Our Team

Summer Baraka

Small Business Relationship Manager

Summer Baraka serves as the Small Business Relationship Manager at Global Detroit, bridging connections between the team and communities. With a background in community and economic development across Southeast Michigan and the Middle East, Summer champions small businesses’ needs and provides comprehensive business support. She has led international projects and trainings in entrepreneurship, leadership, and professional exchange, particularly empowering women entrepreneurs through mentorship. Summer’s expertise extends to program coordination for State Department-sponsored initiatives, including facilitating cultural and professional exchanges for various fellowship programs. She was also a program facilitator for the MERGE Program, supporting virtual exchanges for young women from the U.S. and MENA Region. Additionally, Summer is a certified Kauffman FastTrac trainer, offering entrepreneurs tools for business growth. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Near Eastern Studies & Peace and Conflict Studies from Wayne State University, with a minor in Arabic.


Dennis Beste

Program Director, Global Talent Retention Initiative

Dennis Beste serves as the Program 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 Program Manager

Destine Brown is the Social Cohesion Program 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. 


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.


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Shanea Condon

Michigan Global Talent Initiative (MGTI) Operations Manager

Shanea manages programming, tracking, and evaluation to support the inclusion of immigrants and international students in Michigan’s economy through the Michigan Global Talent Initiative (MGTI) 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.


Head shot of Arda Eurdekian, Operations Director at Global Detroit

Arda Eurdekian

Operations Director

As Operations Director, Arda supports Global Detroit’s strategic planning, operations, and growth initiatives. Leveraging over 15 years of expertise in nonprofit management and cultivating financial resilience in organizations, she is passionate about making a positive impact. Arda brings a collaborative spirit and robust leadership skills to the table. 


Tariq Fanek

Tariq Fanek

Opportunity Neighborhoods Director

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

Julién Godman

Communications Director

Julién Godman is a multi-medium storyteller and communications strategist. He has over 15 years experience working in the Detroit creative nonprofit and philanthropic industries, with focus on equitability and access to the arts and resources for creative realization. His work in communications, specifically public relations, brand development, and social media, is further enriched with a background in writing and journalism, with dozens of articles and print published over the years. He has taught food writing to teens in Armenia in 2018 and 2020, produced culinary popups in Paris, and has published a book of collective travelogue short stories in 2019, in partnership with a print house in Guadalajara. He has been recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals as a Fisher Foundation Fellow in 2015, and more recently was recognized as a Culture Fellow in Austria with Salzburg Global Seminar, in 2019. He holds both a B.A. in African American Studies, as well as a B.A. in Linguistics, from Wayne State University (WSU). In 2023, he was sponsored by his college to attend the Linguistics Society of America’s summer institute at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He is currently finishing a M.A. in Linguistics with a focus on emoji semantic change and is also teaching an Introductory to College Writing class with WSU’s English Department. In his odd time off, he daydreams of Web3 applications for systemic social change, and is currently writing a book of creative nonfiction at the intersection of loneliness, friendship, and artificial intelligence.


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

Andrew Johnson

Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program Manager

Andrew Johnson serves as a Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program Manager at Global Detroit. He has a background in international affairs and emerging technologies, with an MA in International Security and BA in International Studies. Before joining Global Detroit, Andrew worked for a range of government and nonprofit institutions both domestic and global that focused on driving innovation and advancing US foreign policy. He is also a former entrepreneur and co-created a healthcare data analytics company. In his free time, Andrew enjoys spending time with his family, reading, the arts, baseball, and travel. 


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. and lives on the eastside of Detroit. He is also 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, sports, live music and crafting. 


Ernestine Lyons Headshot

Ernestine Lyons

Global Entrepreneur in Residence 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, reporting and more. Kinsey is passionate about building and nurturing a culture of learning at Global Detroit and beyond. Kinsey also has expertise in process improvement and documentation, workforce development, graphic design and data visualization. In her free time, you’ll likely find Kinsey dancing, crafting or watching horror movies.


Kinsey Mantay

Stanilaw Osei-Bonsu

GTRI International Student & University Outreach Program Manager (Southeast Michigan)

Stanilaw Osei-Bonsu serves as the Michigan Statewide Program Manager for International Student and University Outreach under the Global Talent Retention Initiative. He has over a decade long combined background in Immigration Law, Business Development, Government Relations, and Higher Education. He was the Student Affairs and Business Development Manager at Lancaster University in Ghana where he helped more than quadruple internship placement rates for students. He brings this same energy to his new role at Global Detroit where he hopes to help change the narrative on Global Talent in Michigan.


Scott Preston

Scott Preston

Small Business Development Program 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.


Scott Preston

Ruben Saavedra II

Global Talent Corporate Outreach Program Manager (Southeast Michigan)

Ruben Saavedra II is a seasoned professional with over a decade of experience in staffing and recruiting. As the Global Talent Corporate Outreach Southeast Michigan Program Manager, he focuses on connecting leading corporations to top talent in thr region. A University of Michigan-Ann Arbor graduate fluent in Spanish, Ruben is passionate about building valuable connections in the professional world.


 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.


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.

Kathy Zadroga

Employee Experience and Inclusion Manager

Kathy has 30+ years of HR and Business Operations experience, and has led and impacted HR operations in start-ups, technology, education, staffing and marketing arenas. A wealth of diverse experience to add to and impact the cultural and inclusion efforts of Global Detroit. Kathy was has lived in Michigan her entire life, and has been active with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Junior Achievement programs. In addition to graduating with her Bachelor’s in Human Resources from Central Michigan University, Kathy holds an Associate’s degree in Architecture. Kathy’s continuation of growth and professional development is demonstrated by her four HR certifications. Kathy is a passionate athlete – she loves all sports and competed in high school tennis, volleyball and flag football. Kathy is a current USTA (United States Tennis Association) member and is competitively active in tennis as well as teaching and coaching the sport.