Bonner


Moddie Turay
Founder and Partner
City Growth Partners
Andrew Kuhn
Urban Communities
Sonya Mays
President & CEO
Develop Detroit
Jason Winkler
Co-Founder & CEO
Q Factor
Thursday, September 23

In-Person Outdoor Reception

5:00 PM-8:00 PM
Lumen / Beacon Park

Welcome to Detroit! All the expats will be together again in Detroit’s beautiful outdoor Beacon Park. Guests will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and beer/wine/waters at Lumen. Dlectricity will be coming to life around the park as we listen to the incredible neo-classic music of Detroit’s own BLKBOK.

Neo-Classical Pianist


The uniquely gifted BLKBOK, a neo-classical piano prodigy from Detroit who uses his dexterous arrangements and melodic scores to audibly illustrate experience, that of his own, and his community’s across pivotal moments in American history, recently unveiled his debut album Black Book.
Friday, September 24


9:00 AM-12:00 PM
Mike Ilitch School of Business

This is a busy morning! We’ll get started discussing Detroit’s challenges and opportunities after the pandemic. How will Detroit spend $800 million in American Rescue Plan dollars? Then we visit General Motors’ audacious goal of becoming the most inclusive company in the world.

That leads to spotlights on equity and entrepreneurship and you’ll meet some of the most interesting Detroit companies you’ve probably not heard of. Finally, we’ll talk sports and hear about Detroit’s plans to attract major sporting events, how the pro and collegiate teams are planning for their next seasons.


Entrepreneur Speed Dating over Breakfast



M. Roy Wilson
Wayne State University
Mike Duggan
City of Detroit

Detroit and the American Rescue Plan: Rip Rapson starts it off with a 1:1 with Gene Sperling, who was tapped by President Biden to coordinate the American Recovery Act.  How will the $1.6 billion allocated to City of Detroit and the Public Schools be used in transformative ways?

Rip Rapson (Moderator)
Kresge Foundation
Gene Sperling
Coordinator, American Rescue Plan
White House
Nikolai Vitti
Detroit Public Schools Community District

GM’s Audacious Goal: Be the Most Inclusive Company in the World

Hajj Flemings (Moderator)
Rebrand Black
Telva McGruder
Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
General Motors
Dennis Archer Jr.
Ignition Media Group

Entrepreneur Spotlight

We bring in an array that covers Consumer, B2B and a spinoff from Wayne State.  Carla offers each entrepreneur about 3 minutes to describe their company.  Then asks them about their biggest needs/obstacles.  Each of these companies has a competitive edge in their space.

Carla Walker Miller (Moderator)
Detroit Means Business
Dana White
Paralee Boyd Salon
Justin Turk
Sheu-Jane Gallagher

Detroit’s Growing VC Ecosystem

Entrepreneur Delane Parnell, founder of VC-backed PlayVS, an esports company in LA, has returned to Detroit part time to work on new company ideas while growing his esports franchise, first in sanctioned high school and collegiate sports.  He’ll chat with another native Detroiter, Mykolas Rambus, whose MIT-hewn tech chops has fueled successful tech companies and he’s working on his latest from Detroit.

Mykolas Rambus
CEO & Founder
Privacy Check
Delane Parnell
Founder & CEO

A Conversation with Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman, one of the country’s wealthiest self-made women, recently joined the board of General Motors Co.  Her passion, though, is leading the board of Teach for America, the nonprofit that sends some of the country’s best college grads into city schools as TFA fellows.  Whitman says: “When I surveyed the public education landscape over the past 20 years, Teach For America was the only organization driving real change.”

Fireside Chat:

Faye Nelson
Director of Michigan Programs
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Meg Whitman
Board Chair
Teach for America

Detroit – the best sports town in America? What are the short and long-term effects of the pandemic? What can fans expect? What will NCAA athletes be able to do this year as a result of new rules? And what are Detroit’s best chances to bring “big” events — such as the NFL Draft — to the city.

