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.
April is the founded and opened Good Cakes and Bakes on Livernois in September 2013. April knew at the early age of 9 that she wanted to be a baker and started making treats for her family on a regular basis. As April’s curiosity grew and she began exploring more sophisticated recipes and started a home based baking business in 2008; this is also when April took her first Wilton’s Cake Decorating Class. In 2011 she attended Macomb Community College, Warren, MI to pursue her A.A.S in Pastry Arts. It was during this time that April knew that she wanted to open a bakery in the Detroit area and later became one of the graduates of the February 2013 D:hive BUILD class.
Delphia Simmons is the founder of Thrive Detroit, L3C, and publisher of Thrive Detroit Street Newspaper. Thrive’s mission is to develop and facilitate micro-enterprise ownership for low-income individuals. She is on the administrative staff of Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) serving as Director of Quality Assurance and also serves as chair of the Kiva Detroit advisory board. Delphia enjoys reading and travel; and is a big proponent of both entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise as vehicles to economic empowerment of households, communities, and cities.
Erin Bonahoom is the founding member of Canvas Legal, PLC, a Detroit-based law practice that focuses on serving startups, small business, and non-profits. Inspired by the energy an hard work of so many supporting the small business community, Erin took a leap of faith, leaving her corporate law firm to start her own practice and has not looked back. As a sort of accidental entrepreneur, Erin understands the realities of running a small business – good and bad – but remains passionate in her belief that small businesses are the foundation of strong communities and the economic redevelopment of cities like Detroit and Flint, where she is originally from.
Jacquise A. Purifoy, Esq. is the Entrepreneur in Residence and Build Institute Facilitator. She was sworn into the State Bar of Michigan in November 2010. Prior to private practice, on April 1, 2011 she was hired by U.S. House of Representative Hansen Clarke (MI-13) as his Chief Correspondent. In this role, she was solely responsible for orchestrating policy positions and legislative responses to constituents. Then as Clarke’s Community Grants Coordinator she worked directly with key federal and state business and civic leaders to identify small business and economic development initiatives in Southeastern Michigan. Jacquise wrote over 200 letters of support for businesses and non-profits in Metro Detroit securing over $9 million in funding. She also initiated a partnership with the Michigan Community Action Agency providing $84,000 in home weatherization upgrades to close the energy affordability gap for low-income households. Jacquise is a zealous advocate for people in her community and was profiled in Dbusiness Magazine’s 2014 Top Lawyers Edition. She was featured in Legal News’ Motion Magazine as a young lawyer with a sharp, energetic mind, and burgeoning talent committed to Detroit’s rejuvenation. B.L.A.C. Magazine recognized Jacquise as a local Hometown Hero. Jacquise’s most memorable professional moment is having the opportunity to visit the White House on behalf of the citizens of Detroit and to personally meet President Barack Obama twice!
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.