Our Team

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.


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.


Emma Davis

Community Development Program Manager

Emma engages community members and stakeholders in initiatives focused on financial mobility, homeownership and entrepreneurship in East Davison Village, Banglatown and Southwest Detroit, ensuring that immigrants and long-time Detroiters have a voice in the planning processes that impact their communities. Emma has previous experience working with refugees and international students in Metro Detroit and Lansing. Before joining Global Detroit, Emma worked 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 enjoys playing in a weekly basketball league, learning new languages, reading and painting.


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.


Sloan Herrick

Chief Operating Officer

Sloan leads Global Detroit’s operations, guiding the team in program design and evaluation, cultivating collaborations, and ensuring all systems and processes meet the evolving needs of this responsive, human centered and creative organization. She aligns Global Detroit’s efforts around a common direction and supports the team in achieving exacting goals, all in the service of achieving the organization’s ambitious vision. As a business owner and consultant at New Solutions Group, Sloan has been working to strengthen the impact of nonprofits for nearly a decade. She is passionate about cities, equity and healthy organizations. In her free time, you can find her kickboxing, hiking and bike riding.


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 

Public Policy Specialist

Kinsey supports Global Detroit’s regional change initiatives, through the design and implementation of immigrant inclusive policy, programs and practices. She is a PMP-certified project manager with experience and expertise in workforce development, competency-based education and design. Prior to joining Global Detroit, Kinsey worked to develop, launch and promote innovative approaches to apprenticeship and work-based learning at the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan. In her free time, you can find Kinsey cooking, crafting and watching obscure movies.


Kristin Palm

Director of Communications

Kristin leads Global Detroit’s messaging, media relations, digital strategy and storytelling, positioning the organization as a national leader in immigrant-inclusive economic development. Prior to joining Global Detroit, she held communications and fund development leadership roles with the Wayne State University Office of Economic Development, TechTown Detroit and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corp. in Oakland, CA. A freelance writer and poet, Kristin’s work has appeared in numerous local and national publications, including the New York Times, Metropolis and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is a member of the Writer’s Block poetry workshop at Macomb Correctional Facility and also enjoys hiking and wandering.


Autumn Simmons

Social Cohesion Project Manager

Autumn leads Global Detroit’s social cohesion work in Banglatown and East Davidson Village, fostering cross-cultural and mutually beneficial relationships between long-term and immigrant residents. She graduated from Spelman College with a bachelor’s in sociology and anthropology. She has facilitated community projects with metro Atlanta college students around immigration and race relations. Autumn is a native Detroiter, and she is passionate about community building and social justice advocacy. When not at work, she enjoys baking, cooking, music and 19th-century Detroit architecture. 


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 3-year-old pug mix named Maverick and a daughter named Cece.


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.

Guiqiu Wang

Program Manager, Global Talent

Guiqiu manages Global Detroit’s talent programs, with a focus on the Global Talent Retention Initiative and Global EIR. A former international student, she graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy with a master’s degree in public administration. Before coming to Michigan, she taught TEFL classes at Chinese universities and gained most of her professional experience working as a program manager for Peace Corps China. Guiqiu travels for leisure whenever possible. She also enjoys reading, visiting historic sites, studying history and learning about new cultures.


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.