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October 1, 2014

Ellen Greer is chief of the Southern Workforce Services Division at the California Employment Development Department (EDD). She is also a member of SDWP’s Workforce Investment Board (WIB). Here we caught up with Greer about what motivated her to join the WIB and what workforce issues she is most passionate about. 

SDWP: What motivated you to join the WIB?

Greer: The Employment Development Department represents five programs that are part of the America’s Job Center of California delivery system. EDD is a mandatory partner. In lieu of delegating this assignment, I have elected to be involved to help shape the direction of the system.

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

Greer: I am most passionate about assisting youth to their future career goals. The future of San Diego, as well as the state’s competitiveness in this global economy, is contingent upon a well trained workforce, and we must begin with our youth.

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

Greer: The EDD offers the Youth Employment Opportunity Program (YEOP) and has done so for the past 25 years. In 1989 there was recognition that there was a role that we could play that could help in lowering the dropout rate of at-risk youth. The program design for YEOP called for us to hire, mentor and coach at-risk youth to serve other at-risk youth. A requirement for these youth for their participation was that they themselves must remain in school. One of the first youth that I hired was a young father who had prior gang affiliations. I, along with my staff, worked with him and provided him coaching and mentoring and even at times assistance with his course work. He successfully graduated from high school and went on to college. It was several years after he left the program, while I was conducting business at a local bank, that this young man approached me and thanked me again for supporting him when he was in high school. He went on to share that he continued his education and was now a manager at the bank. For me this underscored that we must make an investment in our future generations if we are to provide employers with the workforce that they need to ensure prosperity.

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