Board of Directors

Shekia Johnson, Vice President

As the Vice President of SYA, Shekia Johnson is passionately committed to the development of youth. She strives to provide educational resources and support, aiming to inspire children to explore a world of possibilities and pursue positive paths. 

Shekia, a Detroit native, also serves as the Initial Credentialing Coordinator at Trinity Health. She holds a Master of Science in Health Informatics from Walden University and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Wayne State University. 

A mother to her son, she is an active member of the Order of Eastern Stars and frequently volunteers in her community. Having worked in healthcare since 2014, Shekia aspires to evolve her career into a Healthcare Implementation Analyst role. Her personal interests include sports, family time, and dancing.

Taylor Graham

Taylor, a dedicated mental health professional, has been deeply committed to community service, particularly in supporting the youth of Southfield. Since joining SYA in 2021, she has been an integral part of the organization, using her expertise to empower and serve the local youth.

In her tenure on the board, Taylor has led several successful fundraising events, demonstrating her leadership skills and dedication to SYA’s mission. Her efforts and commitment were acknowledged in 2022-2023 when she was elected as the Term President of SYA, a position she embraces with enthusiasm. Taylor’s passion for helping the youth of Southfield flourish is a cornerstone of her work with SYA.

Matthew High, B.A., J.D.

Matthew High, an Associate Attorney at Wilson Elser, has a diverse legal practice encompassing various aspects of civil litigation. He represents both established businesses and individuals, specializing in the defense of clients across employment law, commercial litigation, automobile liability, and general liability matters.

Matthew’s dedication to professional growth and development is evident in his daily efforts to make a positive impact within the community. Additionally, he has recently been elected as the Vice President, a role that further demonstrates his commitment to leadership and service in his professional and community endeavors.

Bill Shelmon, M.B.A.

Bill Shelmon, M.B.A., has been a dedicated member of SYA for approximately ten years, playing a pivotal role in the organization’s efforts to support the youth of Southfield and Lathrup Village. His tenure at SYA began as a board member, where he immediately immersed himself in the organization’s activities and goals. Bill’s leadership journey within SYA saw him taking on significant roles, including a six-year stint as Treasurer and a six-month term as Secretary, showcasing his versatility and commitment to the organization’s financial and administrative health.

Beyond his executive roles, Bill has been instrumental in chairing key SYA events and programs. He has led initiatives like the Youth Recognition chair and Money Mentors chair, directly engaging with the community’s youth. These roles have enabled him to serve as a positive role model, offering guidance and support to young individuals. His long-standing residency in the community further deepens his commitment to SYA, reflecting his personal dedication to nurturing the potential and growth of young people in his hometown.

Swami Seetharaman, B.SC., M.F.M.

As the elected treasurer for the 2022-2023 term and the interim treasurer for 2023-2024, I am committed to managing the financial responsibilities of SYA with diligence and transparency. I joined the organization in September 2021, driven by my passion for mentoring youth at risk of leaving the school system.

The alignment of SYA’s mission with my personal objectives is the reason I chose to serve here. I am always ready to offer my services and skills where needed. Additionally, I take great pleasure in mentoring 9th-grade boys through the ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ program.

Kalaethia Hawkins-Burton, Esq.

I began my journey with SYA in November 2019, motivated by a desire to volunteer and contribute to my community. Discovering SYA’s website, I was captivated by its mission and the support it offers to families in Southfield and Lathrup Village.

In 2020, I was elected as Co-President for a one-year term, a role in which I thoroughly enjoyed serving the youth of Southfield, MI. My commitment to SYA remains strong, as I’ve seen how its resources profoundly benefit the students. I’m excited about the future prospects for SYA and the communities we serve.

Kris, Landers, LLMSW, SYA Caseworker

Kris Landers, has over 20 years of expertise as a counselor and has dedicated his career to aiding youth and their families. He excels in creating strategic approaches to address and resolve complex family issues. In his role as a caseworker with SYA, Kris provides short-term, confidential counseling services to both young individuals and their families. His approach is holistic, focusing on fostering communication, understanding, and problem-solving skills within families.

The benefits of his counseling extend beyond immediate solutions, contributing to long-term familial harmony and personal growth for the youth. These services, aimed at nurturing stronger family bonds and empowering youth, are accessible and affordable, requiring only a minimal, one-time processing fee.

Ms. Wilsie, Calhoun, Secretary

Wilsie, who lives in the Southfield community, holds two MBAs: one in Strategic Management from Davenport University and another in Human Resources Management from Central Michigan University. 

She is known for her excellent organizational skills, attention to detail, and high motivation. Wilsie, noted for her adaptability and resilience, occupies the part-time role of Secretary at Southfield Youth Assistance (SYA). In this capacity, she significantly contributes to the SYA team, primarily by improving the efficiency of their business operations and aiding in the achievement of their programmatic objectives.