Presenters’ Bios and Pics

Born in New York City and attended NYC public schools.
City College of New York. Degree in psychology 1967
City College of New York- M.S. in Child Clinical Psychology 1973
New York University- Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology- 1983
Internship- Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx Psychiatric
Center Campus 1979-1980
Certificate in Family Therapy, Albert Einstein, 1980
Advanced certificate in Family Therapy, Family Training Institute,
Ann Arbor
Certification in neuropsychology, Neuropsychology, U of M, Ann Arbor

Peace Corps Volunteer, Republic of the Philippines, training teachers in mathematics instruction 1967-69

School Teacher- NY City Public Schools 1969-1974
Director of Pilot Program for underprepared college students-
Brooklyn College, City University of New York 1974-79
Coordinator of Adolescent Services and Senior Psychologist,
Dept. of Child Psychiatry, Harlem Hospital Center, NYC 1980-84
Psychology professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, MSU 1984-86
Consultant in Pediatrics, Sparrow Hospital 1984-1990
Consultant to Cleft Palate Clinic, Sparrow Hospital 1984-present
Private Clinical Practice, East Lansing 1984-Present

My clinical practice mainly deals with affective disorder- primarily depression with suicidal patients

ALANA ABDAL  I began my yoga journey in 2005 with my best friend. I immediately felt an awakening and haven't looked back since. Yoga has helped me to understand myself, others, and the human need for love, movement, and deep reflection. Along with helping to nourish my thirst for movement and personal inquiry, it awakened a passion for listening: to the sounds of nature, to my loved ones, to strangers, and especially to myself. The practice of yoga has a profound ability to focus the mind, straighten the body, and nourish the soul. My heart has lived in teaching ever since. In my classes you'll flow, you'll breathe, you'll learn and you'll challenge yourself!

I began my yoga journey in 2005 with my best friend. I immediately felt an awakening and haven’t looked back since. Yoga has helped me to understand myself, others, and the human need for love, movement, and deep reflection. Along with helping to nourish my thirst for movement and personal inquiry, it awakened a passion for listening: to the sounds of nature, to my loved ones, to strangers, and especially to myself. The practice of yoga has a profound ability to focus the mind, straighten the body, and nourish the soul. My heart has lived in teaching ever since. In my classes you’ll flow, you’ll breathe, you’ll learn and you’ll challenge yourself!

Robert Burns, PT, DPT, OMPT

Owner, Clinical Director

Doctor in Physical Therapy, the University of Southern California
Bachelors of Science in Business Management, Hampton University
Specializations and Certifications
Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (OMPT), APTA certified clinical instructor
Association Memberships
American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Michigan Physical Therapy Association (MPTA)
Adjunct Faculty, Lecturer
Wayne State University, Oakland University
Clinical Interests
Clinical instruction
Clinical and logistical management of orthopedic services for youth and adult athletics
Clinical and administrative management services for Detroit Roller Derby, Ann Arbor Derby, Downriver Roller Derby
Fun Fact: Dr. Burns holds the title of 2001 Billiards Champion at Hampton University.

Clinical Interests,

  • Clinical instruction
  • Sports-related injuries

Fun Fact: Dr. Sina is a self-proclaimed car and motorcycle nerd, enjoys staying active, and loves road trips.

Kelly Sexton

Kristel Sexton became Head of Children’s Services at the Farmington Community Library-12 Mile location in October 2019. Before that, she worked for 6 years as a Youth Librarian at the Ypsilanti District Library, specializing in working with children ages 0-5 and their caregivers. Kristel is passionate about racial justice in the library and beyond, fostering community relationships, early literacy, and equitable access to technology and STEM learning for children. She was a part of a 4-person team that developed an early literacy texting service that is set to roll out state-wide in the next 2 years. Her current favorite picture book is Oona, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Raissa Figueroa. 


a native Detroiter is a product of the Detroit Public Schools. Hereceived the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Pastoractive in the gospel ministry since 1976. He currently serves as Senior Pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Detroit, and now co-facilitates Conversations on Race, an independent antiracist community group that uses conversation and story-telling to build skills and relationships to improve racial equity in Southeast Michigan

