Community Leaders
The Origins:
United We Walk is primarily a community event, designed to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: his life, dedication, and dream of equality in the world. In keeping, the United We Walk Committee strives to honor this dream each year by walking, celebrating, and holding vigil together with other members and guests of the community in a focused effort to live the dream and further enhance our thoroughly-diverse community. Starting in 2009, the Committee has endeavored to recognize the contributions of our community members on a more personal level. Thus, the Community Leader Recognition Award (CLRA) was created (on a trial basis) to be conferred during United We Walk's Sunday event celebration to a previously selected and deserving community member who has dedicated him/herself to giving back to his/her community according to his/her talents and resources.

The Distinction:
The United We Walk Community Leader Recognition Award is intended to honor any community member(s) that the Committee wishes to recognize for their consistent and selfless contributions to the community. The Award is neither exclusive nor intended for more than thankful recognition. The Committee's deliberation process is extensive and thoughtful, as the Committee seeks to honor entirely deserving candidates, independent of whether or not they are well-known throughout the community for their efforts.

Chanel Geter, Student Co-Chair, 2007-2010

The Winners:
2017 - United We Walk XXIII "His Dream Raises Us Up"

Mike Rott
Michigan filmmaker, Mike Rott with his passion for film, technology and the arts has produced an award-winning documentary about the life and legacy of Tuskegee Air-men ("Red Tail") fighter pilot, WWII Nazi P.O.W. and eyewitness to the atrocities at Da-chau Concentration Camp, Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson (95).

Mike is a West Bloomfield resident who honed his passion for all things tech at Apple, Inc where he served as Lead Creative at the Somerset location. He educated the public teaching over 5,000 classes during his tenure while leading the team of 20+ trainers. When realizing that further advancement within Apple necessitated relocating to Cu-pertino, California, Mike stayed in Metro-Detroit and pursued his dream of opening his creative studio to tell socially conscious stories through film. He will tell you that he is a “Detroiter" at heart and there’s no place like home.

The Rott family is a showbiz family. Mike's father, Sheldon Rott (Co-Producer / Music Director, The Luft Gangster: Memoirs of A Second Class Hero) and mother, Carol Rott (Art Director / Interviewer, The Luft Gangster: Memoirs of A Second Class Hero) met in the entertainment industry. Sheldon was a band leader, record producer and promoter who has worked with many artists during the glory days of the Motown era and even promoted The Beatles during the early phases of the British Invasion with Capitol Rec-ords. Carol was a popular recording artist who sang for Decca records and enjoyed a long career as a singer under the stage name Vickie Carroll. Both are natives of Detroit and West Bloomfield residents. Sheldon and Carol met to discuss a recording contract but they ended up signing a marriage contract instead.

In 2010, Mike formed his production company Dynasty Media Network, LLC and opened a full service creative studio located in downtown Ferndale, MI. The business is active and future film projects are under development while simultaneously re-purposing his studio as Metro-Detroit’s exclusive Apple training center.

Mike's dedication to telling important stories that unite communities is clearly evident in the way this film project came together. In order to ensure that Lt. Col. Alexander Jeffer-son’s story got told, Mike funded the award-winning feature length film, ‘The Luft Gangster: Memoirs of A Second Class Hero’ from the proceeds of the sale of his home. The project is currently seeking support to distribute the film to High Schools nationally and educate the youth of America about the senselessness of racism, bigotry and segregation.

After viewing the film, Maj. Bill Burnett, President of the Macon-Thomas Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, personally sponsored Mike and Sheldon Rott for induction as hon-orary Tuskegee Airmen chapter members. Both feel a great sense of personal pride for this and are honored to help carry on the legacy of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen while simultaneously raising awareness for the prevention of genocide and fighting the senselessness of racism.
2016 - United We Walk XXII "Making His Dream Our Reality"

Pastor Ron Todd
Actor & National Gospel Artist Pastor Ron Todd is a 2004 alumnus of West Bloomfield High School. His acting and singing career has taken him to Chicago, Atlanta, and Texas, among other cities. It has afforded him the opportunity to be featured on various networks including BET accessing over 7.5 million viewers. Pastor Todd has released 6 songs over the last 10 years including his latest single "Forgive Me", a spirited traditional Gospel song, as well as another single "Better".

