TechTown Detroit welcomes four new board members

Contact: Kristin Palm
Date: January 4, 2018
Phone: (313) 483-1326


TechTown Detroit welcomes four new board members

TechTown Detroit has named Jill Ford, Kathryn Levine, Mike Rafferty and Jim Saber to its Board of Directors. TechTown’s board is comprised of 29 business and community leaders who oversee the city’s most established business incubator and accelerator.

Jill Ford is principal of Toyota AI Ventures in Silicon Valley. Until December 2017, she served as special advisor to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and head of innovation and entrepreneurship for the City of Detroit. Ford chose to come to Detroit from the San Francisco Bay Area where, as an angel investor and advisor, she transformed emerging businesses using strategies forged in mobile gaming. Ford brings a wealth of global leadership in mobile and games, including heading Disney Mobile’s worldwide distribution to mobile manufacturers and running Motorola’s global games usage. A global citizen, Jill ran a company in Ghana that discovered, developed and funded new entrepreneurs, and she has traveled to more than 15 countries.

Kathryn Levine is vice president of corporate marketing and customer experience at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Levine was named to her current position in 2011. Since then, the company has seen consistent improvement in its customer experience metrics. She’s led innovative programs such as a “Customer Experience Room,” which was recognized by Forrester Research and the Customer Experience Professionals Association for its innovation and effectiveness. In addition, her Clear and Simple initiative helps people across the company recognize the importance of clear communications and simple interactions with customers. She was previously vice president of corporate marketing and product, and director, BCN Advantage, Blue Care Network. Before joining the Michigan Blues, Levine was vice president of Collins Consulting and a director with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield in New York.

Mike Rafferty is vice president of small business services at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. In this role, he is responsible for developing and leading strategies, programs and initiatives that support new and existing businesses in their efforts to thrive in Detroit. He comes to the role with nearly 20 years of experience managing projects, programs and organizations that support community and regional economic development; advocating for and building the capacity of nonprofits and small businesses; analyzing policy and advising local policymakers; and, for a time, owning a small business.

Jim Saber is vice president, business and technology development, at NextEnergy, a Detroit nonprofit founded in 2002 whose mission is to accelerate advanced energy technologies, businesses and industries. Saber leads the business and technology development and demonstration efforts to support technology commercialization and business growth efforts of NextEnergy’s advanced energy clients and stakeholders. Saber’s experience includes the development of over $150 million in technology development and demonstration programs within microgrids, alternative fuels, smart grid, energy storage, renewable energy, and vehicle electrification. He is leading NextEnergy’s work in establishing new technology development and demonstration platforms within next generation energy efficiency and transportation applications. Prior to joining NextEnergy, Saber spent more than a decade in the energy‐storage industry, where he held product‐ and business‐development positions with Fortune 500 and start‐up companies.

“We are excited to welcome these talented professionals to the TechTown Board of Directors,” said M. Roy Wilson, Wayne State University president and chair of the TechTown Board. “Their experience in alternative technologies, small business services, marketing and customer experience add additional depth to the organization, furthering our mission to help tech and neighborhood businesses develop, launch and grow.”

All the new board members were elected to three-year terms. Christopher Rizik, CEO of Renaissance Venture Capital, was named to another one-year term as chair of TechTown’s Executive Committee.



TechTown is Detroit’s most established business accelerator and incubator, offering a full suite of entrepreneurial services for both tech and neighborhood enterprises. TechTown helps startup and established businesses develop, launch and grow, while strengthening and diversifying the local economy.