2022 Fisher Award

Carla Walker-Miller photo
Carla Walker-Miller, Founder and CEO, Walker-Miller Energy

Max M. Fisher Award for Outstanding Philanthropist

Nominated by Autism Alliance of Michigan

Carla Walker-Miller is the Founder and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services (Walker-Miller), a 22-year-old values driven, B Corp certified company that changes lives through energy. Her high performing firm’s efforts in energy efficiency and clean energy help decrease the energy burdens on local families and businesses, create sustainable jobs, diversify local energy workforces, and position small business owners to become sustainable suppliers in the clean energy economy.

In 2021, she led efforts to obtain the organization's Certified B Corporation status, awarded by the nonprofit B Lab, certifying its commitment to social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Walker-Miller is the first Black owned company in Michigan to obtain a B Corporation Certification, making us part of a fairly exclusive global network of about 6000 Certified B Corporations in more than 70 countries – leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy.

Carla is a visionary who leads with both empathy and tenacity. Starting Walker-Miller after an 18-year corporate career in technical sales, and growing it into one of the largest African American and woman owned energy waste reduction companies in the country. From team member benefits and charitable giving to procurement practices, the B Corp Certification is the embodiment of Carla’s leadership, asserting, “We are not just an employer, we are stewards of our diverse team.”

In 2018, Carla made three transformational decisions in the life of the company: instituting a $15 an hour minimum wage – and recently increasing to $17 an hour with a commitment to continue raising minimum wage until reaching $20 an hour, resolving to only recruit team members who embrace the company’s culture of kind excellence; and adopting second chance policies that give previously incarcerated citizens fair opportunities for employment.

A fierce advocate for inclusion of Black people and people of color, women and historically marginalized communities, Carla operates Walker-Miller through an equity lens to drive benefits of clean energy to all. With one of the most diverse teams in the industry, Walker-Miller designs programs, sources products, trains diverse workforces, researches and develops innovations that drive broad adoption of clean energy practices and behaviors; successfully engaging communities that have not traditionally participated in energy efficiency programs.

The transition to a new low carbon reality is happening right now, and Walker-Miller is positioning historically excluded communities to fully participate in the benefits of this transformation. This participation includes clean energy jobs, new business creation, and investments in healthier indoor and outdoor spaces. Equity absolutely must be at the center of our efforts.

Carla is a highly sought-after and well-respected thought leader on various topics, some include entrepreneurship, diversity, equity and inclusion, clean energy, and workforce development to name a few. An alumnus of the 2014 Detroit Inaugural Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, Carla has twice shared the stage with Warren Buffet, representing GS10KSB alumni nationally. Her work has been highlighted by Black Enterprise, Essence Magazine, The Michigan Chronicle, Forbes, FORTUNE, Inc., MSNBC, CNBB, The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Energy Perspectives and several other media outlets.

In 2022, Carla has been honored with the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) Inspiring Energy Efficiency award, the Tough Enough to be a Girls Scout award by the Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan, Women of Achievement and Courage Award by Michigan Women Forward (MWF). Later this year, she is also set to receive the Eastside Community Network’s Corporate Champion of the Year award and the Max M. Fisher Award for Outstanding Philanthropist. In 2021, she received the Woman Business Owner of the Year Award on behalf of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners). She was also honored with an induction into the Wayne State University Ilitch School of Business Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hall of Fame. Other 2021 recognitions include the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Award, and the Detroit Women’s Leadership Network Woman of the Year Award. Awards received in previous years include being a three-time Crain’s Detroit Cool Places to Work winner, the 2020 Inc. Magazine Female Founders 100, 2019 Humanitarian of the Year by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, 2019 Michigan Energy Innovators Business Council’s (MiEIBC) Business of the Year, 2019 Distinguished Business Leader awarded by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (Great Lakes Chapter), and the 2017 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Michigan and Northwest Ohio Region. Additionally, Walker-Miller received both the Small Business of the Year, and the Woman Owned Business of the Year award by the Michigan Small Business Administration in 2015.

Driven by her giving spirit, Carla founded the Water Access Volunteer Effort (WAVE) Fund in 2003, while serving as a Commissioner for the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The nonprofit has distributed more than $2 million dollars to help nearly 10,000 vulnerable Detroit families maintain access to safe water and sewer services.

She is also very involved in several community efforts serving on the boards and/or committees to include the Executive Committee Chair for the Detroit Means Business Coalition, Building Performance Association (BPA), the Mayor of Detroit’s Workforce Development Board, The Henry Ford, the Hudson-Webber Foundation Trustee Member, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), BasBlue, the Neighborhood Defender Service (NDS) National Board, the AKA Foundation Board, the Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM), the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (MiEIBC), Michigan Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), among others.

Carla received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Tennessee State University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.