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A Workforce Symposium Connecting Educators and Business


Intersect 2021 is a virtual symposium where educators and workforce professionals connect to learn how to prepare students and workers for the demands of business amid the ever-changing pandemic environment. We’ll share promising practices and hear from industry experts to help shift our collaborative approaches in upskilling the workforce of today and tomorrow. Together we can achieve economic recovery and an equitable workforce.

10:00 am – 10:15 am ET


10:15 am – 11:15 am ET

Keynote Panel: A Vision for a Unified Workforce System – Perspectives from Employers, Education and Workforce Development Partners

  • Van Ton Quinlivan – CEO of Futuro Health (Business/Industry)
  • Dawnn Leary – Senior Community Investment Officer at Greater Washington Community Foundation (CBO/Funder/WDB)
  • Laurie Bouillion Larrea President at Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas (Local Workforce Development Board / Adult Ed)
  • Dr. Federico Zaragoza President, College of Southern Nevada (Community College)
  • Moderated by: Dr. Ian Roark, Vice President for Workforce Development and Strategic Partnerships at Pima Community College

Description: A diverse panel of workforce system leaders will share their unique perspectives on why and how we need to collaborate in supporting a unified workforce system. Panelists represent industry, workforce boards, funders, adult education, community colleges, and corrections. Whether you are an employer, you are a job developer, you serve on a workforce board, you are an educator, or you are a policy maker — this session is for you. Join us for an interactive session that will include the opportunity for participants to ask questions of the panelists.

11:15 am – 12:00 pm ETSession 1

Show Me the Money: Determining ROI in Workplace Literacy Programs at Tyson Foods

  • Donna Davis, Tyson Foods
  • Jesse McCree, SCPa Works
  • Moderated by Laurie Kierstead-Joseph, Pima Community College

Description: While employers increasingly desire to implement workplace literacy programs to upskill and advance their valued workforce, they often wonder if these programs really deliver the business outcomes employers seek? Come learn the positive ROI outcomes Tyson Foods discovered in its workplace literacy programs and the methodology it used to get there.

Breakout Session Panel: Ensuring Equitable Access and Success for All

  • Walter L.G. Simmons, President & CEO, Employ Prince George’s, Inc.
  • Brian Walsh, Unlocking Potential Initiative, Vera Institute of Justice
  • Julia Trujillo Luengo, Office of Economic Opportunity, City of Portland
  • Moderated by Rachel Hirsch, National Governors Association

Description: The workforce system serves individuals of diverse ages, races/ethnicities, genders, socioeconomic statuses, and with a variety of prior life experiences. This panel of national experts will share their perspectives on how to ensure diverse populations are equitably successful in accessing training, upskilling, and securing employment in family-sustaining career pathways.

Built to Last – Leveraging Successful Workforce and Education Partnerships to Upskill Your Workforce

  • Sabra Phillips, Marek
  • Angie De Leon, Harris County Department of Education.
  • Anson Green, Tyson Foods

Description: Workplace literacy partnerships often struggle beyond the first class. Not so at Marek! For over a decade Marek, a construction leader operating in multiple states, has upskilled its craft workforce through an integrated workforce ESL program with a local Houston area adult education partner. The program uses a virtual instructor led with self-directed online instruction to deliver ESL with technical skills to support the communication, safety, career advancement of the Marek workforce. Come learn the practices that have supported this partnership over the years.

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm – Session 2

Essential Education’s Workforce Programs

  • Dan Griffith, Essential Education

Description: We will be reviewing our offerings for the workplace and how they connect with current needs and research in adult learning. I plan to cover our Work Essentials, Computer Essentials, Money Essentials, Dream Catcher, and HSE/ABE Academies.

Employer-Based English Programs That Deliver Results: Best Practices for Upskilling Your Workforce Efficiently and Effectively

  • Katie Nielson, Founder and CEO of EnGen

Description: There is a national focus on upskilling and reskilling workers for the jobs of the future, but immigrants, refugees, and speakers of other languages are often left out of these initiatives simply because they lack the English skills to participate. Enabling English learners with the skills they need to communicate effectively in your workplace is critical to equity and inclusion, promotes a collaborative environment, and helps you promote from within. It’s a win-win, and it’s easier than you think. Katie Nielson will share best practices for workplace-based English programs in any sector as well as how to measure success.

