Lecture: Faye Nelson, “Courage and Commitment; The Spirit of Sojourner Truth in the Restoration of Detroit's Riverfront”
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Lecture: Faye Nelson, “Courage and Commitment; The Spirit of Sojourner Truth in the Restoration of Detroit’s Riverfront”

November 1, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EDT


Faye Nelson, DTE Energy vice president and board chair and president of the DTE Energy Foundation, who led the historic renovation of Detroit’s riverfront, will discuss how Sojourner Truth’s characteristics of courage and commitment were main drivers in the transformation of Detroit’s riverfront.

This lecture will give you a sneak peek into the development of the Detroit riverfront, highlight some of the considerable challenges and incredible opportunities that existed in the early 2000s when the project was launched and share how, through one of the most successful public-private partnerships in the history of the region, and through the courage and commitment of many, a community jewel was brought back to life, serving as a major contributor towards the revitalization of the city of Detroit.

Faye Nelson is vice president of DTE Energy, (NYSE: DTE) and board chair & president of the DTE Energy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of DTE. DTE Energy is a Detroit -based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include an electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan.

A lawyer by training, Nelson has had the privilege of working in the community on a variety of transformational projects including the redevelopment of the Detroit riverfront and, in her current role, leading the Foundation’s strategy and investments in communities throughout the State in such areas as education/jobs, economic development, arts and culture and the development and sustainability of neighborhoods.

Nelson formerly served as president and CEO of the non-profit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, the organization charged with leading the transformation of the Detroit riverfront. Under Nelson’s leadership, the Conservancy represented one of the most successful public-private partnerships that included foundations, corporations, the public sector and the community at large in support of the revitalization and sustainability of the riverfront. During Nelson’s tenure, over 31/2 miles of public space was developed, generating over $1 billion of public and private investment. Prior to joining the Conservancy, she served as vice president, Governmental Affairs for Wayne State University, where she led the development of the Wayne State University Research and Technology Park, now known as “Tech Town.”

Nelson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Mercy College of Detroit and a law degree from the University Of Detroit School of Law.

Nelson served as a director for Compuware Corporation, an enterprise software company, from 2002 to 2014. She currently serves as a board member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Henry Ford Health System and Health Network, Midtown Detroit, Inc., the M -1 RAIL and the Sphinx Organization. She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the State Bar of Michigan, Life Member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, International Women’s Forum -Michigan, Detroit Athletic Club and the Economic Club of Detroit.

Nelson is the recipient of numerous awards including being recognized by Crain’s Detroit in its 2016 list of 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan. Other recognition includes the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy’s “Shimmer” Award, the Damon J. Keith 24th Annual Soul and Spirit Humanitarian Award, “the Grio’s” 100 African American History Makers presented by NBC News, the Milliken Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Environmental Council, the Detroit Public Television Visionary Award, and the Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence award.

The Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan is a leader in interdisciplinary education and research with a focus on creating a more beautiful, inclusive and better-built environment. The college and its alumni are committed to pushing the boundaries of architectural practice, advancing global engagement, and significantly enhancing diversity in the profession. The college offers the following degrees: Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Master of Architecture, Master of Science in Architecture, Master of Urban Planning, Master of Urban Design, and Ph.D. programs.


November 1, 2017
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EDT
Event Category:


Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
2000 Bonisteel Boulevard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2069 United States
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