Meet Our Board of Directors
Sean Carlson, Board Chair of Oakland Thrive

Sean Carlson, Board Chair

Sean Carlson serves as an Oakland County Deputy Executive and is a founding member of the Oakland Thrive Board of Directors. Carlson’s role on the Board, which begins after awards and contracts are granted, is to provide direct oversight of county funds and ensure close coordination between the county and contractors. Prior to this, Carlson served as the executive director of the Michigan Defense Center, vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s international trade program, and senior deputy director of Michigan's Department of Management & Budget. In 2006, the National Association of Government Accountants named Carlson as one of the top state leaders in the country for his development of policies bringing integrity to public procurement. After 20 years in the Air Force both on active duty and in the Air National Guard, Carlson retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Grace Lee, Board member of Oakland Thrive

Grace Lee

Grace Lee is the CEO/President of Ashford Connex, LLC. Prior to founding Ashford Connex, she was a co-founder and CFO of Logic Solutions, Inc., a global web technology company. She has over 20 years of experience in both corporate/public accounting and human resources. Lee is a passionate advocate of diversity and entrepreneurship. She serves on the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission as Vice Chair and on the board of Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship. Lee received the MIT Enterprise Forum Excellence Award in 2012 as well as the Diversity award from Corp! Magazine in 2008. She holds a BA in Economics from UCLA and a Master’s in Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University.

Alan Kiriluk, Board member of Oakland Thrive

Alan Kiriluk

Alan Kiriluk is the founder and chairman of KIRCO, a Michigan-based commercial real estate development, construction, and property management company. He began his career as a subcontractor in paving and road construction for his father’s business. Kiriluk later expanded that business to include office construction and corporate build-to-suit projects. Since its beginning in 1974, KIRCO has built a reputation of quality and integrity throughout the country and has grown to include locations in Ohio, Alabama, Minnesota, and Florida. Alan’s leadership has grown beyond his own company and has established him as a recognized leader in the real estate industry as well as in his government and community endeavors, primarily in the fields of healthcare and transportation. He has been recognized for his success by publications and local communities and has received numerous awards for his philanthropic and fundraising efforts.

Shannon Steel, Board member of Oakland Thrive

Shannon Steel

Shannon Steel was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and has a degree in Economics from the University of Houston and a certificate of finance from Harvard Business School Online. At 23, she became the youngest stockbroker at Axa Advisors and one of the youngest in the country. While at Axa she increased retired client's portfolios by 15-20%, and was awarded the General Motors account where she managed and strategically invested their 401k, pension, and buyout funds for retirees. Steel also has experience with private banking and has held executive and board of director positions with various private offshore banks. Steel recently became one of the youngest female hotel owners in the country after completing a $3,000,000 renovation on a Wyndham hotel. She was awarded Wyndham hotel and Resorts developer of the year for 2019.


Renee Pipis Axt

Renee Pipis Axt is the founder and President of RCP Associates, LLC., and SOSWorks, both headquartered in Detroit. She is solution-driven and has demonstrated experience in both the public and private sectors, including leadership positions within the Wayne County Executive’s Office and the Wayne County Airport Authority Board. Renee has worked extensively in nonprofit, government, and event management, budgeting, grassroots organizing, and economic development. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has served with several other boards and organizations in Southeast Michigan.

Meet Our Staff
Vicki Selva, CEO of Oakland Thrive

Vicki Selva, CEO

Vicki Selva has been managing budgets, developing programs and strategies, and working to grow Michigan companies for over 20 years. She is the former Executive Director of the Michigan Defense Center, which was created in 2006 to support the state’s federally funded programs and contractors. Prior to this she served for over a decade as Senator Carl Levin’s Director where she built her reputation working with global, national, and local companies and has developed many important relationships with key members of industry, government, and academia. She also developed and led initiatives to connect constituents and businesses to resources offered at all levels of government, academia, and nonprofits. Working within government, she was able to innovate, including recommending new programs and legislation which assisted hundreds of companies to respond to economic challenges. (248)602-0040

Laura Dodd

Laura Dodd, COO

Laura Dodd has spent her career improving lives through public services. As a nonprofit leader, she has worked in voluntary health, higher ed, historic preservation, tourism, human rights, and economic development organizations throughout the country. Most recently, Dodd worked as part of Oakland County’s Economic Development organization leading external affairs and business information. During this time, she was an integral component in delivering vital grants, technical support, and personal protection equipment to small businesses throughout Oakland County. Dodd serves on the Huron Valley Schools Board of Education as Vice President. She has an undergraduate degree from Western Michigan University in Organizational Communication and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

