Board & Staff

Current Board

YDDA Board members serve for four year terms. The terms are staggered so that every year up to three positions will be available for designation.
( ) indicates year of term expiration.

  • Ben Harrington, Board Chair
    – Ann Arbor SPARK (2019)
  • Ylondia Portis, Vice Chair
    -Brandhrt Digital Insights and Strategy  (2022)
  • Andrew French, Treasurer
    -Aubrees (2019)
  • Beth Bashert,  Mayor of Ypsilanti
  • Andrew O’Neal
    -O’Neal Construction (2019)
  • Kayia Hinton
     -Hinton Real Estate Group (2022)
  • Danielle Milner
     -Do:Better Brand Studio (2022)
  • Dieter Otto
    -Eastern Michigan University (2020)
  • Janette Rook
    -The Eyrie (2019)

Staff

Christopher Jacobs, DDA Director

Christopher Jacobs is an avid kayaker, disc golfer, and public servant, in no particular order. He graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Community Leadership in 2012. Christopher started his career in the non-profit sector working for the intercultural student exchange program, Youth For Understanding, USA. He later transitioned into economic development work by serving as DDA Director for Kochville Township in Saginaw County before coming to Ypsilanti in 2018 to assume the position of Executive Director for YDDA. Christopher has a strong passion for environmental, social, and economic sustainability and can be found with his fiancé, Jessica and furry friends, Daisy and Kira.  

ELIZE JEKABSON, DDA Coordinator

Elize Jekabson is an Ypsilanti based artist and community organizer. She graduated with an Associates degree in Culinary Arts and Management, followed by a BFA from Eastern Michigan University with a concentration in Sculpture. Elize took on the role of Vice President of First Fridays Ypsilanti in 2013, and helped establish the organization. In 2017, she took the position of Program Director for the organization, and co-founded Ypsi Pride, and Festival of the Honey Bee.  Elize worked for four years as manager for Bona Sera Restaurant until 2018 when she took the role of DDA Coordinator for Ypsilanti.  Elize also manages/co-owns Ypsi Alloy Studios, an artist studio that focuses on providing affordable work space for 3D artists.  She lives in Depot Town with her fiancé Erica, bees, and her four cats Cali, Jasper, Bazil, and Susan.


If you are interested in becoming a YDDA Board member, please submit a letter of interest to Mayor Beth Bashert at mayor@cityofypsilanti.com. 

To keep the YDDA moving towards achieving all of our long term goals, we also have three standing committees that meet each month. These committees are: Grants, Marketing and Operations & Finance.  Each committee is made up of a combination of YDDA board members and community-at-large members. In addition to the three standing committees, the YDDA may periodically designate Ad Hoc or Subcommittees designed to address very specific projects as needed.

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