Eleanor Josaitis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eleanor Mary Josaitis (née Reed; December 17, 1931 – August 9, 2011)[1] was the co-founder of Focus: HOPE.[2][3]


Josaitis was engaged in building the legacy of Focus: HOPE and for many years was the Associate Director. Upon the executive director Fr William Cunningham's death in 1997, she succeeded him and later became the CEO.

She also 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 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.

In 2006, she turned over the day-to-day operation to a new leadership team in order to focus her efforts on fundraising. She died of peritoneal cancer on August 9, 2011 in Livonia, Michigan.

Eleanor Josaitis at a Focus: HOPE event.


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.[4] 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."[5]

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."[6]



  1. ^ Bunkley, Nick (10 August 2011). "Eleanor M. Josaitis, Housewife-Turned-Urban Activist, Dies at 79". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Focus Hope Biography". Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
  3. ^ Kresnak, Jack (16 November 2015). Hope for the City. Cass Community Publishing House. p. 18. ISBN 978-1942011156.
  4. ^ Visitiation for Eleanor Josaitis underway, funeral mass to be held Saturday Archived 2012-04-01 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Eulogy for Eleanor Josaitis Archived 2012-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Shining Light awards honor 4 for inspiring regional cooperation
  7. ^ City Year Lifetime Achievement Award
  8. ^ Clara Barton Ambassador Award
  9. ^ "Jeffrey W. Barry Award". Archived from the original on 2005-11-08. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
  10. ^ National Council of Negro Women's Achiever Award
  11. ^ Peacemaker Award
  12. ^ The Detroit News Michiganian of the Year Award
  13. ^ Wade Mccree Award Archived 2005-04-06 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Woman of the Year Award[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]