YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University is ready to celebrate the class of 2023 with two commencement speakers for its morning and afternoon ceremonies. Nicole Brown, mayor of Ypsilanti, and Hussein Berry, vice president of Airport Operations for Detroit Metro Airport and U.S. Central Region for Delta Airlines, will share memorable messages on Sunday, April 30, at Eastern’s George Gervin GameAbove Center, 799 N Hewitt Rd, Ypsilanti. Nearly 1,900 students are eligible to apply to graduate. 
“Nicole Brown is a great example of what motivated alums can go on to become with an EMU degree,” said Eastern Michigan University President James Smith. “She is committed to public service and shares her inspiring story to encourage students to excel in their chosen fields.” “We’re also grateful to have Hussein Berry, another leader who exemplifies agility and perseverance,” said Smith. “Hussein will offer wisdom from his important and wide-ranging experience in the transportation sector.”
The morning commencement will begin at 9:30 a.m. for graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, Individualized Studies, College of Education. The afternoon ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. for graduates from the College of Business, GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology, and the College of Health and Human Services.
Brown, a two-time EMU alumna, is the morning keynote speaker, and will receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters. Berry is the afternoon keynote speaker who will receive an honorary doctorate of commercial science.
About the speakers
Nicole Brown
Brown has served as the mayor of Ypsilanti since November 2022. She is the city’s youngest and first elected Black female mayor. Before being elected mayor, Brown served as a Ypsilanti council member for eight years and twice as Mayor Pro Tempore. She was the city’s youngest council member ever elected.
Brown has worked at Starfish Family Services in Wayne County for nine years, focusing on children’s mental health. She has served on Starfish’s behavioral health leadership team for eight years. Throughout her career, Brown has worked with youth, adults, and families in residential services, permanent supportive housing, employment, adult foster care, and youth development with houseless and underserved youth. She specializes in youth development, meaningful engagement, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. She also works as a clinical therapist via private practice.
Brown earned her undergraduate degree in communication and social work and her Master’s of Social Work from EMU. Currently, she serves on the EMU Alumni Association Board of Directors. In May 2018, Brown was honored as EMU’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award recipient.
Brown serves on many state-level committees and boards, including the Joint Peer Support Advisory Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Locally, Brown serves on the Washtenaw County Community Action Board and Our House, a non-profit serving youth transitioning to adulthood. Brown is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., where she serves as a secondary advisor to the Delta Beta chapter at EMU.
Hussein Berry
Berry has been the vice president of Airport Operations at Detroit Metro Airport since 2016. He oversees strategic operations of Delta’s Detroit hub and 18 airport operations within the U.S. Central Region. Berry oversees approximately 500 daily departures and over 4,500 Delta and business partner employees. He also serves as the executive sponsor of Delta’s global baggage operations. Through his leadership, Delta ranked No. 1 Department of Transportation industry position for the first time in 2022.
Berry began his career at Northwest Airlines, pushing wheelchairs, working on the ramp, and in customer service. He progressed to hold various financial and operational leadership positions in Detroit, Atlanta, and New York’s JFK airports.
Berry earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Davenport University. He earned his Master’s of Business Administration and Master’s of Science in industrial engineering from Wayne State University.
He spearheaded efforts to raise over $1 million for the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital, and also serves on the Regional Detroit Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Sub-Committee Board for Racial Justice and Economic Equity Board. In 2022, Berry was honored as the Professional of the Year by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University’s website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.
April 20, 2023
Written by:
Andrew Fogle
Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher
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