DEARBORN - The Ford-Employees African-Ancestry Network (FAAN) hosted its 31st Annual Black History Month celebration with two key themes: philanthropy and individual achievement. A packed house filled the presidential ball room at The Henry Ford on Friday, Feb. 24.
Bennie Fowler, FAAN president and group vice president Global Quality, welcomed the audience.
“We are proud to have an opportunity to share our celebration with Ford employees and the greater community. Our honorees exemplified the importance of giving back to the community, and self-empowerment and innovation,” Fowler said.
Jason Lee, executive director, Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) received the Community Service Honor for his achievements working with the youth of Detroit. Lee was an engineer working in Ford Manufacturing and Product Development when in 2004 he accepted the position at DAPCEP through Ford Motor Company’s Executive Loan Program. Lee decided to pursue his passion full time and took the helm of DAPCEP in 2007.
Dr. Herbert Smitherman, Sr. posthumously received a Heritage Award for his extraordinary achievements as a research scientist at Proctor & Gamble. His daughter, Mae Smitherman-Smith, is Ford’s director of Global Warranty FCSD Controller’s Office.
Dr. Smitherman helped to create and develop products such as Crest toothpaste, Safeguard soap, Bounce fabric softeners, Folgers coffee and many others. In the the19 60s through the 1980s, Smitherman recruited African Americans to work at P&G and helped them to be retained by the company.
“I am so proud to have FAAN recognize my father’s achievements in helping others,” said Smitherman-Smith.
Steve Harvey, a comedian and current host of Family Feud, also received a Heritage Award for his commitment to philanthropy through the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation. His passion is primarily helping young people to improve their odds in getting ahead in life. Harvey, who had once worked at Brook Park Engine Plant #1, also received an award from the UAW.
In presenting the Heritage Award, Alan Mulally, Ford president and chief executive officer, thanked Harvey for his efforts in the community.
“The success of your foundation is a testament to the power of working together to contribute to a better world. We are proud to have you with us this evening,” Mulally said.
Detroit native Ed Gordon, who is the host of “Weekly with Ed Gordon” on BET and is also a contributor to NBC’s Today Show and Dateline, delivered the keynote address. Gordon inspired the audience by sharing his need to continue the legacy of those who, like Dr. Smitherman, made a difference in the world.
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