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 to bring 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. Kiriluk’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. Pipis Axt 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. Selva also developed and led initiatives to connect constituents and businesses to resources offered at all levels of government, academia, and nonprofits. Her work within government was innovative, including recommending new programs and legislation to assist hundreds of companies responding 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 & Marketing

Emilie Rohrbach is a dynamic leader with a strong track record of driving positive change and fostering inclusive communities. With experience in political campaigns, community advocacy, and organizational leadership, Rohrbach brings a unique blend of strategic vision and relationship-building expertise to Oakland Thrive. Rohrbach recently served as a Regional Political Director for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s re-election campaign, cultivating strategic relationships and organizing major events. She is currently serving a second term on the Madison Heights City Council, advocating for environmental sustainability and equitable access to resources. As a mother of three with a Master of Training and Development from Oakland University and a Bachelor of Music Education from Harding University, Rohrbach is committed to creating inclusive spaces where all voices are heard and empowered to make a difference. (248)376-8011
Tony Cook

Tony Cook, Director of Small Business Services

Tony Cook’s background spans government contracting, education, EMS, agricultural and pharmaceutical sales. His accomplishments include — Five lessons learned from business failure: A testament to resilience and adaptability. Cook has four advanced degrees, demonstrating his commitment to continuous learning. Three confirmed CPR saves: Reflecting quick thinking. Two regrets: So please always self-reflect and grow. and One goal! 248-877-9226
Carolina Noguez

Carolina Noguez, Director of Strategic Partnerships

Carolina Noguez is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Oakland Thrive. She is a first-generation immigrant born in Mexico City and has called Oakland County her home since she arrived. Noguez has worked at multiple levels of campaigns and government and was a staffer for Governor Whitmer. As a member of the Global Troy Advisory Committee and the Brownfield Redevelopment Board for the City of Troy, Noguez continues to give back to her community and maintain and build new relationships between members of the community, government, and organizations. Languages spoken: English, Spanish, and some German. (248)202-9526
Dustin Frigy

Dustin Frigy, Program Director

Dustin Frigy is a Program Director for Oakland Thrive special projects. He has been involved in government-related program management in professional positions for over 23 years with the Federal Government, State of Michigan, and various local government agencies. Frigy holds a Bachelor of Business (BBA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Michigan.
Wisam Brikho

Wisam Brikho, Newcomer Entrepreneurship Program Manager

Wisam Brikho brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Oakland Thrive specializing in community outreach and newcomer awareness. He has served as a leader in project management, education and training, retail, and nonprofit organizations. Wisam holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Master of Science in Intelligence Analysis from the University of Detroit Mercy along with multiannual fluency in Arabic and Chaldean. (248)259-9293
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Danielle Sadler, Accounting Administrator

Danielle is a dynamic accounting professional with twenty years of experience in government procurement, business diversity and contract compliance. She has expertise in accounts receivable and payable with experience processing customer payments for enterprise business. Knowledgeable in both DBE and Small Business Programs, including regulations and internal controls, Danielle brings her passion for service and strong self-motivation to benefit the mission of Oakland Thrive. (248)931-7226
Marion Green

Marion Green, Office Administrator

Marion Green joined Oakland Thrive because she believes in their mission to help businesses across Oakland County to sustain, thrive, and grow. She is excited to be part of the team by supporting staff and making sure they have the required tools to function. When contacted, Ms. Green is grateful to provide assistance to the public by putting them in touch with the correct resource for guidance or assistance here at Oakland Thrive. 248-602-0040

Robin Carey, Strategic Partnership Coordinator

Robin Carey joined the Oakland Thrive team in February 2024 and brings 16 years of experience in the nonprofit ecosystem to her role of Strategic Partnerships Coordinator. Her professional experiences include driving process improvement, increasing operational efficiencies and creating numerous community partnerships. At Oakland Thrive, Robin works to grow and support the B2B program. Robin is a certified PMP and holds a Bachelor of Science from Northern Michigan University. She is thrilled to join the Oakland Thrive team and looks forward to supporting Oakland County small businesses for mutual success!

Brandi Evans, Events & Marketing Coordinator

With over six years of dynamic experience in the fast-paced realms of public relations and marketing, Brandi has solidified herself as a versatile and results-driven professional. Originating from the bustling city of Detroit, Michigan, Brandi’s journey has been profoundly influenced by the city’s vibrant culture and relentless entrepreneurial ethos. Driven by an unwavering passion for storytelling and strategic communication, Brandi has meticulously honed her skills in crafting compelling narratives and executing impactful public relations campaigns across diverse industries. Her forte lies in nurturing robust media relationships, igniting brand recognition, and harnessing digital platforms to captivate and engage audiences with precision. Whether orchestrating high-profile events, deftly managing crisis communications, or spearheading groundbreaking social media initiates, Brandi’s delivers tangible, measurable results, infused with creativity and finesse. She is deeply committed to community empowerment and actively participates in mentorship programs and volunteer initiatives aimed at nurturing the next generation of marketing and communication leaders.
Meet Our Business Consultants
Gerrard Allen

