Labor and Economic Opportunity
Expand economic opportunity and prosperity for all.
Make Michigan a place where all people, business and communities have the educational and economic means to reach their full potential.
Jeff Donofrio, Director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, is charged with coordinating and streamlining the state's workforce and economic development programs to meet business and labor needs and grow communities where all Michiganders have equal opportunities to reach their fullest potential. Donofrio brings a wealth of experience and proven success in policy, government and workforce development.
Previously he served as the Executive Director of Workforce Development for the City of Detroit where he oversaw the City’s workforce system and was charged with development and implementation of strategies to increase residential employment and household income and improve the economic competitiveness of Michigan’s largest community.
While working for the City of Detroit, Donofrio led a number of major initiatives, including:
Before joining Mayor Duggan’s staff, Donofrio served as an executive at Ford Motor Company based in Washington, DC. Donofrio also served as District Director for Congressman Sandy Levin and Congressman John D. Dingell and Transportation Policy Advisor to Governor Jennifer Granholm. He grew up working in his family’s bar, restaurant and bowling alley, Clemente's located in Lincoln Park, MI, that was opened by his Great-Grandparents in the 1920s.
Donofrio serves on the boards of United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. In 2018, he was appointed to Gov. Whitmer’s transition team as Special Advisor for Jobs and Economic Development and was named to Crain’s 40 under 40 class.
Jeff earned his BA in Public Policy and Secondary Education from Michigan State University and MBA from Georgetown University.
Susan Corbin has been the Senior Chief Deputy of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity since the department’s creation in August 2019.
As Senior Chief Deputy, Susan leads operations for all of LEO, with direct-line responsibility for the Labor agencies and Unemployment Insurance Offices.
In the past Susan has served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of Governor Whitmer, Director of Customer Assistance in the Michigan Public Service Commission, Deputy Director and Chief of Staff for the Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth where she had oversight responsibility for the Unemployment Insurance Agency, the Worker’s Compensation Agency, and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. She has also served as Director of Appointments for Governor Granholm.
Ms. Corbin began her professional career working for the Michigan Departments of Commerce, Labor and Transportation assisting with their cultural, educational and trade relations with the People’s Republic of China.
She has a degree in International Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University.
For the past two decades, Stephanie Beckhorn has played an important and growing role in Michigan’s workforce and economic development.
Beckhorn has been lending her talents to Michigan’s workforce development efforts since 2001 when she joined the Bureau of Workforce Transformation. In 2013, she went on to serve as Director of Workforce Policy and Strategic Planning for the Michigan Workforce Development Agency and in 2019, at the beginning of Governor Whitmer’s term, she served as the acting department director.
Today, as the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Director of the Office of Employment and Training, Beckhorn provides leadership and guidance for the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, and Workforce Development.
She approaches projects in an inclusive manner and seeks solutions that are effective and replicable. Whatever challenges Michigan has faced, Beckhorn’s collaborative, data-driven approach has enabled Employment and Training to adjust swiftly to evolving economic demands.
Under her direction, Employment and Training administers key workforce programs and systems that equips both employers and workers with resources critical for their success, including vocational rehabilitation to support individuals with disabilities with gaining or retaining employment.
Beckhorn works directly with federal, state, and local level partners to provide the connections, expertise, and innovative solutions to drive continued business growth, build vibrant communities, and attract and retain key talent to fill Michigan’s vast pipeline of opportunities. This work is accomplished through federal and state programs focused on job preparedness, career-based education, worker training, and employer assistance.
Beckhorn is a Certified Business Solutions Professional (CBSP) and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University.
Sean’s focus at LEO will be on Labor issues, primarily overseeing MIOSHA, Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency, the Bureau of Employment Relations and the Wage and Hour Division. He also supports the department’s efforts across the spectrum as his experience spans many of its’ goals.
As a lifelong Westside Michigander and activist for working people and families, Sean brings a wealth of experience across all areas of the state’s economy. Sean served in the Navy and afterward started an apprenticeship and became a Journeyman Electrician through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). He maintains his membership in his Union and state license as a journeyman to this day.
Having been a shop steward and President of the Local, in 2004 Sean moved into a representative position with IBEW Local 275 in West Michigan. In 2007 he was elected by the members as the head of the Local Union representing construction electricians, manufacturing, broadcasting, and electrical motor service industries. His duties included managing the non-profit operations and representational activities for members. In 2010, he was named as one of the “40 under 40” by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
During this time, he also served on the Board of the Heart of West Michigan United Way, including the executive committee and as chair of the financial independence focus as it was being developed. Somehow, he also earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from Davenport University, and a Juris Doctor (JD) from Thomas M. Cooley Law School going to classes nights and weekends while continuing to work and raise his three children with his wife Christy.
He continues to serve his community as an avid volunteer through the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, his Local Union and Labor Council, the United Way as a volunteer tax preparer in the VITA program, and pretty much anywhere groups are focused on helping people lift themselves out of poverty and into the middle class.
Most recently he served as General Counsel to IBEW Local 876 which represents working people in construction, government, utility, line clearance and other industries. He also worked as an attorney with many other Labor Unions and worker focused efforts across Michigan.
He previously served as the president of the Kent/Ionia AFL-CIO labor council, the West Michigan Building Trades Council, Vice-Chair of the IBEW State Conference, Chairman and Trustee of the Michigan Electrical Employees’ Pension Plan, Trustee on the Michigan Electrical Employees Health Plan and Executive Board of the Michigan AFL-CIO.
