Mayor Deirdre Waterman Biography



About Mayor Waterman

Mayor Deirdre Waterman’s

Official Biography


On January 1, 2014, Dr. Deirdre Waterman was sworn-in as Mayor of the City of Pontiac, the first woman mayor in Pontiac’s long and storied history.  In 2017, Mayor Waterman made history once again as the first mayor to earn a second term, signaling a strong message and mandate that Pontiac citizens believe in her vision for the future.  As Mayor, she governs the city that she spent over four decades of her career collaborating with others to solve some of the city’s most challenging issues.

Under her diligent leadership, the City of Pontiac has recovered from the depths of 10 years of financial crisis and distress to achieve fiscal solvency and the restoration of municipal home rule.  Through hard work and dedication, Mayor Waterman has been able to successfully stabilize the city’s finances and employ strategic planning, piloting significant progress – incredibly, a $14 million general fund surplus during her first tenure as an elected official. 

Mayor Waterman has pursued an aggressive agenda to revitalize neighborhoods, restore youth services, create pipelines of job and career opportunities for residents, and attract new business sectors and economic growth.  The Mayor’s leadership is making an extraordinary impact – Pontiac, as Sandro DiNello, President of Flagstar Bank said, “is lucky to have her.” 

Prior to assuming her Mayoral office, Deirdre Holloway-Waterman dedicated her life in service to others.  Born in New York City and coming of age in Detroit during a period of great change, she was surrounded by social architects and community activists from a young age which energized her to support causes that championed the rights of all people.   

As the daughter of the late Dr. Horace Holloway, a pioneering physician who fought his way past segregation to become one of the first black doctors on staff at the former Highland Park General Hospital, she was inspired early on.  Her mother, Dorothy Byrd Holloway, an accomplished musician and music instructor ingrained in her core values and principles of what a just society looks like.  Her mother was the first African-American woman to serve on the board of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and continues to be an instrumental figure as one of the founding members of what is now known as the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.  Mayor Waterman was brought up to understand that education and service to others was a civic duty. 

A graduate of the University of Chicago, Mayor Waterman concentrated her studies to earn dual degrees in Biology and Political Science.  She later received a medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN.   She completed her residency at the Kresge Eye Institute at Wayne State University to become the first African-American female ophthalmologist in the state of Michigan.

Mayor Waterman moved to Pontiac as the wife of the late Judge William J. Waterman and as a leading businesswoman who would go on to open her own practice, Holloway Eye Care.  Many Pontiac residents have been patients in her practice.  Her remarkable partnership with Judge Waterman resulted not only in the births of their children, Shana and Toussaint, but also in a life devoted to the highest values of human dignity in service to social change. 

Judge William Waterman, fought and made history winning a landmark case and focusing national attention on desegregating Pontiac schools.  In 1969, as one of the lead attorneys for the NAACP, he began representing the plaintiffs in Davis v School District of the City of Pontiac.  This case would set precedent as the first district in the north to be ordered to use busing to achieve integration.  This order and progressive step toward equality was not met favorably by all.  Despite school buses being bombed, vandalized, and threats made to them and on the lives of their children, Mayor Waterman and her husband remained devoted advocates of the philosophy of social justice.

Mayor Waterman would later stand with her husband as he took the oath of office as the first African-American judge appointed to serve on the bench of the 50th District Court.  He would be re-elected three times.  She encouraged him to develop programs such as the Waterman Club – an initiative that targeted troubled youth to complete their education and seek gainful employment in lieu of jail sentences.  Through the Waterman Club many former offenders went on to graduate from college and live successful lives.  In 2003, the 50th District Court was renamed in his honor and is now known as the Honorable William J. Waterman Hall of Justice.

In addition to raising a family and working alongside her spouse, Mayor Waterman also championed women’s rights and established a distinguished career in her own right.  Dr. Waterman stepped up as a leader in her professional career and has never passed up an opportunity to nurture the development of others.  She has empowered many young professionals with the tools to succeed by providing internships and invaluable mentorship in medicine and now in public service.     

She has served as Chairwoman of the National Medical Association, Region IV, as well as two terms as Finance Chair for that organization.  She was also President of the Associated Healthcare Providers and is listed in the first edition of Vital Signs: Michigan, citing African-American achievement in healthcare.  Her dedication to the health of others was further demonstrated through service work as an international medical volunteer.  She has served in Ghana, Liberia, and India where she performed eye surgery as well as provided healthcare in underdeveloped and impoverished communities.  Further, Dr. Waterman served as Vice Chair of the then-North Oakland Medical Center and served as Finance Chair during its transition to Doctors’ Hospital of Michigan, helping ensure hundreds of jobs remained in the City of Pontiac.

Previously, Mayor Waterman ensured that the Pontiac Public Library remained open and a beneficial asset to city residents. She was founding President of the Friends of the Pontiac Public Library, advocated for the library millage’s successful passage and was elected by the people to the Pontiac Public Library Board of Trustees in 2009.  Her peers chose her to lead the board as Chairwoman.  Mayor Waterman also served on the Pontiac Charter Revision Commission in 2012 and 2013 before resigning to run for the Office of Mayor.

Mayor Waterman is a lifelong member of the NAACP, serving many terms on the various chapter executive boards.  She is also a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and was a chartering member of the Oakland County Chapter of the Links, Incorporated.  Mayor Waterman has volunteered with many community groups and associations including the Urban League and Mosaic Youth Theatre.

It is the privilege of Mayor Waterman’s public life to work on behalf of the people of Pontiac.  She is an active member of Plymouth United Church of Christ.  In recognition of Mayor Deirdre Waterman’s extraordinary achievements, community service and contributions, she has received numerous honors, including the most prestigious awards and highest acknowledgments of most recent including:

2016 –  Oakland University William-Beaumont School of Medicine – Commencement Keynote Speaker
     Oakland County Ministerial Fellowship – Chief Architect of Progress Award

2017 –  Crain’s Detroit Business – Newsmaker of the Year
     Detroit Chapter of NABJ & UAW Ford – Trailblazer of Black History Award

2018 –  Essence Magazine – 100 Woke Women in the World
     Women’s Officials Network Foundation – WONder Woman Award
     Michigan Municipal League – Board of Director

2019 –  Detroit NANBPW – National Sojourner Truth Meritorious Service Award