TechTown Detroit welcomes eight new board members amidst period of growth and recognition

Headshots of TechTown's eight newly elected board members

Newly appointed members bring a wealth of experience from various 

business and community sectors to enhance TechTown’s strategic guidance

Dec. 14, 2023

TechTown Detroit announced today the appointment of eight dynamic business and community leaders to its esteemed board of directors. Set to serve three-year terms, these individuals bring diverse perspectives and valuable insights, reinforcing TechTown’s position as Wayne State University’s hub for innovative economic development and small business support in Detroit and beyond. 

“We are excited to welcome these eight remarkable individuals to our Board,” said Ned Staebler, vice president for economic development at Wayne State University and president and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have a leadership team that not only passionately supports our mission of advancing equitable economic development in Detroit, but also embodies the diversity and inclusion that we champion.” 

The new board members join TechTown during a pivotal period of growth for the nonprofit business service organization. In 2023, TechTown secured a $3.4 million award from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, accompanying its designation as a Small Business Support Hub. In addition to supporting the expansion of existing small business services in Wayne County over the next three years, this award includes $400,000 in funding that TechTown can provide directly to individual businesses as technical assistance grants.  

The organization also launched the Mobility Accelerator Innovation Network (MAIN) as one of five components of the Global Epicenter of Mobility initiative. MAIN is comprised of eight partner organizations that aim to advance mobility in Detroit and Southeast Michigan, by way of supporting software and hardware mobility companies at every stage of their development. In 2023 thus far, TechTown has supported 851 entrepreneurs and raised more than $23 million in startup and growth capital.  

TechTown’s new board members are: 


Director, Skills, Michigan Central Innovation District, Ford Motor Co. and Adjunct Professor, Wayne State University 

Barnett-Harrison a seasoned senior-level leader with more than 17 years of experience in economic development, client management, urban design, community engagement, fundraising and capital programs has a track record of success in negotiations, fund management and providing industry technical assistance. Her focus is on demonstrating leadership and ambition in developing strategies that enhance the economic sustainability of both private and public institutions. Before joining Ford, Barnett-Harrison held a dual role at United Way for Southeastern Michigan as director of economic prosperity and executive director of the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. Previously, she served as the executive director of business and foundation engagement and the director of the Business Engagement Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Barnett-Harrison also held a leadership role at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. 


Vice President of Government & Community Affairs, Olympia Development of Michigan 

As Olympia Development’s vice president of government affairs and community relations, Barnhill leads community outreach efforts and works in collaboration with residents, businesses, community organizations and public leaders to advance the company’s commitment to delivering new jobs for Detroiters. This includes expanding access to affordable housing and rejuvenating the city and neighborhoods with distinctive construction and redevelopment of storied landmarks. A Detroit native and resident, Barnhill previously served in a variety of executive leadership positions, including roles with Detroit 90/90 and the Michigan Chronicle. 


Group Executive of Economic Development, City of Detroit 

Beydoun was appointed to his current role by Mayor Mike Duggan in July 2023, where he leads the city’s Jobs and Economy Team efforts to grow Detroit’s economy. This includes a focus on initiatives like attracting major employers to Detroit, fostering innovation and supporting startup entrepreneurs. Beydoun previously served as senior advisor and counsel to the mayor of the City of Detroit. Since his initial appointment in 2021, Beydoun has led and provided guidance on initiatives such as the mayor’s ‘Blight to Beauty’ campaign, the Joe Louis Greenway, and the Transportation Innovation Zone around Michigan Central. Previously, as general counsel to the Michigan House of Representatives, Beydoun contributed to the passage of auto no-fault reform, elimination of driver responsibility fees, promotion of mobility innovation, and expansion of expungement laws. He also played a pivotal role in investigations, including the Flint water crisis. Additionally, he has been Detroit’s primary advocate for the city’s legislative agenda at the state capitol. 