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm – Session 3

Department of Commerce $1.5 Billion Funding Opportunity

  • Michele Chang, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Economic Development Administration, Department of Commerce

Description: Hear about the once in a lifetime opportunities offered through the Build Back Better initiative provided by the Department of Commerce.

  • $500 Million Good Jobs Challenge – This program is intended to get American workers the skills they need to secure quality jobs by investing in regional workforce systems and sectoral partnerships. This program can fund system development, and non-construction costs related to training program and implementation, including wraparound services for training participants (e.g., childcare, transportation, language support, career coaching).
  • $1 Billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge – This program aims to transform 20-30 distressed communities in our country with $25-75 million through investments in industry clusters, workforce, entrepreneurship and infrastructure projects.
  • $500 Million Economic Adjustment Assistance program – This program is EDA’s most flexible grant program and can fund a wide range of projects including workforce projects that require construction, as well as technical assistance.

Center of Excellence for Apprenticeship Initiatives: Thought Leaders Collaboration to Inform USDOL’s Registered Apprenticeship Center of Excellence

  • Katie Adams, Safal Partners

Description: Join the Registered Apprenticeship Technical Assistance Center of Excellence team to discover if being a thought leader and innovator is for you! Learn how you can partner with COABE and the leadership team for the opportunity to drive policy development and implementation to align the workforce, education, and employment system more closely with registered apprenticeships. Participants will also learn the value of joining in the efforts over the next two years to identify local level innovative and effective practices that can be scaled nationally to accelerate adoption and integration of registered apprenticeships with workforce and education systems.

1:00 pm – 1:50 pmSession 4

Cross-Cultural Relationship Building, Awareness and Sensitivity in the Workplace: Helping Employers Recruit, Retain and Honor Diverse Talent

  • Terry Liggins, Lead Educator and Founder of The Hurdle Life Coach

Description: In the session employers will learn from Terry Liggins, Lead Educator and Founder of The Hurdle Life Coach. Terry will share some of the best practices as it pertains to building and sustaining cross-cultural relationships of the highest quality, lending itself to high performance outputs and outcomes in talent attraction and retention.

Drawing on his lived experience as a credible messenger, organizational DEI consultant and peer coach providing direct support services to formerly incarcerated adults and at-risk youth in transition; Terry’s sincerity and authenticity is what’s most memorable when he engages audiences.

Spotlighting on such matters as the importance of cultural humility, understanding ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences), English as a lingua franca and more; attendees are guaranteed to grow, stretch intellectually and be inspired from this session.

The Untapped Talent Pool: Best Practice in Hiring and Retaining Justice Involved Individuals

  • Jeff Abramowitz, JEVS Human Services & COABE Secretary
  • Danielle Cox, Maryland Department of Labor

Description: This interactive presentation will take a look at the untapped talent of justice involved individuals both behind and beyond our prison walls and consider best practices for hiring, and more importantly retaining, those individuals in the labor market. Traditionally, justice involved individuals have faced an unemployment rate of 27%, a number higher than the peak of the Great Depression. Understanding the importance of adult literacy, skill development, and the challenges facing those traveling through our justice systems may hold the key to employers securing talented workers and helping them to survive and thrive. We will discuss and share tools and resources which can assist educators, employers, and students in their career pathway journey. This workshop will prove that it truly takes a village to make change happen at the intersection of our workforce and educational systems where the ultimate goal is to help those justice involved individuals searching for a chance to succeed in life.

Supporting the Economic Integration of Internationally Educated Immigrants and Refugees

  • Debra Means-West, World Education Services, Global Talent Bridge
  • Teresita B. Wisell, Westchester Community College
  • Janine E. Janosky, Richard J. Daley College
  • José Ramón Fernández-Peña, Northwestern University and American Public Health Association
  • Hosted by: World Education Services, Global Talent Bridge

Description: Currently, there are over two million college-educated immigrants and refugees living in the U.S. who are underemployed or unemployed. More than sixty percent of these individuals earned their degrees outside the U.S. Mainstream workforce, adult education, and career pathways programs are rarely designed to leverage the talent of these internationally educated immigrants and refugees. Yet innovative solutions, ranging from initiatives that focus on international credential recognition to programs that provide career pathways, retraining support, and employment have demonstrated benefits. This session will discuss strategies for connecting immigrants and refugees with academic and professional opportunities.

