Ramone Crowe recalls his high school physics teacher’s advice.
“It’s not what you do in high school, it’s what you do after high school,” that determines your future success, Crowe, manager of the Ypsilanti System Support Center (SSC), recalled his teacher, a former entrepreneur who adopted several children, instructing him.
Ramone Crowe, center, with students during a Career Day at Detroit’s Davis Aerospace Technical High School. The school is named Lt. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., a Tuskegee Airman.
He took his earlier role model’s words to heart and balanced his past business ventures with his ongoing community service activities.
“I just have a passion for it,” said Crowe from his office at the Ypsilanti SSC in Belleville, Mich. “It’s not a requirement but I feel that I have an obligation to help other people because other people helped me get to where I am. It’s part of my DNA.”
His desire to serve others has guided his participation in a variety of area organizations and activities, from his visits to student recruitment fairs at local schools and universities and assistance with the creation of aviation education programs to his decades-long involvement in the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE), one of the FAA’s employee associations.
Last spring, the Detroit Federal Executive Board (FEB) (http://www.detroit.feb.gov/index.aspx)recognized Crowe’s achievements with the organization’s annual Individual Diversity Award. The award recognizes the commitment of federal employees to enhancing diversity and inclusion within the workplace and community. He received the commendation during a ceremony in May 2015.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Crowe said about his award. “It was the first year that FAA’s Technical Operations [the Cleveland District has] been involved with FEB and the first award for the FAA. This is something good to get involved with.”
He observed early examples of community involvement during his childhood years in Knoxville, Tenn. His mother, an elementary school teacher, donated her time to local activities while raising Crowe and his sister. She joined his uncles and other members of the close-knit area in teaching him the importance of education.
“Knoxville is a smaller city,” Crowe said. “The community was pretty connected with everybody.”
After he graduated from high school, Crowe decided to enter the Navy to earn money and learn skills. He became an interior communications electrician and was trained to maintain the interior communications and navigational systems aboard Navy ships in Norfolk, Va. and San Diego, Calif. After four years of service —during which Crowe provided support for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm — he was honorably discharged in 1991.
After his military service, Crowe took a job testing airbag restraint systems when he learned about a local seminar on how to become an air traffic controller (ATC) at Wayne County Community College in Michigan. It was there that he met Barbara Gardner, an ATC manager and a member of the host organization, NBCFAE. She arranged for another NBCFAE member to tutor Crowe for the controller’s exam, which he passed.
When Crowe later visited the FAA for a job interview, Gardner was his interviewer. He credits her for helping him secure his first position with the agency in 1992 as an electronics technician at the Detroit Metro Airport’s air traffic control tower.
As part of his community service activities, Ramone Crowe has read books to elementary school students.
“By her doing her outreach activities, it opened the door,” Crowe said. He received training about the FAA’s technical systems at the Aeronautical Academy in Oklahoma and was part of the environmental unit at Detroit Metro Airport, he was promoted to the technical support unit providing support to field technicians in Michigan and Wisconsin.
While at the FAA, he also tested the entrepreneurial waters and opened a coffee shop in Detroit. The business, called the Wall Street Café, combined two of Crowe’s interests — java and finance. He sold drinks with names such as the 401(k) cappuccino and the “Bear Market” smoothie and provided broadcasts of Bloomberg and MSNBC, in addition to events such as Friday night open mic poetry.
Crowe, who split his time at the café after work and on weekends, provided financial seminars and other information to his customers in an underserved market.
“Financial literacy was kind of absent,” he said. “There was a void for it.”
His other former business ventures included a second coffee shop, The Java Exchange Café, and Popeye’s franchise and electrical businesses. At the FAA, he was later promoted to National Airspace Program Manager at the Superior Systems Management Office in Detroit and was selected in 2014 as the Ypsilanti SSC manager.
Crowe also rose through the ranks of the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE), one of the FAA’s employee associations, in roles such as the Detroit chapter president, Great Lakes Region vice president and president, and later NBCFAE’s national vice president. While he served as the Great Lakes regional president, the chapter was recognized as NBCFAE’s 2001 & 2002 Region of the Year.
During his high-profile tenure with NBCFAE, Crowe routinely assisted with resolving workplace issues, such as Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints concerning diversity and related topics, said his supervisor, Michigan Technical Operations Manager Tod Clark. Clark, along with Cleveland District Manager Michael Hartzog, nominated Crowe for the FEB award last year.
Crowe is a central member of a “very strong management team,” Clark said. “Ramone has brought workplace professionalism, harmony and increased productivity to this SSC.
Ramone Crowe, back right, with members of the Greater Detroit chapter of 100 Black Men accompanies students on a tour of the Detroit Tower.
“Ramone quietly takes care of business and reflects credit on the Cleveland District and FAA,” Clark continued. “He’s a natural leader.”
Crowe’s leadership initiatives include his role in designating Wayne County Community College District — where he was first introduced to the aviation field — as the FAA’s only Collegiate Training Institution (CTI) in Michigan to place electronics graduates into careers at the agency. The FAA hired six of the program’s graduates at local facilities including Detroit Metro Airport.
Ramone Crowe with participants in an annual health screening event in Detroit sponsored by the 100 Black Men nonprofit organization.
“I felt like I was obligated to that same institution,” Crowe said. “I wanted to provide the same opportunity. Those people are still employed today. It’s about the impact.”
Crowe also worked with the president of Schoolcraft College, a community college in Livonia, Mich., to develop an aviation management program for students and has helped host the FAA’s Aviation Career Education (ACE) academies in Detroit. His activities span beyond aviation. He has mentored Detroit area children through nonprofit organizations such as Jack and Jill of America, Black United Fund, 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, and Dads Club, Inc., which hosts an annual father- daughter dinner dance. He juggles his activities with his time with his wife, Sharen, and their children, 5-year-old Corey and 13-year-old Raven.
“You just prioritize and pace yourself on which ones you’re going to do based on the priority and impact,” he said. “You can get involved in tons of organizations. My passion is aviation and NBCFAE helped me with that.”
Others praised Crowe’s passion for helping others inside and outside the workplace. Assistant Administrator of Civil Rights Mamie Mallory worked with him when she served as NBCFAE’s national president.
“He has a broader perspective of things and the greater good in helping others reach their greater potential,” Mallory said. “I’m very proud of him and I still expect good things from him.”
Crowe earned his bachelor’s degree in 2011 in organizational management from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. His past awards include the Detroit City Council’s Detroit Spirit Award and Entrepreneur of the Year.
He has more plans on the horizon, including public speaking to groups and continuing to share career resources and opportunities.
“Seeing people hired as a result of my activities, it makes me feel good overall,” Crowe said.
There’s something more gratifying than recognition from those he helps. “If you can do the same thing for someone else, that’s real appreciation,” he said.
Crowe, left, talks about the aviation field with students at Wayne County Community College District during an Aviation Career Week event.
Top Photo: Ypsilanti SSC Manager Ramone Crowe, second from left, with his wife, Sharen, Michigan Technical Operations Manager Tod Clark, far left, and Cleveland District Manager Michael Hartzog, at the Detroit Federal Executive Board award ceremony in May 2015.