DDP Team

Executive Leadership

Eric B. Larson

Eric B. Larson

Chief Executive Officer

As a past chairman and long-standing board member, Eric was an active member of the DDP before being named CEO in 2014. He is founder of Larson Realty Group, a privately owned company engaged in real estate investment, development, asset management and leasing.

Boards & Organizations

  • Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
  • Cullen Family Foundation
  • Detroit 300 Conservancy
  • Detroit Grand Prix
  • Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
  • Detroit Zoological Society
  • Fluxus Advisory
  • M-1 Rail
  • MoGo
  • The Parade Company
  • The Robert C. Larson Leadership Initiative (Chair)
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI) Detroit Governance Committee

Lila Asante-Appiah

Chief Administrative Officer

Lila is an intuitive, results-focused executive and certified professional coach with more than 25 years of experience and expertise in nonprofit administration, human resources, diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) and organizational development. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and master’s degree in Organizational Development from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Lila is passionate about causes related to economic empowerment, women, children, education, civil rights and social justice and action.

Mike Bruggeman, CPP

Chief Safety and Security Officer

As DDP’s chief safety and security officer, Mike executes an overall safety and security strategy for DDP in collaboration with Downtown Detroit’s network of safety professionals. He serves in leadership roles within the safety community as DDP’s representative, commissioner with the Detroit Crime Commission, and vice chair of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation. Mike is the founder and president of Titan Group USA, a boutique security advisor firm. Mike has a master’s degree from Detroit Mercy and is a board-certified protection professional by American Society for Industrial Security.

Gina Cavliere

Gina Cavaliere

Chief Community Impact Officer; Director, BIZ

Gina joined DDP in 2015 to support the launch of the Downtown Detroit Business Improvement Zone. The team she leads is responsible for the daily operations of the BIZ, DDP’s Safety and Data programs, and many special projects. She has managed municipal authorities and public projects throughout her career. She is a graduate of Michigan State and Wayne State universities and a licensed attorney.

David Cowan

David Cowan

Chief Public Spaces Officer

A native Detroiter, David leads the team that creates over 1,600 events and programs annually across Downtown Detroit’s internationally recognized and award-winning public spaces, designed to create one-of-a-kind experiences for over four million annual visitors. David earned his BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit and MA from American University in Washington, D.C.

Cari Easterday

Chief Financial Officer

Cari L. Easterday, owner of Community Capital Consulting, LLC (C3), brings over 22 years of financial, nonprofit and real estate experience focused in southeast Michigan. Formed in 2013, Community Capital Consulting provides expertise in financial, economic and development services throughout southeast Michigan with a strong focus in the city of Detroit. In addition to her work with the DDP, Cari also acts as the CFO for Midtown Detroit Inc. and plays a key role in the real estate investments made by the organization and provides supportive services to other real estate investors and business in the Midtown, TechTown and New Center districts.

DDP & BIZ Staff

Kataya Beverly

KaTaya Beverly

Program Manager, Business Improvement Zone

KaTaya is a project manager for the BIZ Ambassador team. She ensures the Ambassador program runs smoothly.

Iris Brauer

Development Coordinator

Iris is a graduate of Wayne State University. She serves as DDP’s development coordinator, supporting the organization’s fundraising efforts including the general membership program, grants, online giving, and events. She enjoys working for an organization that is dedicated to advancing Detroit.

Patricia Brown

Office Administrator

Patricia is responsible for vendor management, coordinating office moves, maintaining daily office operations, and negotiating and purchasing office supplies and equipment.

Soula Burns

Soula Burns

Director of Corporate Partnerships

Soula is a born and raised Detroiter who brings 25 years of sales and events experience to the DDP, including eight seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Most recently, she was with Bally Sports Detroit. When she’s not working hard to develop meaningful partnerships, you can find her kayaking out on the water with her husband Patrick.

Crystal Coles

Staff Accountant

As a staff accountant, Crystal Coles is responsible for general cost accounting, preparing and maintaining financial records to track the organization’s assets, liabilities, profit and loss, tax liabilities, and other related financial activities.

Laura Dean

Laura Dean Shaw, CMP

Director, Parks and Public Spaces

Laura has been with the DDP since 2017. She coordinates and executes free community programming throughout the DDP’s six parks.

Isaac Douglas

Assistant Project Manager

Isaac Douglas, Assistant Project Manager at the DDP, supports the coordination, administration, documentation, and communication of projects within DDP’s Urban Innovation department. Isaac attended Bowling Green State University where he earned his Bachelor’s in Architectural and Environmental Design.

