DESC brings in Marie Hocker from Ford to lead Mayor Duggan's ‘Grow Detroit's Young Talent’ initiative

City of Detroit workforce agency Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) announced today that Marie Hocker has joined DESC from Ford Motor Company as Executive Director of the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) program.

Hocker, who joins DESC after ten years at Ford Motor Company, most recently as Local Affairs Manager, will report to Interim DESC President and CEO Terri Weems, and will lead efforts to raise the $12 million in annual funding required to support the GDYT initiative which has seen over 8,000 youth employed in summer jobs each of the last four years.

Prior to joining DESC, Hocker spent ten years at Ford Motor Company where among other things she focused on workforce development planning for autonomous vehicles and worked with Ford Labor Affairs, UAW-Ford and community college partners on multi-million-dollar training grants.

“Marie joins us with a wealth of experience that will be invaluable as she leads the effort to further develop philanthropic and corporate partner relationships.” said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, Executive Director of Workforce Development for the City, who will continue to work closely with Marie. “She is also a native Detroiter with first-hand experience of the challenges Detroit youth face every day.”

Launched in 2015 by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, GDYT is the city’s biggest summer youth program, providing a wide range of employment opportunities for Detroit youth age 14-24 using a model customized to the age and experience of each youth participant, from first-time work opportunities to dedicated career-pathway programs for more experienced participants.

The GDYT application window opens for Detroit youth every year in early February and runs through March, with youth starting their six-week employment opportunities in July.

“As someone whose career started as a paid intern with Ford, I’m very aware of the impact that GDYT can have on the lives of Detroit’s next generation of talent” said Hocker. “The city’s youth are now relying on this program to be there for them every summer and give them the opportunities they need to prepare for life.

“I’m excited to be a part of the team that does this important work, and to work with the many corporate, philanthropic and community partners that are so dedicated to helping our youth build confidence in their ability to achieve.”

Hocker took up her new position August 5 and replaces Jason Lee who was recently named CEO of Junior Achievement of Southeast Michigan


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Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) is the City of Detroit's workforce agency and the fiscal and administrative agent of the Mayor's Workforce Development Board (MWDB) appointed by the Mayor of Detroit. It is also the lead partner of Grow Detroit's Young Talent (GDYT), an initiative launched by Mayor Mike Duggan in 2015. GDYT is a six-week summer youth employment program that combines work readiness training with on-the-job experience designed to prepare Detroiters ages 14-24 for long term employment through Detroit at Work and has provided summer jobs for over 8,000 Detroit youth in each of the last four years. For more information about Grow Detroit's Young Talent, visit



Marie Hocker