Detroit refinery’s Community Advisory Panel (CAP) is Looking for New Members
The Detroit refinery is looking for new members to join the Community Advisory Panel (CAP). This group of engaged community residents meet with refinery leadership on a regular basis to learn more about ongoing and upcoming refinery operations, investment and community involvement. The CAP also serves as a voice for the community and a liaison between the refinery and Southwest Detroit. For more information, or to complete an application form.
Established in 1965, Latin Americans for Social & Economic Development, better known as LA SED, is an advocacy and social service agency that addresses the unique needs of the residents of Southwest Detroit, home to the largest concentration of Hispanics in Southeastern Michigan. It’s also one of several area organizations that’s benefiting from an initiative put forth by Detroit General Manager Dave Leaver, encouraging his Leadership Team to be more involved in the community.
“It’s important having my staff directly involved with organizations in the community to open their eyes to the needs and concerns that are going on out there,” says Leaver. “As they are more involved with the community, more involved with nonprofits, it broadens their view of the things that are important outside the facility and in the community in which we operate.”
Leaver identified Jim Joaquin, who had recently relocated back to his childhood hometown to become the Detroit refinery controller, as an ideal candidate to be more involved outside the fence line. In his short time working at the refinery, he stood out as someone with a passion to help others.
“Jim is remarkable in his care for people,” says Leaver. “He really wants to be engaged not just as a Controller for the plant. He wants to be connected to our employees and be successful outside the plant.”
Joaquin’s parents grew up in the Detroit area, living in several neighborhoods. When Joaquin was born, they settled in Southgate where he lived until he was 18. He recalls passing the refinery in his youth and being impressed. Now, working at the very place he admired, Joaquin immediately embraced the request to engage with his neighbors.
“When LA SED initially approached Marathon about getting involved, they said what do you think of this guy? And they sent me a very brief bio on Jim, and I said well, we’d love to meet him,” says LA SED Director Mary Carmen Muñoz. “Turns out Jim is the kind of member that every organization wants on their board.”
“The opportunity to become a board member of LA SED was a real ‘wow’ moment,” expressed Joaquin, who not only serves as the Detroit refinery’s Controller but the same position for the Canton refinery. Prior to the invitation to join the board, however, Joaquin admits he was unfamiliar with LA SED. Excited about the position, he asked his parents if they knew anything about the organization.
The response they gave brought everything full circle.
For the first time, Joaquin learned about a tough chapter in his family’s history. In 1982, when Joaquin was five years old, the Ford Motor Company had laid off his father, who had been a millwright at the Detroit plant.
“When you’re a kid, your parents always try to shield you and do the best they can to keep you from pain,” said Joaquin. “When I look back, the pieces fit together. My dad was laid off. It was getting to a point where he wasn’t finding any work. Everything was running out and they were concerned.”
It was a family friend who recommended LA SED as a possible source of support – a recommendation that proved life saving for the Joaquin’s. LA SED embraced the family and helped his dad land a job at the local tank plant until Ford began hiring people back.
“If LA SED was not there, I can’t tell you what would have happened between then and when Ford called my dad back. Thankfully, LA SED existed, and we were pointed in their direction. They took my dad in and they said ‘we’re going to find you an opportunity.’ For me to find that out, I’m now personally invested.”
It’s a story Muñoz was unaware of as well.
“Mary didn’t know until I relayed the connection I had discovered. She was taken back.”
“It amazes me that he did not know that story,” adds Muñoz. “As parents, when you are going through a financial crisis of any kind, you want to make sure your child’s life is as normal as possible. That reflects on his family and an excellent job that they did to keep him from knowing that they were really struggling. He is a product of a family that was strong, that was tight knit, and not only gave to the community, but also was in a position to receive help and assistance. They took the opportunities that LA SED gave them.”
On the circumstances that brought Joaquin to LA SED, Leaver says “I’m not sure if it’s divine intervention or not, but it’s just awesome how it worked out.”
Support of LA SED for Joaquin has truly become personal. For him, it’s truly giving back.
The organization serves more than 5,000 individuals on an annual basis, but Muñoz will tell you the numbers have exponentially increased due to COVID-19. They offer a broad range of programming, including youth enrichment and sports and fitness, bilingual/bicultural classes, a robust slate of senior citizen offerings, translation and pro-bono legal consultations, and immigration services and basic human needs. All offered to a clientele that is 90% Hispanic, with 98% living at, or below the poverty level.
“When I look at the organization, I see more than LA SED. I see my childhood; I see my parents,” says Joaquin. “This is where my roots are.”
Honor Sheard, environment, safety and security manager at Marathon Petroleum Company’s (MPC) Detroit refinery, is receiving statewide recognition as the 2020 MFG Woman of the Year by the Michigan Manufacturers Association.
