EDA University Center for
Regional Economic Innovation

Consultative Panel

At the hub of the REI University Center is the Consultative Panel of statewide knowledge-based and experienced experts. The purpose of this select panel is to counsel and advise the REI University Center faculty and staff on the overall project objectives and scope of work.

  • Britany Affolter-Caine

  • Project Manager, University Research Corridor (URC)

  • Britany Affolter-Caine

    Britany Affolter-Caine is the Project Manager for Michigan's University Research Corridor (URC), an alliance of Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University to transform, strengthen and diversify the state's economy. At the URC, Britany has managed the development and dissemination of several reports that inform key stakeholders on the critical contributions of Michigan's top three research intensive universities on the state's economy, including the annual economic impact and benchmarking series and a report on entrepreneurship among the URC universities' alumni (May 2013). She also manages programs and events that foster greater collaboration among researchers across the universities and with industry. Prior to the URC, Britany was the talent director for Ann Arbor SPARK. She also worked as a senior research associate for the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution on the Great Lakes Economic Initiative, which focused on the creation of a federal-state agenda to promote the Great Lakes Region. Britany earned her PhD in higher education policy from the University of Michigan in 2008, which focused on the study of inter-university collaboration. She also earned a M.Ed. in secondary education from Wright State University (1999), and a BA in political science from Wittenberg University (1996).

  • Jim Baker

  •  Executive Director, Innovation and Industry Engagement, Michigan Technological University

  • Jim Baker

    Jim Baker is the Executive Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement at Michigan Technological University. He is involved in connections between companies and the University in a number of areas including technology commercialization, research contracting, and industrial partnerships. In addition to working with startups and established companies that license university technology and sponsor research at Michigan Tech, Jim is actively involved in a number of partner organizations including the Michigan Small Business Development Center, MTEC Smartzone, and the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance in order to enable the establishment, growth, and sustainability of technology companies throughout the upper peninsula region. He currently serves as President of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, and member of the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center Statewide and Region 1 Advisory Committee. Jim is a former board member of the Michigan Business Incubator Association and has been involved in various capacities with a number of technology startups including a current Board Membership with a Kalamazoo based biotechnology startup company. Jim is a registered U.S. Patent Agent and holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Technological University.

  • Dave Bee

  • Director, West Michigan Regional Planning Commission (WMRPC)

  • Dave Bee

    Dave Bee began at the West Michigan Regional Planning Commission (WMRPC) in 1999 and was appointed Director in 2000. Dave's primary responsibility involves implementing the policies of the WMRPC. Other responsibilities include communicating with member communities, maintaining a qualified staff, administration of grants, and advocating for member communities with state and federal agencies. Dave is responsible for maintaining a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and working with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the 20-member CEDS Committee to identify community projects, encourage economic growth, and assist communities in seeking funds from EDA. Dave has written plans for communities across Michigan. His involvement in the CEDS process and in recreation planning has helped bring tens of millions of dollars into West Michigan's communities.

    Education & Affiliations: B.S. Urban Planning, Michigan State University; Master of Public Administration, Grand Valley State University; American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP); Michigan Association of Planning; American Planning Association; Michigan Association of Regions; Michigan Economic Developers Association. Prior to his employment at the WMRPC, Dave was a private sector planner for ten years. He also served in the U.S. Navy for six years prior to attending Michigan State University.

  • Robin Boyle

  • Professor of Urban Planning, Chair of Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Wayne State University

  • Robin Boyle

    Dr. Boyle is the Professor of Urban Planning, Chair of Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Wayne State University. He was educated at the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Reading, UK; a Research Associate: University of Edinburgh; Lecturer and Senior Lecturer: University of Strathclyde 1977-1992; a Visiting Professor at the University of Delaware, 1985; Wayne State University 1992-present. He is also a member of the UK Royal Town Planning Institute, American Planning Association and Urban Land Institute.

    Dr. Boyle serves as the Chair, and on the Planning Board for the City of Birmingham, MI. Board Memberships include: Greening of Detroit, Michigan Suburbs Alliance and Urban Land Institute (Michigan).

    Research interests focus on public policies and planning for large cities, with an emphasis on local economic development. He recently completed a study of surface transportation options between Detroit Metro airport and downtown. Scholarly research has included cross-national policy responses to urban decline, with a detailed study of how mid-west cities are responding to "shrinkage".