Sean currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Joint Michigan Apprenticeship Program (JMAP) which trains electrical utility and line apprentices for municipal and utility organizations across Michigan, is a delegate to the Kent/Ionia Labor Council, President of the Labor Heritage Society of West Michigan, and is a member in good standing with the State Bar Association of Michigan as an attorney.
As Deputy Director for Prosperity, Kim Trent is charged with guiding and building support for efforts to boost the economic security of Michigan citizens through strategic initiatives, programming and partnerships. Her portfolio of leadership duties in state government includes serving as the key staffer to the Michigan Poverty Task Force.
Trent’s career has included leadership roles on the staff of former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and former Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. For seven years, she held various key staff positions at Michigan Future Inc., a think tank dedicated to boosting prosperity in Michigan. She also served as an elected member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors from 2013 until 2019.
Trent’s family first came to Michigan in the 1830s. She grew up in Highland Park and Detroit. She is a graduate of Detroit’s famed Cass Technical High School and holds a BA in journalism and Africana Studies and MA in communications from Wayne State University. She also completed graduate studies at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa. She has completed fellowships with the American Political Science Association in Washington D.C. and the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University and is a graduate of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Leadership Detroit program.
Steve Gray, a professor and attorney with 30 years of expertise in unemployment insurance and administrative law, serves as director of the Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA), guiding their work to serve unemployed Michiganders.
Gray, served as an integral member of the bi-partisan legislative workgroup responsible for creating an eight-bill package aimed at improving Michigan's UIA system and the customer experience. All eight bills were effective in early 2018.
Gray, a Flint native and 20-year resident of Ypsilanti, is director and founder of the University of Michigan Law School Unemployment Insurance Clinic that uses student representation in unemployment insurance cases to train over 150 first-year law students per year. Gray is also a faculty expert affiliate with the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions initiative and associate faculty with the African Studies Center.
He also served as the general manager of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project, a nonprofit organization he established to assist law students providing representation to jobless workers who are denied unemployment insurance.
Gray's primary focus throughout his legal aid career has been public benefits litigation and advocacy and administrative law. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law, taught and helped establish a legal aid clinical program at the University of Namibia Law School as a Fulbright Scholar. Prior to that, he was managing attorney at the Michigan Poverty Law Program, senior attorney at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, managing attorney at Legal Services of Southern Michigan and staff attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance.
Gary Heidel was appointed Acting Executive Director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) by the Authority Board in April 2019. Prior to the appointment, he served as MSHDA’s chief housing investment officer.
Gary has held several leadership positions since he began his career at MSHDA in 1986 and presently leads the state’s implementation of the new federal Opportunity Zone tax benefit. He also coordinates Meta, a team of senior staff from MSHDA, MEDC, Transportation, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, Treasury, Talent Investment and State Land Bank who work together on placemaking policy. In addition, he co-coordinates the Sense of Place Council with the executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. The Council is comprised of 40 state agencies and statewide trade organizations that work on place-based economic development.
Gary serves on the Advisory Committee of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at MSU and the National Charrette Institute at MSU. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He also has completed several executive leadership programs, including the Michigan Political Leadership Program at MSU, Governors Center at Duke University, and the JFK School of Government at Harvard University.
Jeff Huntington has worked for the State Land Bank since 2005, providing support and management for several projects at the local, state, and federal level.
Jeff has played a critical role in reducing blight across several communities statewide by administering over $84 million in demolition funding that has removed more than 3,000 vacant and abandoned residential, commercial and industrial structures.
He serves on the Michigan Association of Land Banks board of directors and the Eaton Rapids Public Schools Education Foundation.
He is a graduate of Central Michigan University earning a Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration as well as a Master's of Business Administration. In addition, he has coached youth soccer and baseball for nearly a decade.
Kerry Ebersole joined LEO as a Senior Advisor and Director of the 60x30 Office. Ebersole has more than 20 years of experience in national, state and local politics, issue advocacy and government affairs.
Prior to this role, Gov. Whitmer appointed Kerry to serve as the Census 2020 Executive Director, helping to lead the state in surpassing our 2010 response rate. Before returning to state service in 2019, Ebersole was the CEO of Persuasion Link, LLC., a Michigan-based Public Affairs Firm.
She has served as the Michigan State Director and Senior Advisor to the Energy Foundation States and Regions Program, the largest climate and clean energy funder in the United States. She also formerly served as the Director of Get Out the Vote for Obama for America and as a Regional Director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
As CEO, Mark A. Burton is charged with implementing and executing MEDC’s core mission of advocating for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus of building a strong and vibrant Michigan economy.
Burton entered this role less than a week before the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic in Michigan. Since that time, he has led a robust and comprehensive effort to provide relief and support to Michigan small businesses, communities, entrepreneurs and workers facing the negative impacts from the virus. Under his leadership, MEDC has created or repurposed nearly two dozen statewide relief and recovery programs, several of which have been recognized and replicated by national peers.
Burton remains committed to helping guide the organization – and Michigan – through a post-crisis economy by focusing on enabling equitable and long-term economic prosperity for all Michiganders.
Burton was most recently Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Chief Strategist who played an instrumental role in shaping her agenda to close the skills gap, provide every Michigander with a path to a good paying job and to improve the state’s core infrastructure. In a nearly 20-year career, he has also held various other positions across state government, started and ran a small business and worked in the philanthropic community.
Burton received his Bachelor of Science from Northern Michigan University, his Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and is a graduate of Oxford University’s International Human Rights Law program.