By Lisa Cipriano
A tribute is intended to show gratitude. And that’s exactly what the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce is doing for West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan this year.
It will take place at the chamber’s 16th Annual Awards Gala on May 3 at the Shenandoah Country Club. Kaplan will be honored with a special tribute for the devotion he has shown to the Chaldean community for which he serves.
“It’s a tremendous honor. I’m overjoyed and humbled,” said Kaplan.
The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce is a partnership of Chaldean businesses and professionals working together to strengthen members’ business, increase job opportunities, encourage expansion and promote Chaldean business and culture. The Chamber seeks to service and represent Aramaic-speaking people, including Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs.
That’s the chamber’s mission statement and it closely mirrors one of Kaplan’s goals in West Bloomfield’s government.
Since taking office in 2016, Kaplan has made it a priority to appoint members of the Chaldean community to various board commissions as well as hire them to open positions in the township.
Why has this been a focus for Kaplan? It’s to better serve a large portion of his constituency.
West Bloomfield Township has the second largest Chaldean population in Michigan, aside from Sterling Heights. As a result, Kaplan has been on a mission to make sure they are properly represented in their local government. “
Chaldeans make up about 20 percent of the population of West Bloomfield. There are some very qualified individuals in the community and by appointing them, we’re gaining their knowledge and understanding of the community,” explained Kaplan.
Aside from appointing members of the Chaldean community, Kaplan has hired seven Chaldeans to positions at the township offices as well. Kaplan says he’s not trying to fill any sort of quota. It’s based on experience and merit.
“The quality of these individuals is tremendous,” he explained. “Chaldeans have historically done well in business. Many are professions, lawyers, physicians and architects. They have something to offer to the community.”
That diversity not only reflects the citizens of West Bloomfield Township, but makes serving them more efficient. “We have people working here who speak Chaldean, Arabic and even Maltese. That’s really helpful when we have residents come in with English as a second language. Its helps them feel more comfortable,” he said.
The Chaldean Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala is a much awaited annual event with who’s who of business, political and civic leaders. Former honorees include Congressman Sander Levin.
“We like to recognize those leaders who go beyond the call of duty to help their constituents,” said Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. “Steve is one of those leaders who truly focuses on serving the residents in the community in which he serves. He is well-versed on the Chaldeans and our needs as well as on West Bloomfield Township. He is a relationship builder and a team player. Our board is proud to recognize him.”
Kaplan is one of three honorees at this year’s awards gala where a video montage highlighting the inner workings of his office will be shown. He’s looking forward to the video educating members of the Chaldean community about his commitment to serving them in both the appointed and hired positions.
“There will be about 950 people in the audience of mostly Chaldeans. I think that probably a majority of them are unaware of the diversity that we have on our township board,” explained Kaplan.
Kaplan will be attending the gala dinner with his closest loved ones.
“I’ll be bringing my lovely wife of 32 years, Lisa, my daughter Stacy and her two children. We’re a team,” Kaplan concluded.