Attorney, CEO awarded WMU's top alumni honor for 2015

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A former U.S. attorney as well as a former CEO of one of the world's largest retailers have been selected to receive the highest honor Western Michigan University can confer on its alumni—the Distinguished Alumni Award.

The 2015 award recipients are James S. Brady of Grand Rapids, office managing member of Dykema Grand Rapids, and Thomas P. Englert of Paradise Valley, Arizona, past CEO of Discount Tire Co. Inc.

This year's recipients will be recognized during a 52nd Distinguished Alumni Award event at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, on campus in the Bernhard Center. Friday, Oct. 16, is the deadline to register for the event—a reception taking place during homecoming weekend. 

James S. Brady

Photo of James Brady.


Brady earned a Bachelor of Science in political science from WMU in 1966. He joined Dykema Grand Rapids as office managing member in 2010 to lead the expansion of the firm's regional presence and bolster its white collar defense practice. Dykema is a leading national law firm with 12 offices that focuses on handling a wide variety of business issues for Fortune 1,000 companies and institutions.

After graduating from WMU, Brady immediately continued his education at Notre Dame, earning a Juris Doctor in 1969. Early in his legal career, he was appointed U.S. attorney for the Western Judicial District of Michigan by President Jimmy Carter. Brady was responsible for prosecuting white-collar criminal matters from 1977 to 1981.

He joined the Miller Johnson law firm in 1981 and was chair of its Criminal Law Group before accepting his current position at Dykema Grand Rapids. Then-governor James Blanchard appointed him to the WMU Board of Trustees in 1987, and Brady served with distinction through one of the University's greatest periods of growth. He previously also served as a member of the WMU Foundation Board of Directors, holding such positions as the board's chair as well as chair of its Committee on Directors.

Listed in "Who's Who in America," Brady has received numerous accolades. He was honored by Michigan Lawyers Weekly when the publication included him in its 2009 class of Leaders in the Law. Additionally, he was recognized by Michigan Super Lawyers in the areas of criminal defense and civil litigation defense from 2006 through 2014 and has been recognized in "The Best Lawyers in America" editions in multiple practice areas from 2003 to 2015.

Thomas P. Englert

Photo of Thomas Englert.


Englert earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication from WMU in 1976. Until January of this year, he was CEO of Discount Tire Company Inc., the world's largest tire and wheel retailer.

He remains an advisor and member of the board of directors for the company, which operates more than 900 stores in 28 states across the country. Along with those duties, Englert also serves as president of the Cheney Ranch Estates Homeowners Association in Paradise Valley.

He began his career with Discount Tire in 1975 as an assistant store manager for one of its businesses near WMU's campus while he was attending school at the University. He continued working with Discount Tire after graduating from WMU, receiving several promotions and advancing through the ranks before moving with the company to Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1981.

Englert was elevated to CEO in 2004 from his position as executive vice president with responsibility for overseeing supply chain and purchasing activities. During his four decades with the company, he helped to expand Discount Tire from 23 to 900 stores. In addition, as CEO, he grew annual sales from $1.8 to $4.3 billion while quadrupling profits.

Five years after Englert took the helm, Discount Tire took top honors as the largest private company in Arizona. Moreover, Forbes Magazine lists Discount Tire as the 118th largest privately held U.S. company for 2015.

About the Distinguished Alumni Awards

Established in 1963, the Distinguished Alumni Awards program honors and celebrates alumni who bring distinction to their alma mater through professional accomplishments and who have achieved a high level of success in their careers. Alumni are nominated by their peers and selected by the WMU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

For more information and to register, visit Direct questions to Hardy Figueroa at or (269) 387-8774.