Todd made his television debut in 2002 on WB20’s Everyone’s a Star and UPN 50’s Showdown in Motown. Pastor Ron Todd has not only been on a number of radio stations but is also the Radio Host of one of the nation’s top radio shows, The Ron Todd Show, a hit national syndicated show heard every Sunday from 6-8pm EST; on also the host of one of the nation’s top radio shows, The Ron Todd Show on Worldwide Core Radio.

Pastor Todd is married to Carmen with three children, Gabrielle, Nahla, and Sebastian, who is 2 months old. He is also the Senior Pastor of Kingdom Dwellers International Church which he founded in late 2012.
2015 - United We Walk XXI "Mentoring for Social Justice and Peace"

Police Chief Michael Patton
Michael Patton has served as the West Bloomfield Police Chief since October 2010 and has been a member of the West Bloomfield Police Department for 29 years. He has a master's degree in public administration from Oakland University and attended the FBI National Academy in 2004. He has served as the United We Walk Chairperson of the Walk Subcommittee and as Adult Co-Chairperson. He works and lives in West Bloomfield. He values diversity, promotes unity, underscores the worth of every person, and exemplifies all of United We Walk's MLK365 initiatives of caring, fairness, citizenship, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness. He mentors for social justice and peace, developing strong relationships with the following community groups:
  • West Bloomfield High School African American Awareness Club
  • West Bloomfield African American Parent Association
  • West Bloomfield School District Parent Communication Network
  • United We Walk
  • MLK365
  • West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce
  • Chaldean Chamber of Commerce
  • Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • West Bloomfield Clergy Association
  • Greater West Bloomfield Community Coalition
  • West Bloomfield Youth Assistance
  • West Bloomfield Civic Center TV
  • Middle Eastern American TV & Radio
  • West Bloomfield Optimist Club
  • Defeat the Label
  • WB Police Dept. Teaching, Educating, and Mentoring (TEAM) Program
  • Crime Prevention Association of Michigan
  • Crime Stoppers of Michigan
  • West Bloomfield Parks & Recreation
  • West Bloomfield Township Public Library

According to the October 5, 2010, edition of The Oakland Press, upon his appointment as Chief of the West Bloomfield Police Department, Chief Patton said, "I hope to be a unifying force within this department and the government of this township. Even after 25 years, I still look forward to coming to work every day." He also said that he would take steps to improve relations between the police department and the diverse membership of the community, stressing the importance of integrity.

Chief Michael Patton is a positive role model for all communities across America. He has strived to develop Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.'s, beloved community in the West Bloomfield community and beyond.
2014 - United We Walk XX "United We Remember, Celebrate, Act!"

Mr. Wesley Berry, Jr.
Wesley Berry, Jr., who is the owner of Wesley Berry Flowers and Flowers Delivery Express, is known for his involvement and support of community programs in West Bloomfield and surrounding areas. Wes is both personally and professionally committed to actions that year-round embrace caring, fairness, citizenship, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness. He can always be counted on to provide floral arrangements to service clubs or organizations, being either youth or senior-citizen focused. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Wes has committed himself to creating harmony among people. For the past 12 years he has given away over 240,000 roses on "Good Neighbor Day" in September and on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

Wesley Berry, Jr., served as President of the Optimist Club and is a member of the Rotary Club. He has served on the Board of Directors of the West Bloomfield Educational Foundation, Youth Assistance, and the Henry Ford Hospital Community Board. Wesley Berry, Jr., has been honored with the "Ring of Hope Award" for supporting programs for Autism. In 2012, he also was recognized by the Michigan District Optimist as the "Corporate Optimist of the Year" for his ongoing support for youth programs.
2013 - United We Walk XIX "Unity in the Community"

Mr. Brian Flaggs
Brian Flaggs exemplifies the United We Walk Community Leader model, because he lives the guidelines on a daily basis. Mr. Flaggs serves the Greater West Bloomfield area as an active parent and leader in a diverse school district who gives time, attention and resources to supporting all children. Through civic, social and religious organizations, he demonstrates respect for race, religion and ethnicity. Mr. Flaggs actively has served on virtually every committee relating to children, working to improve the effects and results of each mission.

