Board & Staff

Current Board

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

  • Patton Doyle,  Chair 
    -Decode Ypsilanti (2025)
  • Andrew French, Vice Chair 
    -Aubrees (2025)
  • Kayia Hinton, Treasurer 
     -Hinton Real Estate Group (2025)
  • Nicole Brown
    Mayor of Ypsilanti (2026)
  • Dieter Otto
    -Eastern Michigan University Representative  
  • Ylondia Portis
    -Brandhrt Digital Insights and Strategy  (2025)
  • Paul Ajlouny
    -Eagles Market & Sweetwaters Cafe  (2025)
  • Jen Eastridge
    Unicorn Feed and Supply Co. (2025)
  • Bryan Foley
    – Aarneth Lighting Solutions (2023)
  • Malissa Gillett
    -Betty Green Organic Salon  (2025)
  • Joe Ritchie
    -Building Owner in Depot Town  (2025)
  • Valory Brown
    -Home Sweet Homecare (2025)
  • Brian Jones-Chance
    -734 Brewing Co (2026)


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 furry friend, Kira. Christopher can be reached at 


Elize Jekabson is an Ypsilanti based artist and community organizer. They 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, they 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 they 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.  Elize lives in Ypsi with their spouse Rikki, and their four cats Cali, Jasper, Bazil, and Susan. Elize can be reached at 

If you are interested in becoming a Board member, please submit a letter of interest to Mayor Lois Richardson at 

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