Get to Know Roy Sexton

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By Jo Mathis
Legal News

Roy Sexton leads Clark Hill’s marketing, branding, and communications efforts, collaborating with the  team of marketing and business development professionals. He has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, business development, and strategic planning, having worked at Deloitte Consulting, Oakwood Healthcare (now Beaumont), Trott Law (formerly Trott & Trott), St. Joseph Mercy Health System, and Kerr Russell, PLC. He has been heavily involved regionally and nationally in the Legal Marketing Association as a board member, content expert, and presenter. He is treasurer-elect for the Legal Marketing Association’s Midwest Regional Board of Directors. He was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Unsung Legal Hero in 2018.

Sexton holds a bachelor’s degree from Wabash College, an MA in theatre from The Ohio State University and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Leadership Detroit and Leadership A2Y, was a governor-appointed member of the Michigan Council of Labor and Economic Growth, and was appointed to the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association Board of Governors in 2012.

He sits on the boards of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Ann Arbor, Royal Starr Film Festival, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, and encoremichigan.com, and is a past member of many nonprofit boards and committees. He is a published author of Reel Roy Reviews, Volumes 1 and 2.

What would surprise people about your job? I have a theatre background, and I think people would be surprised how well that has prepared me for this work. I feel like the stage manager of the best show every day. My job is to feature talent, sometimes boost confidence, sometimes rein in scenery chewing, read the audience, and help my firm always put its best foot forward. I’m lucky that I work for such an exceptional organization—it makes my job an absolute pleasure.

What is your most treasured material possession? Every day I wear a ring bequeathed to me by my grandfather Roy Duncan, for whom I was named. It reads “1900,” and it was his mother’s college ring. She graduated that year and went on to be a successful educator. I think that’s a remarkable accomplishment at a time when that couldn’t have been terribly easy, and I adored my grandfather. It reminds me to be caring and compassionate and playful and joyous. Those were his hallmarks, which I also gained from my mother as well.

What is your proudest moment as Director of Marketing?
  Clark Hill is such a large and complex organization, but the humanity and accessibility here define my experience. To be surrounded by such intelligent people who also place a value on culture is important. The fact that I’ve become acclimated in such a short time, hopefully appreciated, and not fired yet … well, I’m thrilled!

What is your biggest take-away of Leadership Detroit?
I grew up in Indiana, and moved to Detroit in 1999 to work at Deloitte. It took me a few years to get acclimated, but I always struggled a bit feeling connected to the business and non-profit community. Leadership Detroit gave me an instant network of kindred spirits. I’m so grateful for the friends I made. We will meet and commiserate regularly, and I will say that the experience helped me feel “authentic” and to appreciate the remarkable beauty and diversity of this city and region.

What was always written on your grade school report card?
“Doesn’t always raise his hand when he wants to speak.” Some things never change. My second grade teacher Mrs. Edwards said I needed to learn humility. I didn’t know what that word meant—and I still don’t.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
I was raised by progressive, caring, attentive parents who engaged the world with kindness and inclusion and sensitivity—a world that didn’t always know how to reciprocate. My favorite childhood memories were learning from and alongside my parents. They taught me how to study, how to write, how to think creatively, how to never miss an opportunity, and how to explore.  I’m grateful every day for the life skills they taught me by example.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?  I never remember the nice things people say. A friend told me I reminded her of Steve Buscemi. I still have no idea what to think of that! I have no bigger fans than my husband and my mom and my dad. They always have kind things to say and have given me a beautifully inflated sense of self.

What do you miss most from the past?
Unencumbered days that stretch on to infinity. That feeling at the beginning of winter break or summer vacation where you feel you have limitless possibilities and zero responsibilities.  I’m grateful I grew up in an era where my mom and I could go to the community pool, stay all day, swim and relax, go for long bike rides after, and not think about 24/7 expectations and demands.

If you could have witnessed any event in history, what would it be? I would love to have been in the room when Siegel and Shuster created Superman or Simon and Kirby devised Captain America. These comic book artists were children of immigrants and worked in a marginalized profession, yet crafted two iconic, quintessentially American characters.

What were you doing in your last selfie? At the auto show with my colleagues working what felt like 36-hour days and having the time of our lives.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Read all the books I’ve picked up on sale tables over the years.

Who is on your guest list for an ideal dinner party?
  Madonna, Stephen Colbert, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hugh Jackman, Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, and Meryl Streep. Maybe Tracey Ullman too.

What question do you mostask yourself?  What would life be like if I’d taken acting or singing seriously? But I love my life as it is and I get to explore those skills regularly.  And I can pay my mortgage.  So I think I’m good.

Who would you trade places with for a day? It would be great fun to trade places with a pop star—like Robbie Williams (who is criminally obscure over here) but who seems to have great adventures performing for arenas and being generally cheeky without any consequences.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve been? 
I spent a summer in Tokyo in high school, a program sponsored by the Japanese government and U.S. Senate. They chose two students from each state to live with host families. I’d only been on a plane once before, so everything in Japan was awe-inspiring: the scale, the crowds, the heritage, the whimsy, the culture. It was a life-changing experience and helped take a heretofore nervous Hoosier and make him a little braver and bolder.

What’s something you changed your mind about?  We live in such a combative moment politically, and I think I’ve decided to try to empathize and understand differing viewpoints on issues. I’ve been rather quick to judge others when they seem diametrically opposed to me. I can physically feel the discomfort I create for myself wanting to argue, and I don’t much want to do that anymore.

What is something most people don't know about you?
   I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I won the national PTA Reflections writing contest three or four years in a row, wrote for my local newspaper in high school (a column called “AdoleSENSE”), and maintain a blog of movie and culture reviews (reelroyreviews.com) that has been turned into two books. I think people have seen windows of that writing life over the years, but don’t realize it’s more or less been a constant.

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