Frank Venegas, a Detroit, Michigan entrepreneur and the grandson of Mexican immigrants, capitalized on a winning raffle ticket, the proceeds of a new 1979 Cadillac, and his grandfather’s sage advice “Do what your boss does not want to do!” to launch his first company in 1979. The Ideal Group, a Southwest Detroit family-owned company, has evolved into eight nationally recognized companies with annual revenues approaching $350 million, employing approximately six hundred people. Over the years, family members Loren (brother), Linzie (daughter), and Jesse (son) joined the Ideal Leadership team as owners.
Based on the Venegas family core values, Ideal companies continually meet and exceed customer needs in construction, facilities management, manufacturing, indirect material management, and surplus sales. Performance-driven, General Motors awarded Ideal companies sixteen of its Global Supplier of the Year awards and two Overdrive Awards.
An MMSDC Luminary Award Recipient, NMSDC, and MMSDC selected Frank Venegas and Ideal Group companies for their national 2020 MBE of the Year Award and past MBE Supplier of the Year Awards. Frank attributes much of his success to the Ideal Group companies’ participation in MMSDC’s networking programs with corporate members and industry mentors.
IMPACT (the national Ironworker Management Progressive Action Trust) presented Venegas with its 2019 Estrella Award, honoring Military Veterans and their children. Frank’s father, Frank Venegas, Sr., served in World War II.
The government of Mexico honored Frank Venegas with its Ohtli Award, the country’s highest award to a foreign citizen. The award is a tribute to Ideal’s corporate advocacy, mentoring and philanthropic contributions to community schools and organizations. Frank’s business and community model provides community career pathways to educational and job opportunities. All illustrate the Venegas family value, “Take care of your community, and your community will take care of you.”
Frank Venegas Boards and Advisory Councils
Wayne State, Mike Ilitch School of Business Board of Visitors
James “Jimmy” Settles Jr. was re-elected Vice President of the UAW in June 2014, at the union’s 36th Constitutional Convention in Detroit. Settles was first elected Vice President in 2006 by delegates at the 34th Constitutional Convention, and re-elected in 2010 as Vice President of the UAW at the 35th Constitutional Convention.
Settles has served on the UAW International Executive Board since June 2002, when he was elected director of UAW Region 1A. As Region 1A director, Settles played a lead role in successful organizing campaigns at such automotive parts suppliers as Johnson Controls, Arvin Meritor, GKN Sinter Metals, ACI, Bridgewater Interiors and Hollingsworth.
As Vice-President Settles has worked in a myriad of responsibilities including leading negotiations at the State of Michigan, American Axle, Mitsubishi Motors North America in Bloomington, Ill., Boeing, Spirit Aerosystems, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Health Alliance Plan. In 2011 Settles led the negotiations with Ford Motor Company that had the potential to be a powder keg. Settles decision to use social media to help members have input and get information in a rapid manner turned out to be a bold and instrumental in getting to a deal.
Settles began his career as a Trade Unionist and member of UAW Local 600 working for Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn Iron Foundry and Michigan Casting Center June 21, 1968, one day after his high school graduation.
He was elected to positions of increasing responsibility by his co-workers, starting in 1970 with his election to the General Council of Local 600, an amalgamated local union. In 1973, he was elected district committeeperson and unit recording secretary. Two years later, he was elected unit vice president and district committeeperson. In 1980, his co-workers elected Settles as unit president. He was also elected as a delegate to the UAW Constitutional Conventions in 1974, 1977 and 1980.
Settles was appointed to the UAW Local 600 staff in 1982; he served as staff director in 1983 and as administrative assistant in 1984. UAW Local 600 members elected Settles recording secretary in 1984 and first vice president in 1987. He was a member of the UAW-Ford National Negotiating Committee in 1990 and later appointed to UAW Region 1A Staff as a servicing representative in 1992.
A longtime political activist and Democratic precinct delegate, Settles has worked on numerous campaigns for progressive candidates and causes in southeast Michigan.
During the 2012 Presidential Election Settles founded Detroit Circles, a grass roots campaign aimed at building support for President Obama in the 2012 Presidential Election, through a series of gatherings throughout Detroit and the surrounding metropolitan area. The purpose of these gatherings was to fundraise for the upcoming election, and encourage volunteerism for the election cycle. This campaign raised over $50,000 for President Obama’s campaign and thousands of volunteers and voters were engaged and worked throughout this elections cycle.
