is a lifelong Detroiter who has dedicated her life to the betterment of the city. She was elected to Detroit City Council in November 2009 in her first attempt at elective office.
Prior to her election to Council in November, 2009, she served as director of the residential treatment program at Mariners Inn, a shelter and treatment center for men who are homeless and drug addicted, but who are determined to put their lives back together and become contributing members of society. Jenkins also has worked at the street level as a social worker helping troubled youth and adults turn around their lives.
Prior to her work at Mariners Inn, Saunteel was a National Business Development Director for Platform Learning, a private education company that provides free tutoring to low-income children in under performing school districts. While at Platform Learning, Saunteel worked with school districts in New York City, Las Vegas, Chicago, Tampa and Miami. In Detroit, Saunteel made free tutoring available to thousands of children in underserved communities and schools. Also an entrepreneur, Saunteel founded Petite Sweets, a dessert catering company that she started in her home and grew to supply multiple companies, as well as gourmet grocers and convenience stores.
Before her entry into the private sector, she served six years as a policy analyst and chief of staff to the legendary Maryann Mahaffey while Mahaffey was President of Detroit City Council. During her tenure in Mahaffey’s office, Saunteel served as a liaison to the business community while working on a broad range of issues including affordable housing, predatory lending, the ethics ordinance and the casino agreements.
She was educated in the Detroit Public Schools, graduating from Cass Technical High School. She then earned her bachelors and masters degrees in social work from Wayne State University, where she finished at the top of her class. Some of her awards and recognitions are: Crain’s Detroit Business Women to Watch, Michigan Frontpage Thirty Honorees, American Association of University Women 12th Annual Women’s Summit, Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence, and Women of Wayne State University Alumni Association Headliners Award.
Jenkins has advocated for thoughtful economic development that generates new businesses, jobs and tax revenue for the city of Detroit. This includes the redevelopment of land resources for new responsible, visionary owners and/or purposes. Jenkins did this work as the chair of the City Council Planning and Development Committee from January 2010 to July 2013. In that position she introduced more than 80 ordinances that resulted in at least 10,000 new jobs in Detroit. She was closely involved in bringing two new Meijer stores, a Whole Foods store, Detroit Manufacturing Systems, and Quicken Loans to Detroit.
Jenkins has also made advocating programs to prevent youth violence in Detroit a priority. Her dedication to this cause was spurred by the death of her brother, Jovan, when he was shot at the age of 14 by someone stealing his jacket. She created the Youth Violence Prevention Task Force, which is co-chaired by Councilmember James Tate and has encouraged more than 1,000 youth to take the pledge against violence. She also founded the Jovan Foundation in memory of her late brother. The Jovan Foundation provides positive alternatives for young people and has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Detroit Institute of Arts to help fulfill that mission.
Saunteel Jenkins began her second term in January 2014, representing the City at-large. She currently sits on the Internal Operations Committee and is Vice Chair of the Public Health and Safety Committee.