Rosa Ana Lozada, LCSW, is the CEO of Harmonium. She is also a member of SDWP’s Workforce Investment Board. Here she describes what motivated her to join the WIB and the workforce issues she is most passionate about.
SDWP: What motivated you to join the WIB?
Lozada: As CEO for Harmonium and as the Chair of the City of San Diego Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention, I am always looking for opportunities that promote prevention, build skills and strengthen the capacity of individuals to succeed, particularly youth. I was drawn to the Workforce Investment Board’s vision: Every business in our region has access to a skilled workforce and every job seeker has access to meaningful employment.
As CEO, my vision is to provide multiple programs and prevention and intervention services that promote the well-being of children and youth (0-25) and their families. Harmonium’s service model supports a holistic approach. We believe that this can be achieved by addressing the emotional, physical and mental health well-being of our clients. We recognize that employment is essential for individuals to feel purposeful and connected to society.
As a member of the WIB, I hope to contribute by advocating for employment opportunities for underrepresented communities, advancing age appropriate and best practices for youth work readiness, and participating in discussions that identify employment opportunities.
SDWP: What issues are you most passionate about as they relate to workforce development?
Lozada: It is exciting to serve as a member of the WIB because it represents such a broad public and private perspective, bringing together multiple strategies to increase skills and employment opportunities to our San Diego community. Recent presentations to our Board also reflect the evolving nature of our work, helping us expand our thinking about how we can serve all individuals regardless of special needs.
Our goal at Harmonium is to implement programs that enable youth to become employable while supporting them in building their work-readiness skills. Our experience informs us that we need to include additional supportive services when working with youth. Social and emotional factors often compound some of the developmental challenges faced by youth. Repeatedly, we find that with care, compassion and respectful interactions, youth build the confidence to be their best selves.
SDWP: Tell a brief story about a person, event or project that you were involved with that underscored your passion for these issues.
Lozada: Harmonium has operated the Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Program (YEEP) since 2009. The goal was to utilize recyclable goods to create products for sale. YEEP has since graduated 60 youth through this highly innovative and nationally recognized program.
Harmonium’s award-winning YEEP incorporates the Junior Achievement curriculum. Program features are Work Readiness Assessment, Entrepreneurship and Employment. Additional support in the form of ongoing job coaching and incentive are also incorporated.
YEEP offers a proven effective and innovative approach for youth to learn the intricacies of running a business along with developing their professional acumen and skills as an employee. Harmonium’s youth companies participated in national competitions in Washington, D.C., and placed first for two consecutive years. However, the legacy of the YEEP program is not determined by the trophies but rather the journey the youth have undertaken. As one youth said, “Without YEEP, I would never have an opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. My journey was a combination of hard work, problem-solving, making positive relationships, and believing in myself.”