Whitmer makes pick to Wayne State board, as Trent joins her admin

By: - December 12, 2019 4:07 pm

Wayne State University | iStockphoto

Kim Trent has left the Wayne State University board to join the administration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

Kim Trent

Trent will join the leadership team of the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) beginning in January.

Whitmer announced Thursday she had appointed Shirley Stancato, a former nonprofit executive, in Trent’s place. The board has been marked recently by attempts to oust university President M. Roy Wilson. 

“It’s imperative to have someone on the board who will focus on addressing the problems that are currently facing Wayne State; we must put the students first,” Whitmer said in a statement. 

“I believe that Shirley will work with the board through civil and respectful discourse, to ensure that Wayne State University is focused on providing a high quality education to each student,” Whitmer continued. “Shirley is bringing an impressive leadership and advocacy background to the board, which is what Wayne State University needs to be even more successful.”

Stancato previously worked as the president and CEO of New Detroit Inc., a coalition focused on racial understanding and racial equity in the Detroit area. She also worked as an executive at Chase Bank and graduated with both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wayne State.  

Shirley Stancato

“As a proud alumna, I’m honored that I have been selected to serve the students, staff, and alumni of Wayne State University. This is not a position that I take lightly,” Stancato said in a statement. “Throughout my career, I’ve been dedicated to advocating and elevating under-represented individuals. I will serve on the board with the mission of upholding and championing the positive reputation that Wayne State is known for.” 

Stancato’s appointment is effective immediately and she will serve the remainder of Trent’s term, running through Jan. 1, 2021.

This is the second appointment to a state university board that Whitmer has made this month. The governor picked Renee Knake, a law professor, legal ethics expert and author, to fill a slot on the Michigan State University board of trustees, which has dealt with the fallout of the former Dr. Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal. Knake replaced Nancy Schlichting, who resigned citing transparency concerns among fellow trustees. She had only been appointed in December 2018 by Whitmer’s predecessor, Gov. Rick Snyder.

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Trent currently works as a senior vice president of corporate and civic engagement for Compass Strategies. She also received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wayne State. Trent previously worked as a Detroit News reporter and served on the staffs of former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Detroit), U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

“We’re excited to have Kim join our leadership team,” LEO Director Jeff Donofrio said in a statement. “Kim brings a wealth of experience which will be invaluable as we tackle issues of poverty and inequality and work to expand economic opportunity for all Michiganders.” 

Disclosure: Trent is married to Advance reporter Ken Coleman.

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.