Our Team

Dennis Beste

Director, Global Talent Retention Initiative

Dennis Beste serves as the Director of the Global Talent Retention Initiative. He has a background in workforce development and strives to positively affect the lives of others by creating paths towards advancement. He has earned an MA in Counseling and an MBA. Before joining Global Detroit, Dennis worked for numerous institutions of higher education and cross-cultural organizations. He has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer where he learned that talent is universal but opportunity is not. In his free time, Dennis enjoys going to parks with his kids, doing home improvement projects, and trying new things.


Kathryn Brennan

Program Manager

Kate has been with Global Detroit since the launch of the Global Detroit Study in 2010, laying the groundwork for the Welcome Mat, an online resource connecting immigrants to resource providers. Today, she works with the Global Talent Retention Initiative and organizes Tapestry, Global Detroit’s annual celebration. As an Emmy-winning ad executive, Kate has worked as an account executive at the Turgeon Group and as both senior vice president and president at P.S. Abrams. Kate has served on numerous boards including Southwest Housing Solutions, Life Directions, Women in Communications, and Marketing and Sales Executives of Detroit. She also performs throughout Metro Detroit as a jazz vocalist.


Destine Brown

Social Cohesion Project Manager

Destine Brown is the Social Cohesion Project Manager at Global Detroit. She is from New York City, but spent the last three years in Baltimore, Maryland as a Special Education Teacher, where she also earned her Masters from The Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Destine is also the Community Outreach Coordinator for Da Cypher BK. She loves music and like to describe herself as a youth activist and creative problem solver. 


Alicia Chenhalls

Consultant, Talent Team

Alicia is working as a Consultant collaborating with the Global Detroit Talent Team, leveraging her Corporate Human Resources Management, Immigration and Talent Acquisition experience with Global Automotive Suppliers. Alicia is also a Certified Life Coach and is fluent in Spanish. Alicia attended Northern Michigan University where she studied International Studies and Public Relations, and spent a semester studying in Mexico City, a requirement for her degree. She loves traveling, experiencing different cuisines, and spending time with her friends and family.


Rezaul Chowdhury

Community Engagement Specialist

Rezaul anchors Global Detroit’s work in the Banglatown neighborhood of Detroit/Hamtramck, connecting fellow Bangladeshi immigrants, as well as other residents and business owners, to the resources and opportunities that will help them thrive. Rezaul is the cofounder of Hamtramck Residents Forum, an organization that aims to develop unity among different ethnic groups and promote civic awareness among the residents of Hamtramck. He enjoys playing soccer and spending time with children while telling them stories.


Shanea Condon headshot

Shanea Condon

Global Talent Attraction and Retention Program (GTARP) Operations Manager

Shanea manages programming, tracking, and evaluation to support the inclusion of immigrants and international students in Michigan’s economy through the Global Talent Attraction and Retention (GTARP) Program. Prior to joining Global Detroit, Shanea worked with nonprofits, universities, and municipal governments on projects ranging from global and minority health, to housing, equitable transportation, sustainability, and international development. She holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan. In her free time, Shanea enjoys being in nature, trying new foods, and going on aimless walks.


Emma Davis

Director of Refugee Integration Policy

Emma advocates for policies and practices at the local and state level that expand access to resources, rights, and opportunities for refugees and immigrants. As part of this work, she facilitates the Southeast Michigan Refugee Collaborative, a multi-sector support system of more than 50 entities that improves inclusion outcomes for refuge-seekers, resulting in a more vibrant and prosperous region. Before joining Global Detroit, Emma worked with refugees and international students in Metro Detroit and Lansing and internationally with the Peace Corps in Mongolia as a community development specialist and English teacher. She graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Comparative Cultures and Politics. In her free time, Emma plays in recreational sports leagues, shows off at trivia, adopts a new creative hobby every week, and dabbles in the bass guitar.


