I remember my dad making contributions to the church, every Sunday, no matter what. Philanthropy, from a small scale, became a familial act and—to this day—my favorite philanthropic experiences are ones where I feel like family. My mother is Lebanese and my father is French Canadian but, like so many people of their generation, they wanted to blend in, to not be noticed. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of our ethnic heritage.
But that changed for me when a childhood friend, David Allen, asked if I’d like to get involved with ACCESS. Though I did not completely understand what ACCESS did, Maha Freij spent her personal time with me to make sure I understood ACCESS and how I could make an impact. Serving on ACCESS’s board isn’t just a way to give back—it also gave me an opportunity to learn more about this part of my family and heritage. And working with CAAP has been inspirational, especially on funds like Building Blocks for New Americans, because I felt like I was helping people who were coming here the same way people helped our family. Supporting a cause that is close to home allows you to give at a very intimate, personal level. I wasn’t afraid to put my name on it because it not only means you’re telling the world, “I believe in this,” but you become a face behind the organization, encouraging others to do the same.
Jeff Antaya is a Detroiter born to a Lebanese mother and French Canadian father. Though his parents did not emphasize his ethnic heritage, Jeff found opportunities to learn about his family’s history. He is a second generation Arab American with his maternal grandparents migrating from Hasroun and Tripoli.
With a BS in accounting and an MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy, Jeff began his career as an accountant with PWC and eventually moved into the cellular phone industry, working at both Verizon and Nextel Communications. Over the course of 10 years, he held various sales and marketing executive positions at Nextel and played a significant part in the company’s growth into a fortune 100 company before it was acquired by Sprint.
Currently, Jeff is a Partner and Chief Marketing Officer at Plante Moran, where he leads a team of approximately 50 individuals focused on growth. His responsibilities include social media, marketing, marketing technology, communications and business development. His position at Plante Moran has allowed him to merge his skills in accounting, sales and marketing to help one of the country’s preeminent firms grow and expand.
An avid art collector, Jeff is actively involved in Detroit and serves on various art and social service boards and advisory groups. Jeff sits on the board of ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services), The Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Center Gallery Advisory Board and is a founding member of Cabaret313.