James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award

The James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award recognizes Black alumni that have made significant contributions of time and effort to Albion College and its students.

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2023 James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award Recipient

Reginald K. Harris, ’90

Owner, Shuga-Me Desserts
Auburn Hills, Michigan

After 25 years as an account executive, Reginald (Reggie) Harris turned his love of baking as a hobby into an entrepreneurial passion. In 2022, after his team finished in the top three in the Food Network series Halloween Wars, Reggie opened Shuga-Me Desserts in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The bakery is named in memory of his late mother, Dorothy “Shuga-Me” Smith, and its cakes have become nationally renowned. Reggie’s mother passed away in 2014, and his wife was diagnosed with cancer around the same time. Though a heartbreaking year, Harris says it was also the beginning of his family’s future, as it led to him opening his bakery. Reggie’s commitment to family, achievement and the positive representation of Black entrepreneurs makes him a model of professional excellence for Albion College students.

Since graduating from Albion in 1990 with a degree in Economics & Management, Reggie has broken professional barriers in the fields of sales, customer service and branding. He excels at establishing relationships and finding creative ways to communicate, engage and sell products.

2022 James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award Recipient

Dr. Michael Jackson, ’85

Physician/founder, Regenerative Medicine of Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa

Michael Jackson, Albion College Class of 1985Michael Jackson’s expertise in rehabilitation medicine comes from an extensive background with athletes and manufacturing professionals and their varied needs and concerns. Jackson has worked with collegiate athletic programs, including at the University of Toledo, Niagara University and Michigan State University, and has served as an on-site physician for the NCAA basketball and hockey championships. He has directed medical programs for automotive supply manufacturers in New York and Michigan, including service as Delphi’s global medicine program director. With a desire to return to private practice he founded an occupational medicine clinic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Prior to founding his current venture, Regenerative Medicine of Iowa, Dr. Jackson was a principal of Regenexx Des Moines, where he specialized in interventional orthopedics. Michael was a member of Albion’s football team as a student and continues to support the Black Student Alliance.

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2021 James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award Recipient

Coletta Thomas, ’76

Common Ground Sanctuary

Newly retired this summer, Coletta spent the past 14 years with Common Ground Sanctuary, a behavioral health agency focused on youth and families in crisis. Thomas joined Common Ground as an inpatient and outpatient therapist at their runaway shelter, then moved to directing the crisis assessment team and the mobile services and crisis telephone line programs. Coletta taught for 25 years at the Detroit Institute of Commerce, General Motors Pontiac Skills Center, and the Michigan School for Professional Psychology, where she earned her own Psy.D. in clinical and humanistic psychology. Coletta has served on Albion’s Board of Trustees, headed the Alumni Board, established the Black Alumni Chapter Facebook page, served as an Admission volunteer, and been active with capital campaigns and a presidential search. A certified master gardener who also holds a certificate in Detroit/Motown style ballroom dancing, Coletta shares her Beverly Hills home with son Quinn Thomas, ’01, a psychologist in private practice.

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2020 Inaugural James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award Recipient

Darrell Williams, ’77

Advantage Health Care Centers

Williams practices dentistry with Advantage Health Care Centers, providing his services to underserved communities in the Detroit area. He also provides free dental screenings and referrals for elementary schools in marginalized Detroit neighborhoods. Additionally, he works with local youth, volunteers his time, created with his wife, Yolanda, the Troy & Shirley Williams Scholarship to help minority students at Albion, and in 2014 was ordained as an elder in the Faith Tabernacle Worship Ministries in Southfield.

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About Dr. James L. Curtis, ’44

Dr. James Curtis grew up in Albion, received his biology degree from Albion College in ’44 and his M.D. from the University of Michigan in ’46. Thus began a successful career in psychiatry. Mostly based in New York, Dr. Curtis’ research and service to students and patients fueled his rise to become clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, associate dean of Cornell University Medical College, and director of psychiatry at Harlem Hospital Center. Additionally, his commitment to many professional organizations established Dr. Curtis as a true leader in his field.

In 1968, Dr. Jim Curtis was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award from Albion College. He returned to Albion following his retirement in 2003 and continues to play a vital role in the life of his hometown community. In 2008, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Albion High School; in 2014 he received an honorary doctor of science degree from the University of Michigan.

To this day, Dr. Curtis is deeply involved—and invested—in the success of children from Albion. In recent years, he has directed his endowed scholarship at the College to benefit area students, including those participating in the Build Albion Fellows program, which since 2015 has provided full tuition, housing and meals to more than 30 students who attended local public schools in exchange for service in the community.