Detroit Regional Chamber > Member News > Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative announces board of directors

Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative announces board of directors

September 19, 2016
The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative (UEI), a Mich.-based 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation established in 2015 and offering programming and resources that encourage, facilitate and enable the development of for-profit business solutions to address the needs of urban communities, announces Reggie Barnett, Fred Hall, Karen Lopez and Maria Woodruff-Wright have been appointed to the UEI Board of Directors. The announcement was made by UEI founder and Board President, W. David Tarver.

“I am pleased to formally welcome these individuals, so accomplished in their respective fields of business and law, to the UEI board,” Tarver said. “We look forward to growing the organization through their continued guidance and appreciate the individual and collective knowledge and experience they bring to the table as we crystalize the mission of UEI.”

• Reggie Barnett, Treasurer, most recently served as president and owner of WRN Inc., a provider of business telecommunications networking solutions. He was previously a senior executive at IBM. Barnett holds a law degree and an MBA from Duke University and an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame. He is a resident of Bloomfield Hills.
• Fred Hall, Vice-President, is concurrently president of H&P Protective Services and owner of NovaTech Computer Services, Inc. In addition to serving as UEI’s vice-president, Hall heads the board’s development committee. He is a lifelong resident of Detroit.
• Karen Lopez, Secretary, has a private law practice in Flint. She previously served as Vice President for External Affairs & Governance for Hurley Medical Center and Chief Legal Officer for the City of Flint. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from Michigan State University and received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. She is a Flint native and current resident.
• Maria Woodruff-Wright, Director, currently serves as CFO and Vice President of Operations for the Skillman Foundation. She holds a B.S. from Northwestern University School of Engineering and an MBA from the Ross School of Business – University of Michigan. After graduating from U-M, she founded and sold a company dedicated to providing culturally diverse products for children. Woodruff-Wright was also President of her family business, Expressway Ford, Inc. She is a native of Detroit.

W. David Tarver, a Birmingham resident, is a Flint native who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and also lectures in U-M’s Center for Entrepreneurship. In October, Tarver will receive the 2016 University of Michigan College of Engineering Distinguished Service Award.

In 1983, at age 30, Tarver launched Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc., a telecommunications instrumentation business, and sold it in 1995 for $30 million. Working as group president for the company’s buyer, he then spearheaded development of a telecommunications group with a market value of more than $2 billion. Tarver left that business in 1999 to devote more time to family and community service, including founding in 2000 the Red Bank Education and Development Initiative (RBEDI) in Red Bank, N.J., a community-based non-profit creating new opportunities and increasing academic performance for the children of Red Bank. RBEDI was credited with helping to increase Red Bank students’ proficiency rate on the N.J. eighth grade performance assessment test from 25% in 2001 to 60% in 2004. He ultimately returned to Southeast Michigan in 2007 and started the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative in 2014, which was recognized as a 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation in 2015.

Separately, under the direction of the board, UEI will hold its third annual Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium Oct. 19 to 21 in Flint, Mich. The 2016 Symposium (#UES2016) follows sold-out events in Detroit in 2015 and Ann Arbor in 2014. The Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium convenes entrepreneurs and thought leaders in business, academia, community organizations and government to facilitate business solutions that bring economic opportunity and quality of life improvements to urban communities. For information about the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016, please contact

About the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative

The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, founded by W. David Tarver, a technology entrepreneur, Michigan native and author of “Proving Ground: A Memoir,” is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation offering programming and resources that encourage, facilitate and enable the development of for-profit businesses that explicitly and intentionally address the needs of urban communities. Learn more here.