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Team Members

Team Members of Global Detroit

Steve Tobocman

Director, Global Detroit

steve.tobocman (at) gmail.com , 4444 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48201

Steve Tobocman has spent the past three years spearheading Global Detroit, a regional economic revitalization strategy for the Detroit area focused on immigration and global connections.  Steve is the Managing Partner of New Solutions Group, a mission-driven consulting firm that develops smart, innovative, and collaborative solutions that often challenge old paradigms that often restrain success and opportunity.  New Solutions Group works with a diverse array of clients, including local, statewide and national community development organizations, regional chambers of commerce, foundations, nonprofit organizations, government, and for-profit entities.

From 2003-2008, Steve served as the State Representative from Michigan 12th State House District in southwestern Detroit, one of the state’s largest immigrant communities.  In his last term, Steve served as the Majority Floor Leader, the second-ranking position in the House.  During his time in the Michigan Legislature, Steve spearheaded efforts to protect immigrants from predatory immigrant service providers and wrote one of the nation’s strong consumer protection laws for immigrants, the Michigan Immigration Clerical Act.  Steve fought to create in-state tuition equity for undocumented students, insure immigrant access to work-study and state housing assistance programs, and fought against attacks on immigrants obtaining Michigan drivers licenses.  He also championed a variety of community economic development policies.

Currently, Steve also splits his time with Global Detroit by co-directing the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, as well as the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force, a 200-member organization that works to fight the foreclosure crisis in Michigan.  He also has served as the Interim Director for the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, the Detroit trade association for community development.


Francis Grunow, Sloan Herrick, and Sarah Szurpicki

Associates, Global Detroit

francis,grunow (at) gmail.com , sloan.herrick (at) gmail.com , sarah.szurpicki (at) gmail.com , and thebrennangroup (at) comcast.net , 4444 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48201

Francis, Sloan, and Sarah are partners at New Solutions Group, LLC, a mission-driven consulting firm that develops smart, innovative, and collaborative solutions that often challenge old paradigms that often restrain success and opportunity. Together they provide support for a number of Global Detroit initiatives.

Kate Brennan is the principal of The Brennan Group, a consulting firm partner of New Solutions Group on the Global Detroit project.  Kate’s work focuses on the Global Detroit Welcome Mat and marketing.


Hayg Oshagan

Director, New Michigan Media

New Michigan Media (NMM) is a network of ethnic and minority media across the state of Michigan, organized in 2006 by Professor Hayg Oshagan, director of NMM, at Wayne State University’s Department of Communication. The NMM network includes 100+ ethnic and minority media outlets in Michigan, which represent hundreds of thousands of readers, viewers and listeners in the Michigan media market. Prominent members include the Michigan Chronicle, Detroit Jewish News, Arab News, Michigan Korean Weekly, and Latino Press.

In the year 2008, NMM held newsmaker briefings, conferences, workshops, convenings, provided an ethnic news server and created an ethnic and minority media directory.  Global Detroit has partnered with New Michigan Media to produce a 1,000-person conference on “Immigrants and Michigan’s Economic Future” at Wayne State University in July 2011 that brought Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Compuware CEO Peter Karmanos, and other regional dignitaries together.

NMM is funded and supported by a grant from the McCormick Foundation and has received funding from the New Economy Initiative for Southeastern Michigan to write stories about ethnic and minority entrepreneurs.


Sonia Harb

Senior Director, ACCESS, Employment & Training, Youth, and Education Programs - Global Detroit Welcome Mat

sharb (at) accesscommunity.org , ACCESS, 6451 Schaefer Rd. 2nd Floor Dearborn, MI 48126

Sonia Harb oversees the Employment and Training, Youth and Education Programs at ACCESS, the largest Arab American human services nonprofit in the United States.  With eight locations and more than 100 programs serving metro Detroit, ACCESS offers a wide range of services to a diverse population, including the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a national network of independent Arab American community-based organizations.  Established in 2004, there are currently 22 NNAAC members in 10 states and the District of Columbia. The Network’s primary mission is the development of Arab American community-based nonprofit organizations that understand and meet the needs and represent the concerns of Arab Americans at the local level and collectively address these issues on the national level.

ACCESS works with the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit to coordinate the Global Detroit Welcome Mat network of some 70 nonprofit agencies in southeast Michigan whose primary missions serve immigrant, refugee, and ethnic residents.  The Welcome Mat network was built during the Global Detroit study process and has been bringing these agencies together on a quarterly basis since 2010.  Meetings have included capacity-building workshops for members of the network, as well as speakers, networking, and introductions to key regional leaders.  A searchable database of Welcome Mat organization service providers can be found on the right side of this website.


Susan Reed

Director, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center - Welcoming Michigan

susanree (at) lsscm.org

Susan Reed is the Director of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, which houses the Welcoming Michigan campaign, Michigan’s affiliate of the Welcoming America campaign.  Welcoming Michigan is grassroots-driven collaborative that works to promote mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans.  The ultimate goal of Welcoming Michigan is to create a welcoming atmosphere – community by community – in which immigrants are more likely to integrate into the social fabric of their adopted hometowns in Michigan.  Welcoming Michigan accomplishes its mission through community organizing and civic engagement, as well as a mass communications strategy.

The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) is a resource center for advocates seeking equal justice for Michigan’s immigrants. MIRC works to build a thriving Michigan where immigrant communities are fully integrated and respected through education and training on immigration law, training and mentoring volunteer immigration attorneys, leading systemic advocacy to protect immigrants’ rights, building coalitions, and promoting respect and understanding among immigrants and receiving communities through the Welcoming Michigan initiative.


