Entrepreneur SEEN

Bill Seklar

March 26, 2015

President of the Community House

Bill Seklar is all about the Birmingham-Bloomfield area. He was raised in Birmingham, went to Derby and Seaholm, and stayed in the area most of his life. He moved to Bloomfield Village with wife, Susan, to raise their children: Bailey, 18, Parker, 16, and Chase, 13, all of whom attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills.

He’s also about giving back to the community.

“Our kids keep us busy with lacrosse, field hockey, football, basketball, baseball and soccer,” he says. “But we’re all very dedicated to community service and make time for it. That’s my profession. We feel blessed and want to give back.”

Seklar was named president of the Community House in January. He most recently held the position of president and CEO of the Children’s Leukemia Foundation (CLF) of Michigan.

Coming to the Community House is like coming home, he says. “I came to the Community House as a kid. I brought my children here, too.”

The Community House’s early childhood center is one of the best in the nation, serving about 200 children. “We’re at capacity and always have people on the waiting list,” Seklar says.

The Community House also has a strong educational program division, with classes — more than 1,000 a year — ranging from cooking and yoga to jewelry-making, attracting 15,000 registrants.

The Community House also provides outreach impact programs for low-income youth and families in need of leadership, childhood obesity prevention, art workshops, job preparedness and financial literacy, a full event and banquet facility, a travel program and TCH Dance Academy.

The organization is also home to a number of sponsored and nonprofit groups including Newcomers, the International Community Club, the Senior Men’s Club and the Women’s Club, among others — all of whom meet there without paying room rental fees.

What are your goals as president of Community House?

My main goal is to endow our organization. Under our great board leader Camille Jayne, we were able to weather the recession and right the financial ship. Now we want to build up our reserves and our endowment to weather storms further down the line and to give our organization sustainability. We’ll have a capital campaign over the next year.

Anything else high on your to-do list?

I want to cultivate participation by young adults in their late 20s through early 40s and look for ways to invite them into the Community House and give them a voice at the table.

We want to invite young adults to join our President’s Advisory Council, which will be composed of community volunteers and small business owners, to bring that young adult perspective to the organization. This will be a pathway to serve in greater leadership roles, perhaps on our board of directors.

Where are your favorite places in the community?

Downtown Birmingham is my second home. I like to eat at Streetside Seafood, Bills and Beverly Hills Grill. My wife and I also love the events at Shain Park; and we love to support events and fundraisers in the community, such as those put on by Variety, the Children’s Charity and Care House

I also love the Townsend Hotel — it’s like no other. It’s played host to many family and community events. My wife and I even spent the first night of our honeymoon there. It is a great neighbor.

We also have a place in Charlevoix, right on the lake, where we spend as much of our free time as we can. We’re foodies and wine geeks and love to try out new places. Northern Michigan is one of the most beautiful places in the country.

Is there something about you people would be surprised to know?

I’m the main cook in our household. To me, there’s nothing more rewarding than to prepare a meal and share it with others. I’m into farm-to-table and I make a good chicken pot pie or Hungarian paprikash. I’m also a huge collector of kitchen gadgets, which I find fascinating. I have one contraption dedicated only to squeezing lemons! NS

— Interviewed by Jackie Headapohl


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