This month, for Women’s History Month, the DPS Foundation has highlighted accomplished alumnae of the Detroit Public Schools/Community District. All of these women are making a difference in the lives of people across the world and what they all have in common is that they are DPS Proud!


Karinda L. Washington

This Nolan and Martin Luther King high school graduate is the Acting Assistant Secretary for Partnership and Engagement within the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Washington, DC. Karinda Washington attributes her success to her experiences in Detroit where she was able to work with a number of smaller nonprofits and marry the nonprofit world to the work involved in government. “It is a blessing to have this position and to raise the voices of those who have been and continue to be underrepresented,” Karinda says of her work. She says “DPS for me was an experience where I could get a top notch education which prepared me for my collegiate experience at Eastern Michigan University”.  She took Latin in high school and visited Italy in her junior year.  

Read more about Karinda on our website, click here 


Maria Salinas

Maria was born and raised in Southwest Detroit and has dedicated her life to her community. She founded Congress of Communities, a nonprofit that assists children in successfully entering and exiting higher education and has continued to build upon her knowledge by completing certifications addressing Environmental Issues, Leadership Development and Social Justice. Maria notes “Growing up in southwest Detroit and attending Detroit Public Schools grounded me at so many levels. My time at Detroit Public Schools made me who I am today.” 

Read why Maria is #DPSProud on our website, click here.


Sydney James

A Cass Technical High School graduate, Sydney’s art can be seen in every corner of Detroit; the artist behind the portraits and murals of Black faces on massive spaces.  After seven years in Los Angeles, she returned to her hometown of Detroit which she considers ‘the perfect canvas’ for her murals. Ms. James says “Cass taught me what I need to know now, to do what I do”.  She received a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts from the Center for Creative Studies.  Sydney inspires young artists from around the world to “work hard; be in the right circles; be a good person; be good to others; and, there will be endless possibilities.” Celebrate with us by reading more about Sydney on our website, click here.


Dr. Shantalea Johns

She attended Bunche Elementary, Miller Middle School (where she met her husband) and Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School, graduating in 2002. Dr. Johns grew up on Detroit’s east side and was a ward of the State until she was 18 years old. She says, ‘there were indeed grand-scale societal problems in my community, but there was also a glimpse of hope. This hope came from the many DPS teachers who saw beyond my reserved nature and adverse background and allowed me to engage in programs that helped me expand my thinking about what was possible for my life.’ Her teachers also taught the importance of advocacy, which led to her getting a bachelor’s and master’s in social work, a college and university teaching certificate and getting her doctorate in Education. Much of her work to date has focused on African-American adolescents. Dr. John’s long-term goal is to continue to work on meaningful projects that create societal change in urban communities through social work principles and political activity. Dr. Shantalea Johns is currently Director, Office of Continuing and Interprofessional Education at Wayne State’s University School of Social Work.

We salute Dr. Shantalea Johns who is #DPSProud


Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence 

As we end our celebration of Women’s History Month, we highlight the service of DPS graduate, the Honorable Brenda Lawerence. Congresswoman Lawrence was raised by her grandparents on Detroit’s northeast side. She is a graduate of Pershing High School where at an early age she notes she learned to break through racial stereotypes. “I didn’t think I was smart. I thought academic achievement was something I couldn’t have,” Congresswoman Lawrence says. She goes on to explain a counselor at Pershing, Ms. Fitch was instrumental in her success. She encouraged me to “…always give the best that you have.” A life of public service, she worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years and has served as an elected official for more than 20 years. She is currently a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 14th Congressional District….and she is #DPSProud!