Mr. Donnell R. White, acclaimed as one of Detroit’s eminent emerging leaders served the Detroit Branch NAACP as Executive Director from 2011 – 2018 and holds the distinction of being the youngest Executive Director to be appointed in the history of the NAACP. Currently, Mr. White serves as the Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Strategic Partnerships for Chemical Bank tasked with attracting, developing, and engaging talent across the organization, as well as, managing external relationships within various community and business organizations.
Mr. White has become immersed within the community through various initiatives and boards. In addition, Mr. White was appointed Detroit Police Commissioner by Mayor Dave Bing in 2010, and the Detroit Public Lighting Authority by Mayor Mike Duggan in 2016. Despite his various appointments, awards and honors, Mr. White leads his life by Micah 6:8 “Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly.”
How Donnell Gives Back:
Founding Member - New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice Law Enforcement Signatory Group
Co-Chair - ClearCorps/Detroit
Member - Federal Bureau of Investigations Multicultural Advisory Committee
Member - Wayne State University President’s Advisory Group
Member - DTE Energy Community Advisory Council
Vice Chair - Detroit Public Lighting Authority
In his own words:
1. What’s your most important career accomplishment to-date?
My most important career accomplishment to date is becoming the youngest Executive Director in the history of the NAACP.
2. How have you redefined leadership through your professional success?
I have redefined leadership through my professional success by having professionalism, matched by unparalleled passion and by leading by example, signaling that age is not a barrier but an obstacle.
3. Why is civic engagement (volunteerism) important to you?
Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy. Commitment to both, community and those who are less fortunate than you, are the solutions to creating a beloved community.
4. How have you disrupted the idea of traditional leadership? How do you express leadership?
As a recovering civil rights activist where I was the youngest Executive Director in the history of the NAACP to now serving as Senior Vice President of Michigan's largest bank and it's first Chief Diversity Officer, the path has certainly been less than traditional in redefining the limits of leadership. I express leadership with an an activist spirit and passion for community.
5. What is a blue sky goal that you would like to accomplish in your career?
My blue sky goal is to be significant and not just successful and to leave our community (world) a better place as a result of my service. Additionally, my goal is to inspire in the next generation a spirit of activism and a compassion for community.
6. Why did you choose to pursue your passion/profession in Metro-Detroit? How do you intend to impact the region through your work?
Detroit is the gateway to the world. Steeped in diversity, challenges and opportunities, and passionate committed people, Detroit is a badge of honor that should be worn with pride. I look forward to continuing to knock down barriers and bridge communities in one of the most segregated regions in the country, fostering a community where our children will know no boundaries.
Meet Donnell at the Vanguard Awards! Click HERE to join the celebration!