Fire chief, councilman recognized for community efforts

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published July 26, 2017

 Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee was given a Michigan Chronicle Men of Excellence Award June 30 in Detroit for his involvement in the community. Menifee was sworn in as chief last year.

Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee was given a Michigan Chronicle Men of Excellence Award June 30 in Detroit for his involvement in the community. Menifee was sworn in as chief last year.

Photo provided by the city of Southfield

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SOUTHFIELD —  Fire Chief Johnny Menifee and Southfield City Councilman Lloyd Crews were recognized last month by the Michigan Chronicle for their involvement in the community.

The Michigan Chronicle — a Detroit-based African-American newspaper — hosts the Men of Excellence awards annually to celebrate African-American men who inspire others through their success in business, community involvement and philanthropy, according to organizers.
Menifee and Crews were presented with the awards June 30 at MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit.

Honorees were chosen from over 400 nominations, according to the Michigan Chronicle website. Menifee and Crews both said nominations must come from a previous winner of the award.

“It was an honor. I didn’t know what to expect at first,” Menifee said. “I can remember when I was young, my grandpa would read the Michigan Chronicle all the time. I was quite honored to be in company with so many other men that are doing positive things in the community and to be one of those that are trying to make a difference. It was very fulfilling to have my family there to see me receive the award.”

Crews said he was also honored to receive the award.

“It was honestly kind of overwhelming. To have all the support of family, friends and the community was a very humbling, very proud experience to be selected, and I was glad to be part of that,” Crews said. “I was glad to be able to experience it with my son, who is 14 years old. He got a chance to see a group of established and talented African-American leaders in the community, and that was a high point for me — for him to be a part of it as well.”

Mayor Ken Siver said Crews is a role model in the community.

“Dr. Crews is always a pleasure to work with and is a true ‘Man of Excellence,’” Siver said in a written statement. “His efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are admirable, and he works tirelessly to help Southfield’s youth and all residents. Dr. Crews is not only a leader in our community, but also a role model and someone who is truly making a difference.”

City Administrator Fred Zorn said the city is thrilled that Menifee received the award.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Chief Menifee has a proven track record in leadership and philanthropy,” Zorn said in a written statement. “He is a well-respected leader and consistently upholds the high standards of the city of Southfield.”

Last summer, Menifee was sworn in as fire chief. According to a news release from Community Relations Director Michael Manion, Menifee has been with the Southfield Fire Department for more than two decades, beginning his service as a fire cadet/firefighter in 1993.

Menifee climbed the ranks in the department, serving in progressively more responsible supervisory positions, including as acting battalion chief, captain, lieutenant and EMT/paramedic, and as the department’s training and safety officer.

The chief holds a Bachelor of Science degree in public safety from Sienna Heights University in addition to a Master of Science in technology studies with a concentration in homeland security and emergency management from Eastern Michigan University.

Manion said Menifee fulfilled Staff and Command Executive Officer training with honors and has been invited back as a guest instructor at the university level. He is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, with a certification as New Fire Chief II, Administrative Issues, and is an instructor at the Fire Training Institute at Oakland Community College — where he has been a three-time recipient of top instructor.

Menifee has established a mentoring program for students in the Southfield Public Schools district, with the goal of improving grades and building leadership skills. He is involved with various nonprofits, including the Goodfellows, Shop with a Hero, the Axmen motorcycle club and the Children’s Toothfairy Foundation. Each year, he and his wife conduct the Menifee Family Holiday gift drive to donate toys to children during the holidays.

Crews was appointed councilman in 2015 and currently sits as council president pro-tem. He holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in political science from Clark Atlanta University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational leadership and policy studies from Wayne State University.

He has worked in higher education for over 15 years, beginning at Wayne State University, followed by a position at Oakland Community College, serving as dean of the Royal Oak and Southfield campuses for the past 12 years. 

In August 2014, Crews took a role as a tenured professor of political science at OCC. He coordinated the first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day convocation at OCC, and created SAFE Zones on campus for LGBTQ students. He served as a chairperson on the OCC Sustainability Committee, which promotes environmentally friendly practices.

Crews was awarded the Cultural Diversity Award by the Michigan College Personnel Association, the Diversity Award from the Bloomfield/Birmingham Diversity Taskforce and 40 under 40 Awards from both Oakland County and the Michigan Chronicle. Crews also served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of South Oakland County and the American Red Cross of Southeastern Michigan. He is a member of the Southfield Partnership Council, the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and the MLK Jr. Diversity Taskforce, and is past president of the Michigan College Personnel Association.

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