The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has named Wafa Dinaro executive director of the New Economy Initiative (NEI) effective Monday. Dinaro succeeds Pamela Lewis, who is leaving for another opportunity.
NEI is a philanthropic collaboration that builds public support for an inclusive regional network of investors for entrepreneurs and small businesses in southeast Michigan that benefits all residents and strengthens the regional economy.
“We are excited to have a leader with Wafa’s commitment to inclusive entrepreneurship and small business and experience join the New Economy Initiative,” says Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “Wafa will strengthen NEI’s support of Detroit-area small businesses and entrepreneurs’ access to capital and technical support.”
Dinaro was most recently executive director of the Economic Development Corp. for Wayne County. She held a variety of other positions in the private and public sector including the automotive industry and the Department of Defense, where she led operations while assigned to defense attaché offices in U.S embassies around the world.
“Wafa is uniquely suited to meet the challenges of creating public funding and promoting the case for underserved microbusinesses across our region,” says Lewis.
Dinaro holds a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from the University of Michigan.
“I’m honored to join the Community Foundation as the executive director of the New Economy Initiative,” Dinaro says. “It is a pivotal moment to grow an inclusive culture of entrepreneurship in southeast Michigan. I look forward to working with the foundation’s board, staff, and key partners in advancing NEI. I’m eager to join them in their goal of leading positive change in the Detroit region.”
Since 2007, the initiative’s funders have contributed more than $180 million. More than $127 million has been provided to organizations that assisted nearly 19,000 companies and helped launch an additional 3,130 companies.
These companies employed almost 45,000 people, leveraged $1.8 billion in capital, and exposed more than 480,000 people to entrepreneurial services. Funding also supported robust evaluation, technical assistance, research, communications, meetings, policy support, and the daily operations of the NEI office.