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November 7, 2016

Kristen Walker is a Program Specialist with the San Diego Workforce Partnership. Here she describes her role, discusses what she likes best about working in workforce development and shares one of her proudest professional moments. 

Tell us about your role at SDWP.

I am a program specialist on the Adult Team in which my primary responsibility is to assist our sub-recipients in the delivery of workforce development services to various San Diegans at our East and Metro Regional America’s Job Center of California sites and the job centers located onsite at the East Mesa Reentry Facility and Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility. My assistance comes in myriad ways, including analyzing sub-recipient expenditures, identifying ways to make workforce development services specific to our unique customer needs and facilitating partner meetings to encouraging creative ways to partner with various stakeholders. The focus for my role right now is finding a balance between meeting the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act regulations and performance metrics while keeping the focus on the seven mindsets of Human Centered Design.

What do you like best about working in workforce development?

You have to nurture relationships with all of our sub-recipients to build a connection centered around the trust in the common bond we share to serve people in a way that can facilitate the achievement of an individual’s personal success. I enjoy the challenge of connecting with others that hold a similar vision. The challenging part is how to navigate collectively taking on national problems and believing that if we can collaborate and respect each other’s strengths we can bring about positive change.

What professional moment or project are you most proud of?

It’s hard to say, but the moment that first comes first to my mind was welcoming Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu to the first job center in a jail in San Diego at the East Mesa Reentry Facility.

It’s hard to identify just one because each program that I’ve worked on has moments that I am proud of, as all of them have brought someone the opportunity to become a better version of themselves.

For the individuals that we serve, success can come in many forms — from deciding to show up at an orientation at one of our America’s Job Centers because you have just been laid off, to a returning citizen that secured employment through the Reentry Works San Diego program and therefore decreases California’s 62.3% recidivism rate, to choosing to go to back to school at a community college to start a new career at the age of 50 — all of these moments make me feel very privileged to have the gift of being a small part of it all.




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