DETROIT -- In honor of Black History Month, the Detroit Red Wings and Comerica Bank are proud to introduce Game Changers, a celebratory series throughout February to recognize Black individuals making a positive impact in the lives of young Detroiters.
The Game Changers series honors one community member per week throughout Black History Month who is establishing a profound influence in the areas of youth education, youth wellness or hockey participation.
Each honoree's story will be celebrated during the Red Wings' home game on February 25 where they will be presented with a personalized jersey and a Game Changers plaque. Honorees will also receive a $1,000 grant dedicated to the charity of their choice.
[Learn more about all the Game Changers honorees at DetroitRedWings.com/Equality]
Finally, all four honorees will be invited to participate in a virtual panel discussion during an episode of The Word on Woodward focused on the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion.
"To the Red Wings, a game changer is someone who makes an immense impact in the lives of young Detroiters," said Kevin Brown, the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers director of community impact. "We're excited to work in partnership with Comerica Bank to deliver resources and shine a light on community members making a difference for thousands of children across Detroit. That's what the Red Wings Game Changers series is all about -- elevating the work and celebrating success."
Video: Game Changers Round Table Discussion | Comerica Bank
The Red Wings' first Game Changers honoree is Kenyatta Stephens, chief executive officer of Black Family Development, Inc., which is a Detroit-headquartered non-profit organization whose mission is to build partnerships that strengthen and enhance youth, families and communities in eastern Wayne County.
Black Family Development, Inc. is a 43-year-old family preservation agency that employs 20-plus treatment and prevention programs. The programs use science-based approaches to keep families together, strong and resilient through life's crises.
Stephens has represented Black Family Development, Inc. since July 1997 when she started as a program supervisor. Stephens became chief operating officer in 1999 and was named CEO this past July.
As CEO, Stephens is responsible for overall business and program operations, including board collaboration, stakeholder relationships, vision setting and strategic planning.
Stephens said the aspect she most enjoys about her position is seeing youth, family and neighborhood transformation as they achieve goals to enrich lives.
"I love seeing families overcome obstacles and achieve their goals in partnership with the staff that they entrust to help them achieve those goals," said Stephens, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1993 and earned her Master's in Psychiatric Mental Health/Child & Family in 1994 from The University of Pennsylvania. "I love the science-based approach that our expert staff uses, and the passion and compassion in which they execute their service on behalf of families."
Brown said Stephens is the perfect candidate to be the first Game Changers honoree because of her long-standing dedication and steadfast devotion to improving family life in the community.
"Kenyatta is the true embodiment of a Game Changer," Brown said. "After reviewing the achieved outcomes of BFDI's comprehensive continuum of care, it's clear to see Kenyatta is a proven leader in shaping and improving the futures of children and families living in metro Detroit."
Stephens said she's pleased to see the social justice movement gaining momentum in metro Detroit and throughout the country and said she's hopeful that momentum can continue with increased awareness and systemic change.
"I think we need to continue the work towards equity and look at system-level change and policy-level change so that the initiatives that have started through this social justice movement penetrate down to the family and child level," Stephens said. "If that happens, children of this generation can experience the policy and systemic changes that don't allow the inequities that past generations have experienced to perpetuate into the future."
Stephens said being named as a Game Changers honoree will shine a greater light on the important work that Black Family Development, Inc. does on a daily basis.
"It's an opportunity to say thank you for recognizing the work that our champion staff have been doing in the community," she said. "We are committed to partnering with families to make sustainable change and improvements in others' lives. We're honored for this opportunity to elevate the work of our staff and our community partners who help make this work happen.
"We appreciate the Red Wings for taking this opportunity to elevate great examples of commitment to ongoing equality within the Detroit community."
Stephens emphasized that Black Family Development, Inc. welcomes children and families of every color, creed and background, and her organization is committed to helping families get through the coronavirus pandemic together.
"BFDI's doors are open to all persons," she said emphatically. "Our real passion, particularly during the pandemic, is that anyone who feels as though a little bit of extra support could be helpful due to the losses that this pandemic created, or if anyone is feeling isolated, we are available to give support."
For more information on the tremendous work of Black Family Development, Inc., visit BlackFamilyDevelopment.org or call 313-758-0150.
The next Game Changers honoree will be featured on Tuesday, February 9. Check back to DetroitRedWings.com for the story or visit DetroitRedWings.com/Equality for more information on Black History Month initiatives.