Tariq Fanek

Tariq Fanek

Director of Opportunity Neighborhoods

Tariq leads the strategic planning and tactical design for Global Detroit’s Opportunity Neighborhoods program. He works with the neighborhoods’ team to expand the program in the community by focusing on economic stability and creating a support system for entrepreneurs of diverse backgrounds, and improve the financial resources to sustain growth and investments. Before joining Global Detroit, Tariq worked on operation management projects, non-profit consultations, disaster response and emergency management. He enjoys playing chess, attending classical music concerts and learning about astrophysics.


Tariq Fanek

Matt Fry

Communications Director

Matt Fry has a background in brand advertising and executive nonprofit leadership. Matt cut his teeth in the so-called traditional advertising world, building paid media strategies for firms like Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson. He then applied those skills to the fine arts field, working as marketing director for world-class museums the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and the Walters Art Museum (WAM) in Baltimore, MD. His team at the DIA created the D-Show award-winning “Let Yourself Go” brand campaign that launched the newly renovated and reinstalled museum (2007), and his team at the Walters created the Addy award-winning street art campaign, “Off the Wall.” Just prior to joining Global Detroit, Matt was the executive director of the Detroit Artists Market, where he led the 90-year-old quintessential contemporary art gallery through two strategic plans, pioneered an annual art auction fundraiser, and safely guided the organization through the pandemic. Matt spends all of his free time with girlfriend Erin and their field spaniel Cora. He is also a collector of too many things, including classic sports cars, motor scooters, vintage A/V equipment and generally anything old that requires fixing.


aijan isakova

Aijan Isakova

Global EIR National Peer Network Program Manager

Aijan is passionate about building original solutions, tackling challenges, and executing on new ideas and projects. At Global Detroit, she is growing a National Peer Network for Global EIR programs, aimed to provide an immigration pathway to tech and science international founders launching high growth companies in the US. Prior joining Global Detroit, she led the inaugural Global EIR program in the country, hosted at the Venture Development Center, UMass Boston. Since its launch in 2014, the Venture Development Center program supported more than 80 entrepreneurs who raised $1 billion in funding and created over 2,500 job opportunities, in Massachusetts. Originally from Kyrgyzstan, Aijan is currently pursuing her law degree at New England Law Boston, interested in IP strategy, startup law and innovation.


Dr. Alaina Jackson headshot

Dr. Alaina Jackson

Managing Director

Dr. Alaina Jackson has a professional background in finance and urban planning, and a consulting and research background in local economic development, social enterprises, and employee-owned cooperatives. Her experience spans 20 years to create a unique professional profile rooted in a desire to improve the quality of life for historically disenfranchised and marginalized communities. She has lived and worked in various countries, including Germany, France, Brazil, and Mexico, providing cross-cultural management and strategic training. During her graduate studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Dr. Jackson’s consulting and research focused on local economic development models, the stabilization and growth of industrial and occupational clusters, and strategic planning of employee-owned businesses and social enterprises.

Dr. Jackson is an active member of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., where she serves as regional officer and a member of the Central Region Board of Directors. She also maintains active membership in the American Planning Association, and the Detroit unit of the National Association of Parliamentarians. She is a Detroit native and Cass Tech alumna, and has been married to Carlos Salcedo Maldonado since 2006.


Full Bio

Dr. Alaina Jackson is an alumna of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL where, in 2001, she graduated with a joint Bachelor’s of Science in Organizational Communications and Urban Studies, and a minor in Business Institutions. Upon graduating, she was hired into the management trainee program of Robert Bosch Corporation where, during her tenure, she had the opportunity to work and live in various countries, such as Germany, France, Brazil, and Mexico. While at Bosch, she developed a cross-cultural training meant to prepare German, Spanish, Mexican and American managers to lead teams in each other’s countries, a conflict- resolution model specifically intended for international work settings, and assessed and resolved personnel and organizational culture-related challenges affecting the company’s productivity and profit targets.

