Distinctly Detroit Podcast

The University of Michigan Detroit Center (UMDC) is proud to present Distinctly Detroit, a podcast exploring the crossover of U of M community members living and working in Detroit. Join our host, UMDC Director, Feodies Shipp III, as he interviews scholars, innovators, and leaders to learn about their meaningful advances in Detroit’s civic, community, commercial, and cultural arenas.



Season 2

Episode 1 – Jai Singletary, Senior Consultant, Guidehouse

In this episode of Distinctly Detroit, Feodies probes the political mind of a native Washingtonian planted in the city of Detroit. He currently serves as a Senior Consultant for Guide House Consulting and is an alumnus of the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. We are proud to welcome Jai Singletary for our season two debut of the DDP!



Episode 2 – Palencia Mobley, Deputy Director and Chief Engineer, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department

In this episode of the Distinctly Detroit Podcast, Feodies hosts a visionary leader with 20 years of experience in government, private industry, and the non-profit sector. She is the Deputy Director/Chief Engineer for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department; and an Alumna of the University of Michigan College of Engineering. DDP proudly welcomes Palencia Mobley.




Episode 3 – Yusef “Bunchy” Shakur, Author and Community Organizer

Today’s guest transformed himself from a Zone 8 thug to a freedom fighter. He’s a father, author, youth mentor, inspirational speaker, community organizer, and business owner. He’s the Director of “Restoring The Neighbor Back To The Hood” and Alumnus of the University of Michigan School of Social Work. On this episode the DDP warmly welcomes Yusef “Bunchy” Shakur.




Episode 4 – Jamon Jordan, Historian, Black Scroll Network

In Episode 4, Distinctly Detroit explores the mind of an “African Centered Historian” whose tours have educated young and old about the African and African American History in the city of Detroit. He has been featured on C-Span, American History TV, and is the creator of the Black Scroll Network. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently appointed him to the State of Michigan’s Freedom Trail Commission. Today we welcome the city of Detroit’s first “Official Historian” Jamon Jordan to the DDP.



Episode 5 – Alycia Meriweather, Deputy Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools

Our guest today is a native Detroiter and graduate of Detroit Public Schools, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University.  She has worked in Detroit Public Schools for more than 20 years. Originally a middle school Science teacher and currently the Deputy Superintendent External Partnerships, Enrollment and Specialty programming for the Detroit Public School District. There were a lot more positions and responsibilities in between. We are going to explore it all with Alycia Meriweather.




Episode 6 – Natalie King, CEO, Dunamis Clean Energy Partners

In this episode we speak with the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dunamis Clean Energy Partners, LLC. She’s recognized as the first African American woman owned Electric Vehicle Charging Manufacturer. Prior to forming Dunamis, she served as co-founder, Vice President and General Counsel of J.King Solar Technologies, LLC. She is a licensed corporate and real estate attorney with a big heart.  She’s fed thousands of homeless and hungry citizens in Detroit with her annual “Backyard BBQ” event. A native Detroiter earning her Undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and Juris Doctorate degree from Wayne State University Law School. She’s an Attorney, Professor, Author, and recipient of the 2021 “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” for Michigan and Northwest Ohio. We welcome Natalie King to episode 5 of the DDP.





Episode 7 – Jarrett Irons, VP of Sales, Smiths & Nephew Inc. 

Our guest today was an All-American Linebacker and Captain of the University of Michigan Wolverines football team.  He’s managed business ventures for Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon, McDonalds and Tysons Foods. His personal client portfolio included Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, and Venus and Serena Williams.  He combined a sales career with an athletic career and is currently the Vice President of Sales for Smith & Nephew Inc.; a Global Medical Technology company.  He holds an undergraduate degree in Sports Management & Communications, and a graduate degree in Kinesiology; both from the University of Michigan.    Today we are privileged to speak with “Texan” Jarrett Irons. Welcome to the DDP Episode 7.






Episode 8 – Julian E. Pate III, Director, Michigan Engineering Zone, University of Michigan

Today’s guest is a successful senior executive that specializes in International team building, team management, and implementing change that delivers innovative solutions to organizational issues.  He served our country as an Air Force Electronic Technician; he served our community as a high school teacher for Detroit Public Schools; and he devoted more than 25 years to Ford Motor Company as a Director.  He received a Bachelor degree from Wayne State University and a MBA from Michigan State University.  He is currently the President/CEO of J3P Enterprise LLC., and Director of the Michigan Engineering Zone at the University of Michigan Detroit Center.  The DDP welcomes Julian E. Pater, III.





Episode 9 -Ozzie Rivera, Performer, Educator, and Cultural Organizer

Our guest today was born in Puerto Rico but raised in Southwest Detroit. He is an Activist, Educator, Historian, and Musician that has served the community by being directly involved. He has a passion for celebrating music and culture to impact social change. He has held numerous human service, academic, and cultural roles to promote and celebrate Detroit’s Latin community. A former “Michigander of the Year” and current leader of the Latin/Jazz Salsa Band La Inspiracion…the “Bomba King”…Osvaldo “Ozzie” Rivera joins the DDP!







