Hero Panel


  • Benton Harbor Area Schools

    Benton Harbor Committee Logo



Operating Plan


  • Presentation

    View the Presentation

    The Benton Harbor Area Schools draft Assessment Report and Academic and Financial Operation Plan presentation.

Operating Plan


  • Appendix

    View the Appendix

    The Benton Harbor Area Schools draft Operating Plan source documents.



  • Benton Harbor Area Schools Advisory Committee Logo

    Working together to identify challenges, risks, and solutions so Michigan’s communities, local government units and schools can achieve financial stability.




  • Subscribe

    Sign up to receive the Benton Harbor Area Schools Advisory Committee's most current events and information.

    Get Signed Up

Take the Survey

  • Survey

    The survey has closed.

    Thank you for your participation.



Member Bios

  • Deputy Treasurer Joyce A. Parker

    Head Shot Photo of Joyce A. Parker

    Joyce A. Parker, Deputy Treasurer

    Michigan Department of Treasury Representative

    Chair, Voting Member

    Joyce was named Deputy Treasurer in July of 2019. She is an experienced administrator, having managed suburban communities, urban cities and charter townships with rapid growth and development. She is a credentialed city manager and has developed budgets up to $250 million and led organizations with 800 employees.​

  • Rev. Maurice L. McAfee

    Head Shot Photo of Rev. Maurice L. McAfee

    Rev. Maurice L. McAfee

    Ministerial Alliance Representative​

    Vice Chair, Voting Member

    Maurice accepted his calling into the Ministry in 1993.  He served faithful under the tutelage and guidance of the late Rev. Milton McAfee.  He served diligently as an associate minister at New Bethel Baptist Church until 2012 when he was elected as Assistant Pastor and in 2014, Pastor Maurice began his full duties as Pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church.  The CEAC is important because it will allow for the opportunity to provide positive input into the decisions that will affect our children and our community. For 26 years Rev. McAfee actively served as a community minister and served with the Link Crisis Center and many other organizations that involve the children in our community.  Serving on this committee as a native of Benton Harbor for 30 plus years, coupled with 15 years in the education field, Rev. MacAfee’s knowledge and experience with the children and the people of this community, adds the trust factor for the family and citizens of the community.

  • Denise Whatley-Seats

    Head Shot Photo of Denise Whately-Seats

    Denise Whatley-Seats

    Benton Harbor Area Schools Board Representative

    Secretary, Voting Member

    Denise had always been a part of the community through employment by Whirlpool Corporation for 13 years as executive support within the legal department and working for Cornerstone Builders & Associates over the last 10 years of her career. Over the years she has been a member of both Refreshing Fountains and Abundant Life COGIC where she was active in youth programming and spearheaded annual group trips to the AIM (Auxiliaries In Mission). She joined the BHAS School Board in February of 2019 and currently serve as a Board Trustee and Board Treasurer and sit on both Curriculum and HR subcommittees. The CEAC is important to Denise because she has a vested interest in the continued advancement of this district and community.

  • Rob Cleveland

    Head Shot Photo of Rob Cleveland

    Rob Cleveland

    Business Representative

    Voting Member

    Rob is the President of the Cornerstone Alliance. Cornerstone Alliance is Berrien County's premiere economic development organization. Rob is a Certified Economic Development Professional (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). At Cornerstone, he leads a team of a dozen individuals devoted to the enrichment of economic vitality, improved employment opportunities, expansion of the tax base and the creation of wealth in Berrien County. Rob holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Administration from Ball State University. Both he and his wife, Susan, reside in Berrien County, MI with their three children.

  • Lisa Cripps-Downy

    Head Shot Photo of Lisa Cripps-Downy

    Lisa Cripps-Downy

    Community Based Foundation Representative

    Voting Member

    Lisa has 20 plus years of experience in various positions at nonprofit and for-profit organizations. She was the Executive Director of the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, having been in that position since 2003. Starting in 2005, she was the Director of Business Innovation for the United Way of Southwest Michigan and part of its senior leadership team. From 1999-2001 she was the Berrien Community Foundation’s Program Director. Prior to that she was a Business Strategist with Marketing Partners for four years. Lisa holds a BA in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Michigan. She is active as a volunteer with the Twin City Players, St. Joseph Public Schools, and a theater, robotics and choir mom.  Lisa focuses on fund development, donor services, community leadership, finance/investments, and media relations. 

