Friends of the Children–Detroit's Board of Directors are composed of dedicated professional and community leaders who share our passion for our mission and commitment to our values.

Dr. Harry Cohen

Board Chair

Entrepreneur and Executive Coach

Dr. Harry Cohen

Board Chair

Entrepreneur and Executive Coach

We all learn a few things in each decade of our lives….

I received my bachelors degree in Psychology from Cornell in 1978 and came to Ann Arbor to get a MSW in Social Work and my Ph.D in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1988. After a decade doing family therapy in private practice, in 1998 I became an executive coach author and motivational speaker. I met my wife Jan in graduate school and raised our twin sons. In 2008 we opened the Black Pearl restaurant. In 2018, I published my second book Be the Sun, Not the Salt, based on my Tedx talk, Heliotropic Leadership.

I’m attracted to what works…empirically. When I met Duncan Campbell, the founder of Friends of the Children, at the Detroit airport in 2017, I was looking for a way to make a difference. It was clear to me that he was the real deal. As a founding Board member of Friends of the Children, Detroit, I hope to be around for the next decade and more as our young first graders graduate high school.

Connie Fontaine

Vice-Chair

Co-Founder, Exec. Director Be the Sun LLC

Connie Fontaine

Vice-Chair

Co-Founder, Exec. Director Be the Sun LLC

During a fulfilling 30-year marketing and sales career at Ford Motor Company, I was fortunate enough to hold a wide variety of positions in the U.S. and Canada some of which especially filled my soul. I am proud to have led award-winning “cause- marketing” platforms that are still thriving within the Company. That type of work led me to, after retirement, becoming Principal of Be-Cause Consulting, enabling me to dedicate even more of my time to serving where it would make a difference in peoples’ lives.

In 2018, I co-founded and led the launch of Be the Sun, Not the Salt, an organization dedicated to providing content and tools designed to promote the power each of us has, when we are our best-selves, to energize and uplift ourselves and those around us. I am so thankful this work put Duncan Campbell and his amazing team at the national office of Friends of the Children in my path. I am blessed to serve as a founding member of our Detroit Chapter’s Board of Directors and so very proud to work alongside my fellow board members and the incredible team that has successfully launched our Detroit Chapter. Together, we are enabling new stories to be written for the future of the Children whom we serve.

Teresa St. Andre

Secretary

Community Volunteer

Teresa St. Andre

Secretary

Community Volunteer

Teresa St. Andre is a board member and secretary for Friends of the Children: Detroit. She is a former elementary educator with a Masters Degree in children’s literature. Teresa has taught elementary school children in Williamston, Mi, Midlothian, IL, Hayward, CA, and Farmington Hills, MI. She loves spending time with her husband and 4 children. When she finds herself with free time, she enjoys taking cooking classes, reading, walking her dog and training for marathons. Teresa has a passion for children and deeply cares for their well being.

James G. Weaks, MBA

Treasurer

Retired, Ford Motor Company

Harry Wilson

Senior Consultant, National University

Harry Wilson

Senior Consultant, National University

Harry Wilson has more than 40 years of experience working with vulnerable children, youth, and families.

As the Dean of Students, at a youth treatment facility, Harry helped create innovative programs for court administrators, and led a school for youth experiencing mental health and conduct disorders.

In the federal government, Harry led the Family and Youth Services Bureau annually serving millions of homeless children and families, including those affected by domestic violence and trafficking. Harry led several White House initiatives including a Presidential initiative on mentoring children with incarcerated parents. He directed four National Youth Summits, co-founded the Federal Mentoring Council, www.youth.gov and convened eight regional White House conferences on Helping America’s Youth with the First Lady. Internationally, he served on the Economic and Social Council representing US Youth health issues at the United Nations.

Harry currently works nationally to disseminate highly effective Social Emotional Learning and Professional Development initiatives for school systems and youth serving organizations at no cost. This resulted in partnerships with the many national youth organizations and over 50,000 schools across the nation. As a preventionist, Harry is helping colleges and universities implement SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and promote mental health with their students.

Harry started helping Friends of the Children expand to Detroit five years ago. The expansion team raised the initial funding that welcomed FOTC to Detroit. Harry grew up in Detroit. Helping a proven mentoring strategy for children, come to fruition in one of the hardest hit cities in the nation has been more than gratifying.

Harry lives in Jackson County, Michigan with his wife Michele a retired special educator, track and cross-country coach. He is active in county government, state government and his local church.

Yolanda Lyles-Johnson

Program Manager, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Yolanda Lyles-Johnson

Program Manager, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Yolanda Lyles Johnson is Program Manager for the WK Kellogg Foundation-Detroit Team. She began her career in philanthropy after working in nonprofit management and fund development for almost 20 years at various anchor organizations in Detroit including: Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, Sphinx Organization and Marygrove College. Prior to her nonprofit career, Yolanda worked at the University of Michigan in the areas of program design and management and student recruitment and counseling. She has a Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Business both from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. The joy of Yolanda’s life is her daughter, Imani, who just graduated in 2020 from Western Michigan University. She has a strong affinity for the work of Friends Detroit as she was considered a youth at risk after she lost her sole parent at the age of 14, and thus has dedicated her professional career to working for and with vulnerable children and youth.

