A Man in Full

Jan 12, 2018 by

Tom Watkins –

He came from humble beginnings. Still carries himself with pride and humility. Teacher, Supreme Court Justice, Mayor, business leader, professor, community volunteer, husband, father, and grandfather. A man in full – a good man – Dennis W. Archer.

Archer’s resume is only surpassed by his achievements in life. Dennis W. Archer serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dennis W. Archer PLLC and is Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Network. He served as Mayor of Detroit from January 1994 to December 2001. Prior to serving as mayor, he served as an Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1986 to 1994. An educator, his academic resume includes adjunct and Associate Professor at Wayne State University Law School.

Former President of American Bar Association from August 2003 to 2004, Mr. Archer now serves as a Director at Progressus Therapy, LLC, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan and has been a member of the Advisory Board of the Jefferies Group, Inc. since April 16, 2012. His board memberships include Director of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, member of Advisory Board at Detroit Executive Service Corps., and a member of the Legal Advisory Board of Martindale-Hubbell, Inc.

As if this isn’t enough, Archer has been Chairman of Dickinson Wright/Mariscal Weeks since January 2002. He now serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Western Michigan University, the Chairman of National Policy Board of The InfiLaw System and Diversity Network and served as an Independent Director of TopBuild Corp (Masco Corporation) from 2004 until May 9, 2016 and served as Chairman of the company from 2002 to 2009. He served as a Director of Progressus Therapy, LLC until March 28, 2016. Mr. Archer served as the Chairman of Detroit Regional Chamber since July 2006. He served as a Director of Johnson Controls World Services, Inc. since 2002. Mr. Archer served as a Director of Compuware Corporation from January 2002 to March 28, 2014. He served as a Director of Covisint Corporation. Mr. Archer served as a Director of Johnson Controls Inc. from 2002 to 2014. Mr. Archer has served as a member of the Advisory Panel of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. since April 24, 2006, and as President of the National League of Cities. He received his Juris Doctorate from Detroit College of Law in 1970.


I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Dennis Archer for over thirty years, learning a great deal from him when I served on his transition team as incoming Mayor of Detroit in the early 90’s.

While many know him as a lawyer, mayor, a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, champion of human rights, supporter of diversity and inclusion, I look at him a perennial teacher. As Michigan’s former State Superintendent of Schools, I often sought his advice about how best to address the needs of children in Detroit and other struggling communities. It was at his urging that I took a seat on the Detroit Public School Board while serving as State Superintendent. “What better perch upon which to see how to help the kids?” he suggested.

The Book

This former mayor is constantly striving and contributing to his community and nation, most recently by writing his autobiography, “Let the Future Begin”. Amazon describes his work this way, “Dennis W. Archer, born in Detroit, rose from humble beginnings in the small town of Cassopolis, Michigan, to become a celebrated attorney, a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, a two-term Mayor of Detroit, and the first person of color to serve as president of the 400,000-member American Bar Association. Thanks to education, hard work, impeccable integrity, and family values, Dennis Archer has blazed a trail of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession while laying a rock-solid foundation to transform Detroit into the comeback city of the millennium. He achieved this with the support of his wife Trudy, their sons, Dennis Jr. and Vincent, relatives, friends, and colleagues. This inspiring book shares how he did it, and provides a blueprint for how to emulate his success and commitment to helping others.”


As the former Detroit mayor writes: “I wrote this story for my grandsons and for youth from all walks of life to show, that with education and hard work, you can rise above difficult circumstances and become successful in ways that uplift yourself, your family, and your community … That’s why I chose the title, Let the Future Begin, because it serves as my official record of how our citizens joined our leaders in government, business and the nonprofit sector in a collaboration to rebuild Detroit.”


An inflection point in history occurred when Dennis Archer was elected mayor. “We wanted to make voting for Dennis Archer a vote for what the future could be,” said David Axelrod, former Chief Strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and a current CNN Commentator. “So, when we said, ‘Let the Future Begin!’ it was really not about him. It was about Detroit. And it was about what the city and community could do together to build a better future.”

Mr. Dennis W. Archer has contributed a great deal and as the title of his book suggests, he is not done contributing. Look for more value added contributions from “the teacher” as his future unfolds.

Pick up a copy of Let the Future Begin.

Our future is so bright, we may all soon need to start wearing shades!

Tom Watkins served as Michigan’s state superintendent of public instruction from 2001-5, special assistant to the president of Wayne State University and is a business, health and and educational consultant in the US and China. He can be emailed at: tdwatkins88@gmail.com, or followed on twitter at:@tdwatkins88

Source: A Man in Full

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