Emilie Rohrbach

Emilie Rohrbach, Director of Events & Training

“I love bringing high-quality resources into our small business community! The bonus is getting to work with some of the best folks around.” (248)376-8011

Tony Cook

Tony Cook, Director of Business Forward

Carolina Noguez

Carolina Noguez, Manager of Strategic Partnerships

Serves all of Oakland County. Languages spoken: English, Spanish, and some German. “I joined Oakland Thrive because of the amazing and dedicated employees that work there. I want to help small businesses find real solutions to their questions and concerns.” (248)202-9526

Connect With Me On LinkedIn
Danielle Sadler, Program Administrator of Oakland Thrive

Danielle Sadler, Program Administrator

“I have a drive to help small businesses thrive!” (248)931-7226

Wisam Brikho

Wisam Brikho, B2B Program Lead

Serves all of Oakland County. Languages spoken: English, Arabic, and Chaldean. “I love building a new process and structure. There is so much potential for advancement and the culture of the agency.” (248)259-9293

Connect With Me On LinkedIn
Marion Green

Marion Green, Office Administrator

Meet Our Business Consultants
Gerrard Allen

Gerrard Allen - Business Forward Consultant

“I love to connect the dots. It's been my life's work to network and find resources. And Oakland Thrive has the resources my networks need and other small business owners to help.” (248)931-9174

Allyson D. Andrews, Business Forward Team Lead & Childcare Industry Consultant of Oakland Thrive's Business Forward program

Allyson D. Andrews - Business Forward Team Lead & Childcare Industry Consultant

“I strongly believe in being the change I want to see and Oakland Thrive empowers us to do just that! As a resident and child care business owner in Oakland County, I know first hand the resources and support that is lacking and I'm excited to provide business owners with much needed support and guidance.” (248)931-7697

Donna Marie Bauer

Donna Marie Bauer - Business Forward Consultant / Food Industry Specialist

Serves Waterford, Commerce, Walled Lake, Wolverine Lake, and White Lake. Languages spoken: English and some Spanish. “I enjoy the opportunity to help small businesses succeed.” (248)466-9603

Connect With Me On LinkedIn
Brian Becker

Brian Becker - Business Forward Team Lead

Serves Milford, Highland, Holly, Rose, Independence, Springfield. Languages spoken: English. “I have a strong desire to help Oakland County businesses succeed.” (248)931-4869

Connect With Me On LinkedIn
Jamar Bray

Jamar Bray - Business Forward Consultant

Jonathan deSanctis

Jonathan deSanctis - Business Forward Team Lead

Serves Pontiac and Auburn Hills. Languages spoken: English. “As an entrepreneur myself, I wanted to be able to help other entrepreneurs have access to resources that I didn't when getting started.” (248)701-9294

Connect With Me On LinkedIn
Dustin Frigy

Dustin Frigy

Sairy Garcia

Sairy Garcia - Business Forward Consultant

Serves Royal Oak, Madison Heights, and Oakland County’s Hispanic Community. Languages spoken: English and Spanish. “I see this opportunity as a way to help Oakland County Women, Minority and Veteran Small Businesses owners move forward with their businesses to grow and thrive. Also, as a latina, I'm an ambassador of the Hispanic Community in Oakland County.” (248)466-9255

Connect With Me On LinkedIn
Daryl L Peguese

Daryl L Peguese - Sr. Business Forward Consultant

Serves Oak Park, Lathrup Village, and Berkley. Languages spoken: English. “My passion is for helping small businesses thrive and grow.” (248)931-8046

Connect With Me On LinkedIn
Cyndia Robinson

Cyndia Robinson - Business Forward Consultant

Serves Sothfield, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms, Royal Oak, Ferndale. Languages spoken: English. “I enjoy supporting small businesses.” (248)934-5345

Connect With Me On LinkedIn
Drake Phifer

Drake R. Phifer - Business Forward Consultant

“I joined Oakland Thrive because I have a desire to unearth resources and finance opportunities for underserved populations.” (248)466-4551

Tracey Williams

Tracey Williams - Sr. Business Forward Consultant

“Lack of access to capital for small businesses, especially in the African American community, is a huge barrier for business success. Realizing that I would be able to assist small businesses with gaining access to capital and other resources made it an easy decision to join this organization.” (248)931-8048