Gerrard Allen, Small Business Services Consultant

Gerrard Allen is a dynamic leader serving as a consultant for the Greater Farmington area, encompassing Farmington Hills and Farmington. With a wealth of experience as a serial entrepreneur, Allen specializes in service-based businesses and implementing efficient systems for startups. As the co-founder of Centric Place in Farmington Hills, Allen has played a pivotal role in establishing a thriving hub for arts, culture, and entrepreneurship. Centric Place serves as an incubator for small businesses, providing essential support and resources for their growth. Additionally, it caters to the diverse business event needs of the community, fostering collaboration and innovation. With his expertise in business development and his commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, Allen is dedicated to driving economic growth and prosperity in the Farmington area. Through his leadership and strategic initiatives, he continues to empower local businesses and create opportunities for success. (248)931-9174
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Allyson D. Andrews, Small Business Services Team Lead & Childcare Industry Consultant

Allyson D. Andrews is the Childcare Industry Specialist for Oakland Thrive. She has deep consulting experience in start-up operations, business development, finance, and operations for nonprofit and for-profit sectors with a specialization in Education. To date, Andrews has opened four childcare centers in Metro Detroit. Her centers have received numerous awards and grants. Andrews currently has the pleasure of assisting Oakland County childcare centers with the resources and tools they need to start up, grow and expand. She works hand in hand with small businesses, county commissioners, DDAs, and county representatives to create systems for sustainability, access to capital, and various other policy work and implementation. Andrews has an Associate’s in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor’s in Psychology, a Master’s in Business Administration, and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan where she is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education. She serves as a member on the Board of Zoning & Appeals for the City of Oak Park. Her favorite job is being a wife and being a mother to her four children. (248)931-7697

Donna Bauer, Small Business Services & Hospitality Consultant

Donna Bauer is the Hospitality (Food Industry) Specialist for Oakland County. She turns struggling/failing businesses into profitable businesses. Bauer specializes in business turnarounds and start-ups (think Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer or The Profit with Marcus Lemonis) and has demonstrated successes in every food-related concept and has helped countless business owners. She has the expertise to implement operational, strategic and organizational changes to manage risk and mitigate underperformance. Bauer earned her MBA and a Specialization in Finance from Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration and also taught at the renowned International Culinary Institute of Arts for many years. Donna has opened and turned around countless businesses over the years and is sought after by many in the industry for her expertise. (248)466-9603
Brian Becker

Brian Becker, Small Business Services Team Lead

Brian Becker’s career has included corporate work in many fields, including HR, quality, continuous improvement, manufacturing, sales, and marketing. Becker’s background has provided him with the ideal experience to work with all functions of small businesses. (248)931-4869
Jamar Bray

Jamar Bray, Small Business Services Consultant

Meet Jamar Bray, a dedicated business consultant with a passion for nonprofit development and marketing. Known for his innovative strategies and unwavering commitment to social impact, Bray has made significant contributions to the nonprofit sector. His expertise in business consulting has helped numerous organizations achieve their goals and make a positive difference in their communities. Bray was honored with the Cleary University President Award for his outstanding achievements and contributions to the field of nonprofit development. His remarkable work has also been recognized by prominent media outlets such as WDIV, Fox 2 News, and Bally Sports, where he has been featured for his award-winning nonprofit initiatives. (248)931-7520
Jonathan deSanctis

Jonathan deSanctis, Small Business Services Team Lead

Jonathan deSanctis oversees a dedicated team of six consultants. With a background as a small business owner and extensive experience as a Vice President and Manager in the financial sector, deSanctis brings a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record of success to his role. He serves as an Ambassador of the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce, on the DEI Committee for the Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce, and is an active member of the Pontiac Regional Chamber, where he advocates for the interests of local businesses and collaborates on initiatives to drive growth and prosperity, and inclusion. As an entrepreneur, he understands the challenges and opportunities that small businesses face firsthand. This perspective fuels his passion for supporting and guiding fellow entrepreneurs on their journey to success. Together with his team, he is committed to bridging prosperity gaps and leveling the playing field for businesses across Oakland County. (248)701-9294

Joy Dockham, Small Business Services Consultant

Joy Dockham believes that everyone needs to make a difference, and she has tried to do this by working in the nonprofit world. She started her career as a teacher and later worked in higher education for nearly a decade. Before joining Oakland Thrive, Dockham worked at Pontiac Community Foundation, providing small businesses support in the City of Pontiac, and she is excited to continue this work with the small business owners in Pontiac. Dockham is a life-long Michigander who has lived or worked in Pontiac for the last decade. She is very excited about working with an Oakland Thrive team who is actively engaged in supporting the growth and development of Pontiac.
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Sairy Garcia, Small Business Services Consultant

