“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

DTE’s team is known for serving – from supplying customers with essential energy to volunteering in local communities and supporting statewide nonprofits. But what happens when the lines blur between giving back and a fulltime position? Award-winning work!

Mark Jones, manager of Customer and Community Engagement, was honored by the National Action Network (NAN) with this year’s Freedom and Justice for all award during its Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 17 at the Detroit Athletic Club. This annual award was presented by Charles Williams ll, pastor of the Historic King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit and the Michigan Chair of NAN, to celebrate people who have made great contributions to the city of Detroit and surrounding areas.

NAN is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression, or sexuality.

Mark joined our company 22 years ago from Governor Engler’s office to work for MichCon as a regional manager where he served for 10 years. He then spent just under two years at the City of Detroit as a group executive overseeing workforce development efforts, supporting Detroit-based business contracts, and providing guidance for the stimulus and incoming grants. Relationships developed through this time were vital as he returned to DTE to lead Public Affair’s faith-based network, growing it from four churches and offices to more than 20 partners helping to disseminate energy assistance information, sharing vital resources to our vulnerable community.

“DTE gave me a platform to find my purpose and supported my ideas of how to reach the community. The programs I’ve been involved with have given us a real understanding of how to effectively engage with our customers,” said Mark. “It’s always about meeting the people on their level. The resources and programs we offer address people’s needs, and I’ve seen it create hope along with new lives for those around us.”

Mark and NAN both share similar priorities, making corporate responsibility, inclusion, and diversity an important part of their mission. In his current role, Mark focusses building relationships with community partners in Wayne and Washtenaw Counties, so DTE remains connected to local issues, serving as a go-to resource for our customers. 

“We have our fingers on the pulse of the community to make sure customers know about our services, so no one goes without energy,” said Mark. “Our team’s goal is for everyone to understand that DTE is a good corporate citizen, and they can come to us for help. One way to do that is building trust with key advocates so when they see DTE coming, they can take advantage of all we have to offer.”

Throughout his career at DTE, Mark is most proud of being involved with reactivating our Diversity Supplier Immersion Days, creating opportunities for minority suppliers to connect with DTE, removing barriers and opening doors to success. His team was responsible for 13 years of our Hallelujah for Heat event, an annual concert that supported The Heat and Warmth Fund to help keep Michigan families safe and warm each winter. Mark also connected with the community on behalf of DTE during the pandemic through listening sessions, door to door canvasing for energy assistance and PPE distribution.

“You’re only as good as your last project, so I’m always working to do better. I just want to make sure that DTE is viewed as a friend of the community so people can see that we do things other companies don’t do – because it’s the right thing to do,” Mark closed. “I do all of this because I love my job. DTE put me in a position to help the community where I grew up and the city that I love – Detroit.”