Spark of Hope Gala 2018





SAVE THE DATE – MAY 19, 2018


Please join us at our annual Spark of Hope Tribute Gala on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at the Renaissance Center’s GM Wintergarden. The evening’s festivities include a delicious seated dinner from Andiamo, fun entertainment, exciting silent and live auctions, and the company of like-minded philanthropic leaders.The gala will also honor two of Life Directions’ strongest supporters for their contributions to the young people of Detroit – Terrence B. Larkin, Executive VP, Business Development and General Counsel, Lear Corporation and Life Directions Board of Trustees Chairman, and Jack Aronson, Founder of Clean Planet Foods.


The funds raised at the gala will support Life Directions’ mission and play an imperative role in funding the impactful program of mentorship we provide our local youth.


Inspire your peers to support the 2018 Spark of Hope Gala with an event sponsorship, donating auction items, and purchasing tickets to help raise funds for youth in Detroit.


For more information please contact: Danielle Hilliker, Executive Director at

Frank Venegas, Jr
Guiding Light Honoree
Frank Venegas, Jr
2017 Guiding Light Honoree

Frank Venegas, Jr. is the Chairman and CEO of the Ideal Group, with annual revenues approaching $250 million, employing 500 people and headquartered in Southwest Detroit. An innovative business leader, Venegas has developed seven diverse companies sharing common corporate values and culture. The Ideal enterprises deliver innovative facility solutions to their customers (Construction Services, Ideal Shield patented products, Indirect Material Management and Surplus industrial machinery, equipment and parts). Venegas, an entrepreneur and the grandson of Mexican immigrants, began his first company with a “little bit of luck.” In 1979, he won a Cadillac in a Home Builders’ Association raffle. Venegas sold the car for $12,000 and used the proceeds as the initial capital investment to start his first company. In 2000, Venegas opened Ideal Group headquarters on the same land in Southwest Detroit where General Motors manufactured that lucky 1979 Cadillac.

Venegas is a past Co-Chair of the General Motors Supplier Diversity Council and is a current member of the General Motors Global Supplier Council. He credits much of his business growth to the GM Supplier Diversity Program and the buyers that operated as true mentors over the years. GM has awarded Ideal companies ten of its prestigious Global Supplier of the Year Awards. Ideal Group is one of four GM worldwide suppliers to earn GM’s inaugural Overdrive Award for Sustainability. Venegas also sits on the DTE Energy Supplier Advisory Council. Governor Richard Snyder appointed Venegas as a member of the State of Michigan’s Governor’s Talent Investment Board.

Venegas is an active board member on the following boards: Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Science Center and a past Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board member. Committed to Metro Detroit, he serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Detroit Hispanic Development Council (DHDC) and is active at Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) and LA SED. The Venegas family facilitates access to educational opportunities, internships and mentoring programs for Detroit Cristo Rey High School (DCRHS) and its students. Recently, Venegas sponsored dual enrollment for fifty-eight seniors at Marygrove College.

An often requested keynote speaker, Venegas’ most notable commendations include: The Government of Mexico’s Ohtli Award, The Automotive Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award, Dartmouth College Martin Luther King Award for Ongoing Commitment, JVS Strictly Business Leadership Award, National Minority Business Development Council MBE Supplier of the Year; United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Man of the Year, Urban Wheels Lifetime Achievement Award the Year and multiple national product and safety awards. Venegas sits on the university advisory councils for The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan-Dearborn, CASL.

Joan Duggan
Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Joan Duggan
2017 Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Joan Duggan has spent her life helping others and working with people to help them improve their lives. Spanning three decades, Life Directions first became connected with Joan in the early 80s through her work with the first-time offenders program in Wayne County. She joined Life Directions staff in 1991. As a director, she was instrumental in raising the necessary funds to increase our programs. Her accomplishments include:

  • Securing a major 5-year $500,000.00 grant from the Skillman Foundation to get to the cause of violence in the Brewsters and Jeffries Projects working with Murray-Wright High School and their feeder schools. Our programs increased school attendance, raised test scores and had positive Peer to Peer inspiration throughout the school and the neighborhoods. Through this grant U of M Dearborn conducted a yearly evaluation that demonstrated major accomplishment from Life Directions program including less violence, gang reduction and increased school attendance.

  • Spearheading in 1994 Life Directions’ staff to become the facilitator of a multi high school assembly process to lower the tensions created by the killing of children at that time. Crafting the proposal for a “National Training Institute for Life Directions” in 1996. We to this day still use elements of the model as we train volunteers, adult mentors, staff and boards.

  • Increasing attendance and funding through our annual Tribute event allowing us to increase programing and serving Southwestern, Western, Northwestern, Cody, Henry Ford, Martin Luther King, Jr., Denby and Murray Wright High schools and their feeder schools.

Joan is a former registered nurse who was an executive assistant to Ed McNamara when he was mayor of Livonia, and ran for the office herself in 1986, becoming the first woman to do so. She is married to Patrick J. Duggan since 1957. Their sons include Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Dan, Jim, Tim, and Robert (deceased), and 13 grandchildren.

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