  • Rita Fields

  • Assistant Professor of Management, School of Business, Madonna University

  • Rita Fields

    Dr. Rita Fields is an Assistant Professor of Management in the School of Business at Madonna University. Dr. Fields has prior experience investigating novel community activities using qualitative research methods. Prior to academia, Dr. Fields worked at the senior executive level in the healthcare industry for 10 years and in corporate America for 17 years. Dr. Fields is a member of the Eastern Michigan University Management Advisory Board, Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) and the Human Resources Association of Greater Detroit (HRAGD). She is a recent ex-President of the Marygrove College Alumni Board, a board member with South Oakland Shelter (SOS), a board advisor for the First Children Finance Fund, a member of the board for the Traveler’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Detroit, and was a member of the inaugural leadership team of Leadership NEXT. Crain’s Detroit Business named her among "40 Under 40" for 2008. In 2009, the Fusion division of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce honored her with a Young Professional in Health Care Services Horizon Award.

  • Eric Frederick

  • State Program Manager, Connect Michigan

  • Eric Frederick

    Eric joined Connect Michigan in July 2011 as the State Program Manager. Since then, he has built and led a nationally recognized team that has produced the nation's first Certified Connected Community. Eric has developed relationships with statewide, national, and international groups that are partnering with Connect Michigan, and their parent non-profit Connected Nation, to solve problems of connectivity, and to bolster the value of internet connections. Eric's interest in strengthening Michigan's economy lies in the development opportunities and community benefits surrounding the expanded access, adoption, and use of information and communications technology.

    Prior to joining Connect Michigan, Eric worked for LSL Planning, Inc. as a Project Planner. In this role, Eric was responsible for comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance development, transportation planning, the development of specialized Cost of Community Services Studies, economic development and grants related projects, all for various cities throughout the state of Michigan, the mid-west, and Alaska. He holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Science degree with a Major in Planning and a Minor in Geographic Information Systems from Northern Michigan University, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

  • Charles A. Hasemann

  • Executive Director, Michigan State University Innovation Center

  • Charles A. Hasemann

    Charles A. Hasemann, PhD, Executive Director of the Michigan State University Innovation Center, earned his doctorate in Molecular Immunology and performed his post-doctoral training in X-ray Crystallography. As an Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, he established an NIH-funded laboratory studying immune system-related protein structure and function. He was subsequently recruited to Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals in Ann Arbor, MI (later merged with Pfizer, Inc) as the Director of structure-based drug design, and via a series of expanding management positions, ultimately joined the Executive Management team with direction over all aspects of drug discovery at the Ann Arbor site, as well as global leadership responsibilities for Pfizer's overall drug discovery technologies. In his capacities at Pfizer, Dr. Hasemann oversaw several extensive and productive collaborations with biotechnology companies and academic laboratories.

    In his time at MSU, Dr. Hasemann has launched the Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute, Business-CONNECT, and most recently, Spartan Innovations. Combining his corporate research executive experience with his academic research and administration experiences, Dr. Hasemann is well credentialed to lead the MSU Innovation Center on its mission to create productive research and technology commercialization relationships between MSU and the private sector, to connect regional entrepreneurs to the intellectual and technical capacity of the University, and to participate in regional economic activity endeavors.

  • Gary Heidel

  • Chief Placemaking Officer, Michigan State Housing Development Authority

  • Gary Heidel

    Gary Heidel serves as Chief Placemaking Officer for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. He oversees the operations of the Community Development, Downtown and Community Services, and State Historic Preservation Office divisions. He has been employed at MSHDA since 1986. Previous positions include Executive Director, Director of Program Policy & Market Research and Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Relations. He presently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at MSU and the Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis.

    During the last 26 years, Gary has played a significant role in passing and implementing various important policies at the state and federal levels of government. These include the Neighborhood Preservation Program, the federal HOME program, federal Empowerment Zone program, Individual Development Accounts, Michigan Mortgage Credit Certificate Program, Cool Cities, Michigan Magnet Fund, Vision 2020, Centers of Regional Excellence, and the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund.

