Tenisha Yancey was born and raised on the east side of Detroit to Wilbert and Patricia Yancey. Her mother worked at GM Poletown, while her father worked as a bus driver for the City of Detroit Department of Transportation.
Five days before her 14th birthday, she was forced to deal with the untimely death of her father when he was killed by a drunk driver. Her father had been filling the primary parental role due to her mother suffering two strokes several years prior.
Tenisha’s life was changed my life forever! She was left to take care of her mother alone, daily, with the exception of her siblings who would check on her day today. Her mother’s stroke left her with what doctors called expressive aphasia, and right side hemiparesis. She had weakness on the right side of the body and could no longer read, write or speak effectively. At the same time, Tenisha was dealing with grief and peer pressure, alone. Instead of having a mother to help with homework, teach proper etiquette, and steer her into adulthood, the roles were reversed and she was required to help her mother re-learn the alphabet. Her teenage and young adult years were filled with grief. Her older sister had already gone off to college after having the luxury of two healthy parents during her developmental stages. Her older brother had moved out and moved on with his life. The burden she carried caused her to rebel. The absence of her father, she found herself in a bad relationship with a guy and making very foolish decisions that caused her to have contact with the justice system.
This was an eye-opening, life-altering experience and the turning point in her life that she needed. For a long time, she blamed her mother and father and even God. Now that she’s a mother, raising her son alone, she has a better understanding of the strength it took for her mother to raise her alone. Ironically, her mother’s debilitating condition made her mother that much stronger. She has acknowledged her own faults and has used her experiences as determination to better herself.
When Tenisha became a mother and realized she was responsible for someone’s life other than her own. She became even more motivated, obtaining an Associates Degree from Oakland Community College and a Bachelor Degree from Eastern Michigan University expeditiously. When she was accepted to law school, there was some doubt as to whether she could be successful. However, for the second time, she found herself balancing a full-time job at Wayne County while going to school and raising her son as a single mother. She has no regrets. Her son learned by example how much hard work and perseverance helps to achieve goals. He is now interested in going to the naval academy and then to law school. And for that, she has no regrets.
After graduating from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Tenisha continued to work for Wayne County. During the course of her employment, her career advanced and she was promoted several times in several years and eventually worked as an appointee in the Wayne County Executive’s Office. She later achieved her lifetime goal to work in the criminal sector when she was transferred to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office where she worked as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in the Juvenile Division. She used her position and past experiences to influence and encourage the young people she comes in contact with, not only in court but anywhere she can.
Tenisha’s circumstances made her more passionate about helping young people reach their full potential and not allow their circumstances to control their outcomes in life. She seeks opportunities to speak in school career fairs, churches, and community meetings whenever the opportunity presents. In June of 2016, she was appointed to the Harper School Board and later elected by the citizens of Harper Woods to retain her seat on the school board. She has future plans of owning a non-profit organization to provide life skills for young people with a record and or the children of incarcerated parents. She is not proud of the negative things she did as a teen, but she has turned those negative experiences into a positive outcome. She did not allow her past to erase her future. Instead, used it as a learning experience and a testimony to help others not make some of the same mistakes.