Sairy Garcia’s professional journey is driven by a commitment to continuous growth and a hunger for new challenges. Throughout her career, she’s honed her expertise in accounting, data analysis, business development, strategic management, and resource planning, enabling her to exceed client expectations and obtain excellent results. Garcia thrives in collaborative environments, where her ability to problem-solve and build relationships helps her contribute positively to projects and inspire others. Her current focus is helping small businesses to grow and thrive, providing resources, planning strategies, and ideas for new small business opportunities. She’s excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and is always eager to connect with fellow professionals who share similar interests or are open to networking and collaboration. (248)466-9255

Justin Ibe, Small Business Services Consultant

Justin Ibe’s career spans across business consultancy, entrepreneurship, and a palpable commitment to community service. At Oakland Thrive, he will be instrumental in catalyzing the growth and success of businesses in Troy, offering a comprehensive suite of resources, insights, and strategies designed to propel local enterprises forward. His open invitation to business owners from neighboring cities underscores his inclusive approach and unwavering commitment to fostering business excellence beyond geographical constraints. Justin's entrepreneurial journey is marked by a deep-seated dedication to addressing the affordable housing crisis in Southeastern Michigan. Through Creek Valley Properties, he has pioneered innovative solutions in the manufactured homes sector. His contributions towards alleviating the affordable housing challenges in Metro Detroit reflect his profound connection to the community and his desire to enact meaningful change.

Joyce Kreger, Small Business Services Consultant

Joyce Kreger is an experienced entrepreneur who founded and managed a thriving eCommerce party favor business for 17 years. Throughout this journey, she volunteered as a coach to small businesses, offering guidance on areas including local Google listings and presentation delivery skills. Additionally, Kreger has worked with major companies like General Motors, McDonald’s, and Caterpillar to facilitate training programs in communication and career development. She also provided job and career coaching services to third-generation welfare recipients and low-income individuals in Detroit. Before joining Oakland Thrive, Kreger had a Chief of Staff role within Ford Motor Company’s Enterprise Technology area. Beyond her entrepreneurial and corporate pursuits, she is a voice-over artist, lending her narration skills to commercials, industrial videos, and phone menus. She has a passion for helping small businesses and is committed to offering the support and resources she didn't have when starting her own business.

Marlon Lyons, Small Business Services Consultant

Marlon Lyons serves Rochester and Rochester Hills. His journey has been shaped by service and commitment, bringing a wealth of experience and a deep-rooted sense of purpose to everything he does. Having served with pride in the US Navy’s intelligence sector, Marlon honed invaluable skills in analysis, foresight, and teamwork. He has developed a diverse background spanning both military and corporate sectors, and brings a unique blend of strategic thinking and sales expertise to the table. Marlon transitioned seamlessly into a dynamic career in sales, where he spent the past 15 plus years specializing in Life, Health, and Financial Services. Through strategic relationship-building and a deep understanding of client needs, Lyons has cultivated lasting partnerships and helped countless individuals and families secure their financial futures. His time in the Navy instilled in him a strong sense of discipline and integrity, values that continue to guide his approach to both business and life. Beyond the boardroom, his passion for service extends into the community, where he has dedicated himself to initiatives aimed at empowering and uplifting others whether through volunteer work, mentorship programs, or local outreach efforts.
Daryl L Peguese

Daryl L Peguese, Sr. Small Business Services Consultant

Prior to joining Business Forward/Small Business Services Daryl L. Peguese, Sr. was director of business development for a minority-owned IT consulting firm. With over 30 years of sales and marketing experience, Peguese, Sr. has focused on helping clients to design, build, and secure systems necessary to run profitable businesses. He was educated in the Detroit Public School System and Detroit College of Business with an industrial management major and a marketing minor. (248)931-8046
Drake Phifer

Drake R. Phifer, Small Business Services Consultant

Drake Phifer's unwavering dedication to entrepreneurship and community development through Urban Organic Arts + Culture + Music Co. has garnered him recognition from esteemed publications such as The Detroit News, Free Press, Crain's Detroit,, and Billboard Magazine, solidifying his status as a prominent influencer in the Detroit area. His commitment to fostering positive change extends far beyond his professional role at Oakland Thrive, drawing strength from over two decades of experience in small business support and advocacy efforts. (248)466-4551
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Daniel Tellez, Small Business Services Consultant

Daniel Tellez moved to Oakland County in 2019. He has enjoyed living, being part of the community, and raising his family here. Through his work experience, knowledge, and Oakland Thrive resources, Tellez hopes to help small businesses grow and succeed. (248)202-8385
Tracey Williams

Tracey Williams, Sr. Small Business Services Consultant

Tracey Williams is a small business advocate with experience in eCommerce, project management, marketing, sales, data collection and evaluation, leadership, management, event planning and, of course, entrepreneurship. She is deeply committed to making a meaningful difference in economic development wherever possible and is an advocate for economic change; driven by a vision for an equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future for all. While serving in the city of Southfield, Tracey saw the urgent need to create opportunities for local small businesses while working with small businesses in a Detroit-area Museum. This experience led her to specialize in emerging trends and untapped niches so that she can create opportunities and open doors for others. (248)931-8048