Two members of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Board of Directors will be honored by the Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan for their human and civil rights contributions in our community. BCBSM President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp will serve as honorary chairman of the event. Mel Larsen and James “Jimmy” Settles, Jr. join three other honorees to be celebrated at the 38th Annual Salute to Distinguished Warriors Dinner on Thursday, March 16, 2017, at the Detroit Marriott. In addition to his role as honorary chairman, Daniel Loepp also plans to take part in the Urban League’s future Warriors Youth Dialogue program at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Wednesday, March 15. The youth dialogue brings together approximately 200 area students, primarily from area high schools, to learn from the life experiences of past and present Distinguished Warriors. The Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan, which is celebrating its 101st anniversary, has been working since 1916 to enable African-Americans and other persons of color to achieve their fullest potential. The organization serves more than 156,000 clients annually with specialized programs and services. This year’s distinguished warriors include: Mel Larsen, co-creator of the Elliott-Larsen Act (BCBSM and BCN Board of Directors member) As a state representative, Mel Larsen and Daisy Elliott co-authored Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which was passed in 1976, and banned discrimination in employment and housing in Michigan. Now retired from operating his own business, Larsen & Associates, Larsen began his career as a teacher and coach through the Archdiocese of Detroit. He is the recipient of numerous community awards, including the Dr. Martin Luther King award from the Michigan Elks, Pursuit of Justice award from the Arab-American Civil Rights organization, and the Walter F. Patenge Medal of Public Service from Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. James “Jimmy” Settles, Jr., vice president, UAW-Ford (BCBSM Board of Directors member) First elected a UAW vice president in 2006, he began his career as a trade union activist in 1968. He has been on the UAW International Executive Board since 2002 and has served in a variety of roles, including as a director of UAW Region 1A. Settles is a longtime political activist active in a wide range of community and civic organizations. In addition to serving on BCBSM’s board, he is a board member of Detroit Music Hall, Michigan Round Table for Diversity and Inclusion and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Settles also works with Detroit Public Schools. Don Davis, chairman and CEO, First Independence Bank (posthumously) Under Don Davis’ tenure as chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, the bank received the Bauer Financial 5-star rating, the highest ranking that can be granted a financial institution. In 2013, the bank was ranked the 11th largest bank owned by African-Americans in the U.S. Earlier in his career, Davis was known as a legendary Motown producer, starting out as a session musician for Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, Barrett Strong and the Temptations. Daisy Elliott, co-creator of the Elliott-Larsen Act (posthumously) A civil rights activist, Daisy Elliott and Mel Larsen co-authored Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which was passed in 1976 and banned discrimination in employment and housing in Michigan. She served two decades in Michigan’s House of Representatives. Alexander Jefferson, Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson was a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen — the first all-African American military aviators to serve in the U.S. armed forces. He was shot down and captured in August 1944 while attacking a radar installation during his 18th mission over southern France, then sent to a German POW camp in Poland. In 2004, he was honored with the Purple Heart for his injuries. Jefferson is also a member of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame and the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Tickets for the Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan Salute to Distinguished Warriors Dinner can be purchased on the League’s website here.
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