Power Forward Emerging Leaders Council
THAW is honored to have the inaugural cohort of Power Forward Emerging Leaders Council members serving with passion, innovation, and dedication to helping THAW drive its mission.
The Heat and Warmth Fund launched its inaugural Power Forward Emerging Leaders Council in January 2021.
Amanda Spinner is a second-year MBA/MS dual degree student with the Ross School of Business and the School for Environment and Sustainability. She is focused on strategy and sustainability, with an interest in renewable energy and how traditional energy companies are adapting to a changing energy economy. She is also passionate about energy equity and ensuring that a clean energy transition is both just and inclusive. Amanda graduated in 2015 from Stanford University with an M.A. in Sociology and in 2014 from Stanford University with a B.A. in Economics. Amanda believes that inequity plagues the energy space and that clean energy transition is the way. Amanda is a problem-solver dedicated to creating a Michigan where people lead need-fulfilled lives.
America Ali Yahya
America Ali Yahya is a lifelong Detroiter, an Arab American, and the daughter of Yemeni immigrants. America’s pronouns are she/her/hers. A 22-year-old, undergraduate student at Wayne State University studying Sociology and Anthropology, America has been community organizing for over eight years. Her focus is on education justice and environmental justice causes all throughout the City of Detroit. Her activism is fueled by understanding how utility insecurity impacts people’s livelihood. As a Power Forward Emerging Leaders Councilmember, America is looking forward to lending her organizing wisdom and working with her cohort to help Michigan’s vulnerable residents in getting the support they need and deserve.
A Detroit native born and raised in Detroit’s southwest community, Charles Bazner is a Senior Analyst and Project Leader for DTE’s LSP (Low Income Self-Sufficiency program) Program. Charles has spent the last six years partnering with the MPSC, MDHHS, and other agencies to assist their most vulnerable customers. He has a passion for helping others and is excited about joining the Power Forward Council which will be another way to continue that passion. Charles is currently a sophomore attending Davenport University working toward a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Claudia Bazzi was born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan. She is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Dearborn where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She currently works in healthcare as a radiographer. Before this, she worked for the City of Dearborn’s Department of Public Information where she helped organize major community events like the annual Homecoming Festival and Memorial Day Parade. On weekends, Bazzi works at her family’s banquet hall organizing functions including weddings, community events, and fundraisers. In addition, she has volunteered in the campaigns of numerous local and state officials and is a member of the Arab American Political Action Committee.
Colin Talia is currently a Financial Advisor with UBS Financial Services, having started with the firm in December 2019. Prior to UBS he was a management consultant for nearly 6 years with EY (formerly Ernst & Young) in Chicago. He graduated from Miami University in 2010 and the University of Iowa College of Law in 2013. Originally from Farmington Hills, Michigan, he moved back to Michigan with his wife in January 2020. Hardworking, driven, and compassionate, Colin brings an openness to learn and work with other people to the council. Some of his other assets include financial expertise, critical reasoning and analytical skills, and a passion for advocacy. He says that his law school background “will also allow him to see differing viewpoints and find the middle ground.”
Recently dubbed a “modern-day history maker” by Essence Magazine, Courtney Smith is a champion advocate & servant leader, serving not only by choice but by nature. Her undeniable tenacity birthed the Detroit Phoenix Center, a high-impact nonproﬁt organization that operates the ﬁrst Asset Based Resource Center meeting the critical, holistic, and emergent needs of homeless and street-connected youth. Her commitment to service has garnered national recognition, including Comcast Newsmakers and the Steve Harvey Show. She has been named to Crain’s Detroit Business “Twenty in Their 20s” list of trailblazers to watch in the region. She is a Michigan Chronicle “40 under 40” honoree, and a two-time Spirit of Detroit Award recipient dedicated to promoting equity and social justice.
Dayna Asante-Appiah, MSW, MA
Dayna Asante-Appiah holds a deep passion for helping people and communities see the potential in themselves and their future goals. One area that she cares deeply about are issues and narratives that affect women and may prevent from achieving their goals. This includes the intersectional reality that both race and gender contribute to the complex experiences of women of color, particularly in the workplace. Dayna also seeks opportunities to help strengthen non-profit organizations that directly serve and impact local communities. Dayna currently works at the University of Michigan where she manages and is working to launch a new online MSW program for the School of Social Work.
Eva Zenilman is an MBA/MS in Data Science candidate at the University of Michigan interested in clean energy financing. With a longstanding passion for community engagement and facilitating access to critical services, and through her involvement with the Energy Club on campus, Eva has become a fierce advocate for energy justice and equity. A Baltimore native, she moved to Ann Arbor after four years living in New York City, and has been enjoying Midwest life, one Great Lake at a time! Eva has become a fierce advocate for energy justice and equity through her involvement with the Energy Club on campus. Her activism also comes serving communities impacted by climate change in Kenya for a year. Eva recognizes serving on THAW’s Power Forward Council as an opportunity to understand and get involved in initiatives that focus on how climate change impacts Michigan residents.
Katherine Brown is a connector, listener, and collaborator. She currently serves as the Housing Resource Coordinator for Bridging Communities, Inc. in Southwest Detroit. Her role and her passion are driven by helping to create stable families and increasing housing security, especially for vulnerable residents. Prior to working on Let’s Detroit, Katherine was the community outreach coordinator for the Detroit Historical Society’s Detroit 67 Project, the community engagement initiative reflecting on the summer of 1967 Detroit (what some remember as the rebellion, riots, or uprising). Her role involved creating inclusive spaces in and out of the Detroit Historical Museum for discussion and storytelling through a variety of programming with community partners. In addition to being an AmeriCorps alumna, Katherine holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University and a Master of Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
Kyle Stuef is an Ypsilanti resident who currently works with Identity, a PR and marketing firm in Metro Detroit. In his Account Manager role, he uses creativity and an analytical brain to help clients tell incredible stories. His work in the digital space has been recognized nationally. He brings 10+ years of strategic marketing experience for Fortune 500 and Global 500 brands across several verticals. His work in the digital space has been recognized nationally, and his knack for finding innovative solutions will be used to make sure that THAW connects with the Michigan families who need assistance most. A digital storyteller and servant leader, Kyle also hopes to connect more people to THAW’s mission who will serve as ambassadors and champions for its important work.
Mariah S. Manuel-Berry is a team leader at Quicken Loans in Detroit, Michigan, joining the team in January 2020. As a team leader, Mariah is responsible for developing a comprehensive training program for her business area, Capital Markets. She guides a team of learning and development professionals who are dedicated to pursuing excellence, mentoring team members to tap into their full potential, and facilitating training material for the 300+ team members within the business area. Mariah is passionate about organizational development and strategically motivates individual team members with focused attention on their unique characteristics and the distinct contributions to the company’s success. Through her innovative mindset and desire to help develop others, she helps create a vision for her team while assisting them in increasing their skills and doing things they never thought possible.
Yvonne Navarrete was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and immigrated to Detroit, Michigan at the age of two. Her experiences as a proud Detroiter and immigrant have motivated her to work towards shifting the way our local government serves marginalized communities. She earned a B.A. in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. She is now involved in education organizing in Detroit as a core team member for MIStudentsDream, a coalition of Metro-Detroit teachers, parents, students, and community members advocating at the intersection of immigration and education justice. Yvonne currently works as the Counties Project Coordinator for We the People Michigan managing a political education campaign around county governments in Michigan.