SDWP takes home top honor at National Association of Workforce Boards annual conference

March 28, 2018

NAWB WIOA Trailblazer Award
NAWB The Forum 2018 selfieIt was a banner year for the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) at the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB)’s The Forum 2018 in Washington, D.C., held March 24–27 and convening more than 1,200 workforce professionals from around the country. In addition to carrying home top workforce board honors in the form of the WIOA Trailblazer Award, SDWP staff led or appeared on the panels of nine breakout sessions. The SDWP team that attended included nine staff members, three board members and a CONNECT2Careers (C2C) youth leader.

Receiving the WIOA Trailblazer Award—the workforce field’s Academy Award—was a standout moment. It recognizes a workforce development board that has been a leader in adopting the system changes envisioned in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and developing comprehensive workforce solutions for its community.

SDWP staff members were happy to share these trailblazing efforts during many breakout sessions. Of more value for San Diego, however, were the sessions team members attended as learners. The opportunity youth efforts in Austin, TX provided inspiration for Director of Programs Karmin Noar, and SDWP Business Services Director Scott Marchand, says he “walked away with actionable steps to increase collaboration with community partners.” One such strategy, creating sector-specific job centers, included suggestions around geographic positioning, transit considerations and alignment with the industry in your area.

A keynote presentation by Jennifer Brown, a consultant to “Fortune 10” (as she put it) companies regarding diversity and inclusion, provided useful frameworks to apply in SDWP’s own efforts to improve our practices in that arena. “Her approach on how organizations should prioritize diversity and inclusion work not only as matter of ethics, but from the perspective that it is business-case/bottom-line imperative was really illuminating,” said SDWP VP of Operations Andrew Picard. “All industries should make diversity and inclusion a priority in the workforce today and it reinforced the commitment at SDWP to integrate this into our own work.”

CLIMB Director Laura Kohn attended a pre-conference workshop on “Family-Centered Employment” that included useful tips from the three other workforce boards around the country that are attempting 2Gen service reforms, including strategies for helping case managers shift to a family-centered service model through additional training.

Last year, SDWP launched Opportunity SD, a movement to reduce the number and equity gaps of opportunity youth—young adults ages 16–24 who are not working or in school—in the region. One emblem of SDWP’s commitment to elevating youth voice and leadership in this effort was inclusion of Ana Lomeli-Cadenas, former CONNECT2Careers peer job coach, on the trip to D.C. Ana joined the SDWP group that led a breakout session about Opportunity SD, last year’s Opportunity Summit: Flip the Script and the research findings released in advance of this year’s Opportunity Summit: Initiate. Ana shared her point of view about how best to reengage youth who are disconnected from school and work with an audience of 50 rapt workforce professionals from around the country. She hopes one day to join the board of SDWP and to continue to shape the lives of job seekers and young adults in the region.

Check out #NAWBForum18 on Twitter for a taste of the action.