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 the Administrative Specialist for University Outreach. She manages the daily operations of the department and is our point of contact for the financials, purchasing, and other related support services. She manages our department budgets, including internal and external funding. She is also responsible for the departments human resource services. Kelli graduated from Central Michigan University with her bachelor’s degree in 2003. She began working for UM-Flint as a temporary employee in 2003 and was hired as a full-time employee in 2004. Kelli enjoys traveling with her family and watching her boys play baseball.
University Outreach - Innovation Incubator
As a MBA recipient and graduate of the Innovation Incubator, Nic offers a unique perspective to clients in our program. Nic founded a publishing business, a gigabit internet provider, and a housing cooperative in addition to serving on the boards of local non-profits. Nic coordinates entrepreneurship programs for University Outreach. He provides business counseling and directs clients to resources and networking opportunities.
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).