Denise Ilitch has been an integral part of Detroit’s business and philanthropic communities for 30 years as a dedicated business leader, a devoted community servant, a supporter of many charitable causes, and a tireless advocate for women and children.
Ilitch is “Of Counsel” at Clark Hill PLC, where she advises clients in the areas of business practice, corporate law, and government policy. As owner of Denise Ilitch Designs and owner and publisher of Ambassador Magazine, Ilitch promotes entrepreneurship and the successes of Michigan citizens. She previously served as president of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., a privately held business that manages such entities as Little Caesar Enterprises, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, and Olympia Entertainment. She was also part of the team that joined prominent business leaders and government entities to create a vibrant entertainment and sports district, including a $600 million side-by-side stadium project, Comerica Park and Ford Field, for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions near the Fox Theatre. Ms. Ilitch served as co-chair for the 2009 Detroit crisis turnaround team.
A strong supporter of continuing education, Ilitch completed a mediation training course offered by the Michigan State Court Administrative Office through its Resolution Center in 2003. As a mediator, Ilitch works to enhance the traditional justice system by providing and promoting the use of Appropriate Dispute Resolution. She established the Denise Ilitch Scholarship at Walsh College in an effort to help young women earn their advanced degrees.
Ilitch earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her Law Degree from the University of Detroit School of Law. Ms. Ilitch currently serves as vice chair on the University of Michigan Board of Regents, as a trustee for the Skillman Foundation and as chair for the American Red Cross Southeastern Michigan Chapter. In the fall of 2005, Ilitch joined the University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Law as its first Distinguished Visiting Business Executive. She mentors students interested in using legal training to go into business and serves as an advisor for students in the University’s joint juris doctor/MBA program. She also gives guest lectures. The University of Detroit Mercy Law School named her 2007 Alumnus of the Year.
Ilitch has served on the Boards of several civic, business, professional, charitable and civil rights organizations. She is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Detroit Branch NAACP. She served as a Detroit Red Wings Alternate Governor for the National Hockey League, and as a Board Member of Major League Baseball. She is an ACLU advisory committee member. Among her numerous awards and commendations are the B’nai B’rith International Great American Traditions Award and the Clara Barton Award from the American Red Cross.
Ilitch is married to Jim Scalici and they have three children.
Denise Ilitch Awards and Affiliations
- Michigan Women’s Foundation, 2011 Trillium Lifetime Achievement Honoree
- International Great American Traditions Award, B’nai B’rith International, 2007
- Clara Barton Award, American Red Cross, 2007
- Alumnus of the Year, University of Detroit School of Law, 2007
- Honorary Degree, Central Michigan University
- Named one of Michigan’s Top Business Women by Corp! Magazine, 2004
- Honored by Karmanos Cancer Institute for leadership and commitment to the City of Detroit, 2004
- Distinguished Service Award, Professional Category by the Michigan business and Professional Association, 2004
- Named one of Michigan’s 95 Most Powerful Women by Corp! Magazine, 2002
- Named one of the 100 Most Influential Women by Crain’s Detroit Business, 2002 & 2003
- Inducted into Detroit’s International Heritage Hall of Fame, 1999
- Named one of Northwood University’s Distinguished Women, 1999
- Named Marketing Innovator of the Year by the Sales and Marketing Executives of Detroit, 1998
- Honored as one of four Women of Achievement by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 1998
- Named as one of the Michigan commercial real estate community’s Five for the Future winners by Commercial, Inc., 1997
- Named Woman of the Year by both Women Mean Business in Dallas and Boys Town of Italy, 1997
- Named as one of Detroit’s Newsmakers of the Year by Crain’s Detroit Business magazine, 1996
- Recognized by Advertising Age magazine as one of the county’s Best and Brightest Marketers, 1992
- American Red Cross Southeastern Chapter, Chair
- Skillman Foundation, Trustee
- University of Michigan Board of Regents, Vice Chair
- The Lovelight Foundation, Co-Founder
- Ilitch Charities for Children (ICC), Founder
- The Atanas Ilitch Osteosarcoma Foundation, Founder
- The Denise Ilitch Scholarship at Walsh College, Founder
- Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Board of Directors
- Starfish Family Services, Former Member, Board of Directors
- Kids Kicking Cancer, Former President, Board of Directors
- Fox Tots Childcare Center, Founder
- University of Michigan Alumni Association, Member
- Detroit Branch NAACP, Past Member, Board of Directors
- Detroit Renaissance, Past Member, Board of Directors
- Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, Past Member, Board of Directors
- Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Past Member, Board of Directors
- Detroit Red Wings, Former Alternate Governor, National Hockey League
- Major League Baseball, Former Board Member
- March of Dimes Walk America, Past Honorary Chair
- NStar Community Bank, Former Member, Board of Directors
- Clockwork Services, Former Member, Board of Directors
- Detroit Conservancy, Former Member, Board of Directors