2:00 pm – 2:50 pmSession 5

Making WIOA Work for Employers: Challenges and Recommendations for Increasing Business Access to Federally Funded Workforce Programming to Better Serve the Immigrant Workforce

  • Judy Mortrude, World Education, Inc.
  • Dan Kosten, National Immigration Forum
  • Emily Foster, National Immigration Forum
  • Dane Linn, Business Roundtable
  • Hosted by: The National Immigration Forum

Description: During the pandemic, we saw how immigrants and refugees played critical roles in keeping our economy moving forward and in assisting the recovery. Immigrant workers have disproportionately been “essential” in many industries or have suffered from especially high job losses. To foster a stronger and more equitable American economy, workforce policies must address the challenges and build upon the essential contributions of the foreign-born workforce.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was landmark legislation aiming to bring public workforce programs in line with the 21st century economy and innovations. It offers a strong foundation on which to build the next iteration of responsive and adaptive solutions. However, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. workforce—immigrants and refugees— needs stronger language in the Act, and much stronger implementation. As the community of advocates has proactively identified areas of improvement in the Act, the National Immigration Forum, joined by partners at World Education will discuss the important role employers play in building the talent pipeline, the challenges they face, and provide recommendations for better serving and implementing programs for immigrant adult learners under WIOA, while also better facilitating employer engagement and access to WIOA funded programs.

Wisconsin’s Equity Informed Approach to Integrated Education and Training

  • Ben Konruff, Wisconsin Technical College System
  • Amber Stancher, Mid State Technical College

Description: Equity is the foundation for student success in the Wisconsin Technical College System. Our transformative approach is fueled by data analysis, equity-centered policies, fiscal levers to address equity gaps, and professional development to enhance practice. During this session, attendees will learn about how we have leveraged our equity-informed culture of evidence to spark innovation and expansion of Integrated Education and Training.

Workplace Education Panel: Developing a Local Education/Employer Partnerships from the Ground Up

  • Beth Butterfoss, JVS Boston
  • Kristin Driscoll, Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Jeff Arnott, The School District of Osceola County, Florida
  • Karen J. Combs, Adult Learning Center of Osceola
  • David Engilis, President at Touchless Boat Cover
  • Cheryl Hiester, The Literacy Coucil of Lancaster-Lebanon
  • Jenni Black Union Community Care
  • Employer partner to JVS

Description: Workplace Education programming supports employers in upskilling their incumbent workers. In this session, we will learn from a panel of local Adult Education programs and their employer partners about how to develop, fund, and sustain successful Workplace Education partnerships.

3:00 pm – 3:50 pmSession 6

Pre Apprenticeship as a Pipeline to Apprenticeship

  • Tyra Copas, Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development

Description: How adult education pre apprenticeship programs connect to apprenticeship. We will share examples of programs that have been established in Tennessee. Our adult education is a pipeline for employer talent to have a more educated and successful workforce. Adult Education can skill up the skills of learners for employment.

Beyond the First Meeting – Cultivating a Thriving Workplace Education Program

  • Anson Green, Tyson Foods
  • Angela Johnson, Baker Ripley
  • Alejandra Barbosa Contreras, Baker Ripley

Description: Do you aspire to deliver a successful workplace education program for frontline workers? Come learn how to make it to the second meeting with your partner! This session will describe the promises and pitfalls to brokering strong education /employer partnerships. You will learn how to develop a “partnership of the willing.” Strategies to best understand the perspective and needs of each partner. How “education providers” can become “solution providers” to other public services, and how to meet in the middle with your partner on performance accountability.

Meet Workplace Demands for Career Readiness with Google

  • Jennifer Vaden Barth, Google
  • Ricki Meyer, Google

Description: Now more than ever, digital literacy and technical skills can strengthen career readiness and growth. In this session, Google teams will share the latest in Google’s education and skilling resources to provide learners with opportunities to learn key skills that can get them on the fast track for in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.

3:50 pm – 4:00 pm

Closing Remarks