John A. Graves
Education and Experience
He is the founder, president and chief executive officer of PR Networks, Inc., a full-service public relations firm with more than 30 years’ experience. Graves’ business resume as a public relations consultant and senior advisor has included several corporate clients.
He was one of the lead outside government affairs consultants for Olympia Development, an Ilitch Holdings company, on the $863 million Little Caesars Arena project, home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons. Additionally, he was a member of the executive team to garner government approvals on the $1.5 billion real estate development with Related, a Stephen Ross entity, and Olympia Development.
His special event experience spans to Coca-Cola’s 100th Anniversary, Major League Baseball 2005 All-Star Fanfest, Summer and Winter Olympic Torch Runs and many others. He also co-managed the Sean “P Diddy” Combs Vote or Die Campaign at Wayne State University with Mary J. Blige and Leonardo DiCaprio before 6,000 students.
As the chairman of Citizenship Education Fund, Graves convenes the Global Automotive Summit annually. The Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project, an initiative of Citizenship Education Fund (CEF), is an annual conference designed to address minority issues in the auto industry. The Rainbow PUSH Global Automotive Summit now in its 23rd year, has attracted numerous automotive captains who have conducted “fireside chats” with Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president, Rainbow PUSH Coalition. CEF hosts similar themed events in Atlanta, New York, Oakland, and Washington DC, which have been supported by several sponsors and corporate leaders.
Graves’ social commitment includes chairman of the Detroit Youth Sports Commission (DYSC), which manages two baseball fields in Detroit. In 2022, 454 games were played, reaching several hundred youth in Detroit area. Graves, also co-chaired the 40th Anniversary of “Roots” the TV mini-series at the Museum of African American History with Ambassador George Haley, the Haley family, actor John Amos, who played the role of Kunta Kinte and other dignitaries in attendance.
One of Graves’ most cherished accomplishments was serving as Community Chair of Detroit Public Schools’ Clean, Safe and Healthy Schools Program, which garnered national recognition from President Bill Clinton. He is also chairman of the Chancellor’s Roundtable at Wayne County Community College District in Michigan, a position created to develop corporate partnerships.
Led by then civil rights activists John Lewis and Hosea Williams, Graves, a 10th grade student, marched on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. He marched on subsequent days led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from Selma to Montgomery. Graves would return in 2015, to assist in the management of the 50th Anniversary of this seminal moment representing the city of Selma.
He served honorably in the US Army as a missile supply specialist, and later as a distinguished Honor Guard during the Vietnam War. He has humbly accepted numerous awards. Graves has served as chairperson of the official Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday celebration in Detroit for several years.
Graves received his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Detroit-Mercy.