Born and raised on the Westside of Detroit, Charity Dean has always been an advocate. Whether it was when she worked as a community advocate in the Chadsey Condon neighborhood of Southwest Detroit or when we she was making her case to her parents, that she and her sisters should have a later curfew, if she perceived injustice or an opportunity to do something good, she would seize it.
This is why when she received the message that her neighborhood coffee shop was going to close and the community was concerned that someone would purchase it and take away the only coffee shop in the neghborhood, she wanted to help. As the former president of the Grandmont Community Association and a homeowner in Grandmont, Charity understood the importance that this business, like many small businesses, was to the community and economic development of her neighborhood. With the help of her dear friend and business partner, they purchased the neighborhood coffee shop and it remains a community gathering place for residents in Grandmont Rosedale. They named the shop Rosa, named after Charity’s great grandmother Rosa Malone who endured many racial injustices in her effort to move in to then nearly all white neighborhood of Rosedale Park.
Owning a small business in Detroit helped to solidify what Charity has been working on in her current roles as President and CEO of the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance (MDBBA).
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Charity was responsible for leading the City’s small business response to Covid. Covid shined a light on deep inequities in the system. Small businesses were impacted at a devastating rate and Black businesses were being devastated the worst. This presented another opportunity for advocacy.
Charity and a group of Black business owners then launched the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance. This organization focuses on closing the racial wealth gap by creating programs and advocating for policies that result in thriving Black owned businesses. This growing chamber of commerce serves now over 800 members in its two year span and has connected its members to over $8 million dollars in direct funding for their enterprises.
Prior to founding the MDBBA, Charity served in Mayor Duggan’s cabinet as the Director of Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity for the City of Detroit. In this position, she investigated civil rights violations in the city and oversaw compliance for major development projects while working with small and minority-owned businesses. Her previous roles at the City of Detroit included creating and establishing the Bridging Neighborhoods Program, a program with $32m in community benefits for optional relocation and retrofit of households for homeowners in Southwest Detroit. Before moving to the Mayor’s Office, she spent time at the Detroit Land Bank and is responsible for creating and implementing among many programs, the historic side lot program which has taken over 12,000 lots from public to private ownership, as well as the one of a kind Buy Back program for occupied Detroit Land Bank Homes.
Charity is currently a trustee for the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, and advisory member of Detroit Women’s Leadership Network and is currently serving as a Michigan Women’s Commissioner representing the City of Detroit appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She is member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has preciously served on the boards of Oakland University Alumni Association, Wolverine Bar Association, Neighborhood Legal Services, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Grandmont Community Association.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Oakland University and her Juris Doctor from University of Detroit Mercy Law School.
She has received numerous honors and awards, including Crain’s 40 under 40 in 2020, Crain’s 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan in 2021, Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence Award in 2022, and the Dave Bing - Shining Light Award in 2022, and named by Axios to Detroits 2022 Power Players List.
Charity's highest honor to date is the proud mommy to Elijah and Lauren Dean.