December 14, 2016 (Detroit)—The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) announced the election of four new board members at a board meeting on Wednesday, November 16. They are Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes, associate professor of sociology and African American studies at Northwestern University, Illinois; Tony Saunders, chief financial officer and chief restructuring officer for Wayne County; Padma Vattikuti, co-founder of the Vattikuti Foundation; and John D. Lewis, head of investment banking firm Donnelly Penman & Partners’ investment committee and advisory board member of the Donnelly Penman Fund, LLC.

“Our new board members are all leaders in their respective fields,” said Eugene A. Gargaro, Jr., DIA board chair. “Their love of art and dedication to improving our community will help the museum continue to grow and serve the diverse populations of Detroit and Michigan.”

Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes

Celeste Watkins-Hayes is an associate professor of sociology and African American studies at Northwestern University. She is widely recognized for her research on public policies and governmental agencies targeting low-income families and her work on the social and economic consequences of HIV/AIDS for Chicago-area women.

Watkins-Hayes is also a faculty fellow at Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research and Cells (C2S) to Society: The Center on Social Disparities and Health. She is former chair of the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern, one of the top African American Studies departments in the country and home to one of the few Ph.D. programs in African American Studies offered in the United States.

Watkins-Hayes holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from Harvard University and a B.A. from Spelman College, where she graduated summa cum laude. She serves on the board of trustees of Spelman College and the advisory board of the Spelman College Women’s Research and Resource Center.

Watkins-Hayes was born and raised in the Detroit area before leaving to attend Spelman College. She returned to Detroit, where her family still resides, five years ago with her husband and their two young children.

Tony Saunders

Tony Saunders is chief financial officer and chief reconstruction officer for Wayne County. Saunders was most recently a director at Conway MacKenzie, a turnaround and restructuring firm. Prior to joining Conway MacKenzie, Saunders was appointed as emergency manager for the city of Benton Harbor, MI. He has also served in advisory roles for the Michigan Department of Treasury and the Detroit City Council.

Saunders was a 2011 Crain's Detroit Business’ 20 in Their 20s honoree when he was chief of staff for former Detroit City Council member and president Saunteel Jenkins. Currently, he is deeply engaged in the restructuring of Wayne County’s $52 million deficit. Saunders is a former DIA Founders Junior Council board member and currently serves on the DIA board’s Learning and Interpretation committee.

Saunders is a graduate of the University of Michigan and serves as a member of the board of the Coalition on Temporary Shelter.

Padma Vattikuti

Padma Vattikuti, who was born in India, is co-founder of the Vattikuti Foundation, which serves communities in southeastern Michigan, as well as causes in India and other parts of the world. The foundation established the Vattikuti Urology Institute at Henry Ford Hospitals, the Vattikuti Digital Breast Diagnostic Center at Beaumont Hospitals in 2007, and more recently the Women's Health Care Center with Providence Hospitals. The foundation also creates infrastructure to reach people in poverty through the Poverty Alleviation Initiative Program in India.

Vattikuti has an undergraduate degree in sciences from RA University in Hyderabad, India and a master’s degree in biochemistry, genetics and nutrition from Venkateswara University, India. Vattikuti has served on the boards of Wayne State University’s Merrill Palmer Institute, Red Cross Southeastern Michigan Chapter, Michigan Asian Business Council, Pérez Art Museum Miami and as a member of the DIA auxiliary group Asian and Islamic Art Forum, now known as the Friends of Asian Arts and Culture.

Vattikuti is an avid art collector, with a special interest in Indian, Southeast Asian and contemporary art. The Vattikutis reside in Bloomfield Hills and Miami Beach.

John D. Lewis

John D. Lewis is head of the investment committee at the investment banking firm Donnelly Penman & Partners and an advisory board member of the Donnelly Penman Fund, LLC, which invests in small community start-up banks across the U.S. He joined Donnelly Penman from Comerica Bank, where he had a 36-year career. While at Comerica he served as vice chairman, director of Comerica Incorporated and Comerica Bank, and as a member of the management policy committee and management council. Lewis joined Flagstar in 2012 as nonexecutive  chairman of the boards of the company and the bank.

Lewis is active in leadership positions in many civic and community organizations, serving as nonexecutive chairman of Beaumont Health System and the University of Detroit Mercy. He also is a trustee of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and past chairman of the Greater Detroit Area Health Council and New Detroit, Inc. Lewis is the past vice-chairman of the DIA Board and former chair of the DIA’s Human Resources and Development committees. 

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.