A Detroit native, Settles is active in a wide range of community and civic organizations. He is a Board Chairman of the Wayne County Authority, Board Secretary of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and a member of the Trade Union Leadership Council (TULC). He is a board member of Detroit Music Hall, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Round Table for Diversity & Inclusion and on the Board of Trustees for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. He also works with the Detroit Public Schools. He is a Life Member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and serves as Second Vice President of the Detroit Branch NAACP.
Settles is a recipient of the Nelson Jack Edwards Award, named in honor of the former UAW vice president, Man of the Year Award from the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), and the Jimmy Settles, Jr. Lifetime Community Activist Award named in his honor by UAW-Ford.
Settles and his wife, Karen, live in Detroit and they attend Greater Christ Baptist Church. He has three children – James III, Jamelle, Ashlynn, and is stepfather to Dennis, Anthony and Derrick Yancy.
John A. James has been a businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist in Detroit for over 50 years. Married to his wife of 43 years, Sharon James, he is father to John, Lorron, and Keri James and the proud grandfather of 5 boys.
Born in Mississippi in 1941, James grew up with 8 other brothers and sisters in a modest home in a town called Starkville. He obtained his first job when he was only 8 years of age sweeping floors in a general store to make money to contribute to the family. Ever since he was young Mr. James found great value in discipline, responsibility, and hard work.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Education from Mississippi Valley State University in 1964. Four years later John James enlisted in the United States Army, May 26, 1968, at the age of 26. Although stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri as an adjutant, his duty was served during two tours in Vietnam during the War. Because of his meritorious service and exceptional performance while there, he was awarded several medals and certificates by the US government.
In 1973, James petitioned for the right to transport car components and beer within the state of Michigan as well as across state lines. He applied for the right to be what they called a “common carrier” so that he could haul automobile parts and malt beverages. This move was protested by the ICC or Interstate Commerce Commission for over 3 years until it was eventually carried into the Supreme Court. In 1976 the Supreme court ruled in favor of John James, granting him the authority to transport between states. His victory also allowed women and minorities to enter transportation; an industry which was exclusively for White males. Following his Supreme Court win, The Motor carrier Act of 1933 was amended in 1980 and signed by President Jimmy Carter. By advocating for himself and what he believed in, John James changed history.
After effecting legislation and changing the transportation industry forever, John James focused on fostering the growth of his first company, O-J Transportation Co., which he created in partnership with his uncle, Calvin Outlaw to provide freight transportation services. Years later, James had the foresight to grow his business on an international scale. He kept domestic business, but also made the decision to focus efforts on gaining business overseas. Today there are multiple companies functioning under the umbrella of James Group International:
Renaissance Global Logistics (RGL)- Ford International Export OperationRGL- General Motors Outlet Shop (GMOS)
RGL- General Motors Supplier Risk Management (SRM)
Magnolia Automotive Services (MAS)- Tire and Wheel Assembly, Toyota Motor Manufacturing
MAS- Tire and Wheel Assembly, Mazda/Toyota Motor US (MTMUS)
MAS- Cross Dock Operation, Toyota
Five Crowns Trucking (FTC)- Jefferson North Assembly Plant
FTC- Sterling Heights Assembly Plant
JLK Real Estate
OJ Land Facilities Management
Fifty years later, under the leadership of Lorron and John E. James, the James Group family of companies continues to thrive by providing comprehensive, innovative and integrated supply chain solutions in the areas of warehousing, transportation and value-added services. The company has had the unique privilege of partnering with Ford, General Motors, Stellantis and Toyota.
James Group has exhibited visionary and insightful leadership to confront and resolve inequities. One of it’s strategic goals is to make sure to understand and support it’s valued partners.
That fearless yet compassionate spirit of serving others and giving back to the community prevails to this day. Mr. James is a passionate advocate for those in need and actively supports families, disadvantaged children and minority, women, and veteran owned businesses. His generosity supports organizations from the MS society, Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, Vista Maria the MMSDC, NABS and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. During the pandemic James Group went into action by donating truckloads of boxes to Ford to help them pack ventilators. Throughout the pandemic, much needed PPE was delivered to churches, homeless shelters, and community centers in Detroit by our team of dedicated volunteers. James Group also worked with the City of Detroit to sponsor two onsite vaccination clinics to educate and support those in need. Despite the uncertainty and anxiety of the pandemic, they were steadfast in their commitment to maintain their dedication to its annual United Way campaign which yielded the highest result in the history of the company along with an additional donation to the Pandemic Relief fund.
