Sirene Abou-Chakra serves as Deputy Chief Development Officer and leads the development team’s matching of City priorities with public, philanthropic, and corporate investment. A Michigan native and University of Michigan alum, Ms. Abou-Chakra served for ten years as a Manager and Account Executive at Google, working internationally on media strategy, messaging, and fundraising for election campaigns the company advised on, as well as leading groundbreaking digital strategies across the Google and YouTube platforms to creatively amass grassroots donors. She also served as Google’s liaison to Detroit and in 2017 as a leader in Google’s Global Customer Care team. Ms. Abou-Chakra is the founder of Doors of Opportunity, a nonprofit that works to increase the enrollment of disenfranchised students at top universities.
Eric Raymond is Assistant Director of Grants. He champions successful implementation of public and private investments aimed at enhancing the quality of life in Detroit. Mr. Raymond and team collaborate to build and transform municipal governance in support of meaningful results for residents. Prior to joining the City, he managed federal government contracts and grants to increase access to justice, prevent crime and violence, promote positive youth development, and further social enterprise around the world. He received a BA from the University of Michigan, an MA from The George Washington University, and a JD from Tulane Law School.
Sajjiah Parker serves as Assistant Director of Grants. In this capacity, Ms. Parker and her team coordinate the planning and administration of federal, state and private grants, as well as tracking donations, sponsorships and other private investments that enhance the quality of life for Detroit residents. Ms. Parker and her team are fervent in efforts to achieve the city’s vision of innovative and effective Grants programming and cross-program alignment of funding to expand impact, and are making great strides. Ms. Parker comes to the city with over 7 years of professional managerial experience in program implementation, grants management, and in leading systemic change initiatives in the non-profit sector. Prior to working for the City, Ms. Parker worked at Southwest Solutions as the Manager of the Coordinated Assessment Model (CAM) for the Detroit Continuum of Care. In this role Ms. Parker was instrumental in leveraging resources, and fostering the cooperation and coordination of all community partners to achieve the goal of improving how homeless households are served. While she served the Supportive Services for Veteran’s Families (SSVF) grant program, the agency was nationally recognized and designated as a Mentor Agency for Best Practices in the veteran homeless program delivery.
Chris A. Jones serves as Assistant Director of Grants. In this capacity, Mr. Jones and his team are responsible for reviewing reimbursement requests from sub-recipients for allowability prior to payment, ensuring close-outs of grants are done systematically and consistently, and provide hands-on audit support for departments to make sure they have policies/procedures/best practices in place. With over 10 years of combined experience in the non-profit, private, and public sector, Mr. Jones has a strong background in the project management life cycle for grants from various funders.
Mr. Jones holds a B.A. in Architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy and a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus in Law & Public Policy and Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities.
Brandi C. Shelton has dedicated her life to the development of people. Ms. Shelton graduated from University of Phoenix with a double Bachelor in Business Management and Administration and has over 15 years of active experience in a variety of professional settings. Ms. Shelton’s background offers a solid foundation in planning and executing team strategies that uses unified goals for true business development while boosting employee morale and organizational sustainability.
Monique Phillips serves as a Development Officer for the City of Detroit, and is responsible for creating and strengthening corporate relationships and securing investments to support city initiatives. Ms. Phillips is currently in pursuit of her PhD in Political Science from Wayne State University, holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Clark Atlanta University, and has a BA in Journalism from Oakland University. Additionally, Ms. Phillips is in the process of securing a Certified Fundraising Executive certification, has received a Certificate in Advanced Nonprofit Fundraising from the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, and remains an active membership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Karen C. Brown has played key executive, fund development and board leadership roles in Detroit’s community development sector throughout her career. As the Detroit Public Safety Foundation’s Director of Grants from 2011-2016, Ms. Brown was instrumental in helping the City of Detroit’s Police and Fire Departments secure over $62 million in government grants. Ms. Brown graduated summa cum laude from the University of Detroit with a BA in Philosophy. She holds certificates in Community Economic Development from the Pratt Institute and Management from the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Cooperatives. Ms. Brown serves as an adjunct professor in the University of Detroit Mercy’s Masters in Community Development Program where she teaches organizational development and grant writing. In 2009, Ms. Brown was honored with a Spirit of Detroit Award in acknowledgement of her Outstanding Community Leadership. She's the mother of two daughters and a proud 30 year resident of Detroit's Greenacres neighborhood.
Vance K. Jackson serves as the City of Detroit’s Social Impact Development Officer and is responsible for matching mayoral priorities with innovative public, private, philanthropic, and corporate investment. A Detroit native and Cass Tech graduate, Mr. Jackson holds a Masters in Social Work (MSW) with a focus on Community Organizing and Non Profit Management from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.
With more than a decade of financial industry experience, Mr. Jackson comes from J.P. Morgan, where his financial and investment career spanned across the breadth of the global bank. His experience includes serving as a Wealth Management Vice President - Financial Advisor, where he managed a Multi-Million dollar investment book of business and led investment sales teams to provide a vast array of investment solutions for the clients across the market. Most recently, he served in the firm’s Commercial Bank, where he specialized in constructing Global Treasury solutions for Multi-National Middle Market Corporations, with annual revenues ranging from $100 Million - $2 Billion, as a member of J.P. Morgan’s Middle Market Treasury Team.
Mr. Jackson has served on numerous local and global not for profit boards as an Executive Board Member and Board Member impacting communities both locally and across the globe. Vance resides in downtown Detroit with his wife Nina.
Claire Huttenlocher serves as a Development Officer for the City of Detroit, and is responsible for building partnerships to secure corporate, philanthropic and public investment in city priorities across departments and agencies. Prior experiences at the Kresge Foundation, Living Cities Inc., Midtown Detroit Inc. and the FCA Foundation allowed Ms. Huttenlocher to build skills in grant writing, project management and community engagement.
Ms. Huttenlocher is a proud alumna of Challenge Detroit, a leadership and professional development program dedicated to engaging and serving communities across the city. Through the fellowship, she applied human-centered design principles to provide local nonprofits with strategic recommendations for further development, with topics ranging from sustainability and youth development to place-based entrepreneurship.
Ms. Huttenlocher graduated with honors from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in Urban Studies, and spent a semester at The University of Oxford studying urban economic theory and global urban development. She is a native Michigander and is passionate about making city initiatives stronger and more accessible through innovative funding strategies.
Lydia Rae Levinson serves as a Development Officer and is responsible for building partnerships to secure public and private investment in support of mayoral priorities and city programs that enhance quality of life for Detroit residents. She draws upon her own experience working for and alongside grassroots organizers, block clubs, farmers, and CDCs in urban and rural communities to support sustainable, equitable solutions that address local challenges. Ms. Levinson holds two Masters Degrees; one in Community and Regional Planning and one in Sustainable Agriculture, both from Iowa State University. Most recently, she served as Director of Grants at Eastern Market Corporation (EMC)—the nation’s largest and oldest public market—where she was responsible for developing and managing the grants portfolios of EMC and its subsidiary development corporation.
Org Chart for Office of Development and Grants
For Detroit, raising $1 billion in public and private grant funds, donations and investments is no small feat. This $1 billion funds projects that positively