Board of Governors, Wayne State University 

Dr. Busuito, a lifelong Detroit resident and second-generation Sicilian Catholic immigrant, earned a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan and his M.D. from Wayne State University School of Medicine. Board-certified in general surgery and plastic surgery, he served as chief administrative resident in both programs at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center. Currently a clinical associate professor of surgery at Wayne State, Busuito is internationally published and lectures frequently. He holds leadership positions in hospitals, splitting his practice between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Recognized for surgical and teaching achievements, community service and charitable work, Busuito co-founded Operation KINDNESS and has been providing free surgical services to children worldwide with congenital deformities for more than 25 years. 


Director of Emergency Preparedness and Restoration, DTE Energy 

With more than 25 years at DTE Energy, Butler currently leads the company’s electric distribution operations emergency preparedness and response. She earned an electrical engineering degree from Tennessee State University, starting her career at General Motors Co. After applying as a meter reader during a large-scale layoff, Butler became a planner overseeing software simulation for gas storage field utilization. Throughout her career, Butler tackled various planning roles, including supply and disposition, end-user transportation consumption and revenue. Transitioning to DTE’s distribution operations, she spearheaded significant, continuous improvement efforts before assuming her current role in early 2022. Butler, a Learn Six Sigma Black Belt-certified professional, initiated student engagement and recruitment programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including her alma mater, to support DTE’s diversity and inclusion efforts. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association (TSUNAA) Detroit Chapter, and has received multiple awards, including the DTE Sarah Sheridan Award, DTE Trailblazer Award and TSUNAA Detroit Chapter Alumni Award. 


President & CEO, Southwest Detroit Business Association  

Chavez-Wazeerud-Din oversees program effectiveness and funding for the Southwest Detroit Business Association in Southwest Detroit, engaging the community and supporting grant/fund development initiatives. With a banking background of over 12 years, including leadership roles at Comerica Bank, Flagstar Bank and Citizens Bank, she’s managed risk, mentored financial teams and facilitated franchise growth. Currently, Chavez-Wazeerud-Din serves as Detroit Chapter President of Prospanica, a nonprofit empowering the Hispanic community, a board member of the National Black MBA Association’s Detroit Chapter, a member of the Chamber Music of Detroit’s Executive Board and a board member of Bound Together. She holds a bachelor’s in bilingual/bicultural education from Wayne State University. 


President and CEO, Michigan Saves 

Contreras took on her current role at Michigan Saves, the nation’s premier nonprofit green bank, in Nov. 2023. Prior, she served as executive director at ProsperUs Detroit for six years, championing economic equity by providing opportunities and capital to under-represented entrepreneurs for building businesses, generational wealth and vibrant neighborhoods. In 2021, under Scott Contreras’ guidance, ProsperUs Detroit made history as Michigan’s first female and minority-led community development financial institution (CDFI). Additionally, Contreras managed a successful consulting firm collaborating with nonprofits, businesses and foundations on program design and development. In 2008, following a two-year fellowship at Bizdom Detroit, she cofounded and led Guffly, an eco-friendly, e-commerce company. A University of Michigan alum with a master’s in public administration from Baruch College, Contreras was named Leader of the Year by the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan in 2021 and honored as a 2021 Crain’s Detroit 40 Under 40 recipient. She serves as vice chair of the Build from Within Alliance and is a member of the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs. 


CEO, Livegistics 

Turk is the forward-thinking CEO of Livegistics, a trailblazing software company revolutionizing the waste management industry. With a background in computer science and civil engineering/construction management, Turk’s vision is driving Livegistics to empower businesses to overcome challenges and embrace a greener, more sustainable future. Under his leadership, Livegistics has become a leader in waste management innovation, setting new industry standards. Turk’s passion for sustainability extends beyond business, and he is a recognized thought leader in the field. In 2021, Livegistics secured a major victory by winning the inaugural $1 million Black Ambition Pitch Competition. His dedication to innovation and sustainability inspires change where he resides in metro Detroit with his family and is committed to building a better future for all.