The MFG Excellence Awards is an annual ceremony that celebrates the exceptional contributions that Michigan manufacturers make to their workforces, communities, the economy and the industry.
“Honor is essential in helping drive the culture and commitment to operational excellence at the Detroit Refinery. She spends a lot of time out in the field working with the team that keeps things running daily,” said Detroit refinery general manager Dave Leaver. “She inspires us all to work harder and be the best we can be.”
Sheard makes supporting her team a top priority. She has assisted five other women in navigating their first supervisory positions by supporting them professionally and boosting their confidence.
“As a female leader in a male-dominated industry, everything I do is magnified,” said Sheard,. “My words and actions are used strategically to create the expectations for future female leaders.”
She actively offers women throughout the organization to share their thoughts and opinions. Sheard worked to create the refinery’s first Women’s Unity Network as the leadership sponsor. The network breaks down barriers and educates women on how to shake off the “imposter syndrome,” which causes them to feel that they are not as competent as they are perceived by others. Members are encouraged to understand and value their hard work and worth within the company. Sheard sparks discussion and encourages female leadership by hosting discussions on articles, pay practices, philanthropy and diversity seminars that can assist women at the refinery to establish and achieve their career goals.
Watch Honor’s Award Video: Honor Sheard – Marathon Petroleum Company (2020 MFG Excellence Awards) – YouTube
“As a female who transitioned from one predominately male profession to another, Honor is a role model, mentor and supporter of females,” said Detroit refinery security coordinator and member of the Women’s Unity Network Whitney Walton. “She is a sponsor and advocate of our Women’s Network at the refinery and a personal champion for me.”
Sheard leads several environmental and safety initiatives at the refinery. She considers environmental advocacy to be central to her role, aligning directly with MPC’s commitment to produce petroleum-based products with minimal environmental impact and well within the parameters of all state and federal regulations.
In the 20 years she has worked for MPC, her passion and commitment have supported a nearly 80 percent reduction in emissions at the Detroit refinery. Sheard played a critical role in the refinery’s accomplishment of one full year without either an employee or contractor OSHA recordable injury; a difficult feat at manufacturing facilities. Her team also implemented an easy-to-use QR code system that allows all employees and contractors to report Near Miss Events, which are potential hazards detected and corrected before anyone is harmed. This system immediately notifies supervision and area owners so they can quickly alleviate potential hazards. This program was instrumental in creating a safe work environment and empowers employees at all levels to speak up when they notice issues.
Refinery-wide participation in the Adopt-A-Family campaign helped ensure a happy holiday for a number of Detroit-area families.
Detroit refinery employees personally donated nearly $17,000 to support 20 families, including 54 children. The funds were used to purchase winter clothing, boots, household necessities and toys to help address both the family’s needs and wants for the season.
“It was inspiring to see each department so excited and eager to support their families,” said Dynita McCaskill, a field operator at the refinery. “The planning and shopping for Adopt-A-Family was one of the best team building activities I have ever participated in.”
Marathon Petroleum develops green space expansion program and commits to $5 Million in spending in 2021.
DETROIT, Dec. 17, 2020 – Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) has announced that it will offer to purchase residential properties in the Boynton neighborhood of Southwest Detroit in 2021, with the objective of creating a green space in the area and providing residents a buffer from I-75 and the area’s industrial neighbors. The purchase program is focused on homes closest to I-75, including Edsel and S. Patricia Streets. MPC is also negotiating with the City of Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) to purchase or lease 38 abandoned homes and approximately 140 vacant lots owned by the city or the DLBA in the north Boynton neighborhood, with the objective of demolishing the abandoned homes and maintaining all vacant lots.
“We take great pride in being a part of Southwest Detroit, and we are committed to continuing our partnership with the community to improve the quality of life here,” said Dave Leaver, general manager of MPC’s Detroit Refinery. “We are happy to make this property purchase option available to accommodate those who would like to participate in the program. Our intent is to work with residents in the target area to secure property and create green space at the north end of the neighborhood.”
MPC has contracted with Community Interaction Consulting (CIC) to handle the purchases and will provide all eligible residents with a comprehensive purchase program book. CIC will establish an office in the neighborhood in January to assist residents in the purchase process.
MPC has committed $5 million to the property purchase effort in 2021 and will review extending the program yearly as part of the company’s annual capital budget evaluation.
The home purchase program represents the refinery’s latest effort to enhance the quality of life for Southwest Detroit residents. Past initiatives include a $2 million contribution to the renovation of the Kemeny Recreation Center, ongoing support to a number of organizations in the area including La Sed, Alternatives for Girls, Starfish Family Services and the Fort Street Bridge Park project, and a planned upgrade to the air purification system at the Mark Twain School for Scholars. The refinery has also invested nearly $500 million in technology upgrades over the last 10 years to reduce emissions and improve the facility’s environmental performance.