After seven years at Robert Bosch, Dr. Jackson returned to the United States to attend graduate school at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA, where she earned her Masters of Planning in 2009, and then her Doctorate of Policy, Planning, and Development in 2015. During that time, her consulting and research focused on local economic development models, the stabilization and growth of industrial and occupational clusters, and the scaled growth and strategic planning of employee-owned businesses and social enterprises.

After graduation she joined Operation HOPE, an international financial literacy non-profit, where she worked as an Applied Social Scientist and worked on a diverse range of projects related to the company’s programmatic and organizational transformation and growth, such as the revision and digitization of its national financial literacy and entrepreneurship curriculums, and the integration of data driven decision-making into its programming model.

In 2017, Dr. Jackson was awarded the Detroit Revitalization Fellowship where she was placed at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan as the Program Director for Workforce and Talent Initiative (Foundational Skills). In this role, she co-led a collaborative effort to improve the workforce development pipeline in Detroit by funding innovative workforce development models which integrated adult foundational skills into their curriculums and which comprehensively addressed structural barriers to employee recruitment and retention. After the United Way, Dr. Jackson joined the City:One team at Ford Motor Company, as the Community Experience and Research Lead where she led the design and implementation of the community engagement and research strategies in historically underserved communities, focusing on mobility solutions that could positively impact equity, accessibility, safety, or sustainability.

Dr. Jackson has a professional background in finance and urban planning, and a consulting and research background in local economic development, social enterprises, and employee-owned cooperatives. Her experience spans 20 years to create a unique professional profile rooted in a desire to improve the quality of life for historically disenfranchised and marginalized communities, through research, grassroots activism, the application of equity frameworks, and the promotion of innovative community economic development solutions.

Dr. Jackson is an active member of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., where she serves as regional officer and a member of the Central Region Board of Directors. She also maintains active membership in the American Planning Association, and the Detroit unit of the National Association of Parliamentarians. She is a Detroit native and Cass Tech alumna, and has been married to Carlos Salcedo Maldonado since 2006.

Dr. Alaina Jackson headshot

Dr. Theodore Jones

Senior Director of Talent Initiatives

Dr. Theodore Jones brings a wealth of professional experience to the role of Senior Director of Talent Initiatives. After graduating with a master’s of social work from the University of Michigan he worked as a community organizer in Southwest Detroit. During that time he volunteered on a state representative campaign and his candidate ended up winning. This led to experience working as a legislative director in the Michigan House of Representatives as well as stints in government relations and working on several campaigns. He then leveraged this experience and opened his own firm specializing in community development, community engagement, and political consulting in Detroit. Looking for a new challenge, he applied for the Detroit Revitalization Fellowship in 2017. This led to Dr. Jones being placed with Detroit Public Schools Community District. He served as a central office administrator for six years, two of which in the Office of Enrollment and the last four in the Office of the Superintendent. In this last role his work revolved around leading Board Relations and policy development for the District. Additionally, he worked in the Partnerships and Innovation Division helping to build strategic partnerships for the District as well as building the organization’s fundraising capacity. During this time he received his doctorate in educational leadership from Michigan State University. 

Dr. Jones is an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He lives on the eastside of Detroit with his partner Jamilah Glenn and their son Phorest. He is an avid reader and enjoys playing golf, working out on his Peloton, trying new restaurants, and going to sporting events.


aijan isakova

Sofia Kuczer

Communications and Development Manager

Sofia is Global Detroit’s Communications and Development Manager. She has a long background in community leadership within the Ukrainian community in metro Detroit and across the US. Sofia is passionate about the cultural diversity that makes Detroit special, and is a leading member of the Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan, which coordinates humanitarian aid efforts and Michigan’s response to the war in Ukraine. Sofia loves reading, pop culture analysis, news podcasts, live music and crafting. 


