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.

Dr. Alaina Jackson, Managing Director

I left Detroit 20 years ago, in 1997, during which time I pursued my education (Northwestern University and University of Southern California) and worked and lived abroad (Germany, France, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, etc.). My work, studies, research, and travel exposed me to inclusive housing policy and financing in Mexico, inclusive healthcare policies and programs in Germany, and inclusive business start-up financing and cooperative business models in Spain and Costa Rica. While living abroad, I learned about, and lived, the possibilities of inclusively designed and deployed systems and institutions. What these experiences affirmed for me, and what I believe in my heart and know to be true, is that inclusion is the superior strategy every time.

In every system and institution, and at every scale, inclusion will not fail us.

I returned to Detroit in 2017, seeking a new professional home where those experiences and lessons could be put to their best and highest uses. And, in Global Detroit, I’ve found that home as their first managing director. At Global Detroit, we believe that immigrant inclusion as an economic development strategy, where the regional economy welcomes refugees, humanitarian arrivals and immigrants of all backgrounds, education levels, and skill sets, will strengthen the regional economy and the economic outcomes for all residents.

2022 saw Global Detroit advance its efforts at multiple scales- individual (Common Bond work with immigrant and refugee women), household (DTE Energy Efficiency Assistance Program for low-income households), neighborhood (Social Cohesion demonstration project with long-term African American residents and their immigrant neighbors, and Trusted Connector work with small and micro businesses), institutional (Global Entrepreneur in Residence program, housed at several universities), regional (Southeast Michigan Refugee Collaborative), and systemic through research, advocacy, and policy work. I’m proud of our team’s accomplishments and the positive impact we’ve had on our community.

Our goals for 2023 stand on the accomplishments and lessons learned from 2022, and I’m excited to see where they take us.

While Steve, as the executive director, will oversee the growth of our statewide footprint through the first comprehensive immigrant-inclusion strategy for a state workforce upskilling program, and the creation of the Center for Immigrant Inclusive Economic Development, as the new managing director, I will oversee our core programs and operations in Southeast Michigan.

Thank you to the Global Detroit team and board of directors (past and present), funders, residents, and ecosystem partners that have welcomed me with open arms. I’m inspired and encouraged by the work you’ve invested in, the outcomes you’ve achieved, and the rich legacy you’ve established. I look forward to learning with you and from you, and to collaborating and co-creating with you. 2023 is going to be amazing.

Let’s go!

Jim Becker, Board Chair

Great cities are vibrant places where diverse people congregate, create, collaborate, invest, recreate and gather. As a committed Detroiter, fifteen years ago, I had the opportunity to lead Avison Young’s Toronto office and experienced firsthand a true, world-class city. The energy, richness and vibrancy of Toronto have elevated the city and its quality of life, not just for the downtown area, but into its neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs. And at the core of all Toronto’s modern glory has been the tremendous growth of its immigrant population who have brought the beauty, ingenuity, work ethic and compassion of their native culture and fused it with distinctly local values and customs.

When I returned to Detroit in 2012, I felt that I was entering a city on the rise from a half century of disinvestment and a city in which there was promise that the racial disparities of the past were no longer being ignored. Amidst all the dynamic growth was Global Detroit, a relatively young nonprofit initiative with roots at the Detroit Regional Chamber, as well as deep connections in Detroit’s neighborhoods. Global Detroit was advocating that immigration could be a powerful ingredient shaping Detroit’s future. The organization not only recognized the tremendously valuable contributions that immigrants make to the city and regional economy, but it was designing and implementing programs to proactively welcome, integrate and invest in immigrant communities as part of the region’s economic and community development strategies.

I continue to learn and be inspired by the work of Global Detroit and the amazing staff we have, as well as all the important work that partners like the City of Detroit Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, State of Michigan Office of Global Michigan, the William Davidson Foundation and the New Economy Initiative and refugee resettlement agencies are doing.

One of my guides in this journey has been Karen Phillippi, who served as board chair to Global Detroit since its inception. Karen’s expertise in this growing field of immigrant inclusive economic development is evident and she is viewed across the nation as a leader in this work. But I have observed how she guided our board and connected with our staff and partners and know that she indeed has left big shoes to fill. As I step into the role of board chair I am grateful to have a talented slate of fellow board members to rely on. Moreover, with Dr. Alaina Jackson as our first managing director, Global Detroit is poised for greatness.

It can be cliché to say Detroit’s best days are ahead. But when you consider the dialogue leaders are having about the Black middle class, systemic racism and forging an economic future that is welcoming and inclusive of all, I think there is great cause for optimism. We all know the great history and assets Detroit possesses, but leaders are engaged in leveraging that legacy in a way that intentionally provides pathways to prosperity for everyone. Ensuring that immigrant contributions and communities are part of those strategies, policies, practices and programs is critical. And I’ve yet to find an organization as well prepared and impactful as Global Detroit to make sure that future is realized. It’s an honor to serve as the second board chair of this organization and I hope you are as inspired by the impacts Global Detroit produced in 2022 as I am.

© 2023 Global Detroit
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© 2023 Global Detroit