Ryan Epstein

Ryan Epstein

Operations Manager

Ryan has been affiliated with the Downtown Detroit Partnership since 2013. He was operations manager for Clean Detroit and has managed the Business Improvement Zone operations since its inception in 2014. Ryan now is working with the Detroit Grand Prix as operations manager.

Alex Fields

Senior Manager, Events Logistics and Productions

Alex Fields serves as DDP’s senior manager of event logistics and production. Having served as general manager of The Rink at Campus Martius Park for 17 years, Alex will work with the operational staff, providing oversight of the public space assets and facilities. Previously, he was a Film/TV/Commercial location manager working with Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Amazon Studios, and several commercial production companies.

Elise Fields

Director Urban Innovation and Operations

Elise holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University. She has 15 years of experience working in the non-profit community and economic development sector in Detroit. As Director of Urban Innovation and Operations, she provides critical support and management for the DDP BIZ Ambassador and Clean Detroit programs and provides support for capital projects, urban innovation, and other special projects within the organization. Prior to joining the DDP she was the Chief Operating Officer for Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI), working directly on operations and program management. She provided direct oversight of the organizations Façade Matching Grant program, Small Business Development & Assistance program, Public Space Maintenance initiatives, Grants, and a number of MDI’s district planning efforts.

Sharon Garcia

Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Sharon leads the DDP’s marketing, communications, digital and brand recognition strategies; and works with media to share DDP’s story, mission, vision and core values to drive awareness of the role the organization plays in Detroit. Sharon provides leadership to advance the corporate messaging and brand management strategy across all DDP business units. She holds a BA from the School of Communication at San Diego State University, an MA in Social Sciences from University of Chicago, and achieved her APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) in 2011.

Boards & Organizations

Sharon served on the board of directors of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Detroit Chapter for over five years, serving as Chapter President in 2021. Other volunteer experiences include the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Girls on the Run, and Pets for Vets.

Alicia Gray

Executive Assistant to DDP's Chief Public Spaces Officer

Alicia Gray serves as the Executive Assistant to DDP’s Chief Public Spaces Officer. In this pivotal role, she expertly manages scheduling, budgeting, vendor contracts, and provides unwavering support for the organization’s multifaceted initiatives. Prior to joining DDP, she worked at Guaranteed Rate as a Business Development Coordinator, where she honed her skills in strategic planning and relationship management.

With over a decade of experience supporting C-suite executives, Alicia held various senior executive assistant roles in healthcare administration, demonstrating her versatility and adaptability. Alicia attended the University of Detroit Mercy for her undergraduate where she studied Business Administration and Psychology. Beyond her professional pursuits, she finds solace in spending quality time with her family, exploring new destinations through travel, and immersing herself in the world of music and art.

Cliff Johnson

Cliff Johnson

Public Spaces Operations Manager

A native Detroiter, Cliff attended Michigan State University but returned to Detroit to become a police officer. He pivoted again in 2003 to join the Detroit Event Team L.L.C. as an operations manager, and then the DDP in 2015 as operations field manager. “It is an honor to work for a company that has assisted with transforming the downtown into a vibrate, diverse, and inclusive area.

Krissy Johnson

Krissy Johnson

Director, Accounting

Krissy has been working for the DDP since 2016.

Talitha Johnson

Director of Communications

Talitha leads messaging, content development, media and communications strategy for the organization.  She is a Detroit native and Wayne State University alum. She brings more than 12 years of experience to her role as DDP’s director of communications. Johnson’s past role was as marketing manager at Detroit Regional Partnership, where she helped promote the 11-county Detroit Region to regional and national audiences.

Valerie Hale

Executive Assistant to DDP's Chief Administrative Officer

Valerie Hale is the executive assistant to DDP’s Chief Administrative Officer. She transferred from the Detroit Grand Prix supporting its president. She brings over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit and corporate sector with a focus on events, finance, HR, and fundraising. As a Detroit native, she strongly supports the Downtown Detroit community in lifestyle, work, and as a resident. She watched its development over the more recent years and is excited to be part of a team dedicated to its growth and prosperity.

Valerie attended WCCCD and received her AA in Paralegal Technology. After receiving a presidential academic scholarship, she continued her education at Loyola University Chicago in an accelerated program with studies in Management and Certification as a Paralegal. She enjoys live entertainment, electronic music, sports, competitive cooking, and walks along the Detroit Riverwalk.

