The Honorable Gene Schnelz served as founding board chair of the Hazel Park Promise Zone Authority from 2010-2012, leading the early years of the organization's development and assisting in the raising of funds to get the scholarship program up and running. He graduated from Hazel Park High School in 1951 and went on to attend Alma College and the Detroit College of Law. Prior to his work with the Promise Zone in his retirement from law, he served as chief judge of the 52nd District Court for four years and as an Oakland County Circuit Court judge for nearly 29 years. An adjunct professor for Madonna University for 25 years, he also taught and lectured for the Michigan Judicial Institute, ICLE, the National Judicial College, and the Wayne State and Michigan State law schools. Judge Schnelz received the highest awards from both the State Bar and the Oakland County Bar Association and in 1990 was named by "Michigan Lawyers Weekly" as one of the most respected judges in the state.