The GI Team

Nicole Farmer | Executive Director | Business Coach

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Nicole founded Grand Innovation in 2016 to expand the success of LifeLine’s entrepreneurial training and business coaching in partnership with Detroit nonprofit loan funds and community foundations. Over the past decade, she has coached thousands of Detroit entrepreneurs to business success. Prior to LifeLine, Nicole was the first African American woman in the United States to own a Tuffy Auto Center and this experience as a young single-mom inspired her to provide a lifeline to minority and women entrepreneurs.

Ezra Brown | Returning Citizens Project Director | Business Coach and Instructor

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Brown’s no-nonsense approach inspires returning citizens to create self-sufficiency plans for re-entry. Brown has developed a strong working partnership with the MI Department of Corrections Lawton parole center and educated over 1,000 newly released returning citizens on the benefits, opportunities and resources for self-employment as a pathway for self-sufficiency. He has trained over 100 returning citizens through engaging 3-hour workshops hosted weekly at Lawton. In 2017, he expanded outreach in partnership with Goodwill Industries returning citizens re-entry program.

Carla McDonald, | Director of Training | Business Coach and Instructor

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Carla has strong experience in business principles, curriculum development and coaching principles as it relates to entrepreneurial ventures. She is responsible for ensuring all instructors implement the course curriculum to meet the needs and interests of the students involved, as well as the interests of the sponsoring institutions.

Lashawna Manigault | Manager of Operations | Business Coach and Instructor

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Lashawna is an entrepreneur with an educational background in the healthcare sciences and extensive experience in Human Resource Management. A native Detroiter, Lashawna represents the organization through her participation in the New Economy Initiative (NEI) quarterly worktables and currently sits as co-chair for the Neighborhood Business Initiative’s “Collaboration” Committee. She is responsible for attending community events that promote entrepreneurship and establish potential client relationships by connecting with and encouraging new and existing businesses to seek the assistance they need to take their ideas and/or businesses to the next level.