Ernestine Lyons Headshot

Ernestine Lyons

Global EIR Program Manager

Ernestine manages Global Detroit’s Global Entrepreneur in Residence (Global EIR) program. Before joining Global Detroit, Ernestine served as a director of economic development and government relations for small business incubators, overseeing the expansion of entrepreneurship and small business development programs. She has also served on the staff in the Michigan Legislature, working closely with Lansing policymakers, and is a city councilperson serving Harper Woods. In addition to graduating from Wayne State University, Ernestine has studied internationally in China, South Africa and Russia. Ernestine speaks four languages, including Russian and Mandarin Chinese, and has traveled to more than 20 countries. 


Kinsey Mantay

Kinsey Mantay 

Director of Learning and Impact

Kinsey designs and oversees strategies, systems and tools to ensure that Global Detroit is learning as an organization, including impact evaluation efforts, information and data management infrastructure, and more. Kinsey is passionate about building a culture of learning at Global Detroit. Kinsey spent several years as a consultant, helping organizations design and document their processes, and in the workforce development world, designing and implementing innovative work-based learning programs. Kinsey is also a graphic designer, with a particular interest in data visualization.  In her free time, you’ll likely find Kinsey dancing, crafting or watching horror movies.


Kinsey Mantay

Dan Piepszowski 

Corporate Engagement Consultant

Dan brings over 30 years of experience developing and implementing strategies that support mission driven objectives in the business, nonprofit and government sectors. He is focused and committed to making economic equity, opportunity, and quality of life a reality for all who make our region their home. Through his many leadership positions, he has developed a deep and diverse network of collaborators that help to fuel his passion and hone his leadership.

Most recently, he served as the thought leader, architect and inspiration behind the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Leadership Detroit program. Dan attracted leaders across the rich fabric of the region to create a space for honest conversation and authentic leadership towards the goal of fostering collective impact to address our region’s challenges.

He also brings a strong commitment community to volunteer community leadership and experience in the dynamics of volunteer board led organizations. He is a long-term member and current board president of the Detroit Leadership Academy that provides K-12 education for 800 students on Detroit’s westside with a budget exceeding $12M.


Scott Preston

Scott Preston

Special Projects Manager

Scott coordinates a region-wide collaborative of refugee services providers and manages a program that improves the lives and homes of immigrant Detroiters through sustainable energy upgrades. Before joining Global Detroit, Scott worked as a freelance journalist and researcher in the Middle East with a focus on the Syrian refugee crisis. Through this work, he developed an interest in supporting migrants and asylum seekers. He has a master’s in International Migration and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and is passionate about climate change and learning about the weather.


Ed Slesak

DTE Energy Efficiency Assistance Program Manager

Ed manages the DTE Energy Efficiency Assistance (EEA) program, which helps limited-income households become more energy efficient. He is an environmental, health, safety and sustainability (EHS) professional who has leadership experience with large multinational corporations to facilitate knowledge of regulatory requirements and emerging issues both domestically and internationally. Ed’s education includes an MS from Wayne State University in Industrial Hygiene, a BA from Oakland University, and a postgraduate certificate from UMass Boston in Global Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Management. He has many professional certifications, including Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Certified Safety Professional (CSP), and Certified Sustainable Development Professional (CSDP). He has led and implemented management programs and is a lead auditor in ISO 14001, Environmental Management Systems and ISO 45001, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. Ed spent 2022 with his partner Dr. Elena Past, an Italian scholar, researching environmental and occupational health issues at the historic Ferrania film factory in Italy. You will often find him on one of his bicycles traveling throughout Metro Detroit.


 Ashleigh Stagg

Operations Manager

After spending some time in the Detroit tech startup scene, Ashleigh brings her unique skill set to Global Detroit where she works behind the scenes to help drive the mission of the organization forward. She ensures the organization functions smoothly and strategically, with oversight of office management, HR, scheduling and day-to-day logistics. Ashleigh has lived in Michigan all of her life and graduated from Western Michigan University where she studied organizational communications and met her husband. She is a mom to a pug mix named Maverick, a daughter named Cece and a son named Peyton.


