Notes From our Leadership

Steve Tobocman, Executive Director

2022 was a year of incredible evolution for Global Detroit.

We said farewell to some of our closest and most important team members. In August, Chief Operating Officer Sloan Herrick left Global Detroit to sail the Caribbean with her family. For more than a decade, Sloan served as my partner, and she was the glue that held our team together through numerous transitions and developments. Sloan left an indelible mark on the organization, through her brilliant operational and organizational contributions, and by cementing an incredible culture of collaboration and support within our organization.

At the end of the 2022, after a full decade of leadership, Karen Phillippi resigned as the chair of our board. Karen's time with Global Detroit even predates Sloan's, as she served on the original advisory board for the Global Detroit study. Karen gave selflessly for 14 years, spending hours every week signing checks, strategizing with Sloan and me, and providing a steady vision to a dynamic organization. While Karen started this journey as a volunteer from the private sector, working on immigration with the Miller Canfield law firm, she was the second hire at Michigan's Office for New Americans (now the Office of Global Michigan) and even led that office during the final years of the Snyder administration. Karen is well known nationally as one of the core leaders in immigrant economic inclusion and brought subject matter expertise to so many areas of our work. But more importantly, Karen offered moral encouragement and served as a thought partner to me and the team for more than a decade.,

Global Detroit's success is the direct result of the contributions that Sloan and Karen made. At the same time, 2022 represented the dawning of a new chapter in the Global Detroit story.

We welcomed Dr. Alaina Jackson as our first managing director. Alaina comes to us with decades of research expertise, corporate expertise, nonprofit leadership and personal experience as an immigrant herself in nearly a dozen countries. She will oversee our Southeast Michigan programs—the core of our organization—in addition to our operations. I met Alaina five years ago and, ever since, she and I have been trying to figure out a way for her to join the team. We finally found the perfect role. In just a few short months, she has made known her brilliance, her larger-than-life humor and her warmth. For more than a decade, I have loved helping to lead Global Detroit through a consensus decision-making model, and I am confident that Global Detroit will continue to thrive, and will excel, under Alaina's leadership.

Global Detroit is also fortunate to welcome Jim Becker as our board chair. Jim is a leader in the commercial real estate field and in business. During his time running the Avison Young office in Toronto, Canada, Jim witnessed the transformative impact that immigrants can make on the vibrancy of a city and its neighborhoods. On his return to Detroit, Jim reached out to me when he heard about Global Detroit and its mission, vision and work. Originally, he volunteered to help us raise contributions, but for the last five years, he has been a strong voice on our board of directors, recently serving as our board treasurer. Jim has made numerous introductions to Global Detroit over the years, and he is a voice of deep compassion and vision.

2022 marked the culmination of years of policy advocacy work around making Michigan the premier state in global talent attraction and retention.

In 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her 60x30 vision to upskill Michigan's workforce with a goal of 60% of our state's workforce possessing a post-secondary degree or professional credential by 2030. In response, Global Detroit spearheaded an effort to work with the Governor's team, private industry and national experts to craft the first comprehensive immigrant-inclusion strategy for a state workforce upskilling program. The plan remained unfunded until, under Global Detroit's leadership, a statewide business coalition was formed and the first $5 million of a five-year, $25 million budget was appropriated by the Michigan Legislature. This appropriation will enable Global Detroit to expand the Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI), our international student retention program, across the state, as well as expand our Global Entrepreneurs in Residence program (Global EIR) to help startup founders.

In 2022, Global Detroit debuted original research documenting the importance of each of these programs. Our international student retention report, using over 1.5 million international student records obtained by the Pew Research Center, documented the fact that over 43,000 international students entered the Michigan workforce over a 13-year period, providing a significant amount of STEM talent to the economy. Our Global EIR program was reviewed by an outside evaluator who found that in our first 2 ½ years we had supported seven startup founders from six companies who raised $15.6 million in venture capital and created 49 jobs. We are excited about the opportunity to expand these talent programs across Michigan.

But it’s not just high-skilled STEM graduates and tech startup founders that make immigration so important to Southeast Michigan’s future. Global Detroit is focused on building an inclusive regional economy that welcomes refugees, humanitarian arrivals and immigrants of all backgrounds, education levels, and skill sets. We accomplish this through programs like Common Bond, which transforms the lives of immigrant and refugee women who face their own unique set of integration barriers, and through DTE’s Energy Efficiency Assistance program, under which Global Detroit provided over 200 low-income families with more than $2 million in free energy efficiency upgrades in 2022. Our work as a trusted connector to immigrant small businesses reached over 250 small and micro-businesses in 2022 and led to over $800,000 in small business loan applications. Finally, the organization is blazing new ground in building connections between immigrants and their long-term African American neighbors through our nationally-funded social cohesion demonstration project.

Global Detroit is building an inclusive regional economy.

We have been able to influence state and local policy in critical ways so that our region is aware of our growing immigrant communities and inclusive of their contributions, needs and aspirations. Whether it is positioning the State to invest in the inclusion of immigrant talent, building inclusive housing policies or ensuring that anti-poverty programs address barriers faced by immigrant families, our advocacy work is having tangible impact. We are leading the Southeast Michigan Refugee Collaborative to enhance the long-term integration of refugee and humanitarian arrivals in Southeast Michigan.

These efforts demonstrate the critical importance of our partners.

In fact, without our many partners, Global Detroit would get very little done. And that’s by design.

An inclusive region doesn’t exist by the work of a single nonprofit, but is created when state and local government, private corporations, nonprofit agencies and local residents work together. This means adopting inclusive practices, policies and programs, and being intentional about building inclusion into the everyday work and culture

Our community is at the core of Global Detroit’s work.

If you’re reading this annual report, I am confident you are a part of that journey. On behalf of the Global Detroit board, staff and the communities we serve, I would like to thank you.

© 2023 Global Detroit
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© 2023 Global Detroit