Leadership in Detroit
Our executive director, staff, alumni, board members and partners are committed to building a stronger Detroit by supporting and developing our AmeriCorps members as leaders in their schools and community.
Sherisse M. Butler
Senior Vice President and Executive Director for City Year Detroit
Sherisse M. Butler, City Year Detroit’s senior vice president and executive director, is a dynamic, collaborative people leader with a deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, while possessing a strategic vision that innovates and engages resources to deepen the organization’s impact on the students of Detroit.
Prior to joining City Year Detroit, Sherisse served as the senior director of government and community affairs with Detroit Public Schools Community District. In that role, she developed and executed the district’s legislative priorities and provided strategic direction, representation and messaging in consultation with Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.
Prior to joining Detroit Public Schools, she made outstanding contributions to support young people and their families, establishing herself as a dedicated advocate in the communities we support and serve. After earning her Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the Barnard College at Columbia University, Sherisse went on to work with the Bank Street School for Children in New York as lead afterschool teacher, concurrently working as a graduate assistant at Barnard College with a focus in diversity, equity and inclusion. Sherisse would later be awarded her Master’s of Science, health and behavior studies.
Upon her return to Detroit, she managed middle school initiatives and youth program evaluation for Teen HYPE Youth Development in Detroit. Today, she continues to support Teen HYPE as vice-chair board of directors, leading their governance, finance and policy committee. If these accomplishments weren’t impressive enough, she was named a Top 40 Under 40 honoree by the Michigan Chronicle this past May and named one of the Top 50 Women Leaders of Michigan for 2022 by The Women We Admire.
Board Chair for City Year Detroit and Chief People, Equity & Engagement Officer at United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Tonya Adair is chief people, equity & engagement officer at United Way for Southeastern Michigan. She joined the organization in 2018 as the chief impact officer to provide executive oversight of the community impact strategies for United Way. In this role, Tonya was responsible for leading the impact teams to assure consistent focus on stable households and thriving children for communities served. Within two years, Tonya provided leadership in the successful development and implementation of several new initiatives and collaborative local and national partnerships, designed to drive transformational results for community impact objectives. Efforts include Connect313, tech funds for Detroit charter school students, Connecting Seniors Project, Choose Healthy Life Faith-Based Partnership, Harlem Children’s Zone Audacious Project COVID Response, established five UWSEM Community Schools, implemented The Pontiac Literacy Grants, My Home Library Project, Virtual Family Literacy Fairs, Parent Community of Practice Pandemic Support Group, Early Childhood Support Network and more.
In her new role, Tonya is charged with leading several departments including people and culture; diversity, equity and inclusion; corporate and community engagement and education initiatives. The office serves as a backbone support to the overall organization, providing collaborative supports and services to assure effective and efficient operations, functions and experiences for all staff and stakeholders engaged with United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Additionally, Tonya will spearhead social innovation and transformational partnerships designed to produce equitable outcomes for children and families within the Southeastern Michigan community.
Tonya’s professional background, education and experience as a transformational leader in education positions her to serve well in this role. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Grambling State University and a master’s degree in education administration and leadership from Alverno College. Additionally, she also holds a human resource management certification from Cardinal Stritch University of Milwaukee and is currently an ABD candidate for her Doctor of Philosophy in language and literacy.
Tonya has held several professional affiliations, received numerous professional recognitions and served on multiple boards and committees over the years. Tonya proudly serves on the boards of directors for City Year Detroit, The Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan and serves on the advisory council for The Greenlight Fund.
Over the years, Tonya has received several awards and honors, including the 2020 Salute to Diversity Award from Corp! Magazine, 2018 Induction to the Alverno College Vanguard Society, Top Ladies of Distinction Education Award, Wisconsin Women on the Move; Educational Administrator of the Year from the Civic Music Association of Milwaukee; Sarah Scott Outstanding Administrator Award from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Alliance of Black School Educators and the Ladies of Great Distinction Award from the African American Ladies Empowered to Grow Opportunities.