About Us:  Founded in 2007, The Center for Community-Based Enterprise (C2BE) is a Detroit-based non-profit organization working to create living-wage jobs through worker-ownership in all its forms. We provide legal, technical assistance, education and collaboration to individuals interested developing work-owned cooperatives and other community-based enterprises. C2BE provides these with the ultimate goal of building a network of mutually supportive cooperatives or worker-owned companies in Detroit, especially among members of historically underserved communities and those seeking conversion to employee ownership.

C2BE defines community-based enterprises as economically sustainable, locally rooted businesses that provide community benefit (particularly equity ownership for workers and producers), pay living wages and share resources to help each other. Our definition purposefully includes but is not limited to cooperatives.

We work to strengthen community-based enterprises by connecting them to business know-how and legal services, including feasibility studies, business planning, marketing, succession planning, incorporation documents (i.e., articles and bylaws) and necessary contracts. In addition, C2BE provides training for members and/or employees who are new to their roles as owners to understand their companies’ finances, products, services and markets. C2BE also plans to launch a co-op shared equity loan fund, in order to provide “patient seed capital” to finance start-up cooperatives and CBEs; watch for this in late 2016.

Our Funders: Our funders include the W.K.Kellogg Foundation and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.


Deborah Groban Olson, Executive Director

Since 1981 Deb has specialized in creating and advising employee-owned companies and many types of cooperatives. A former chair of the National Center for Employee Ownership, Olson serves as board chair of employee-owned Once Again Nut Butter Collective and on the board of Circle Pines Center, a co-op education and recreation center. She was also founder of the Capital Ownership Group at Kent State University, which she ran its global online think-tank and conference center on using ownership to counter the negative impacts of globalization. Olson has also published and spoken extensively in both the US and Europe, and done extensive teaching and consulting. As a 1976 Order of the Coif graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, she has an AV peer rating from Martindale Hubbell as a preeminent attorney in her field. Full biography

Lanita Carter, Office Administrator

Detroit-based youth advocate, Lanita Carter is passionate about mentoring and bringing out the passion in the inner city youth. She has worked as a coordinator at Ceasefire Detroit, which provides young men who have been incarcerated with services such as job placement, ID registration, trauma support, etc. In 2013, she founded a real estate investment company, Diamond In The Rough Real Estate, whose mission is to revamp the inner city of Detroit housing market. Lanita is also a licensed Michigan Real Estate Agent and a law student at Western Michigan Cooley Law School.

Halima Cassells, Outreach and Connectivity

Detroit-based artist/community advocate Halima Cassells crosses innumerable disciplines and group boundaries, always defying expectation. A consummate diplomat and avid experimentalist, she traverses many diverse circles, and occupies a myriad of roles that are unified by a deep and unwavering devotion to fostering community inter-connectivity. In practice she designs spaces for authentic engagement, and artistic expression, as well as engenders ideas of new economy. In addition to serving as the community and connectivity coordinator for Community Based Enterprise, she works as an independent artist and assumes leadership roles at O.N.E. Mile project, Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition, Incite Focus Fab Lab, North End Soup, and the Free Market of Detroit.

Paul Chander is passionate about advancing economic justice through building worker cooperatives, solidarity economy, and economic democracy. At C2BE, Paul provides technical legal assistance, conducts community education, and facilitates collaboration with community-based entrepreneurs to build a network of locally rooted enterprises in a cooperative ecosystem. Paul graduated with a B.A. in political science and a minor in public policy from UCLA, where he founded the General Relief Advocacy Project. After working as a political organizer, Paul graduated from Columbia Law School, where he co-founded the Student Public Interest Network. He also completed coursework at Columbia Business School. In his free time, Paul writes and raps.


For the past 5 years, BRYCE DETROIT has led an intergenerational charge to “bridge the gap” between Detroit’s legendary musical pioneers and the city’s young emergent innovators. In 2012, BRYCE DETROIT teamed with legendary Motown arranger Paul Riser to co-direct and host the Red Bull Music Academy presents Motown to New York City: Paul Riser & Friends w/Young Guru. In 2014, he produced the ONE MILE Mothership Lauch: Legacy of Funk concert with funk legend Carl ‘Butch’ Jones, bringing together four generations of Parliament-Funkadelic alumni. As co-founder of Detroit Afrikan Music Institution, and founder of Detroit Recordings Company, he uses entertainment arts and community cultural legacies to promote new Afrikan and Indigenous narratives, cultural literacies, and new cooperative music economies—Entertainment Justice. He grows intersectional communities as C2BE’s Director of Cultural Programming, as Director of Commons Relations for East Michigan Environmental Action Council, and as a founding member of Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition and Detroit Future Youth Network.


