Nathan Forbes, managing partner of The Forbes Company and vice chairman of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Lolita Hernandez, award-winning author and poet, will be the keynote speakers at University of Michigan-Dearborn’s commencement ceremonies on Sunday, April 27.
Forbes will speak at the morning ceremony, beginning at 10 a.m., for graduates of the University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Business and College of Education, Health, and Human Services. Hernandez will speak at the afternoon ceremony, beginning at 3 p.m., for graduates of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters.
Student Zidong Li, alumna Nancy Gioia and associate professor of education Julie Taylor also will speak during the morning ceremony, while student Wedad Ibrahim, alumnus Kim Lahti and professor of English, literature and humanities Deborah Smith Pollard will give remarks during the afternoon ceremony. Additional speakers will include UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little and Kate Davy, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Nathan Forbes is the managing partner of The Forbes Company and vice chairman of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Forbes Company is a nationally recognized developer, owner and manager of luxury shopping destinations throughout Michigan and Florida, including the Somerset Collection in Troy. It recently announced a new retail project at Miami Worldcenter, which is slated to break ground in 2014.
Forbes has invested in several companies throughout the Midwest. In 2002, he was part of a small group of investors that purchased Quicken Loans (which today consists of Quicken Loans, Rock Financial and Title Source) from Intuit Inc.
He also was part of an investor group that acquired the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball club of the National Basketball Association in 2005. The group renovated the Quicken Loans Arena (known as “The Q”) to include new seats, state-of-the-art scoreboards, video systems, sound systems, arena graphics, signage, security, locker room, suite upgrades, as well as the new state-of-the-art 55,000 square foot Cavalier Practice Facility named Cleveland Clinic Courts.
In 2006, Forbes was part of an investor group that acquired and currently operates Fathead LLC, which licenses and sells life-size colorful wall graphics.
In 2009, Forbes backed a state constitutional amendment bringing casino gaming to Ohio. Rock Gaming owns and operates casinos in the downtowns of Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit and one currently under construction in Baltimore, Maryland. Rock Gaming also owns and operates Thistledown Racino Racetrack in Cleveland, Ohio.
Forbes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and chairs the Greater Detroit Campaign Leadership Council for the Victors for Michigan Campaign. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Karmanos Cancer Institute and on the College for Creative Studies Board of Trustees.
Forbes is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and the Young Presidents’ Organization. He has also been recognized for his leadership in the Detroit area by receiving an honor of recognition as Detroit Newsmaker of The Year finalist.
Lolita Hernandez is the author of Autopsy of an Engine and Other Stories from the Cadillac Plant (Coffee House Press), winner of a 2005 PEN Beyond Margins Award. She also is the author of two chapbook collections of poems: Quiet Battles (Wayne State University Writers Forum) and snakecrossing (Ridgeway Press). Her collection of short fiction, Making Callaloo in Detroit, is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press in spring 2014. Her work appears in many literary publications, including The Iowa Review, The Michigan Quarterly, Abandon Automobile, Dispatch, Seeds, The Biannual Literary Journal of the Sisters of Color, Hipology and La Onda Latina en Poesía.
Hernandez has read from her works internationally and nationally, including the 2006 Calabash Literary Festival in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, and the 2005 Windsor, Ontario, Canada Book Festival, as well as the 2006 Houston Arts Festival.
She taught creative writing at the Western Wayne Correctional Facility and compiled the resulting work into an anthology, Gittin Down: Profiles from Michigan Prison Writers. In addition, she taught creative writing at the Wayne State University Labor School, sociology and composition at the Detroit College of Business, as well as Diversity in Society online for Davenport University.
She worked for the UAW in the UAW-GM Quality Network, where she facilitated quality processes at UAW-GM plants. She also was the first woman to achieve a UAW journeyman card in Experimental Product Engineering Layout and Assembly at the Cadillac Engineering facility. On July 1, 2006, she retired from General Motors after 33.6 years, still maintaining membership in the UAW Local 160 Retirees Chapter.
For many years, Hernandez served on the UM-Dearborn Women’s and Gender Studies Advisory Board, and spent two years as chair of that board. In this role she created networking and mentoring opportunities for our students with leaders for social justice in Metropolitan Detroit. She also was active in launching an after-school mentoring program for middle school girls in Southwest Detroit, and assisted UM-Dearborn students in developing writing workshops for that program.
Hernandez has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the Vermont College of Norwich University, a B.A. in journalism from Wayne State University, and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan. Hernandez is currently a lecturer in the Residential College Creative Writing Department of the University of Michigan.