Spark Of Hope Gala 2024
Date: Saturday, May 11

Life Directions Guiding Light Honoree

Andra Rush
Founder and CEO of The Rush Group

Andra Rush is the founder and CEO of The Rush Group, one of the largest Native American and woman-owned enterprises in the United States. She is also a nationally recognized changemaker, committed to improving the quality of life for future generations.

The cornerstone of The Rush Group is Dakkota, which generates sustainable career opportunities in underrepresented communities across the United States and Canada. The company’s vision is to run the most trusted, inclusive, and purpose-driven manufacturing plants, helping transform the communities where they operate.

Dakkota has repeatedly won top honors as a supplier because of its innovation, quality, and diversity practices. Currently, the company provides complex assembly of automotive interior and exterior components as well as material sequencing services to manufacturers such as General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Ford.

Andra is known for applying creative and pragmatic thinking to improve the manufacturing sector in the United States to drive economic and workforce growth. President Barack Obama, during his 2014 State of the Union Address, acknowledged Andra by name for creating hundreds of manufacturing jobs in Detroit with the first plant opening in the city in decades. She served as a member of the U.S. Manufacturing Council, a private sector panel that regularly advises and proposes solutions to the U.S. Commerce Secretary.

In recognition to her instrumental involvement in rebuilding Detroit, she was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame for innovative job creation and manufacturing ingenuity as well as the Michigan Businesswomen Hall of Fame and Michigan Minority Business Hall of Fame.

Currently, she serves on the board of directors of Terex Corporation, Women Presidents’ Organization, Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, Business Leaders for Michigan, Detroit Economic Club, Detroit Mayor Workforce Board, and the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

Active in philanthropic organizations, she is also on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the United Way of Southeast Michigan. Her newest focus is finding clean, sustainable water solutions around the globe and affordable housing.

Tickets and Sponsorship

Life Directions Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Rev. John E. Phelps, C.Ss.R.
President of Life Directions

In 1973, Fr. John Phelps co-founded a nonprofit organization to motivate young adults “at risk” (11-35) to mature into responsible, productive adults through self-direction. Life Directions sprouted from the vision of five young adults in Detroit who wanted to address the unprecedented level of violence occurring in the city of Detroit. Those young adults became the Co-Founders of Life Directions, Fr. Alex Steinmiller, CP, Sister Rosalie Esquerra, OP and Alexander and Judith MacDonald. It is through their partnership Life Directions has remained a voice for those most at risk for 51 years!

Fr. John has received countless recognitions for his work with youth, young adults, and families. To summarize the accomplishments of his leadership would be an impossible task.

He was presented the Humanitarian Award (1975) from Southwestern High School of Detroit for outstanding community service; a Civic Citation Award (1982) from the City of Detroit; and a Tribute of Recognition (1987) from the State Legislature for his work with Detroit youth. Articles about his work have been written in the Detroit News and Free Press and Michigan Chronicle.

He has been a guest speaker on several radio and television programs including “Kelly and Company”, David Newman Show – WJR, and J.P. McCarthy’s “Focus”, because of his in-depth insights and concerns for young people. He has spoken on Chicago’s WGN-TV and WLS-TV as well as a number of radio interviews.