Michael Friedman retired at the end of 2013 from the law firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, LLP where he was apartner in the employee benefits, executive compensation and insurance groups, advising employers, insurers, health plans and third party administrators on a wide range of issues and litigation matters under ERISA, HIPAA, FMLA, the Tax Code and the Affordable Care Act. He is a certified mediator, and handles pro bono court ordered mediations through the Wayne County Mediation CenterHe has been Board Chair of the Center for Community-Based Enterprise (C2BE) since its founding in 2007, and has done volunteer staff work for C2BE since his retirement. He is also currently Board Secretary of the Coalition On Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Detroit, and a Board member and past Board President of the Friends of the Detroit Public Library Foundation. Prior to becoming an attorney, Michael drove a truck in Cleveland, Ohio for 14 years, and was a union activist, being a founding member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). TDU is still active and is the longest running rank and file caucus in U.S. labor history. Michael received his law degree, magna cum laude from Wayne State University Law School, his A.B degree, summa cum laude from Columbia College in New York City, and B.A. and M.A. degrees from Trinity College, Cambridge England.


James is a marketing consultant with 20+ years experience producing award-winning advertising for some of the country’s most recognized brands. Prior to his return to Detroit in 2014, James worked at leading San Francisco ad agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi and DMBB/Highway One, before moving in-house to AAA of Northern California, Nevada & Utah, where he directed brand management, advertising and media. Committed to helping to create a “flatter,” more equitable economy rooted in strong, locally owned community-building businesses, James provides business and marketing guidance for C2BE and its clients.


Terry Lewis is the Principal of LIA Advisors, LLC, a private consulting firm providing advisory services in housing and community economic development. She was formerly Vice President for Cooperative Development with the National Consumer Cooperative Bank (dba NCB), where she advised internal NCB teams and NCB customers in multiple lines of business on the structuring and development of cooperative and other community ownership entities. She also served as President and CEO of NCB Community Works, LLC, an affiliated for-profit affordable multifamily housing development organization. In 2011, President Obama appointed Ms. Lewis to the board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government’s development finance institution, where she serves as a member of the organization’s Audit Committee. From 1991 to 2014 she was a director of the Cooperative Development Foundation, serving for 8 years as Chair and managing governance, strategy, and the oversight functions of multiple grant and loan funds. She was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2008. Her early career was spent as a private attorney in Michigan, specializing in multifamily housing, structuring business entities, and negotiating business transactions. Terry did her undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her law degree cum laude from the University of Michigan School of Law.


Shaped by workers’ struggles during the 1980s in South Africa and schooled in labor, employment, and human rights law, Ada Verloren is pursuing her lifelong interest in empowering workers and ensuring living-wage jobs. She has advanced degrees in law from the University of South Africa (LL.B.); University of Notre Dame (LL.M.) and University of London (Ph.D.). She has taught courses at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University College of Law, and other universities. Ada Verloren served as a member of the University of Michigan’s Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights. She served as Project Director for a U.S. Department of Labor project on monitoring international labor standards.  http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/pdf/20090223.pdf She has published in law reviews and other journals.

Board of Directors:

Betsy Aretz: Treasurer CPA Trinity Health
Halima Cassells: Fellow Incite Focus
Steve Dubb: Research Director Democracy Collaborative
Michael Friedman: Chair Retired partner Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn, LLP
Ocie Irons: Principal, Ironbridge Development LLC
Bob King: Retired, President, International UAW
Terry Lewis: Board Member, Co-op Hall of Fame inductee; Overseas Private Investment Corp.
Deborah Groban Olson: Executive Director, Ex Officio, Attorney, Law Office of Deborah Groban Olson
Erica Raleigh: Executive Director, Data Driven Detroit L3C
Reverend Barry Randolph: Pastor, Church of the Messiah
Karen-Tyler-Ruiz: Ex Officio, Sr. Dir. For Financial Stability, United Way of SE Michigan,
Harriet B. Saperstein: Urban Consultant & Retired Executive Director, HP Devco, Inc

Board Advisers

Ed Egnatios  Exec. Dir., Kellogg Foundation, Detroit
Juan Escareno  Community Growth Partners
Ian Chan Hodges  Principal, Responsible Markets
Alan Kaniarz  Principal, AK Services
Adam Konner  IT and Co-op Consultant, Collective Seeds
Paul Saginaw  Co-Owner & Founding Partner, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses
Errol Service Principal  ECP Partnership, McDonald’s
Jackie Victor  social entrepreneuer