Howard Collens is local leader on a mission and south Oakland County is his stomping grounds.
Collens is a native of Farmington Hills, a resident of Huntington Woods, co-owner of law firm (which runs from an office that is split between Huntington Woods and Royal Oak), and most recently he was elected president of the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce.
With his newest position, Collens has big plans that include connecting more local businesses and community members, all while enriching the Royal Oak area.
“For most people, it’s not as important where the business is, but what the business is. And in this area there are lots of places for families to hang out and have a great time,” the father of three said.
We caught up with him so see how he balances his local duties in Royal Oak and Huntington Woods, and what advice he has for community members ready to take on new leadership challenges.
Q: How do you keep up with all of your roles while still staying engaged with the city you live in?
A: Working close to home has made it easier to live a life that integrates the personal, professional, family and recreation. I have been a member of the Huntington Woods Men’s Club for most of the time I have lived here (and) I recently started to serve as the chair of the Huntington Woods Senior Advisory Committee. My law firm is an active supporter of activities in the Berkley Schools.
Q: What drew you to become a resident of Huntington Woods? What are some of your favorite things about being part of that community?
A: My wife and I moved to Huntington Woods in 1996 after living in Ann Arbor for about 10 years. We were attracted to the tree-lined streets, welcoming community and a close proximity to Detroit.
Q: Why do you think it’s important to get involved in the cities you’re a part of, whether you live, work or just play there?
A: By being active participants in our local community life, we get to help shape the direction that we are heading. I find it rewarding to be a small part of building of a place that I am proud to call home.
Q: What advice would you give to locals who want to make an impact on not just their city, but the entire region?
A: Find some aspect of the local scene that appeals to you and get started. Showing up and being involved really matters. Building connections among people is time-intensive but rewarding work.
Q: You’ve said that it’s important to note that the chamber has members outside of Royal Oak. As a Huntington Woods resident, what kinds of unique perspectives do you bring to the chamber?
A: We need to think and act regionally to continue to improve what is happening in south Oakland County. I find it important to focus on the interconnectedness of the communities up and down the Woodward corridor.