Meet our Facilitators

Aaron W. Jackson

Aaron W. Jackson is passionate about financial inclusion through entrepreneurship, employee ownership, and professional development. He brings over nine years of experience in community and economic development through providing resources to existing and startup businesses, training qualified job candidates, and connecting the two to support sustainable organizations. Currently, Aaron is the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project (DNEP) program manager at the University of Michigan. In his role, he brings together Detroit small businesses with faculty-managed student teams to solve their legal, financial, marketing, operational, and design challenges. Aaron serves as the business development manager at the Center for Community-Based Enterprise (C2BE) outside of his full-time role. He helps business owners with succession planning by selling businesses to employees to retain existing businesses, create locally rooted jobs, and build community wealth. Aaron also serves on the Oakland County Revolving Loan Fund Advisory Committee. He manages a 4 million dollar loan fund that provides access to capital to minorities, women, and others underserved in mainstream financing. Finally, he is the founder and principal consultant of The CorpVantage. This professional development company brings individuals’ interpersonal skills to technical excellence through its self-designed real-world etiquette and facilitates courses for startups and existing businesses. In his previous role as Senior Business Consultant, Aaron negotiated and executed partnerships with Michigan Rehabilitation Services and the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons. He designed and implemented a state-wide small business program that supports disabled youth and adults to become self-sufficient through entrepreneurship.

Aaron remains active in his professional community through membership and leadership roles – e.g., Board Member for The BAR – Brothers Also Read, event planner for the National Microloan Conference, and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. Aaron’s education includes a Bachelor of Science in International Business, Master of Business Administration in International Business, and Jurist Doctor in Law.

christa Stephens photo

Christa Stephens

Christa Stephens, our Co. Starters facilitator, is a dynamic and visionary CEO with a passion for helping businesses succeed. She is the founder and CEO of a leading graphic design and marketing agency that bears her name, Christa Stephens. Leveraging her scientific background and extensive technological expertise, Christa and her team create innovative solutions for clients that include comprehensive services such as business technology consulting to improve their online presence and reach new audiences.

A proud Detroit native and Wayne State University alumna with a degree in Geology, Christa began her career as an Environmental Health & Safety specialist and later transitioned into software development, where she honed her skills in problem-solving and project management. Christa holds ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 certifications, which recognize her commitment to environmental management and quality control. These certifications demonstrate her expertise and dedication to excellence, setting her apart as a leader in her field.

Under Christa’s leadership, her agency has become known for its creativity, excellence, and commitment to helping businesses succeed. She fosters a culture of innovation and collaboration within her team, empowering them to deliver exceptional results for clients. Her diverse background and wide-ranging expertise make her a sought-after speaker and consultant in the industry, and she continues to be a driving force for positive change.

Marcus D. Harris

Marcus D. Harris’ professional mission is to help urban-based non-profit organizations, small businesses, and social venture enterprises succeed and reach their full potential in order to maximize community sustainability. A life-long resident of Detroit, Harris holds both BBA and MBA degrees from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Currently, Harris is a doctoral student in the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program in the College of Management at Lawrence Technological University. His research interests include social innovation and entrepreneurship, microenterprise development and urban entrepreneurship, and nonprofit management and leadership.