Steve Tobocman

Executive Director

As Global Detroit’s founding director, Steve has led the growth of the organization from an 18-month research and engagement process to a thriving nonprofit organization regarded as a national leader in advancing immigrant-inclusive economic development. Steve also led the creation and growth of the Welcoming Economies Global Network, a 10-state regional network of immigrant economic development initiatives, and co-led the economic integration session at the Obama White House’s first immigrant integration convening. Prior to Global Detroit, Steve launched several other innovative nonprofit enterprises in community development and other arenas. From 2003-2008, he served as a state representative from Michigan’s 12th State House District in Detroit, ending his term as the majority floor leader. Steve co-directs the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University. Full Bio


Full Bio

Steve Tobocman has launched innovative nonprofit enterprises in community development, immigrant economic development, and other arenas. Since 2009, Steve Tobocman has spearheaded Global Detroit, a regional economic revitalization strategy mobilizing Metro Detroit’s immigrant potential. Global Detroit is nationally-recognized as an innovator and expert in leveraging international talent to fill regional businesses’ unmet talent needs, catalyzing the growth and development of immigrant entrepreneurs, and building a global region with competitive advantages in job creation, business growth, and community development.

Steve has led the creation and growth of the Welcoming Economies Global Network (WE Global), a ten-state regional network of 20+ local immigrant economic development peer initiatives is helping to make the Rust Belt a leader in immigrant innovation. Global Detroit serves as the lead consultant for the entrepreneurship learning cluster in the White House’s Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, a Presidential effort to encourage local communities to engage in immigrant and refugee integration efforts. Steve also has helped to develop the Building from Within Alliance, a national network of local micro-enterprise initiatives targeting immigrants and low-income communities of color.

From 2003-2008, Steve served as the State Representative from Michigan 12th State House District in Detroit, home to one of the state’s largest immigrant communities, and ended his term as the Majority Floor Leader, the second-ranking position in the Michigan House. During his time in the State Legislature, Steve focused his work on economic development, but also wrote the Michigan Immigration Clerical Assistance Act to protect immigrants from predatory immigrant service providers, fought for in-state tuition equity for undocumented students, and opposed attacks on immigrants’ abilities to obtain Michigan drivers’ licenses.

Currently, in addition to serving as the Director of Global Detroit, Steve also co-directs the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, one of the nation’s premiere bipartisan political leadership training programs. He is the Managing Partner at New Solutions Group, LLC, a consulting firm in Detroit that provides innovative and creative solutions for the common good and that has extensive experience in community economic development, urban policies, and, of course, immigrant integration and economic development.

Steve was the co-founder and executive director of Michigan Community Resources, a business law pro bono program to provide free legal services to nonprofit organizations serving low-income communities across Michigan, and has served as the Interim Director of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, the Detroit trade association for community development. He also served as the co-director of the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force and on the founding board of directors of the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan.

Steve earned his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School and a Masters in Public Policy from U of M’s Ford School of Public Policy. He was an Echols Scholar and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Virginia. Steve has been a Skadden Fellow, Equal Justice Works Fellow, State and Local Elected Leaders Fellow of the Democratic Leadership Council, and an Americorps Member. He has received numerous awards, including Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40, Hour Magazine’s Generation Next, the Staebler Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award from the Ford School of Public Policy, American Bar Association’s Business Law Public Service Award, Corp! Magazine Diversity Business Leader, and Legislator of the Year for approximately a dozen various Michigan statewide associations and advocacy groups.

Steve lives in Southwest Detroit with his wife Sharon Dolente and two children.

Gracie Xavier

Director of Corporate and Economic Development Strategy

Gracie leads Global Detroit’s neighborhood work in Detroit’s East Davison Village and Common Bond: Muslin Ladies Social Club, a multi-year project bringing women from diverse cultures together through textile arts to build community and advance their economic prospects. Gracie also facilitates community arts projects, with the aim to build trust, forge cross-cultural connections and lay the groundwork for broadly shared prosperity. A recent German Marshall Fellow, Gracie enjoys traveling the world and photographing her adventures as a citizen diplomat.