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August 3, 2015

Judy Lawton is Owner and CEO of the Lawton Group. She is also a member of the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s Workforce Investment Board. Here she describes what motivated her to join the WIB and the workforce issues she is most passionate about. 

What motivated you to join the WIB?

I had been the Assistant Director of a Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) funded training agency from 1978 to 1981 and loved it. We were very successful and I personally placed about 850 well-trained people in that time frame. Once away and back into the staffing industry, I realized that I had a lot of experience and knowledge from both a provider and a business perspective that I could bring to others and had an opportunity to apply for membership on the Private Industry Council, the forerunner of the Workforce Investment Board (WIB).

What issues are you most passionate about as they relate to workforce development?

Helping people has always been what it’s all about for me. When you see participants in these programs blossom, gain personal strength through learning new skills or strengthening existing ones, realizing self-sufficiency for themselves and their families, well, it just makes my day. We’re changing lives every day in a very good way. Who wouldn’t love to be a part of that?

Tell a brief story about a person, event or project that you were involved with that underscored your passion for these issues.

There have been so many people and personal stories over the years from CETA to the Job Training Partnership Act to the Workforce Innovation Act (WIA) and now to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), it’s difficult to pick just one or two. In the late ‘70’s we worked a lot with returning veterans and also with the refugee populations after the Vietnam War ended and trained many of those refugees to be work-ready citizens. We all tend to think that our immediate situations are unique—from refugees to recessions to layoffs—but in reality, these problems have all been around before and will be again. However, if you ever doubt that these programs work, just take a look around. The evidence is everywhere that new training programs and their predecessors were and are successful in elevating the status of life for so many.  

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