    Gary has received several awards including the advocacy award from the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, the Bernice Bensen Service Award from Habitat for Humanity Michigan, the CED Advocate of the Year Award from the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, the Special Award of Merit from the Michigan Municipal League, and the Nonprofit Champion Award from the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

    Gary graduated from the University of Michigan in 1976. He has also graduated from various executive leadership programs. These include the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, Governors Center at Duke University, and the JFK School of Government at Harvard University.

  • Allan Hooper

  • Executive Director, Jackson Anchor Initiative

  • Allan Hooper

    Allan Hooper is the Executive Director of the Jackson Anchor Initiative, a private sector venture of the community's larger employers focused on creating and sustaining a more vibrant urban environment -- a "place" to attract and retain young talented workers. The initiative is supported by Jackson's leading businesses and the three local colleges. With the JAI, Allan is developing and implementing concepts to create demand for downtown living and retail development in order to attract and retail millennials. Prior to his position at the JAI, Allan was the Economic Development Manager for Consumers Energy. His career included domestic business attraction, export assistance and international economic development in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. Allan also specialized in small town and rural development where he promoted the concepts of asset-based economic development and economic gardening; strategies that focus on the assets communities have and how they can be better utilized for economic sustainability. Allan is a graduate of Penn State University with a bachelor of political science and masters of urban and regional planning.

  • Naheed Huq

  • Plan Implementation Leader, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)

  • Naheed Huq

    Naheed Huq is Plan Implementation Leader for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). She focuses on education, workforce development and economic development.

    Ms. Huq manages SEMCOG's Talent Task Force, a multi-sector partnership that identifies solutions and gaps in skills needed to advance economic development in the region. She provides technical assistance on workforce development, economic development, revitalization and strategic planning. She also works closely with elected and appointed government officials to improve public services, and with education and nonprofit organizations on public policies to respond to economic challenges. She has written numerous articles and reports on intergovernmental collaboration, talent and community development. Two recent reports on addressing talent needs in the state are Lifelong Soft Skills Framework and the Infrastructure and Jobs Asset Map - an analysis of jobs in major infrastructure projects.

    Prior to SEMCOG, Ms. Huq was the Assistant Director of the Conference of Western Wayne, a nonprofit organization supporting local communities in Wayne County. She has also worked in public housing and policy development.

    Ms. Huq holds a bachelor's degree in Geography from London University and a Masters in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics.

  • Jennifer James-Mesloh

  • Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor, Graduate Public Administration Program, Northern Michigan University

  • Jennifer James-Mesloh

    Jennifer James-Mesloh holds a doctorate in public affairs and a master’s in public administration. She is currently the program coordinator and assistant professor in the graduate public administration program at Northern Michigan University. Her previous professional experience has been derived from undergraduate education, health care, state and county government, economic development, agriculture and non-profits. In the aforementioned disciplines, she has over 20 years specializing in maternal and child health program effectiveness, crisis and emergency risk communications on behalf of public health agencies and public relations/public information for agencies and nonprofits. She is also a peer-reviewed author.

  • Bethany Kennedy

  • Director of Access Services, Washtenaw Community College

  • Bethany Kennedy

    Bethany Kennedy is the Director of Access Services in the Bailey Library at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she focuses on developing and implementing solutions so that library users may better access meaningful, timely information.

    Ms. Kennedy earned her Master of Library and Information Science degree from Wayne State University in 2005 and has worked in a variety of academic settings. Her current projects include bringing librarians, business service organizations and business owners together through LibraryBiz Connect, and leading the WCC Entrepreneurship Center Steering Committee. She is committed to facilitating innovative, collaborative efforts to strengthen her community through economic development.

  • Jonathan Leinonen

  • Instructor and Project Advisor, School of Business and Economics, Michigan Technological University

  • Jonathan Leinonen

    Jonathan is principal of Planning Vision, LLC which serves to provide business guidance to technology-based businesses.  For over 20 years, he has worked with companies ranging from startup to industry-leading firms, guiding and deploying technology-focused innovation in sectors ranging from automotive to information technology.  He currently serves at Michigan Technological University as an instructor in the School of Business and Economics and as a Mentor in Residence, teaching and guiding early stage technology innovation with strategic planning, capital formation and business development.  Mr. Leinonen also serves numerous community organizations including the Portage Health Foundation, the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce – Upper Michigan, MTEC SmartZone and other non-profit organizations that are aligned to provide the people of Upper Michigan with sustainable economic development.

