Paula is the Director of University Outreach and our EDA University Center for Community and Economic Development. She has also been a lecturer of Economics at UM-Flint for the past 25 years. She is a graduate of the Honors Program UM-Flint and holds an MA in Economics from Michigan State University and a JD from Wayne State University Law School. Paula’s primary academic fields of interest are law and economics and microeconomic theory. She is currently the PI on several initiatives, ranging in topic from entrepreneurship and economic development to regional asset mapping. Paula is a member of the I-69 Thumb Region Steering Committee, an active volunteer with many civic organizations, serves on several campus-wide committees, and is a member of the Grand Blanc City Council.
Paula is passionate about community engagement, specifically in connecting faculty and students with economic development, business, and municipal leaders through a variety of initiatives. She is eager to continue to expand and broaden meaningful relationships between UM-Flint and community partners in ways that will benefit our region and our students, faculty, and staff alike.
Gary Ashley earned a B.S. in Communications with a concentration in Human Relations from the University of Michigan-Flint in December 2005. Since then he has been employed at the University of Michigan-Flint and has held a number of positions. He started working in Alumni Relations and then moved to Institutional Advancement; he worked in each department for one year respectively. He is currently working in University Outreach and has a great deal of experience in partnering with departments within the university and organizations outside the university to help revitalize Genesee County. It is his personal mission to help Genesee County be a better place to live, work, play, etc.!
Kelli is a Grants & Contracts Administrator and manages our department budgets, including internal and external funding. She is also responsible for the financial business operations for the department. She graduated from Central Michigan University with her Bachelor’s degree in 2003 and began working for UM-Flint shortly after graduation. Kelli enjoys camping and traveling with her family.
University Outreach - Innovation Incubator
As a graduate of the Innovation Incubator, Nic offers a unique perspective when he interviews clients in our program. Nic owned a publishing and editing business, established a housing cooperative, and serves on the board of a local non-profit. As a researcher and writer, he produces marketing and communications materials for University Outreach. He also provides business counseling and directs clients to resources and networking opportunities. Nic recently began a program to earn a graduate certificate in business at UM-Flint.
Sara is a relationship builder who focuses on connecting University faculty and students to community needs. She often serves as a convener, facilitator, and technical advisor for nonprofits around environmental planning, and public engagement. She enjoys inspiring others to follow their passion and has cultivated a wide network of community members and leaders. She displays a deep understanding of local and regional environmental issues and governmental processes through her work with municipalities and townships. Sara earned both her B.S. in Resource Ecology and her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Michigan-Flint.
University Outreach - EDA University Center for Community & Economic Development
David Mérot has an extensive background in economic development research and implementation. Most recently, he has been involved in numerous economic development research projects, including a bi-annual 7-county wages and benefits survey, broadband access study, opportunity youth fiscal scan, literacy network data collection, and data visualization. He has supported local business owners to expand their business operations in the area and into international markets in partnership with the State of Michigan STEP grant economic development initiative. David has facilitated and developed creative approaches related to entrepreneurship, community development, and a number of issues surrounding nonprofit funding, coalition implementation, and data collection for nonprofits and organizations in the region with the support of the Ruth Mott Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Harding Foundation and The Community Foundation of Greater Flint. David has been involved in strategic planning and development by coordinating, organizing, and facilitating local partner funding opportunity collaboration, as well as consulting on data analysis and branding for a number of organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Finance from EDC Paris. Prior to his arrival in Michigan, David worked in several countries and in multiple multinational firms.
University Outreach - GIS Center
Troy is in charge of managing projects, students working on those projects, and participating in research grants within the Center. Troy's experience includes implementing GIS in meteorology/climatology, severe weather hazards research, spatiotemporal analysis of long-term macro-scale and micro-scale population dynamics, and cartography. Troy received a Master's degree in Geography from Northern Illinois University in 2013 after receiving Bachelor's degrees in Geography with a GIS concentration and Meteorology from Central Michigan University in 2011.
Leyla Sanker approaches her work from a sustainable community perspective and recognizes the importance of connecting people to the land, to their communities, and to each other. She utilizes her training and experience in public participation, community engagement, organizational capacity building, urban planning, and natural resources management to advance those efforts. Over the past twelve years, Leyla has worked with local, state and federal partners, community residents, non-profits, K-12 teachers and students, and University faculty and students to address local and regional efforts, and currently coordinates Discovering PLACE, the Flint place-based education hub of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. Leyla holds a Master’s Degree from Duke University in Environmental Management and B.S. from UM-Flint in Resource Planning and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).