Eleanor Josaitis

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Eleanor Mary Josaitis (née Reed; December 17, 1931 – August 9, 2011)[1] was the co-founder of Focus: HOPE.[2] She was engaged in building the legacy of the civil rights organization. For many years, she was the Associate Director of Focus: HOPE. Upon Father Cunningham's death in 1997, she became the Executive Director, and later the CEO. In 2006, she turned over the day-to-day operation to a new leadership team in order to focus her efforts on fund raising. She died of peritoneal cancer on August 9, 2011 in Livonia, Michigan.

She provided leadership and advocacy for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and made important contributions to public awareness of hunger and malnutrition. Working with co-founder Father William Cunningham, she helped develop Centers of Opportunity education and training programs to help primarily underrepresented minorities gain access to jobs and careers. She served on numerous board and committees, including The National Workforce Alliance Board, the Michigan Council for Labor and Economic Growth, and the Advisory Board for the Arab-American and Chaldean Council. In 2002 she was named one of the most influential women in Detroit by Crain's Detroit Business.

Legacy[edit]

Josaitis was widely known and respected throughout Metro Detroit for her work in the community, and had been referred to as "Detroit's Mother Theresa" before her death.[3] U.S. Senator Carl Levin gave the eulogy at her funeral mass, quoting her exhortation to "Recognize the dignity and beauty of every person, and take practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice."[4]

In her memory, the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Metropolitan Affairs Coalition annually present the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award, which "recognizes an individual who may not have yet received the widespread recognition she or he deserves for long-standing efforts to further regional cooperation and understanding."[5]

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Lawrence Technological University Interview