Episode 10- Emilio Rodriguez, Artistic Director, Black and Brown Theatre

Today we speak with a theatre artist who received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of California Irvine. He continued to pursue and achieve a successful career in acting, directing, and playwriting. He also teaches acting and playwriting to students from adolescence to senior citizens. He has many accolades on his resume and is the current Artistic Director for the Black and Brown Theatre. We welcome Emilio Rodriguez to the DDP!






Episode 11- Erin Einhorn, Reporter, Editor, Author

Today we are joined by a reporter, editor, and author. She worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the New York Daily News. She moved to Downtown Detroit in 2014 and created “Chalk Beat Detroit”. A non profit Education news organization designed to untangle the complexities of school politics in Detroit, giving the people a voice. She is a University of Michigan Alumna and the author of “The Pages in Between”. The DDP welcomes NBC News reporter Erin Einhorn!





Episode 12- Lauren Hood, Founder, Director, Institute of Afro-Urbanism

Today our guest is a native Detroiter who received a master’s degree in community development from the University of Detroit Mercy and chairs the Detroit Planning Commission. She is the founder and director of The Institute of Afro-Urbanism, which focuses on the intersection of racial justice and community planning. She is currently leading a new project, The Detroit Thriving Index, to promote development, city planning, and philanthropy in the neighborhoods. The DDP welcomes Lauren Hood!







Episode 13- Malik Yakini, Band Leader, Molly Wop

The University of Michigan Detroit Center has participated in the annual Concert of Colors for ten years. The Concert of Colors is Metro Detroit’s free annual diversity themed music festival and 2022 is the 30th Anniversary of the event. The University of Michigan Detroit Center produces the “Wolverine Outdoor Stage” at the festival and this year is going to be our best production. Welcome to a special edition of the Distinctly Detroit Podcast, highlighting some of the performers that will be energizing the Wolverine Outdoor Stage July 2022. Today, we have the honor of speaking with Malik Yakini. Malik is the band leader of our headlining act, Mollywop. They play a hard hitting style of Funk, Rock, Reggae, Hip-Hop, and their own original grooves. Performing Sunday, July 24 at 9pm, Malik Yakini!







Episode 14- Chase Cantrell, Executive Director, Building Community Value

The DDP speaks with a nationally recognized leader that wants Black Detroiters to buy back the block. He’s a critical voice in Detroit’s policy making and revitalization efforts. His long term goal is for Detroit to become a beacon of Black culture and Black innovation in community, ownership and development. His short term goal is to see Black Detroiters transform and take agency over their own communities. He sustains social and economic development projects that engage distressed communities in creating impactful, resident led change that improves livability for all Detroiters. Hundreds of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park residents have benefitted from his knowledge of Real Estate development. Focusing on small Real Estate projects and providing technical assistance to small developers is his passion. A former Real Estate attorney that obtained a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School and a governor appointee to the Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons. The creator of the “Better Buildings, Better Blocks” program and current Executive Director of “Building Community Value”…Chase Cantrell!







Episode 15- Steve Somers, Band Leader

Our next guest is a singer/songwriter, musician, producer, and instructor. He and his band are well versed in Jazz, Blues, R&B, Motown, and Classic Rock. He holds a Maters’s degree in music and directs the Washtenaw Community College Jazz Band and the Ypsilanti Youth Orchestra. On July 23 at 8:30pm he and his band will take control of the University of Michigan Detroit Center Wolverine Outdoor Stage. The DDP welcomes Steve Somers of the Steve Somers’s Band!







Episode 16- Boyd White III, Pastor, The Ark 

Today’s guest was recognized as a rising star by “Michigan’s Super Lawyers” in 2014 and placed on the “Best Lawyers” ones to watch list in 2021.  He was also a prosecuting attorney for Oakland County.  He is a graduate of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, receiving a Juris Doctorate from the University of Toledo and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.  He is currently a partner at Dykema Gossett PLLC., and pastor of the Arc Detroit church.  The DDP welcomes Boyd White III to our 16th episode.







Episode 17- Dexter Mason, Head of Social Impact & DEI Strategy, Buzzer 

Our guest today was a White House Political Appointee during Barack Obama’s presidency.  Today, he wants to be a catalyst in the intersection of sports, the private sector and social responsibility.  He received his Master of Professional Studies from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management from the University of Michigan.  Hailing from Metropolitan-Detroit, he is currently the Director of Social Impact and DEI strategy at Buzzer, a technology company that delivers personalized live moments in sports to fans. He uses the power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. We proudly welcome Dexter Mason to the DDP.