Dr. Irene Lietz

•She holds a B.A. (Marygrove College), M.A. (University of Detroit, and Ph.D. (Union Institute and University). •A Professor Emerita of English at Carlow University, Pittsburgh and long-time teacher of first-year and professional writing, her writing and community work focus on social justice, racism, and gender-based violence. •Her recent book, Teaching and Race: How to Survive, Manage, and Even Encourage Race Talk was published in 2020 by Peter Lang Publishing. •She grew up in Warren, MI and currently lives in Ferndale.  •Irene is the other co-founder and co-facilitator of  Conversations on Race, •

Rev. Stancy Adams

•She is the chairperson of The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit. •She has served as a minister and religious educator in metropolitan Detroit since 2004. •She is associate minister and director of Christian education at Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. • •

Ms. Danielle Ware

•Danielle has over 20 years in the automotive industry working in various positions from Manufacturing Assembly Line Supervision, to Electrical Engineering Systems Product Development, to Cost Strategy, to Program Management. •Danielle’s consistent advocacy and DEI work within the automotive industry has led her to follow her passions and start the non-profit Danika Community Development Inc. (DCDI), as well as help found Community Equity Organization (CEO).  •DCDI focuses on supporting the community and building a solid foundation by increasing their knowledge base in financial literacy, wealth management, health and wellness.  •CEO focuses on the active social justice work to bring about change in our communities that sees every community member having equitable access to resources and to be treated with dignity and respect.

Tia Marie Sanders

•Tia Marie Sanders, (aka- The Oracle and Mama RahRah!), is an unapologetic racial justice activist and community organizer, for the dismantling of systemic racism in all institutions, based on the definition described by the late Frances Cress Welsing; •She is an advocate for the human the rights and freedoms of Black people to thrive; •She has over 20 years as a non-profit, fundraising, and small business development consultant. •She is a creator of spaces where we will learn and be loved at the same time. Currently sitting on 25 boards for education, mental health and wellness, advancing the well being of families, in and around the Novi community. 

Rubin: Detroit's Freedom House may close
Deborah Drennan, Chief Executive Officer

Deb has been with Freedom House Detroit since 2006 and its chief executive officer since 2009. She has more than 30 years of frontline experience in social services case management. Prior to Freedom House, she held director- and manager-level roles with other Detroit-area nonprofits including the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) where she worked with homeless individuals and families, and Women ARISE, where she worked with women re-entering society after incarceration.
While those experiences helped hone her social work skills and leadership style, for Deb, working with asylum-seekers is an entirely unique and life-changing experience. “All of these individuals, from different places, with different languages, cultures, and beliefs, find
themselves living together in the same place during one of the most desperate and pivotal moments of their lives,” said Deb. “It’s an honor to be here for them and to lead this Detroit gem of an institution.”

Seydi Sarr

Seydi Sarr, is an award-winning social justice advocate, human rights activist and curator of equitable practices through lived experiences. She is the founder of ABISA (African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs) and cofounder of the BIBF (Black Immigrant Bail Fund). A Senegalese native, Seydi is a graduate of Wayne State University School of Social Work (BSW) and Marygrove School of Social Justice (M.A. SJ). Her passion for social equity drives her commitment to advocacy at the intersections of racial, immigration, socio-economy, religious and gender issues. Seydi is a court interpreter, a Detroit Equity Action Lab fellow, a Michigan Political Leadership Program fellow and a New American Leaders fellow. Mother and lay leader in her community Seydi teaches weekly West African dance classes in the city. Seydi curates the vision of a multicultural, multifaceted society built on acknowledgment, understanding, courage, transformation and service.

A little snapshot of things

Community Service Award recipient from CCSC, (October 2020), KOLA Awards: Most Influential African Descent, (December 2019), Civic Warrior Award recipient from EMGAGE Michigan, (February 2019), Ally Award recipient from The Mary Turner Center for Advocacy (December 2018, Human Rights Advocate Award recipient from the UACO (November 2018), Best of Both Worlds: Community organizer Award recipient (2018), Racial Justice Award recipient at DART (Detroit Anti-Racism Training) (2017)

