Community Catalysts supports seniors, veterans, homeless and other low income people by funding and developing quality affordable housing and services. Our goal is to be the catalyst - to get a stalled project started, to fill a gap to keep a project going, to fund a project that others may not be willing to fund, or work with a developer/partner in a way that others will not. We are a small, nimble team and are able to move quickly to get a project approved. We care about the people and communities that our projects serve. We strive to serve more people in Michigan and throughout the Midwest through our collaborative partnerships. Contact us to discuss your project and how we might be able to serve you.
We serve as a catalyst to our partners, and together we empower seniors, veterans, homeless and other low income people through quality affordable housing and services.
Collaboration with other community development efforts
Innovation in design and concepts
Respect for the individual and the dignity of all people
Board of Directors
Representing both the borrower and the lender in all aspects of real estate law, Ken Clarkson brings nearly 35 years of legal experience to Community Catalysts' Board of Directors. With a law degree from the University of Michigan, Ken is licensed to practice law in both Michigan and Florida.
Ken brings extensive experience negotiating sophisticated real estate financial transactions including joint ventures, mezzanine financing and traditional construction and permanent financing. He negotiates purchase agreements for properties to be held for development and syndication,
and negotiates leases for office buildings larger than 250,000 square feet as well as strip and regional malls. In addition to practicing law, Ken lectures regularly at seminars involving real estate matters, conducting seminars for the National Business Institute and the Detroit Bar Association.
Laurie Helgren brings over 17 years of experience in the commercial banking industry. As an Assistant Vice President, she implemented and manages the Commercial Finance Portfolio for First Independence Bank. She currently sits on the Compliance Committee and is an active member of senior management.
Prior to her current role, Laurie managed several portfolios at other financial institutions and held managerial positions in public accounting as well as in the retail marine industry.
Laurie holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Michigan State University. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and volunteering through her church, as well as spending time with family and friends. Laurie currently resides in Novi.
Paula Kelly graduated from Lawrence Technological University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. With over 30 years of automotive experience at both OEMs and suppliers, Paula has honed her leadership and project management skills.
Paula brings her analytical skills, drive for quality, problem-solving ability, and program management experience to the Community Catalysts Board. Paula loves to serve the underserved and is excited about the opportunity to make a
difference in Livingston County (where she resides) and throughout the state of Michigan.
In her free time, Paula enjoys running and golfing and is an avid cycler. She also loves to travel and make memories with her four children. Paula is very active in her church and plans to significantly increase her time spent serving the community over the next few years.
As Vice President of Work Skills Corporation’s (WSC) staffing division, Action Associates, Suzy Murphy oversees the day-to-day operations of Action Associates by working with customers to find innovative staffing solutions in the areas of temporary, contract, and permanent placement of professional, skilled trades, administrative, and industrial candidates. She also directs corporate marketing and public relations and is a member of WSC’s senior leadership team and corporate human resources department. Suzy received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Michigan State
University and her Masters in Human Resource Administration from Central Michigan University.
Suzy is the former President of the Livingston Area Human Resource Association (LAHRA) and former LAHRA Government Affairs Committee Chair. Currently, she is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), American Staffing Association (ASA), and the Chamber of Commerce Talent Management Pipeline (TPM) collaborative.
Suzy and her husband live in Hartland and together they have 5 children. They enjoy spending time with one another and with friends. She also enjoys traveling, hiking, and reading.
Becky Phelps is the founder of Capture Associates, an asset management and consulting service to a limited group of owners, overseeing over 2,000 units of senior and multi-family housing. Becky brings almost 30 years of experience in all phases of property ownership and development. She is experienced in acquisitions, sales, debt and equity financing and asset management services in both the senior and multi-family housing sectors.
Prior to founding Capture Associates, Becky worked as a Development Officer of the P.M. Group, Inc. Her involvement in the acquisition and construction development of over 2,500 multi-family and senior housing units, including the securitization of over $80 million in debt financing and placement of equity, contributes significantly to the expertise behind her successful ventures and ownership opportunities.
As the Executive Director and President of Community Catalysts, Eileen Zilch brings over 30 years of Corporate, Consulting, and Non-Profit leadership to the team. With an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, Eileen started her career at Ford Motor Company.
During her 11 years at Ford, Eileen served in several leadership positions including, Finance Manager in Car Product Development, Plant Controller, and Director of Foreign Exchange Strategy in the Treasury. Eileen moved into finance and marketing consulting for a decade and then into the Non-Profit sector.
As a Director at SpringHill Camps for 10 years, Eileen worked in both operational and support leadership roles. Her roles at SpringHill included Marketing Director, Regional Day Camp Director, and Central Services Director. Eileen's signature leadership style is creating high-performing teams and taking something good and making it great.
Eileen brings strong leadership skills, a diverse business background with both for-profit and non-profit organizations, and a get-it-done attitude to her role at Community Catalysts.
Eileen has 4 children and lives in Howell. When she isn't working, you can find her at her son's sporting events, at the beach, hiking, traveling, decorating, learning and teaching, watercolor painting, or laughing with family and friends.