Mortuary Science alumna Sarah Brown-Derbah earns Spirit of Detroit Award

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown-Derbah '09 with her Spirit of Detroit Award

In May 2021, Wayne State Mortuary Science Program alumna Sarah R. Brown-Derbah '09 was presented with the Spirit of Detroit Award by the Detroit City Council. This prestigious award is only given to individuals nominated and chosen by a member of the city council for an outstanding achievement or service to the citizens of the City of Detroit. 

Brown-Derbah also was nominated and selected to be the State of Michigan’s 35th State House District’s Frontline Worker of the Month in June 2021.

Brown-Derbah is the first licensed Black woman funeral director to manage Haley Funeral Directors, which was established more than a century ago in Detroit and moved to Southfield in the early 1960s. During her tenure, she has made countless improvements focused on educating families on pre-arranged funerals and financially preparing them prior to a death occurring.

She also has led many community service efforts in which citizens from the Detroit metropolitan area have benefited. Her recent community service projects include:  

Before earning her bachelor of science in mortuary science from WSU Applebaum in 2009, she earned a bachelor of science in biology and secondary education from Lane College (2002) and a certificate in forensic science from Marygrove College (2007). 

Brown-Derbah is a member of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association. She is also vice president of the Detroit alumni chapter of Lane College, a lifetime member of the Lane College National Alumni Association, and a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. – Alpha Rho Omega Chapter.  

A native of Clinton Township, Mich., Brown-Derbah has been married for 16 years to her husband, Andrew, and enjoys traveling and family time with him and their children, Andrew Jr. and Maxcine.  

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