  • Rubén Martinez

  • Director, Julian Samora Research Institute

  • Rubén Martinez

    Rubén O. Martinez is a nationally known scholar with expertise in the areas of higher education, race and ethnic relations, and diversity leadership. He is the editor of the Latinos in the United States book series with Michigan State University Press. He recently co-edited (with David J. Leon) the book, Latino College Presidents: In their own Words, in which selected Latinos and Latinas share personal insights and experiences on their pathways to their presidencies at colleges and universities in the U.S. He has co-authored the books A Brief History of Cristo Rey Church in Lansing, MI, Chicanos in Higher Education and Diversity Leadership in Higher Education. He also edited the volume Latinos in the Midwest and is currently co-editing a volume on Occupational Health Disparities among Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Dr. Martinez is widely recognized for his extensive scholarly achievements, his consulting work in higher education and community research projects, and his participation in high-profile projects sponsored by key philanthropic foundations.

  • Terence O'Neill

  • Entrepreneurship Librarian, Michigan State University

  • Terence O'Neill

    Terence O'Neill is the Entrepreneurship Librarian at Michigan State University, where he works across campus and the community to connect entrepreneurs to resources that will better inform their business decisions. His primary work is speaking to classes and groups and purchases books and materials for business support. Through a background in libraries and community education, Terence has worked to support business and innovation internationally and throughout Michigan.  He has worked at Michigan State University since 2013, where he's been active in the development of prototyping resources and makerspace activities across campus. Prior to working for MSU, Terence completed a term of service with Peace Corps Malawi from 2008-2010, received his Master's in Information from the University of Michigan School of Information in 2013.

  • Susan Pigg

  • Executive Director, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission

  • Susan Pigg

    Susan M. C. Pigg, CECD is the Executive Director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission serving the greater Lansing Michigan region's Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties. Governed by a board of local officials, TCRPC is certified as the region's planning and development district by federal and state agencies. TCRPC provides data and technical assistance, strategic planning, and facilitates multi-jurisdictional solutions in Transportation, Environmental Protection, Land Use Planning and Community Economic Development. Previously, Ms. Pigg was a regional development planner, Eaton County Community Development Director then Ingham County Economic Development Director and MSU Extension Educator. Ms. Pigg has a B.S. in Biology (Philadelphia, PA), a M.S. in Resource Development/Natural Resource Management (Michigan State University), and PhD courses in Economic Development and Environmental Toxicology. She is an IEDC Certified Developer, served many years as an officer of the Michigan Economic Developers Association, and was awarded MEDA President's Awards and the Conboy Educator Award. Ms. Pigg is from the Washington, D.C. area then lived in Pennsylvania and South America before making Michigan home. Her hobbies include travel, antiques, theatrical costuming, and gardening. She lives in the Lansing area with her spouse and teenage sons.

  • Michael J. Polzin

  • Project Manager, Public Policy Associates, Inc.

  • Michael J. Polzin

    Michael Polzin is employed as a project manager at PPA where he works extensively on workforce development projects, including the evaluation of several programs, funded through the U.S. Department of Labor that focus on supply-side responses that address employer demand  for a skilled workforce. He is also a co-developer and a principal instructor of the Business Solutions Professional training certification program, a professional development initiative for workforce development, economic development, education, and business assistance professionals to identify and, in partnership, address a wide range of business needs to enhance competitiveness.

    At MSU, Dr. Polzin often worked directly with businesses, labor organizations, workforce agencies, and others to help businesses prosper and workers succeed.  He was a Fulbright Scholar at Kookmin University in the Republic of Korea in 2008. Previously, he served on the staff of the Michigan Governor's Office for Job Training, promoting employee ownership and participative work systems to union and management leaders and also worked with a private consulting firm in Philadelphia that created worker-owned and controlled businesses. He holds a doctorate and a master's in adult education from Temple University and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Aquinas College.

