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May 16, 2014

Last month San Diego Workforce Partnership staff attended the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) annual conference in Denver. NAWDP advocates for the workforce industry and develops the professional capacity of workforce professionals seeking the highest standards of excellence in credentialing, applied learning opportunities and cutting-edge tools to excel in serving job seekers and business.

The theme of NAWDPs 25th-annual conference was “Navigating the Rocky Road Together—25 Years of Progress.”

More than 800 workforce professionals from across the nation attended the conference, which was opened by plenary speaker Richard Hadden, co-author of the book “Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk: The Plain Truth About Employment Engagement and Your Bottom Line.” Hadden took his audience back 25 years through the history of NAWDP and workforce development, and what it takes to survive in this ever-changing economic era.

There were more than 70 workshops on topics ranging from working with marginalized populations, designing demand-driven systems, innovative uses of technology, and preparing the next generation of workforce leaders. Additionally, there were two popular pre-conference workshops: Arel Moodie facilitated “Living the Dream: Secrets to Starting and Running a Profitable Business Right Now,” and Larry Robbin facilitated “You Can Be a Change Agent: How to Increase Employment Motivation in the Hard-to-Employ.”  

Eric Seleznow, the U.S. Department of Labor deputy assistant director, spoke to attendees, listing the DOL’s priorities for the coming year:

  • Creating strategies to reach and rapidly re-employ the long-term unemployed
  • Developing purposeful job-placement strategies in the America’s Job Centers
  • Increasing the number of apprentices trained through Registered Apprenticeship programs

The conference honored the 2014 Advancing the Profession Awards winners:

  • Mary Hennessey, ex-offender retention specialist for CTWorks/KRA, received the Jodie Spiegel Enhancement of Customer Service Award
  • Sandra Harmsen, executive director of the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board and director of the San Bernardino County Department of Workforce Development, received the Leadership Award
  • Patricia Gill of the Youth Service Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Initiative received the Professional Development Award
  • Tom Phillips, president and CEO of Capital Workforce Partners, received the H.G. Weisman Award
  • Kevin Shaughnessy of BakerHostetler, LLP and former board chair for Workforce Central Florida received the Tom Ahlers Systems Building Award

The conference was closed by plenary speaker Sarita Maybin, a communication expert, international speaker and author from San Diego. Maybin offered members some humorous strategies for adapting, succeeding and thriving in today’s workplace.

Next year’s NAWDP conference will be held May 4–6, 2015, in Las Vegas.

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