During Black History Month, DTE Energy and its REACH (Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage) employee resource group, recognized three trailblazers for their career achievements and contributions to the company and community.
Kendra Hullum-Lawson, manager, Design Engineering, began her career at DTE more than 20 years ago as a student intern at the Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant. She became the first African American woman leader in nuclear engineering at the plant and went on to achieve progressive leadership roles as associate engineer, supervising engineer and then manager.
“People encouraged me in every job opportunity that I’ve had to grow and they challenged me with more responsibility,” said Hullum-Lawson. “With the opportunities that I’ve had, I try to provide opportunities for others to help them learn and grow as well.”
In her search for personal development opportunities, Hullum-Lawson participated in the Women of DTE mentoring program and successfully completed a Senior Reactor Operator management certification. Hullum-Lawson also has a Master of Divinity Degree from Ashland Theological Seminary, and provides marriage counseling, along with her husband, to members of her church.
Hullum-Lawson credits hard work and the encouragement and support of her mentors and leaders for her growth and achievement throughout her career.
Frank Warren, senior vice president, Fossil Generation, is the first to tell his colleagues and the young professionals he mentors that he didn’t achieve his success on his own.
“I am convinced of this – you cannot be successful on your own,” said Warren. “I believe it is important to reach out to people and develop relationships. People need to get to know who you are and trust you.”
Before Warren joined DTE, he worked at LTV Steel for 22 years. Throughout his career with the steel company, Warren broke company records as the first African American in multiple roles including maintenance general foreman, plant manager and acting-general manager.
He began his career at DTE as maintenance manager at the St. Clair Power Plant and went on to serve as plant manager of the Trenton Power Plant, director of Gas Operational Performance and Change Management for Michcon, director and chief engineer of ESO in the Fossil Generation organization, and director of the Monroe Power Plant.
For Warren, taking time to mentor others is a priority. “It’s important to build trusting relationships with your co-workers and give back,” Warren said. “I have four principles in life which are trust, honesty, integrity and respect. I won’t sell those or give them up for anything.”
In 2014 Warren joined the board of directors of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. In 2015, he received the “Men of Excellence” award from the Michigan Chronicle.
“I believe in diversity and inclusion but we all have blind spots that prevent us from seeing we are not as inclusive as we think,” Warren said.
Dayan Douse, Ph.D., manager, IT, was recognized for his contributions to numerous community organizations, particularly mentoring and coaching leaders and youth. His proudest accomplishment was speaking at the Michigan Diversity Council Leadership Conference in 2018.
“Diversity and inclusion doesn’t care about right and wrong, it only cares about purpose and intention,” Douse said. “So, if each of us walk in our purpose and show up with the best of intention, then we give diversity and inclusion the space it needs to breath and inspire.”
Douse was on the board of Winning Futures and supported the organization for 10 years. Winning Futures facilitates mentoring for children from third through twelfth grade.
“With the young boys in the program, what we find is that many come from underprivileged homes with few male role models,” Douse said. “Through these mentoring relationships, you provide kids positive male role models that are everyday heroes.”
In addition, Douse has worked with Farmington Public Schools through the African American Parent Network to tackle the achievement gap that exists within the school district.
“I teach parents a model that I developed while working on my doctorate degree,” Douse said. “The model helps parents identify and own their part of the problem and make the necessary changes needed to help their child grow and develop good academic habits.”
Want to learn more about how DTE is working to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace? Read our blog “Creating a culture that says ‘you are welcome here.”