  • Barry Randolph

  • Board Member, Church of the Messiah Housing Corporation

  • Barry Randolph

    Pastor Barry Randolph is a graduate of Martin Luther King High School and attended Wayne State University. With a background in business he co-owned a distribution company, health food store and a fine dining restaurant in the 80's and 90's. Feeling something missing in his life he started attending Church of the Messiah where he truly found his calling. He began as a volunteer tutor for the after school programs, and held various positions such as the Sunday School Teacher, Youth Director and Worship Leader. In June 2002, he became an ordained priest and now pastors Church of Messiah. Pastor Randolph served as the Executive Director of the Build Leaders for Village Development Harambee (Blvd Harambee). Blvd Harambee is the social services arm of Messiah. It includes a food pantry, fitness and nutrition programs, summer camp and the Mt. Elliot Makerspace.

    Pastor Randolph currently serves as a board member of the Church of the Messiah Housing Corporation which is one of the oldest community development corporations in the country. It provides affordable housing to over 400 residents in the city of Detroit and has invested over 48 million dollars in the Island view neighborhood.

  • Thomas M. Smith

  • Associate Director of the Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT)

  • Thomas M. Smith

    Mr. Smith's responsibilities focus on workforce and economic development in food and agriculture. Activities include developing and delivering training programs in partnership with state agencies, businesses and community partners that lead to employment in food and agriculture. US Veterans is a specific target population. Other interests and activities include the development of on-line and blended curricula, including for international development.

    Projects and Activities:

    • Greenhouse Workforce Needs Assessment in SW Michigan (April 2014)
    • Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA) NSF National Center of Excellence – PI (2014-present) & Michigan Coordinator (2009-present)
    • Vets to Ag Program Coordinator (2009-present)
    • Global Center for Food Systems Innovation – Co-Lead, Skills and Workforce Development (Jan 2013-Dec 2014)
    • Food Processing Workforce Development Report (January 2014)

    Prior to joining MSU in March of 2008, Mr. Smith was the Executive Director of the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation and the Michigan Ground Water Association. He brings further business experience to his position at MSU, having owned and operated businesses in the green industry and technology transfer for over 30 years. He holds a BS and MS, Crop & Soil Science from MSU.

  • Arnold Weinfeld

  • Director of Urban Policy Initiatives, Michigan State University Outreach and Engagement

  • Arnold Weinfeld

    Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Urban Policy Initiatives in Michigan State University's Office of the Associate Provost for Outreach and Engagement (UOE). In this capacity he works collaboratively with the Center for Community and Economic Development and serves as a connector and boundary spanner, working with MSU faculty, community partners and agencies to develop university-community partnerships focused on urban and systems change. He participates in and leads community-engaged research and evaluation projects working to promote community based participatory research models of practice.

    Prior to joining UOE, Arnold served as CEO of Prima Civitas, a community and economic development non-profit organization. He also spent many years with the Michigan Municipal League where as Director of Strategic initiatives he was responsible for the planning and development of new programs and outreach strategies to support place-based policy initiatives and programming for local officials across the state. He worked to establish the MML Center for 21st Century Communities and was a founding co-chair of the Michigan Sense of Place of Council, a public-private statewide collaborative of trade groups working to improve the quality of life of Michigan’s citizens by promoting the creation of vibrant communities, and in so doing, make Michigan competitive in the new global economy.

    Arnold began his career with the Michigan House of Representatives where he worked as a legislative aide, policy analyst and policy director. He has served his own community as an elected member of the Waverly Community Schools Board of Education holding the positions of Treasurer and President and is currently a planning commissioner. He is also on the board of statewide organizations such as the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association, Michigan Rural Council and Creative Many Michigan. Arnold holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University’s College of Social Science Multi-Disciplinary Program.

  • Kara Wood

  • Economic Development Director, City of Grand Rapids

  • Kara Wood

    Kara Wood is the Economic Development Director for the City of Grand Rapids. She interacts with and guides community business leaders in the positive advancement of the city's economic growth, and assists developers in implementing a wide variety of programs and initiatives that focus on developing and fostering public-private partnerships to accelerate job retention and creation, neighborhood revitalization and innovation and entrepreneurship. She is an alumni of Michigan State University's Eli Broad College of Business, Western Michigan University's School of Public Affairs and Administration and serves on a variety of personal and professional boards and associations such as the Michigan Magnet Fund Board of Directors, Michigan Economic Developers Association Board, Michigan Accelerator Fund 1 Board of Directors and the Michigan Municipal League Land Use and Economic Development Committee.