John James remains an integral part of Detroit’s community, as he generously contributes to various organizations such as:
Wayne County Economic Development Corporation
Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan
Museum of African American History
Coleman A. Young Foundation
National Association of Black Automotive Suppliers, Co-Founder (NABAS)
Michigan District Export Council
World Trade Club
Transportation Club of Detroit
Southwest Detroit Business Association
Citizenship Education Fund
APACC- Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce
African Relief Fund
Detroit Regional Chamber
Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
YMCA of Metro Detroit
LA SED- Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development
Thank you for your consideration of John A. James for the laudable honor of being inducted into the MMSDC Hall of Fame.
Suzanne Shank is President, CEO and a co-founder of Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC, a full-service investment banking firm offering debt and equity origination services to a wide range of Fortune 500 companies and debt underwriting for municipal clients nationally. Since 2000, Thomson Financial has consistently ranked Siebert Williams Shank among the most active underwriters of publicly traded equity, investment grade corporate debt and municipal debt offerings. A 35-year veteran of the financial services industry, Ms. Shank has positioned the firm to hold the distinction of being the top ranked minorityand women-owned investment banking firm in the country. Siebert Williams Shank was awarded the Inaugural Diversity and Inclusion House of the Year Award by the International Financing
Review in London in April, 2022.
Ms. Shank began her career in public finance, establishing an officein Detroitin 1995 and has overseen the firm’s expansion to corporate finance, equity sales and trading, asset management and private equity. SWS has grown to be one of the most highly respected and valued investment banking firms in the country. In Michigan, SWS has assisted numerous Fortune 500 companies access the capital markets including GM, Ford, Dow Incorporated, DTE, and the Stryker Company, among others. In municipals, SWS has served as a managing underwriter on 230 negotiated transactions for Michigan issuers totaling nearly $60 billion in par amount, including 64 Senior Managed transactions totaling almost $13 billion in par amount. In the past three (3) years alone, SWS has served as Senior or CoSenior Manager on notable transactions for the State of Michigan, Michigan Strategic Fund, Michigan
Department of Transportation, Michigan State Building Authority, Michigan Finance Authority, University of Michigan, City of Detroit, Wayne County, Wayne County Airport Authority, City of Lansing, Lansing Community College, and Detroit and Flint Public Schools, to name a few. Additionally, the Firm was recently appointed by the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) to serve as Senior Manager on an upcoming estimated $400 million financing. Ms. Shank has been recognized for her leadership in the financial services industry by Investopedia, Crain’s New York, U.S. Banker Magazine, Black Enterprise, Savoy Magazine and The Bond Buyer, among others. Ms. Shank has won numerous awards and honors throughout her career and has also been named to NBC’s Grio 100 list, which honors African American
leaders nationally, by BET Black Girls Rock with the ShotCaller Award, and by Women in Public Finance as “She’s Our Hero”. Ms. Shank was selected by the Wharton School of Business from among 100,000 graduates as one of its “125 Influential People and Ideas” and was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Ms. Shank is active in various industry and civic organizations and serves on several boards. She serves on the boards of Rocket Companies, Inc. (NYSE: RKT), White Mountains (NYSE: WTM), and CMS Energy (NYSE:CMS). She also serves on the boards of the Detroit Regional Chamber, Invest Detroit, Kresge Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, Wharton Graduate Executive Advisory Board, Global Citizen, and the Spelman College Board of Trustees. Ms. Shank formerly served on the
SEC’s Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board and the Bipartisan Policy Center Executive Council on Infrastructure.
Ms. Shank is a graduate of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance, and the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.