Greg Kelser
Broadcaster, former NBA Star, MSU Championship Team
Diana Sabau
Deputy Commissioner
Big Ten Conference
Sheila Ford Hamp
Principal Owner and Chair
Detroit Lions
Arn Tellem
Vice Chairman
Detroit Pistons
Mark Hollis
Vice President of Business Development
Rock Ventures LLC
Friday, September 24

IN-PERSON: Afternoon Tours

1:00 PM-4:00 PM
Mike Ilitch School of Business

All tours leave from Mike Ilitch School of Business. Friday options include:

  1. Innovative Skills/Job Training
  2. Detroit History and Culture Walking tour with Historian Jamon Jordan
  3. RiverWalk Walking Tour
Saturday, September 25


9:00 AM-12:00 PM
Mike Ilitch School of Business




Does Ford have a better idea?

Ford CEO brings to life his vision for the company – and its investment in SW Detroit.

Fireside Chat:

Mary Kramer
Detroit Homecoming
Jim Farley
President & CEO
Ford Motor Company


Wealth Disparities and Detroit’s Legacy Residents

For white Americans, home ownership has been the key to passing wealth along to the next generation.  Not so for Black Detroiters.

Wendy Jackson (Moderator)
Managing Director, Detroit Program
Kresge Foundation
Anika Goss-Foster
Detroit Future City
Andre Perry
Know Your Price
Sonya Mays
Develop Detroit
Scott Benson
City Council Member
City of Detroit


Detroit’s Future: Young People

As CEO, Shawn Wilson created a new vision for the nearly 100-year-old Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan.  Youth participants will be “career, startup and homeowner-ready” by the time they leave the Clubs at age 18.  Learn more about the new Industry Clubs – and see one club’s own fashions from Deviate.

Shawn Wilson
President & CEO
Boys & Girls Club


Innovations in Philanthropy

Social bonds, baby bonds, billionaires tackling social issues in new ways. We ask some of the “big thinkers” in philanthropy to weigh in on what’s working and what can we focus on in Detroit.

Michael Shaw (Moderator)
Program Director
Hudson-Webber Foundation
John Simon
Greenlight Fund
Laura Grannemann
Interim Director, Gilbert Family Foundation
VP, Rocket Community Fund
Paul Vlasic
Co-Founder Managing Director
SHARE Detroit RSVP Ventures
Lynette Dowler
DTE Energy Foundation


The Workforce Crisis

Art Bilger
Founder and CEO
Kylee Mitchell Wells
Executive Director SE Michigan
Ballmer Group


Detroit’s Image in the Arts

Dominique Morisseau
Stephen Mack Jones
August Snow series, to be adapted for TV with Keegan Michael Key as the star
Chris Denson
Innovation Advocate
Saturday, September 25

IN-PERSON: Afternoon Experiences

1:00 PM-4:00 PM
Mike Ilitch School of Business

All tours leave from Mike Ilitch School of Business. Saturday options include:

  1. BLISS-presented by Michigan Opera Theater in a parking garage/former theater
  2. Northwest Neighborhoods Tour–Shop, Sip and See with the Small Business Murals Project by the Rocket Community Fund 
  3. Southwest Neighborhoods Tour–Shop, Sip and See with the Small Business Murals Project by the Rocket Community Fund 
  4. An Extra Special Mobility Tour
Saturday, September 25 

IN-PERSON: Dine-Arounds

6:00 PM-8:00 PM
Assigned Based on Topic Selected

Join a Saturday evening dinner with a group of expats at one of five great downtown Detroit restaurants. We’ll curate the groups to bring together people by topic:

    • Real Estate
    • Women-Owned Businesses
    • Real Estate
    • Venture Capital/Entrepreneurs
    • Technology/Mobility/Workforce
    • Sports
Sunday, September 26

IN-PERSON: Detroit Lions v. Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM-5:00 PM
Ford Field

We have 20 tickets to Sunday’s game, thanks to our friends at the Detroit Lions.

We have reached capacity for this session.

Who are Expats?

Detroit Homecoming is designed to reconnect former residents with their hometown, inspiring them to use their career success and resources to support the city’s development.

Learn More

A Director’s Welcome

Whether as a expat, a sponsor or a presenter, understand how you can be part of the Homecoming experience and Detroit’s comeback story.

Learn More

Join Us this Year

Apply to Attend Detroit Homecoming VIII. We would also like to learn about your personal or professional connections to Detroit and your potential reengagement.

Learn More