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Michigan Civil Rights Commission Meets in Special Session, Interviews 7 Candidates for Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights

August 19, 2020 

LANSING, MI -- In a special meeting held on Wednesday, Aug. 19, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission interviewed seven candidates for the position of Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

The following candidates were interviewed:

  • Toni Sellers-Pitts -- Director, Office of AA/EEO Investigations and Hiring at Georgia State University
  • Rhonda Powell -- Statewide Operations Director at We The People MI
  • Alicia Skillman -- Executive Director, City of Detroit Board of Ethics
  • James White -- Assistant Chief of the Detroit Police Department
  • Felipe Lopez Sustaita -- Executive Director of the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan
  • John E. Johnson, Jr. -- Executive Director of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus
  • Nasser Beydoun -- Chairman of the Arab American Civil Rights League and Vice President of Multicultural Marketing at Bassett Bassett

After the interviews, Commissioners voted to deliberate and vote on the candidates at a special meeting to be held virtually on Monday, Aug. 24, at 5 pm. Information on this meeting with details on how to access it online will be posted on the MDCR website by COB on Thursday, Aug. 20.

Recap of the selection process: 

At their June 15 regular meeting, the Commission voted to establish a Search Committee for the Executive Director position comprised of Commissioners Elhasan, Grim and Roberson.  At a special meeting on July 7, the Search Committee presented, and the Commission approved, a revised job description, NeoGov application, timeline and recommended reference questions. The qualified candidates identified in the previous search were invited to reapply and the Commission re-opened the position to new applicants.


  • July 7: Commission met to receive the report and recommendations of the Search Committee and vote on the process, the position description, and any other related matters.
  • July 8:  The job posting was available on NEOGOV.
  • July 27:  The posting closed.
  • July 30: Civil Service Human Resources submitted qualified candidates to the Special Advisor to the Commission.
  • August 4:  Commissioners submitted a maximum of seven selections for Executive Director to the Special Advisor to the Commission.
  • August 7:  Civil Service Human Resources conducted background checks, mailed drug screening packages to candidates; Special Advisor to the Commission began contacting candidates’ references.
  • August 19: Commission held special meeting to conduct interviews.
  • August 24:  Commission will meet in a special session to select a candidate for Executive Director.
  • August 28: Commission will inform the selected candidate and present a job offer.
  • September 21:  New Executive Director will begin their duties with MDCR.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.


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