Kimberly Faison

Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, ProsperUS Detroit

kfaison (at) swsol.org

Kimberly Faison is the Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, leading/heading up the ProsperUS Detroit program at Southwest Housing Solutions.  She has worked in economic – and community development for the last 12 years, using/leveraging her degree in urban and regional planning.  Prior to joining the Southwest Solutions family, she worked with the Woodward Corridor Initiative as the real estate and business development coordinator, focusing on cross-sector systems change and place-based initiatives.  That work led her to serve on the ProsperUS Detroit design teams, adapting the Neighborhood Development Center’s entrepreneurship model in St. Paul, Minnesota to Detroit. The design teams took a highly inclusive approach to program design and implementation.

Kimberly Faison is the Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, leading/heading up the ProsperUS Detroit program at Southwest Housing Solutions.  She has worked in economic – and community development for the last 12 years, using/leveraging her degree in urban and regional planning.  Prior to joining the Southwest Solutions family, she worked with the Woodward Corridor Initiative as the real estate and business development coordinator, focusing on cross-sector systems change and place-based initiatives.  That work led her to serve on the ProsperUS Detroit design teams, adapting the Neighborhood Development Center’s entrepreneurship model in St. Paul, Minnesota to Detroit. The design teams took a highly inclusive approach to program design and implementation.


Athena Trentin

Director, Global Talent Retention Initiative of Southeast Michigan

athena (at) urcmich.org , MSU Detroit Center, 3408 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201

Athena Trentin joined the University Research Corridor in September 2011 to lead the Global Talent Retention Initiative, which was the outgrowth of Global Detroit’s International Student Retention initiative. With nearly 20 years of experience in the field of International Education, Athena Trentin specializes in helping international students and scholars succeed in every aspect of their lives while studying and/or performing research at U.S. universities.  She has worked as an international student and scholar advisor at Tier I research institutions such as the California Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan.

The University Research Corridor (URC) is an alliance between Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University to transform, strengthen and diversify the state’s economy. The URC partners formed this alliance to improve the understanding of the vital role these three universities have played, and will play, in revitalizing the state’s economy.

The Global Talent Retention Initiative is the only full-time regional program in America to retain international students after they graduate.  The goal of GTRI is to provide a central resource on living and working in the Detroit area for Michigan’s international students who wish to take advantage of their practical training eligibility during their degree programs and after graduation. GTRI is assisting in Global Detroit’s International Student Retention program


Mary Lane

Director, Welcome Mat

MLane (at) accesscommunity .org

Mary Lane, M.S.W., Project Director, was admitted to the Honors College and received a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology and a master’s degree in social work (majoring in administration and focusing on race & ethnic relations) from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.   She has had post-graduate training in immigration law.  

She taught high school English as a Second Language for 2 years in Algeria (North Africa) and tutored ESL in Brazil.  She has worked and traveled in Europe, as well.  Additionally, Mary has traveled professionally representing her organizations/boards in Asia, particularly as relates to international education.

Mary has worked as a VISTA volunteer and was employed as Director of Immigration and Casework at the International Institute of Detroit and Refugee Foster Care Supervisor at Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.  At the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, Mary worked at the community clinic of the Immigration Legal Services office as an “Accredited Representative” and as the “Principal Designated School Official” at the Office for Clergy & Consecrated Life, where she handled international student visas.  In the past, Mary has also taught a 40-hour class organized by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center of San Francisco, entitled “Basic Immigration Law for Paralegals” at Oakland Community College.

Mary Lane serves as a Trustee on the Dearborn Board of Education, as well as the Board for Henry Ford Community College.  She has authored short articles in the Catholic Legal Immigration Network newsletter and the historic/genealogical publication Michigana.  Mary enjoys public speaking, studying, and researching on historic, immigration and ethnic issues.  


Tadd Wamester

Manager of Strategic Initiatives

tadd (at) upwardlyglobal.org , 505 8th Ave Rm. 602 NY, NY 10018

Tadd Wamester manages Upwardly Global’s Online Training Program and has been overseeing program and resource development that is targeted on unemployed and underemployed, yet skilled, immigrants and refugees in Michigan. The initiative includes the recently launched Professional Licensing Guides, a guide to recertification for skilled immigrants in Michigan. Joining Upwardly Global in 2007, Tadd has held various responsibilities from direct service, to expansion and new technology deployment; he now builds relationships to increase UpGlo’s national impact and partnerships with refugee resettlement and workforce agencies, community colleges, and employers. Prior to working at Upwardly Global he worked within nonprofit educational programs, corporate training, volunteer, and workforce development programs, where he held leadership positions. Tadd received his B.A. in Economics from Northwestern University, and an M.A. in Business Education from NYU Steinhardt.

Upwardly Global is a nonprofit organization with the mission of eliminating employment barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees and integrating this population into the professional U.S. workforce. Our vision is a United States where skilled new Americans are a recognized and valued source of talent. Upwardly Global has provided employment training and resources to thousands of skilled immigrants, placed over 1600 into professional positions at an average starting salary of $41,600, and created $200M in direct economic impact on struggling immigrant and refugee families. Upwardly Global also partners directly with employers to offer a new talent resource for accessing individuals with global business experience and a diversity of viewpoints. We have worked with over 500 employers to fill in-demand positions requiring high level skills and international experience.


Data Driven Detroit

313.744.5878

Data Driven Detroit provides accessible, high-quality information and analysis to drive informed decision-making.

D3 believes that direct and practical use of data by grassroots leaders and public officials promotes thoughtful community building and effective policymaking. As a “one-stop-shop” for data about the city of Detroit and the metro area, D3 provides unprecedented opportunity for collaboration and capacity building in Southeast Michigan.

Data Driven Detroit partnered with Global Detroit on the 2013 Metro Detroit Foreign Born Demographics report.