Denise Forrest was born in Detroit, raised in Oak Park, and has been a resident of Milford for almost 40 years. Oakland County is her home. It is where she has lived, worked, and raised her family. Forrest is a strong community leader with a background in public school teaching, labor union representation, School Board service, and community organization building.
Denise Forrest is ready to take the next step into the State House on behalf of the People of the 44th State House district.
Education in Her Blood
Forrest spent her entire professional career as an educator in the Huron Valley Schools. She began as a volunteer at Kurtz Elementary, moved to a paraprofessional position, and then spent 20 years teaching art to elementary school children. She holds degrees in Fine Arts (BFA: Drawing and Painting) and Educational Leadership (ME) from Wayne State University.
In the Huron Valley school system, Forrest found herself deeply committed to the Huron Valley Education Association (HVEA), serving on the Representative Council, as a member of the bargaining team for 11 years, and later on as Vice President and finally President until her retirement in 2018.
“My years representing 540 of our Huron Valley teachers, social workers, speech pathologists, and psychologists have been among the most important work I have had the honor of doing, next to being a parent to three daughters and a teacher to thousands of budding Huron Valley children thirsty to express themselves through art,” Forrest added.
After her retirement from classroom teaching in 2018, Forrest ran for a seat on the Huron Valley School Board where her intimate knowledge of the school system informs her decision-making and enthusiasm for strengthening every aspect of Huron Valley schools. In her first year, she helped lead the passage of a critical bond to bring clean drinking water to three school buildings in White Lake for the first time ever.
Forrest set about establishing the Village Fine Arts Association and the Huron Valley Council for the Arts to bring the importance of arts to her community. As a founding member, she has also served on both boards as President and as a Board Trustee on HVCA’s Board of Directors.
These organizations have served the community for over 20 years.
As a teacher for Continuing Education, Forrest kept in touch with the adult community by teaching evening art classes to cognitively impaired (CI) adults.
Forrest notes, “All students can learn. Everyone has the right to live a full and engaged life. Teaching art to these community members is a one way to serve our CI citizens.”
Path to Lansing
Forrest has looked around her district since 2018 and found that there are every day challenges that are not being met head-on.
She sees families who need affordable day care and adequately funded public schools. She sees workers who need good-paying jobs and small businesses who need economic support. She sees endangered watersheds which also endangers drinking and recreational waters.
She believes all the residents of the 44th need affordable and quality health care and child care to give them the highest quality of living possible.
“I am going to Lansing to bring people together, find solutions, and work for the interests of all. We cannot afford representation that ignores the will of the majority of the People like our current representative did. He opposed a school bond that passed with over 70% support. That is unacceptable,” Forrest asserted.
“I believe that as one of our state’s educators, someone who has been on the front lines facing attacks on labor and education, I am uniquely suited to take up the challenge of State leadership,” Forrest said.
Michigan’s Future is Female
Unresponsive, out-of-touch elected officials is a theme seen over and over in Michigan today. Years of gerrymandering, scape goating, and empty promises have seen backward slides in public education funding, slashes to environmental and public health protection agencies, and the stripping of worker rights in the state that birthed the UAW.
But with leaders like Denise Forrest already in place and on the horizon, Michigan has a bright future to lead the nation in middle class growth, talent development, and economic stability.
Learn more about the Women Lead Michigan series.
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