Episode 18- Edward Sanders, Legal Assistant, Detroit Justice Center 

Today’s guest was convicted of accessory to murder and imprisoned as a teenager to life without parole (LWOP).  His unwavering hope led him to improve his education during his incarceration.  He completed his high school requirements and obtained an Associate’s degree in Para-Legal Services from Jackson College; and a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science from Spring Arbor University.   He became a real “Jail-House Lawyer,” serving others by filing legal documents and motions on their behalf.  After serving over 42 years in prison, he has outlined ways to make the criminal justice system fairer and more effective for everyone.  The DDP welcomes Edward Sanders.






Episode 19- Fred Hunter, CEO, Detroit Police Academic League

While studying psychology at the University of Michigan, our next guest went from “Freddy and the 7 Dwarfs” to being a walk-on Captain of the University of Michigan Men’s Basketball Team. A team that played in the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game; and he accomplished this while battling spina bifida. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he worked for “Think Detroit” and is currently the Acting Chief Executive Officer for the Detroit Police Academic League (PAL). The DDP welcomes Fred “Freddie” Hunter.




Season 1

Episode 1 – Dr. Riana Anderson

Join host Katie Lehman as she interviews Dr. Riana Anderson of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Dr. Anderson was born and raised in Detroit, MI and has returned after living, studying, and working across the country. She is the developer and director of the EMBRace (Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race) intervention and loves to translate her work for a variety of audiences, particularly those whom she serves in the community. Join us as we talk about her work and life in Detroit.

Episode 2 – Allandra Bulger

Join us for episode two of Distinctly Detroit as host Katie Lehman interviews Allandra Bulger, Executive Director of Co.act Detroit. Allandra is a lifelong Detroiter, with five generations of her family all living within the city of Detroit. Prior to launching Co.act Detroit, Allandra has an illustrious career with nonprofits in the city. Listen this week to hear her talk about the landscape of Detroit and how her work helps nonprofits around the city.

Episode 3 – Justin Erickson

Host Katie Lehman interviews Justin Erickson, the Program Manager for the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project. Justin is the direct liaison between small businesses and Detroit partners, and U-M faculty and students involved with DNEP. He holds a Master of Arts from The Fletcher School at Tufts University specializing in international law and economic development, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan.



Episode 4 – Oliver Ragsdale Jr.

In the latest episode of Distinctly Detroit, host Katie Lehman interviews Oliver Ragsdale Jr., President & Chief Executive Officer of the Arts League of Michigan and the Carr Center. His main focus over the years has been for the organization to provide world class arts programming and educational opportunities to the Detroit community. Additionally, Oliver is a highly prolific producer and musician. Over the span of his 45 year career, he has presented and/or produced literally hundreds of arts and culture performances and exhibitions. Join us for a lively conversation about Oliver’s career as well as arts and culture in Detroit.



Episode 5 – Feodies Shipp

Join us for the latest episode of Distinctly Detroit. Host Katie Benjamin interviews Feodies Shipp, Director of the University of Michigan Detroit Center. Born and raised in Detroit, Feodies earned his B.A. in History from U-M and his M.A. in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University before starting his career in higher education with the U-M Career Center in 1995. From 1996 to 2010, he worked in the university’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions first as an admissions counselor and then as assistant director before accepting a new role and the Detroit Center. Listen in to hear more about his experiences and the University of Michigan Detroit Center. 



Episode 6 – Dr. Tracy S. Hill

Check out the latest episode of Distinctly Detroit. Host Katie Benjamin interviews Dr. Tracy S. Hall, Executive Director of the Office of Metropolitan Impact with U of M Dearborn. Tracy has a wide range of experience and expertise in higher administration, nonprofits, and public policy.

Episode 7 – Rod Beard

Join us for another episode of Distinctly Detroit featuring University of Michigan alumnus Rod Beard. Since 2001, Rod Beard has worked in various roles with The Detroit News, beginning with high school sports and advancing to cover the Michigan basketball beat for five years and most recently the Detroit Pistons beat, since 2015.



Episode 8 – Dennis Archer Jr.

Join host Katie Benjamin as she interviews Dennis Archer Jr. Dennis is the CEO of Ignition Media Group, a leading integrated marketing agency, and president and founding  partner of Archer Corporate Services (ACS). Archer’s hospitality holding company, Congress Hospitality, is creator and managing  partner of Central Kitchen + Bar, named by The Detroit Free Press as one of Detroit’s top restaurants of the year, within a year of opening.



Episode 9 – Michael Cheatham

Host Katie Benjamin interviews Michael Cheatham, native Detroiter and Banking Center Manager for Comerica Bank. After graduation from the University of Michigan, Michael’s long career with Comerica Bank has kept him in the city of Detroit. Hear him talk about giving back to the community and how he has gotten to where he is today.



Episode 10 – Ralph Valdez

Join us for another episode of Distinctly Detroit as host Katie Benjamin interviews Ralph Valdez, the Deputy Director of the Concert of Colors and the Executive Director of the Dearborn Community Arts Council. Learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at the Concert of Colors and about the arts community around Detroit.