Ilitch School advisor receives Spirit of Detroit Award from Detroit City Council

Shanese Ross, an academic advisor for graduate programs in the Mike Ilitch School of Business, received the Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council for her role as director of membership for the National Black MBA Association of the Detroit chapter and in recognition for her efforts in working on the operations team to recruit volunteers for the 40th Annual NBMBAA Conference and Exposition in Detroit. 

“It meant everything to me to receive the Spirit of Detroit Award, and it’s such a humbling experience just to know that your hard work is recognized and appreciated,” Ross said.

The National Black MBA Association was founded in 1970 to help African Americans entering into the corporate sector share experiences and insights to help make the journey easier, according to its website. The association held its first conference in Detroit, which marked 40 years since its return to the city. 

“Having the conference here in my hometown was so exciting,” Ross said. “I was born and raised in Detroit. I am a product of Detroit Public Schools. I work for a business school in the District Detroit. I am a part of the Detroit chapter of the National Black MBA Association. The momentum was just huge.”

Her primary role as director of membership is to grow membership by cultivating relationships with other organizations and businesses, making sure the chapter has a presence in Detroit while hosting professional development opportunities and networking events.

The week of festivities started at the Ilitch School of Business on Sept. 24 to welcome National Black MBA Association board members, chapter leaders, staff, and conference attendees to the City of Detroit.

“Dean Forsythe and the Ilitch School community really helped to have over 350 African-American professionals in our building to kick off the conference,” Ross said. “It was so empowering to see so many professionals at your school and in your hometown.”

Her passion for mentoring, community development and education led her to the field of higher education. Ross felt compelled to start a career in higher education to help shape the future of tomorrow’s leaders and be a positive influence on students she comes in contact with. 

“Our chapter provides professional development opportunities to Detroit residents,” Ross said. “Our focus is on the black community, but everyone and anyone is welcome to join—you don’t even need an MBA.”

Ross will start her newly elected role as vice president of operations for the association in January.

She encourages all students to get involved.

Students who are interested in joining the Detroit chapter of the National Black MBA Association can at

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