Wallace Gilbert

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Nominee for Structure and Operations; Devices and Connectivity

What is your company and title?

Church of the Messiah/BLVD Harambee Assistant Pastor and Director of Operations


Tell us why you’re best for the Structure and Operations committee!

As a former tech business owner (GCI), Assistant Director of E-911 operations for Michigan Bell / Ameritech, and Executive Assistant to the former President of the National Progressive Baptist Convention (2.9) million members I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with groups responsible for maintaining and facilitating the use and practices that promote and encourage results in a manner that is equitable and allows everyone to operate at a successful level utilizing their gift, skill, or abilities which promotes a wonderful working environment.


Tell us why you’re best for the Devices and Connectivity committee!

Due to my extensive background in all types of infrastructure/network design and implementation I have acquired the ability to communicate (TECH) with a diverse demographic of individuals and groups. Serving as the Assistant Pastor of The Church of the Messiah as well as Director of Operations for the BLVD Harambee Empowerment Center which includes PM for The Islandview EII (Equitable Internet Initiative) I find our values are very similar. Being a lifelong Detroit resident and having the opportunity to work with groups from all over the State and Nation I have always been concerned about the lack of emphasis on tech in our community.


Why are you interested in serving on a Connect 313 Committee? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I understand the importance of closing the digital divide in the city of Detroit. I have been involved with technology for over 30 years and been involved in ministry most of my adult life. My last position with SBC / Ameritech was assistant Director of E911 (Enhanced 911) for the State of Michigan and Northern Ohio. I also owned and Operated a tech company (GCI) from 2000 – 2009) I am currently leading the EII (Equitable Internet Initative} on the eastside of Detroit. I currently serve as the Assistant Pastor at The Church of the Messiah and Director of Operations for the BLVD Harambee Empowerment Center. I have served as the Project Manager for our EII for the past 3+ years. Our goal is to expand our network beyond our current redemptive stuff which is Mt. Elliot to the west, Vandyke to the east, the river to the south, and Mack Ave to the north. We will eventually reach as far east as Grosse Point, North to I-94, west to I-75, and Belle Isle to the South.


What is your vision for bridging the digital divide in Detroit?

We have been actively providing free High – Speed internet on the east side for over 2 years now. My vision is to provide this service for free to all low to moderate-income households on the east side of Detroit and beyond.


Please share your current community activities and/or volunteer work.

  • In 1978 Church of the Messiah created the Church of the Messiah housing corporation. The corporation is a separate 501c3 designed to provide affordable housing in the Islandview community. Currently, there have 213 units of housing.
  • Aim High mentorship program. Aim High is a male mentorship program for young males ages 12-21.
  • Fire Marching Band. F.I. R. E. Stands for forever Illustrating Real Entertainment. Fire is a music and literacy program designed to help young people get college scholarships through music.
  • Garden of Eating- is the church’s urban farm.
  • I Am Production- is a music, video, and entertainment program created to allow young people to express themselves in a positive and creative way and to learn the trades of the entertainment industry.
  • The Harambee Network- is the church’s employment office. It is also a resource for learning soft skills, resume writing, and job training.
  • The Equitable Internet Initiative. Provides free or low-cost internet to low-income families and individuals in the Islandview community.
  • Community Solar Powered charging stations.
  • A community wellness center (The Villages Clinic).

Businesses created and or incubated by Church of the Messiah include:

  • Nikki’s Ginger Tea- is a tea beverage company made in our commercial kitchen. It is sold at Whole Foods, Avalon Bakery, Zingerman’s deli, and bakehouse, and over 50 other outlets in Michigan.
  • Kill the Hate clothing line is created inside the Blvd Harambee empowerment center (adjacent to Messiah’s building). The clothing line just opened inside the Fisher Building. It is also carried in other outlets across the city.
  • New Work Leather-is a leathercraft company that makes leather goods such as belts, handbags, wristbands, shoes, etc.
  • B. H. Bike shop- is a 1300sq foot full-service bike repair shop also located in the Center. The bike shop will soon build custom-made bikes and motorized bikes. It will also soon move to a freestanding storefront.

Church of the Messiah also created the community organization 5-Alive in 2013. 5-Alive meets monthly and brings together the major stakeholders in Islandview.

Participants include:

  • Church of the Messiah
  • Mack Development
  • Genesis Hope
  • Mack Alive
  • Detroit Police 7th precinct
  • City council (Mary Sheffield)
  • Local business owners and
  • Block clubs.


Please share any of your current committee or Board memberships.

Too many to mention!


Please share any skills, experience, or interests that you may have. 

Public Relations / Marketing / Communications

Outreach / Advocacy

Board Experience

Community Service

Policy Development

Nonprofit Experience

Education / Training

Public Speaking

Empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of others)

Relationship Building + Management

Leadership / Coaching Skills

Time Management

Project Management

Facilitation Skills