Jason Strayhorn

Executive Board Member at Michigan State Board of Education

Jason Strayhorn

Executive Board Member at Michigan State Board of Education

Jason Strayhorn is a Licensed Real Estate Broker, Realtor®, Real Estate Developer, Entrepreneur and Consultant. Whether in an executive boardroom, as a former captain of the Michigan State University (MSU) football team, or broadcasting MSU football games to millions of listeners, Jason credits his success to his public education. His family instilled in him that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. That is his motivation for serving on Michigan’s State Board of Education (SBE) – to give back to his community and his state. Jason knows that a quality education will be with children for the rest of their lives. It is the bedrock of a child’s future success and how society will measure that child. He is on the SBE to ensure every child in Michigan has the necessary tools for a solid education. As Board Member for Friends of the Children- Detroit, Jason will be a staunch advocate for our youth, ensuring they have the resources and supports needed to achieve success in school and life!

Dr. Tarece Johnson

Chief Equity Officer

Friends of the Children- National Office

Dr. Tarece Johnson

Chief Equity Officer

Friends of the Children- National Office

Tarece’s professional experiences all functionally focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She worked in Supplier Diversity at JPMorgan Chase, served as Director of Diversity and Recruitment at the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), and created a Supplier Diversity Program for AGL Resources. She is also the founder and CEO of The Global Purpose Approach.

Tarece’s educational leadership experiences depict her dedication to quality PreK – 12 learning. She was part of a team to create the FDNY’s High School for Fire and Life Safety. Her love for teaching and mentoring children and her commitment to quality multicultural education, led her to create Global Purpose Academy and co-create Peninsula International Academy (in Belize).

As a public figure, Tarece aims to make a difference in her community, nation, and the world through her acts of service, art, antiracism and anti-hate education, moral courage, and love. She has worked tirelessly on issues that impact humanity, equitable education, and disenfranchised/marginalized communities. As an artist, Tarece believes all forms of art facilitate self-expression of the soul that ultimately liberates the spirit. She believes that justice, love, and art can heal and bring peace to our world.

Frederiek Toney

President and Corporate Officer

Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD)

Frederiek Toney

President and Corporate Officer

Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD)

As President of Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) and Corporate Officer, Frederiek Toney has leveraged years of exceeding business objectives, customer demands and profit goals. His experience of managing complex organizations within Caterpillar, American Honda and Ford Motor Company has positioned him to develop an extraordinary business acumen.

He presently leads a global business with over 10k employees who generate $15B in revenue. He is responsible for the P&L of this complex enterprise which consists of Parts Sales, Extended Service Contracts, wholly owned subsidiary, Ford Component Sales, Rotunda Service Equipment, Vehicle accessory sales. On the product and services support side of the business he oversees, Parts Supply and Logistics, Service Engineering Operations, Technical Assistance Call Centers, Warranty Administration, and Recall activity. Key accomplishments include reducing daily operating inventory by $3B over a 24-month period, while serving as the Executive Director of Material Planning and Logistics. He established a revamped Parts Distribution Network of 22 facilities in the United States, introducing new Global Business Technology systems, and achieved record profits in 8 of 11 years. His team also started Quicklane franchises in Europe, China and Thailand and launched the first new FORD parts brand, Omnicraft All-Makes, in over 50 years.

Toney has extensive board experience, including his current role as Chairman of the Board for The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME); he is a board member for City Year-Detroit, Developments Centers of Detroit, Percepta LLC and Henry Ford Health Systems (HFHS) where he serves on the Quality and Safety and Finance committees. Toney has received numerous awards, including the following: 2020 recipient of the Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA); 2019 Rainbow Push Coalition “Living Legends”; 2007 World Trade Magazine 50+1 decision makers in global logistics; 2012 and 2017 Black Enterprise list of 100 most powerful executives in Corporate America. Automotive News named Frederiek an industry All-Star for Customer Service and Aftersales in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, Toney was inducted into the Huntsville, Alabama-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame, and received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) in 2015.

Toney possesses a passion for first-generation, early-career development and for providing financial support to marginalized college students. He serves as the Ford executive champion for the United Negro College Fund and participates on the UAH Business School’s External Advisory Board. In 2015, Toney created a $60K Ford Scholarship for financially disadvantaged students at Wayne State University. In 2011 he established an annual Ford Customer Service Golf Event, thus far resulting in contributions of over $1.5M.

He and his wife have 4 children and 3 grandchildren.

Deborah Wahl

Global Chief Marketing Officer

General Motors

Deborah Wahl

Global Chief Marketing Officer

General Motors

After spending many years living around the world and across the country, Deborah and her family returned to Detroit when she was appointed as General Motors Global Chief Marketing Officer with a personal mission to contribute to her hometown. In joining the board of Friends of the Children she aspires to help 100 children and families a year break the cycle of generational poverty.

Prior to joining General Motors, Deborah served as the Senior Vice President and CMO for McDonald’s from 2014 to 2017, where she played a key role in the brand’s turnaround, proudly bringing All Day Breakfast to McD consumers. In addition to McDonald’s, Deborah has held a number of CMO and marketing leadership positions, including at PulteGroup, Chrysler and Lexus.

Deborah has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wellesley College and an MBA from The Wharton School. She also has a master’s degree from The Lauder Institute, University of Pennsylvania.

Deborah is an active business leader who serves on the boards of Groupon and SGM China as well as several marketing industry boards. She is also very engaged in education, serving on the Board of Trustees of Cranbrook Educational Community, as the lead of the Development Committee for Cranbrook Schools, on the Business Leadership Council at Wellesley College and as an active alumna for The Lauder Institute. In Michigan, she is also involved with International Womens Forum (IWF) and Michigan Women Forward.