As President of the Optimist Club of West Bloomfield, Mr. Flaggs single-handedly grew the club to include prospective members that reflect the diversity of our area.

Mr. Flaggs created a Saturday morning tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk African Americans, improving the academic standing of struggling students, while empowering and motivating them. Grades and attitudes toward school and relationships improved significantly.

Mr. Flaggs chaired the diversity-minded 18th Annual United We Walk, creating new energy and interest from committee members as well as other community leaders.

Most recently, he co-spearheaded an effort to begin a Junior Optimist Club for high school students with great success. To witness Brian Flaggs interacting with kids is a marvel in itself; they watch him intently, respect him, and most importantly, they are seized with interest as they listen to every word he speaks. Brian Flaggs is a teacher, a mentor, a doer, and a visionary who treats everyone with respect, fairness, and inclusion. He is someone who truly cares and works for the betterment of all society.
2012 - United We Walk XVIII "United We Build the Dream"

Mr. Dan Navarre
Dan Navarre's community leadership is unparalleled. Under his guidance, the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Department has continued to support all segments of the greater West Bloomfield Community with innovative programs and collaborative partnerships. Programs for senior citizens as well as youth have given residents a positive, social outlet and a sense of community pride. The partnerships forged with the Youth Coalition, school districts, library, the Optimists, and others show his endearing dedication to this community. The renovation of Marshbank Park has provided a world-class public facility for all residences. Mr. Navarre has successfully championed the purchase of the West Bloomfield/Commerce railroad to convert into a walking/jogging trail for all residents to enjoy. Dan is a former President of the Optimist Club of West Bloomfield and a dedicated member of several community organizations. Congratulations, Dan Navarre, for being selected as the Community Leader for 2012.
2011 - United We Walk XVII "United We Remember and Move Forward"

Ms. Clara N. Bohrer
The West Bloomfield Township Public Library is the 2011 recipient of the Community Leader Recognition Award. The West Bloomfield Township Public Library has been named one of 10 recipients of the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for museums and libraries. The annual award, made by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) since 1994, recognizes institutions (5 libraries and 5 museums) for outstanding social, educational, environmental, or economic contributions to their communities. Library Director, Clara N. Bohrer, Library Board President, Ken Macon and community representative Cameron Thomas-Shah received the prestigious National Medal Award in December 2010 at the White House. The Library was selected based on innovative public service, extensive outreach and collaboration with community partners, and positive impact on those served.
2010 - United We Walk XVI "United We Can"

Ms. Julie Rodecker Holly
Within the West Bloomfield School District, Ms. Holly has been instrumental in the funding and coor-dination of major events and programs that continue to benefit our students and district residents, some of these include Challenge Day, our Student Mentoring Program for freshmen, WeB leaders, Green School Garden, West Bloomfield Education Foundation, the Bond Community, Band Boosters, and PTO. Outside of these walls, Ms. Rodecker Holly is affiliated with the DeRoy Testimentary Foundation. This foundation is focused on funding youth, arts, culture, health, and community programs. A motivated, bright, and exceptional woman, we feel that Julie Rodecker Holly best embodies the award's distinction: she is a citizen we desire to commend for giving so selflessly to enhance our community.
2009 - United We Walk XV "United We Live"

Dr. JoAnn Andrees, Superintendent of West Bloomfield Schools
Dr. JoAnn Andrees, the first winner of the United We Walk Community Leader Recognition Award, was, among many other accomplishments, fundamental to the launch of the first United We Walk Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration. She is the two-time superintendent of West Bloomfield schools and has also spearheaded several diversity-minded initiatives within her district, including the Diversity and Stakeholders' Task Forces. The United We Walk Committee desired to honor Dr. Andrees for her constant and consistent contributions to West Bloomfield's social and educational community.