Meet Our Staff


Karen Tyler-Ruiz, Executive Director

Karen is an experienced non-profit management professional with a passion for finding ways to support the economic mobility of low-to-moderate income individuals and their families. Sharing her 20+ years in the field, she provides consulting services in non-profit resource development, strategic partnerships and strategy, board and program development.  Her most recent roles include Senior Director at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, where she provided leadership to a portfolio of family asset building strategies she helped catalyze including the Greater Detroit Centers for Working Families helping over 10,000 Metro Detroiters increase their income. She also served as the as Executive Director of the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund, a public/private workforce-focused funders’ collaborative, investing in innovations that helped more Detroiters meet the talent needs of the local and regional market. She helped create Access for All, a construction trades pre-apprenticeship program with a 91% employment rate, and a 67% apprenticeship entry rate. Ms. Tyler-Ruiz, is bilingual English-Spanish, has over 20 years working in community economic development including housing, neighborhood commercial revitalization, training in non-profit capacity building, in addition to significant international work experience. She holds a B.A. from Grinnell College and has professional development coursework in organizational development, and a housing finance certification from the National Development Council.


Ocie Irons, Strategy & Internal projects

Ocie Irons, Project Management, Through his company, Ironbridge Development LLC, Ocie provides training, coaching and advisory services to small business owners and entrepreneurs. His other entrepreneurial interests involve providing expanded access to nutritious foods, creating jobs, and educating young people throughout southeast Michigan. Previous jobs included Director, Entrepreneurial Programs at TechTown and Client Delivery Executive at EDS/HP. Ocie spent 25 years in leadership roles in sales, operations, and marketing with a number of well-known companies including EDS, GE Capital, Mazda, and Citicorp.


Terry Lewis, Business and Financial Strategy

Terry 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 Terry 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.

Michael Friedman, Operations and Project Oversight

Michael retired at the end of 2013 from the law firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, LLP where he was a partner 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 Center. He has been Board Chair of 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, and B.A. and M.A. degrees from Trinity College, Cambridge England.

Shayla A. Fletcher, Outreach and Connectivity

Shayla A. Fletcher began her professional career at a Fortune 500 company as a Certified Internal Auditor. She decided after several years of juggling a family and a demanding business travel schedule to leave Corporate America to focus on a business venture while attending law school. Shayla not only started her own entrepreneurial endeavor, but she also spent 8 years advising businesses on strategies to increase their profits. Currently, Shayla focuses her law practice primarily in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration, Elder Law, and Business Planning. Shayla is also a certified mediator.

Shayla is on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters Washtenaw County, a member of the State Bar of Michigan, American Bar Association, Washtenaw County Bar Association, and Vanzetti Hamilton Bar Association. Shayla is also a member of several service organizations.

Shayla received her law degree from the University of Toledo School of Law, a B.S. in Business Economics from Florida A & M University, and a M.B.A. in Finance and Operations from Purdue University.

Lanita Carter, Law Clerk and 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.  More about Lanita. 

Marcus Perez, Data and Financial Analyst


Rita Fields, Curricula Lead - Worker-Ownership Readiness & Knowledge (W.O.R.K.) Project

Dr. Rita Fields is a dual CEO of both 313 Industries, a CNC machining and milling corporation and Copper Phoenix Consulting, LLC where she offers expertise on talent and operations management. Dr. Fields is also faculty in the school of management at University of Michigan, healthcare administration at Central Michigan University, and a dissertation advisor in the PHOD Program at Assumption University in Bangkok, Thailand. Dr. Fields worked at the senior executive level in the healthcare industry for 10 years and in corporate America for two decades.

Dr. Fields is a SHRM Certified Senior Professional of Human Resources (SHRM-SCP), and a lifetime member of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR). Dr. Fields serves as a spokeswoman for the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan and as a member of the EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation (REI) at the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development.

Dr. Fields is a board member with both South Oakland Shelter (SOS) and Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) and a member of the board of trustees at Sinai Grace Hospital in Detroit. Crain’s Detroit Business named her among “40 under 40” in 2008. In 2009, the Fusion division of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce honored her with a Young Professional in Health Care Services Horizon Award. In both 2010 and 2011 she was selected to serve as a United States delegate with SHRM to explore human capital issues in both China and Brazil. She was selected to be a presenter at TEDxDetroit in 2015. In 2016 she was honored with a Women’s History Month Careers Mastered Leadership in Action Award. In 2017 she was a featured speaker at the Detroit Policy Conference. In 2018, she was selected to be an Innovation Fellow for the Center for Regional Economic Innovation and to serve as a reviewer for the 2018 Robert Woods Johnson Culture of Health Leaders Fellowship. She is a sought-after speaker for both her expertise in workplace culture and her transparent commitment to sharing her story of struggle and resilience.

Bryce Detroit, Cultural Programming

For the past 5 years, Bryce 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 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 Launch: Legacy of Funk concert with funk legend Carl ‘Butch’ Jones, bringing together four generations of Parliament-Funkadelic alumni. As 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.

Deborah Groban Olson, Founder

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, where 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. Read full biography.

Our Board of Directors:

Hassan Bazzi, Director, Regional Opportunities, ACCESS
Steve Dubb, Senior Editor, Nonprofit Quarterly
Dr. Alicia Renee Farris, ROC United National Director of Human Resources and State Director of ROC Michigan
Michael Friedman, Chair, retired partner, Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn, LLP
Judith Williams, Manager, Neighborhood and Economic Revitalization, HOPE Village Initiative, Focus:HOPE

Board Advisers

Andrew Blain, Consultant, Next Level Consultants
David Drews, retired CFO of Project Worldwide
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
Reverend Barry Randolph, Pastor, Church of the Messiah
Paul Saginaw, Co-Owner & Founding Partner, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses
Errol Service, Principal, ECP Partnership, McDonald’s