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Plugging In – A candid look at Mark Stiers, Detroit LISC LAB Chair

By Lori Ella Miller
10.29.2018
Photo: Paul Engstrom
Photo: Paul Engstrom

When I interviewed Mark Stiers, President and Chief Operating Officer of DTE Energy’s DTE Gas, the intent was to develop a feature article that would shine a spotlight on the man who stepped into the role of Board Chair for Detroit LISC. But, Stiers is a man who prefers to shine the spotlight on his team, fellow board members and the community he serves.

Raised in the Windsor, Canada area, Stiers earned a master of business administration and an honors bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Windsor. Straight out of school he began his career in energy working in the finance department at a gas utility.

“I found the idea of providing a critical service (energy) to customers both intriguing and rewarding,” Stiers remembers. And his meteoric career established a path for how he could contribute more, and provided opportunities to give back to the community.

At age 53, Stiers serves as president and chief operating officer of DTE Gas, DTE Energy’s natural gas utility which provides service to 1.2 million homes and businesses throughout the state of Michigan He is responsible for all utility gas operations, gas sales and distribution as well as utility midstream transportation and storage services.

Prior to joining DTE Energy in 2006, Stiers was chief operating officer at Quest Energy, LLC, the largest alternative electricity supplier in Michigan and he simultaneously served as vice president of retail electric at WPS Energy Services, the parent company of Quest Energy. 

But, Stiers is also plugged into community service. According to Stiers, it is also DTE’s mission to be a force for growth and prosperity in the communities where we live and serve. “At DTE, we see this as more than an opportunity, but an obligation,” comments Stiers.

Photo: DTE's website
Photo: DTE's website

DTE has been a longtime a supporter of Detroit LISC. The partnership is one of synergy and collaboration. The two organizations share a common goal of working together to have a profound impact on the revitalization of the city.

“My focus is to be a catalyst in the community and to ensure that DTE is contributing the best it can,” Stiers points out. So, when he was asked to step into the role of LISC’s Local Advisory Board Chair, he says “it was a no brainer.”

LISC’s Local Advisory Board (LAB) is comprised of top-tier professionals from industries ranging from banking, education and nonprofit organizations. The LAB provides strategic direction for investments in the Detroit market and holds Detroit LISC accountable for performance and outcomes. It works directly with the LISC staff, including Executive Director Tahirih Ziegler.

“We were excited to have Mark as our new LAB Chair,” says Ziegler. “His professional experience and leadership skills will be invaluable to us and our work in metro Detroit.”

Stiers stresses that he is ready to push the boundaries. He believes his role and the role of the board is to not only advise, but to advocate. “Maybe that A in LAB should also stand for advocate rather than advise,” observes Stiers. “We each represent different organizations, both public and private, that can open doors and ensure that LISC is well understood, and well deployed within in Greater Detroit.”

Under his leadership he hopes to make the Detroit LAB the most engaged LAB in the country, and ensure greater success around LISC’s strategies for building sustainable communities.

Photo: Troy Anderson
Photo: Troy Anderson

Charting the Future

“Another thing that I’m passionate about is communications,” says Stiers. He and the LAB are working on expanding marketing activities and digital communications to ensure that LISC’s capabilities and mandates are well understood by others who are also working on impacting the renaissance of Detroit.

He continues to collaborate locally, as well as with the LISC national headquarters. According to Stiers, “We continue to work in partnership with national LISC, while we challenge ourselves to find unique and creative opportunities to accomplish our three mandates of affordable housing, economic development and neighborhood revitalization.”

In addition to his work with LISC, Stiers also serves as Treasurer of United Way in Southeastern Michigan, and on the community and economic development board for Advancing Macomb County. 

When Stiers is not busy being a change-maker and leader, he finds time to unplug and enjoy the beauty of Michigan by participating in his favorite pastimes of running and boating.