College welcomes community back for ’22 MLK Celebration

November 16, 2021

Update: Date, speaker have changed, see updated release.

“The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.: Purpose, Commitment, Justice”

Jackson College welcomes the community back in-person for the 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, to be held Saturday, Jan. 15 in the Victor Cuiss Fieldhouse. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Paula Autry


This year’s event will focus on “The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.: Purpose, Commitment, Justice.” The keynote speaker will be Paula Autry, senior vice president and chief executive officer of Henry Ford Health System’s Central Market and president and CEO of Henry Ford Allegiance Health. Autry provides leadership and direction over the entire clinical and financial enterprise of HFAH and the HFHS Central Market, which encompasses seven counties.

Before joining HFHS in 2019, Autry was CEO of Lutheran Hospital of Indiana in Fort Wayne, and from 2014-17 served as CEO of Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit. Her early career includes executive leadership roles with Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Mount Carmel East Hospital in Columbus Bon Secours Richmond. Originally from Baton Rouge, she earned a Bachelor of Science in pre-medicine from the University of Notre Dame before earning a Master of Business Administration and Master of Hospital Administration from Tulane University. She is one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Healthcare Executives.

2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service Award

Jackson College announces Monica Pierce, a longtime educator and Jackson resident will receive the 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service Award. As Principal of Instruction at Jackson High School, Pierce has come to be known as “Momma Pierce,” for her commitment to wanting the best for her students just as she does for her own family. She is Jackson High’s first African American, female principal for instruction, and under her guidance, multiple programs have been put in place to help students and staff succeed. Before this, she was an associate principal at JHS where she was instrumental in the success of several student initiatives. She taught English for 11 years, 10 of them at JHS, before transitioning to an administrative role as associate principal at the Middle School at Parkside.

Monica Pierce


Pierce’s community ties and influence reach beyond the walls of Jackson High School. In 2018, she received the Elnora V. Moorman Dignity and Determination Award, and in 2021 she received recognition for her work with youth at the 1st Annual Black Excellence Awards. She is a voice for young people as a member of the MHSAA Equity Committee, SEC Board of Directors, Jackson College Advisory Council and My Brother’s Keeper of Jackson/Battle Creek/Albion which has led her to start a Manhood Training program for the young men of the Jackson High School community. She is married to the Reverend Billy E. Pierce, Jr., and they have eight children and eight grandchildren. Pierce is an alumna of Jackson Community College, Spring Arbor College, and completed her Master of Arts in K-12 Educational Administration from Michigan State University.

“I am very honored and humbled, and a little excited!” Pierce said after learning of the award. “I always feel undeserving of an award because I feel there is so much more work to be done. I am grateful to be acknowledged for what I’ve tried to do. I will keep on working for our students and our community.”


Tickets for the 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will be $35 general admission and $25 for youth and senior citizens. Tickets are available from the Potter Center Box Office at 517.796.8600 or online at Masks are required on campus; please check the College’s COVID-19 protocols at