Power Forward
Emerging Leaders Council

The Heat and Warmth Fund is excited to announce its inaugural Power Forward Emerging Leaders Council.

The purpose of the council is to:

  • Create a pipeline of talent for THAW and for the non-profit community of Michigan.
  • Establish a diverse and inclusive council that represents the community we serve.
  • Build awareness of THAW’s mission and services in communities throughout Michigan.
  • Provide a volunteerism opportunity for civic-minded young leaders.

Power Forward Emerging Leaders Council members will experience:

  • The opportunity to network with community-minded young professionals to foster life-long connections and friendships while serving others.
  • The chance to engage with senior business, government, and community leaders around a critical social need.
  • Professional and Personal Education events on essential topics to assist in career growth and advance knowledge and opportunities for non-profit leaders.
  • A Volunteer opportunity to serve the community becoming THAW Ambassadors and organize.


Amanda Spinner

Amanda 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. Prior to school, she worked as a Program Manager for a Virtual Reality start-up in Menlo Park. She graduated in 2015 from Stanford University with an M.A. in Sociology and in 2014 from Stanford University with a B.A. in Economics.





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.



Charles Bazner

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 our 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.





Che’ Baker

A man of creativity and compassion, Che’ is an artist, servant leader, and advocate for vulnerable communities.  You can always find him with a sketch pad, pens, pencils, and willingness to have tough conversations to move people forward. A thought-provoking lover of comics, anime, mixed martial arts, community, and service, Che’ graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in Sociology. He is currently enrolled at Wayne State as a graduate student working to obtain his Master of Counseling with a focus on Art Therapy. He is employed as a Family Restoration Worker for Orchards Family Service, Southfield. In his work, he helps to strengthen families, provide access to resources supporting the children and adults in households across Southeastern Michigan.




Claudia Bazzi

Claudia was born and raised in Dearborn Michigan. She currently works as a radiographer.  She is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Dearborn where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.  Bazzi was awarded the Anti Discrimination Committee’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship as well as CAIR Michigan’s Rosa Parks scholarship. She previously 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 where she helps organize functions like weddings, community events, fundraisers, etc. 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

Colin 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. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling, playing tennis, weightlifting, and snowboarding.




Courtney Smith

There are people who see shortcomings in our society and feel overwhelmed or apathetic. Then there are people like Courtney Ebonique Smith who roll up their sleeves and fill in the gap. She has dedicated her career to promoting equity and social justice.

Recently dubbed a “modern day history maker” by Essence Magazine, Courtney 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 & emergent needs of homeless and street-connected youth.

Her outstanding commitment to service has garnered national recognition, including Comcast Newsmakers and the Steve Harvey Show.  Courtney 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

double-time recipient of the Spirit of Detroit Award; along with many other notable achievements. Courtney prides herself on being transparent and progressive, two traits that have made her a sought-after speaker on topics related to youth and community development, advocacy, and servant leadership.

Courtney serves on the board of directors for Hero Nation,  and sits on the Women’s Advisory Committee for U. S House of Representatives.  Courtney graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. She is currently pursuing graduate coursework in nonprofit management at Harvard University. Outside of being a dynamic civil servant, Courtney enjoys spending time with loved ones, traveling and live theatre.


Dayna Asante-Appiah, MSW, MA

Dayna 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 keep them 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. Her social work background helps her to prioritize and see the whole person, and has increased her capacity in understanding how complex experiences either add or deter people from seeing the potential in their career aspirations.

Dayna also seeks opportunities to help strengthen non-profit organizations that directly serve and impact local communities. She believes that thriving organizations are able to tackle, address and meet the needs that systemic issues cause in vulnerable communities. With this, she is looking forward to contributing and deepening her knowledge in this area by participating on THAW’s Power Forward Council.

Currently, Dayna 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. With this, she hopes to utilize the School of Social Work’s resources to provide an affordable and accessible education for the next generation of social change agents.


Eva Zenilman

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!






Katherine Brown

Katherine is a connector, listener, and collaborator. She currently serves as the engagement manager for Let’s Detroit, a talent retention and attraction initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Her role focuses on connecting college students and young professionals to each other, employment opportunities, and ways to get involved in the community, with the goal of increasing the number of college-educated talent that stays in the region. 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

Kyle Stuef is an Ypsilanti resident who currently works with Identity, a PR and marketing firm in Metro Detroit. He brings 10+ years of strategic marketing experience for Fortune 500 and Global 500 brands across a number of verticals. His work in the digital space has been recognized nationally, and his knack for finding innovative solutions will be put to use to make sure that THAW connects with the Michigan families who need assistance most.





Mariah Manuel-Berry

Mariah S. Manuel-Berry is a team leader at the highly-rated mortgage company Quicken Loans in Detroit, Michigan. Mariah has been with Quicken Loans since January 2020. Before this role, she was a team leader for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan since 2010.

In her current role, Mariah is responsible for developing a comprehensive training program for her business area, Capital Markets. In this role, Mariah guides a team of learning and development professionals who dedicates 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 futuristic mindset and desire to develop others, she helps create a vision for her team while assisting them in increasing their skills and doing things they never thought possible.

Mariah serves as a mentor and key contributor to the Team Member Resource Network, UNITED, a Quicken Loans multi-faceted professional development engine that seeks to collectively create opportunities for team members to thrive within their company. As a mentor, Mariah has gained many individuals’ trust, as she helps to build their confidence in their careers, talents, goals, and themselves.

Mariah has been a trainer and collaborator of people within her company and outside of her company since 2010 after obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in Public Relations and Communications. Recently, Quicken Loans nominated Mariah for the Collaborator “Rockie” award after being with the company for only a short time. Through Mariah’s passion for seeing others succeed, she gets her drive, and it naturally shines through.

Mariah’s credentials include a Master of Science in Human Resource Development with a focus on Training and Development as of April 2020, a Project Management Professional Certificate, and a Green Belt Lean Six Sigma Certificate as of 2016. She’s been a Co-Captain for past March of Dimes fund-raising efforts and served as president and chair of the NAACP while at Eastern Michigan University. Mariah provides these words of advice, “If you’re afraid to fail, you’ve already reached your highest level of success.”


Terrence White

Terrence is a Detroit-based community development and finance professional. His focus is on bringing resources and building agency in marginalized communities so liberation can become a reality. He is currently pursuing a Master of Community Development at the University of Detroit Mercy and has earned his master’s in accounting from UM-Flint, where he taught introductory accounting courses. Currently he works as the Vice President of Community Development Banking for Michigan at PNC Bank where his role brings financing to low-to-moderate income communities with a focus on affordable housing and building community-based facilities. He formerly managed multi-billion budgets for General Motors and Meritor and have worked and consulted at other Fortune 500 companies in Connecticut, Texas and Minnesota.  Terrence has also mentored young people in Midnight Golf Program in Detroit, and has led seminars in personal finance there. Terrence is a Detroit native, graduating from Cass Technical High School and later from Michigan State University with a degree in Finance.



Yvonne Navarrete

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 Michgan 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.