Andrew Picard is Manager of Strategic Initiatives at SDWP. Here he describes his role, what he likes best about working in workforce development and one of his proudest professional moments.
Tell us about your role at SDWP.
The role of Manager of Strategic Initiatives is as new to the organization as I am, which is exciting for me to lead the evolution of this new support function for SDWP. My position is responsible for the design and management of new programs with a goal of continually improving the impact and diversity of our initiatives. I will be the organization’s point-person for implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and overseeing how we drive new innovations into program operations. I also manage the organization’s response to new funding opportunities through grants and a variety of other sources. This involves managing proposal development, creative writing, convening community partners and seeking to proactively articulate and further the mission of SDWP with varied stakeholders.
What do you like best about working in workforce development?
While I am new to the workforce development system, I have worked in public outreach programs throughout my career. I had heard of the workforce development world and seen a few job centers, but it wasn’t until I came on board that I fully realized how expansive and critical the work we do is for our community. What I like best about working in workforce development is that the goals of our programs do not treat one specific need, but provides individuals the tools to create their own more productive and self-sustainable life. To me, it is rewarding to think of the specific individual’s success stories while building broad partnerships and programs that bring value to employers, educational professionals and community stakeholders.
What professional moment or project are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the recent grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor for SDWP’s Reentry Works San Diego project. This project represents a partnership between SDWP, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s and Probation departments. Reentry Works San Diego aligns the infrastructure and outcomes of the public workforce system with those of the local criminal justice system by building a job center at the East Mesa Reentry Facility and satellite services through the South County Probation Office. It is inspiring to lead the application development and grant management process for this project because of the level of commitment, teamwork and passion for the cause SDWP staff and our partners have displayed. The financial and social costs of recidivism cannot be overstated. With California’s prisons and jails facing unprecedented overcrowding, it is critically important to dedicate efforts to reduce recidivism and support successful reentry for individuals into the community. This issue is particularly significant for our local community, as reports from the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found a higher (71.5%) recidivism rate for paroled participants in the County of San Diego, compared to the statewide rate of 65.1%. I am excited to see how our program model will be applied and see if we can scale and replicate this strategy throughout our nation’s criminal justice system.