Jessica LaPalme

Project Accountant

Jessica LaPalme has joined the DDP team as a project accountant. Jessica has 15 years accounting experience with a focus on construction accounting and tracking. In addition to her work with DDP she is a property accountant for Community Capital Consulting, LLC. She is an alumnus of Jackson Community College. She enjoys working for companies that work to promote urban sprawl.

Maryann Listman

Director, Governance and Policy

Maryann began her career with DDP over 22 years ago. The opportunity to become part of an organization so vital to Detroit aligned perfectly with Maryann’s love for the City and led to her current role Maryann holds a BS from Indiana University and an MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Josh Long

Director, Data Programs

Josh received a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan and has worked in the public sector, private sector consulting, and nonprofit data worlds. At DDP, Josh works closely with the City of Detroit, Downtown developers, and business owners to track building development, develop growth metrics, manage special projects, and calculate special assessments.

Elisa Meyer

Staff Accountant

Elisa recently joined the team as a staff accountant and will be working closely with the Detroit 300 Conservatory. Previously she worked in Grand Rapids as an accountant for a family office. Over the past few years she has developed a passion for local art and music, and is glad to be part of an organization that furthers development within the city. Elisa attended Grand Valley State University for her undergraduate degree.

Chelsea Nunnally

Corporate Partnership Activation Manager

As the Corporate Partnership Activation Manager, Chelsea takes pride in providing excellent service to partners to ensure that they have a great experience when partnering with the DDP. With over seven years of experience in recreation, event, and sponsorship management in the public sector, Chelsea is thrilled to bring these skills to the DDP.

Melissa Sawicki

Senior Manager of Public Spaces

Melissa joins the DDP team as senior manager of public spaces. She is responsible for managing the daily facilities, amenities, maintenance, and operational activity of Downtown’s six award-winning parks and public spaces. Having more than five years of leadership experience, she also brings operational skills to her role. Melissa is OSHA certified with certificates in HVAC and electricity. She inspires team members and creates a culture of fun, care and accountability.

Anjana Schroeder

Director of Marketing

Anjana leads the marketing and communications efforts for the Downtown Detroit Business Improvement Zone, including small business engagement and the BIZ Ambassadors. She has a passion for storytelling and people, and experience as an award-winning television producer has sharpened her attention to detail and strategic decision-making skills. Anjana has been on the DDP team since October 2017.

DeShawn Singleton

DeShawn Singleton

Program Manager, Safety and Infrastructure, Business Improvement Zone

DeShawn joined the BIZ team in 2021 and plays a significant role in the DDP’s safety and security program, overseeing its security vendors, Project Lighthouse initiative, and facilitating collaboration at monthly CompStat meetings. He also leads a team of young interns and high school students by assisting in their professional development.

Sarah Walsh

Senior Events Manager

Sarah Walsh is DDP’s senior events manager who oversees and manages all DDP, BIZ and Parks + Public Spaces events, including Annual Meeting, BIZ Connects, and special Parks Programming.

Kitty Whitfield

Small Business Engagement Manager

Kitty is a native Detroiter with over 30 years of customer and public service experience. She is devoted to the continued growth of businesses in Detroit. Kitty was recognized for her hard work and dedication to the Detroit community — named Overall Service Champion at the 2023 Rose Awards.

Maggie Williams

Director, Fund Development

Maggie joins DDP with over a decade of experience with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Coca Cola, and the Aspen Art Museum. She has two undergraduate degrees from the University of Michigan and a Masters from the University of Colorado, is an Ironman, and an ultra marathoner. When not at work, you can find Maggie at the Joe Louis Greenway training for the Chicago Marathon.

MoGo Staff

Adriel Thornton

Adriel Thornton

Executive Director

As executive director, Adriel utilizes his expertise in community relations to execute, with the other members of the MoGo team, community interactions, events, and representational opportunities that propel the MoGo brand forward. Adriel is also responsible for overseeing all aspects of the organization, fundraising, and more.

Jacob Graham

Program Manager

As program manager, Jacob manages a number of programs under MoGo For All, an initiative created to ensure equal access for all bikeshare users. He knows that bikes, trikes, and tandems are affordable, safe, and even fast ways to get around and works to increase equitable access to transportation throughout Metro Detroit.

Jeremy Rosenberg

Director of Marketing and Community Outreach

As marketing and digital media manager, Jeremy manages MoGo’s social media channels and messaging, directs the creation and production of brand marketing collateral, creates targeted marketing campaigns and strategies, and leads the branding, promotional, and public marketing for the organization.

Monique S. West

Program Manager

Monique is a program manager for MoGo and enjoys being part of the team that makes great things happen for all in Downtown Detroit! 

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