Donald Walker

A husband and father Donald Walker has been a resident of Farmington Hills for 20 years. He is a graduate of the University of Detroit-Mercy in Communications, the University of Phoenix with a Masters of Business Administration, and a two time graduate of Specs Howard School of Media Arts. Donald Walker has been a member of the radio broadcast community since 1988 and the digital media arts community since 2011. He has worked as announcer at WJFM 93.7fm Grand Rapids and in Detroit at Mix 92.3 and Oldies 104.3 WOMC. Donald spent ten years at the Specs Howard School of Media Arts as a teacher and Director of Education helping others to achieve their dreams of working in the broadcast and video production industries. Since leaving Specs Howard, Donald has served as the Program Director of 90.9 WDTR Detroit Public Schools, Production Director for WRCJ 90.9fm Detroit’s Classical and Jazz Station, videographer and editor of Digital Media Arts for the Detroit Public Schools’ Communications Department and now Director Multimedia for Detroit School of Arts’ (DSA) Multimedia Career and Technical Education program. Donald is also helping to lead the growth of the Visual Arts and Graphic Design department at DSA.

Donald was recently honored to be appointed to the Farmington Public Schools Board of Education where he can use his skills and experiences in education to service the students of the Farmington/Farmington HIlls community. Donald is a member of the Beloved Community Initiative and Community Equity Organization. He also serves on the advisory boards for TV-10 and IT North Farmington, Specs Howard School of Media Arts and Digital Arts Film and Television (DAFT). He continues his service at Oakland Church of Christ and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. while continuing his work as a freelancer in voice-over and video for his newly formed company Donald Walker Media Group. Donald is a 20 year resident of the Farmington Hills community along with his wife and children.

Dr. Cheryl Blau
Mable Fox
Angie Smith

Rick Speck

Facilitator Rick Speck, Community Engagement Specialist, Safe & Just Michigan

 Rick joined Safe & Just Michigan in 2020. Before joining Safe & Just Michigan, Rick worked as an organizer for ACLU of Michigan’s Smart Justice program, a part of ACLU’s national effort to reduce prison populations by 50 percent. Before that, he was the founder and executive director of LUCK Inc., an organization helping people released from prison reestablish themselves and thrive in their communities. He attended Wayne County Community College and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Rick is also a crime survivor having lost his oldest daughter to gun violence in 2019.

Dave Garcia, Affirmations

Antonio David Garcia is the Executive Director of Affirmations, for his second stint, after serving five years as the Director of Policy and Community Building at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Previously Dave also served served as the Executive Director of The Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center (now OutFront) and before that in various leadership capacities at the YMCA.

Dave first began his fight for LGBT equality after being fired from his position as the Community Services Coordinator of Swartz Creek for his attempt to start a Gay Straight Alliance in the public schools back in 2000.  After walking 55 miles overnight from the doors of Swartz Creek High School to the State Capitol, Garcia delivered what would be one of many heartfelt and inspiring speeches.  Over the past twenty years, Dave has continued his dedicated efforts to improve lives and advance justice for all.

Edee Franklin

Edee Franklin has been a lifelong resident of Michigan from grade school in Detroit to receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Science with a major in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Education from Wayne State University. She was a Special Education teacher for several years, and then then became an entrepreneur in the private sector. Currently she is an Associate Broker at Max Broock Realtors in Birmingham, MI and has been working there successfully for the past 21 years.

Additional accomplishments include being named, “Civil Libertarian of the Year” by the ACLU of Flint, being featured in Dan Woog’s book, Jocks II – Coming Out to Play, winning two 2009 Michigan Addy awards for his film work and being named Student of the Year in Communications and Media at the University of Michigan – Flint. In addition, Dave has completed a full-length documentary, Fences and is a critically acclaimed playwright.  His play, Candy Corn, Christ and the Convoluted Creation of Golf debuted to sold-out audiences at the Performance Network in Ann Arbor and was named a top ten show of Michigan by the Flint Journal.

Her lifelong passion has been in helping people, particularly women at risk, realize they are “ok” and can create a life of their choosing in recovery.

Out of her professional and personal background in 2013 she founded Sanctum House with the vision to empower survivors of human trafficking with life skills to achieve a sustainable, successful and independent lifestyle. Sanctum House is a 2-year residential safe home focusing on physical, psychological, emotional, educational and spiritual healing for adult trafficked women. The goal is for the 1st house to be a model to be replicated across the country.