  • Tray'von Gentry

    Head Shot Photo Placeholder

    Tray'von Gentry

    Benton Harbor Area Schools Student Representative

    Voting Member


  • Danetta Moore

    Head Shot Photo Danetta Moore

    Dannetta Moore

    Benton Harbor Area Schools Parent Representative

    Voting Member

    Dannetta is a long time resident of the city of Benton Harbor. She has been married for over 17 years to her high school sweetheart Darrick Moore. They have four children, of which two of them are graduates of the Benton Harbor High School and will soon have a third in 2020. Dannetta has an Associates in Arts from the University of Phoenix, Certified Peer Recovery Coach Certification through SOBER Institute, and a Directorship and Certification as Homeownership Counselor from NEIGHBOR WORKS. 

  • Dr. William Pearson

    Head Shot Photo of Dr. William Pearson

    Dr. William Pearson

    Michigan Department of Education Representative​

    Voting Member

    Bill graduated from the Wayne/Westland schools in 1970 and then from Central Michigan University in 1974. He received his Masters Degree and Specialist Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Educational Leadership, and his Educational Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Wayne State University in 1985.  Bill is a member of the CEAC so together they can assemble a plan to help Benton Harbor students receive the same quality education as other students in Michigan. In addition, they hope to use the work of the CEAC as a blueprint to assist other urban districts that are struggling with the same issues.

  • Brenda Terrell

    Head Shot Photo of Brenda Terrell

    Brenda Terrell

    Teacher/Union Representative​

    Voting Member

    Brenda was born and raised in Benton Harbor.  She attended BHAS and graduated in 1980. After graduating from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree, she returned to WMU and graduated with a Master’s degree in Literacy Studies. Brenda started teaching in Benton Harbor August of 2000. She is currently a 4th grade teacher. Being a member of the CEAC is important to her because it allows her to have a voice for the students, community, teachers, paraprofessionals and other employees of Benton Harbor Area Schools. Brenda is excited about serving on the CEAC because she knows how important it is for our schools, our community and our students to have the best opportunities that life has to offer. 

  • Jessica Thomas

    Head shot of Jessica Thomas

    Jessica Thomas

    Bureau of Local Government & School Services Representative

    Voting Member

    Jessica Thomas serves as Division Administrator for the School Review and Fiscal Accountability Division within the Department of Treasury.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Management from Albion College.  As an experienced turnaround consultant, Jessica has assisted local units of government throughout the state of Michigan restoring their fiscal health.

  • Andrae Townsel

    Head Shot Photo of Patricia Robinson

    Dr. Andrae Townsel

    Benton Harbor Area Schools Representative 

    Voting Member

    Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Townsel attended Howard University on a football scholarship. As a 3 time graduate of Howard University (bachelors, masters, and doctoral degree), he became the recipient of the Floretta Dukes McKenzie scholarship (awarded to a highly effective educator with high academic achievement) to attend the Urban Superintendents Academy of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). As a member and graduate of the first National Certification Cohort, he was highly recruited to lead the turnaround efforts in an urban school district.

    Dr. Townsel began his educational journey in Washington, DC., prior to his role as Superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools. He served at every level of education. He served as a teacher, coach, athletic director, dean of students, central office specialist, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent. The fundamental purpose that he has in his role as an educational leader is "achievement". 

  • Dr. Wayne Watson

    Head Shot Photo of Dr. Wayne Watson

    Dr. Wayne Watson

    School Board Consultant 

    Non-Voting Member

    Wayne’s background is one of developing educational systems that have had a positive impact on the quality of life for contiguous communities. As a “leader- follower” he has served as chancellor of one of the largest community colleges systems, president of community colleges and a university. Being a member of the Community Engagement Advisory Committee is important to him because it provides an opportunity for “fresh eyes” and an unbiased perspective to review plans, hopes and aspirations of previous boards, community and state offices as it relates specifically, to the Benton Harbor Areas Schools and ultimately the socio -economic sustainable health of ‘ The Greater Benton Harbor ‘.