Awards and Recognition
• Essence Magazine – Phenomenal Black Female Financial Leaders
• The Security Traders Association of New York (STANY) – Outstanding Contribution to the
• Black Enterprise – Inaugural Earl Graves Sr. Visionary Award
• Investopedia – Financial Leader of Tomorrow
• Crain’s New York Business –100 Notable Women Business Owners
• Crain’s New York Business –100 Notable Women on Wall Street
• Crain’s Detroit Business – 100 Most Influential Women
• Savoy Magazine – Most Influential Black Corporate Directors
• Investopedia – Legendary Black Investors
• Conference of Minority Transportation Officials – Women Who Move the Nation
• USA Today – Women of the Century
• Savannah College of Art and Design – Women of Vision Award
• Detroit Pistons – Black History Month Honoree
• Crain’s Detroit Business – Notable Women in Finance
• TechTown Detroit – Entrepreneur of the Year
• BET Network – ‘ShotCaller Award’ as a Wall Street trailblazer and accomplished pioneer
the in the world of finance and role model for African American woman and girls
throughout the nation
• Municipal Forum of New York– Austin Koenen Career Achievement Award
• The Bond Buyer – Freda Johnson Award for Trailblazing Women in the Private Sector
• City & State – The 25 Most Remarkable Women in NYC Politics
• Crain’s Detroit Business –#8 of 100 Most Connected People in Detroit
• Georgia Institute of Technology – Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni
• Boy Scouts of America – Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award
• National Association of Securities Professionals – Entrepreneur of the Year
• theGrio– theGrio 100 List: ‘The Leading Lady of Wall Street’
• U.S. Banker Magazine – Top 25 Women in Finance
• Black Enterprise – 50 Most Powerful Black Women in Business
• Wharton School of Business –Wharton’s 125 Most Influential People and Ideas Community Involvement Although providing quality investment banking services to Michigan issuers is a top priority, SWS continues to
remain highly committed to being a good corporate citizen in Michigan as well. For more than two decades, SWS has been a strong and active supporter of various local charities. Whether locally or nationally, the Firm strongly believes in serving and giving back to communities. The organizations which we serve play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing important services that contribute to economic stability and mobility for people, regardless of their individual background.
Ms. Shank has been deeply entrenched in serving the Detroit community for many years. For 10 years, she ran the Detroit Summer Finance Institute which provided summer jobs, mentorship and exposure to finance careers to hundreds of Detroit Public Schools students. She current serves on the boards of two local foundations, Skillman and Kresge, which have been deeply entrenched in providing funding and
support for Detroiters and non-profits in need. In addition to serving on the board of the Detroit Regional Chamber, she serves on the Executive Committee and the Racial Justice Economic Equity Steering Committee. She formerly served on the boards of the Charles Wright Museum of African American Art, the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and the National Kidney Foundation. Nationally, she has served on the
Spelman College Board of Trustees for eleven years where she serves on the Executive Committee and Chairs the Alternative Revenue Sources Committee. She also serves on the board of Global Citizen, which seeks to end extreme poverty globally.
Clear Vision Impact Fund
In 2020, Siebert Williams Shank announced the founding of an affiliated fund, Clear Vision Impact Fund, formed is to make investments in sustainable minority-owned businesses, with a focus on African American and Latinx-owned businesses, businesses that operate in or serve underserved markets, and/or businesses that foster inclusive growth through commercially sustainable
As of March 2022, The Clear Vision Impact Fund has received $145 million of total capital commitments from more than 8 blue chip companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Comcast, Constellation Brands, eBay, Northwestern Mutual and PayPal. The Fund has closed on several loans to African American owned businesses to date, and added to its roster of Black owned business partners P&THE Manufacturing, LLC, a minority owned holding company comprised of businesses that provide manufacturing solutions and headquartered in metro Detroit.
The Fund seeks to illuminate the opaque investment landscape and create value and impact by:
• Leveraging the General Partner’s municipal and corporate networks nationally, as well as
its affiliations with
• professional and social organizations
• Accessing industry relationships to assist in the business evaluation process
• Enhancing the performance of portfolio companies by facilitating the establishment or
growth of supplier/purchaser relationships with the General Partner’s corporate
relationship network The General Partner is led by Christopher Williams and Ms. Shank, a combination of diverse entrepreneurs with significant financial and strategic expertise, and excellent access to the Fund’s target markets, as described in the investment strategy.
Detroit, MI native Robert E. Rossiter served Lear Corporation forfour decades and was an exceptional leader and a driving force in building Lear Corporation into a world-class global company. Bob held positions of increasing responsibility until
he was ultimately promoted to Chief Executive Officer, a position he held for the last 11 years of his career at Lear.
Bob fostered a culture of industry leading customer service, continuous improvement, the highest level of integrity and support of the communities where Lear does business. These core values are the foundation of Lear’s rich culture that
continue to guide Lear today.
Under his leadership, Lear grew from a small U.S. based supplier to a multibillion dollar leading global supplier of automotive seating and electrical distribution systems. In addition to his many career accomplishments, Bob’s contributions to the community included serving on numerous charitable boards, support of hundreds of charitable causes and pledges of millions in financial support to worthy causesworldwide.