Meet the Director - James E. White

James E. White, Director, Michigan Department of Civil Rights

James E. White is the executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) and a member of the cabinet of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission named White to the position on August 24, 2020.

MDCR serves as the operational arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, enforcing the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and related disability laws in Michigan. As MDCR director, White oversees a workforce of 83, an annual budget of over $16 million and offices in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit.

Prior to his selection to lead MDCR, White served as Assistant Chief of the Detroit Police Department. He was first appointed to that position in 2012 and again in July of 2013 under Chief James E. Craig.  White worked for the Detroit Police Department for 24 years beginning in January of 1996 and served in leadership positions for the majority of his tenure. 

White was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  He is a proud graduate of Wayne County Community College, where he earned an Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies.  He went on to earn a Baccalaureate Degree in Sociology from Wayne State University. He later earned a Master of Science in Counseling from Central Michigan University and became a licensed mental health counselor.  In 2018, White earned an MBA Certificate from the Wayne State University Leadership Academy, Mike Ilitch School of Business. 

White led a number of high-level assignments during his more than 24 years in public service. He spearheaded the Detroit Police Department’s compliance with two federal consent judgements, which involved orchestrating oversight and policymaking for the Detroit Police Department’s Civil Rights Integrity Bureau.

White firmly believes in diversity and inclusion. In his previous leadership role with the DPD, White established a Civilian Advisory Committee to help bridge the gap between civilians and sworn members within the department. White also worked to ensure that returning citizens had opportunities for employment within the Detroit Police Department in certain non-sworn capacities.

In addition to his role in law enforcement, White has been a frequent speaker on counseling and mental health services throughout the Detroit metropolitan area.  He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a State Certified Counselor, a Counselor with the Northeast Guidance Center, a former board member of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement standards, and is involved with numerous other organizations in the Detroit community.