A successful business and civic leader, Joel Ferguson has been an effective coalition builder throughout his life. Whether it's been orchestrating a surprise victory in a presidential campaign or spearheading a multi-million dollar business venture, Joel Ferguson has established himself as a true leader.
Upon leaving Lansing's Sexton High School in 1956, Joel Ferguson enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps where he served for two years. Realizing a good education was a key to success, he enrolled at Michigan State University in 1959. A dedicated student and hard worker, Joel Ferguson financed his education by working nights on the Oldsmobile assembly line in Lansing for six years. Wanting to make a contribution to his community and to young people, he spent the next two years teaching and later became the director of the Greater Lansing Urban League OJT program.
A quiet but powerful force in local and national Democratic politics, Joel Ferguson emerged as a voice in the African-American community during a period of civic unrest in 1967. That same year he became the first African-American and youngest member elected to the Lansing City Council, and he was the first African-American to serve on the Ingham County Board of Supervisors. A major player in every presidential election since George McGovern's 1972 campaign, Joel Ferguson made political history in 1988 when he orchestrated Jesse Jackson's stunning statewide victory in the presidential primary. This surprise upset earned him the nickname "The Michigan Miracle Man" and was a true testament to his political savvy and organizational skills. Since 1988, Joel Ferguson has been an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and he is currently a member of the DNC's Standing Committee on Credentials. He was elected Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Black Caucus in 2001. In 1995, President Clinton appointed Joel Ferguson a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.
Joel Ferguson is the co-founder of F&S Development Company, the developer of 14 multi-family residential complexes throughout Michigan. Affordable housing is a genuine concern of Joel Ferguson, and he has dedicated much of his professional career to providing housing for mixed-income and senior citizens throughout the state. In 1980, he was the co-founder, president, and owner of WFSL-TV, Channel 47, a Lansing independent affiliate. In addition, Joel Ferguson was the founder, owner and president of WLAJ-TV, Channel 53, Lansing's ABC affiliate; and one of the original organizers of several banks including Capitol National Bank, the only locally-owned bank in Lansing. Through his efforts, Joel Ferguson has created over 30,000 jobs for the people of Michigan.
Throughout his life Joel Ferguson has been active in Michigan civic affairs. In 1986 he was elected in a statewide election to the MSU Board of Trustees and became its chairperson in 1992. He is a Golden Heritage member of the NAACP, and sat on the boards of the Lansing YMCA, The Boy's Club, the Arthritis Foundation and Junior Achievement. He chaired the Mid-Michigan Cancer Drive as well as the United Negro College Fund Annual Telethon. In 1989, Ferguson was appointed to the Board of Directors of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation. He also sat on the Greater Lansing Safety Council and was a member of the Citizen’s Commission to Improve Michigan Courts. In 1987 Joel Ferguson received the A. Philip Randolph Institute Award for achievements, dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of the people. In 2002, Governor John Engler appointed Joel Ferguson to the eight-member Michigan Broadband Development Authority Board of Directors.