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Category Strategic Planning & Facilitation

Arkansas Gets WIOA-Quick Start: Statewide Conference Offers On-Ramp to WIOA Success

Last week I had the honor of working with nearly 500 professionals from across a broad array of partners in Little Rock, Arkansas in the state’s first, wide-scale planning meeting for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). We were packed into every square inch of our hotel space – a challenge for our team of facilitators. Importantly, our job was made easier by the willingness of those present to "dive in" to the serious business of implementing the new law.

The audience included all the usual attendees – Board members, WIA and Wagner-Peyser staff, community colleges and CBOs – but also a strong showing from "new" WIOA partners in Rehabilitation Services, TANF, Registered Apprenticeship and more.

It was my job to convey the essential elements of the new legislation, give folks an overview of how the Law would change the way we do… Read more →

State and Federal Leaders Move WIOA Forward: Re-capping the NASWA Winter Policy Forum

Last week it was an honor to emcee NASWA’s Winter Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. Despite the threatening winter weather (that caused my train to “freeze” and made me drive to D.C.), about 150 leaders from states across the nation came together to tackle the special challenges involved in preparing to implement the Workforce System’s new law.

Panels of experts, including an opening plenary featuring leaders from key federal partner agencies planning for implementation, came together in robust discussions with those gathered around key issues in the law. One panel explored disconnected youth and long-term unemployed. Another focused on building partnerships that are so critical to reaching the potential of this new legislation. Still another featured states that have already been working to bring partners together and formulate key changes in policy and process that will be the backbone of… Read more →

Customers on the Move: Maher Client named a “Top 20” Leader in Atlanta!

We love it when our clients get recognized for leadership and innovation – particularly when they are committed to the type of transformational change we’re advocating in the Nation’s workforce development system.

Our report to the City of Atlanta was a critical look at the City’s workforce agency coupled with a hard-hitting set of recommendations designed to transform its performance. The Atlanta Workforce Development Agency( AWDA) needed to re-invent itself as part of a collaborative – working with area economic development, education and five regional workforce boards – to begin to create a talent supply chain to drive the City’s economic prosperity and build family-sustaining career opportunities for its citizens.

 

Enter Michael Sterling. Appointed by Mayor Kasim Reed to lead the Agency’s revival, Mike was a staunch supporter of the vision for… Read more →

Labor Day Inspiration … Atlanta style.

I had the privilege to attend a really great event with our client – Invest Atlanta – a week ago last Friday. It reminded me anew, why I do what I do. From time to time, I think we all need such a reminder – amidst the distractions and challenges we all face in life and at work day to day.

The event brought Labor Secretary Tom Perez to Atlanta as part of his “Labor Day” cross-country tour, but also served as the platform for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to publicly announce his endorsement of a set of recommendations our team (working with a broad group of Atlanta’s community and business leaders) developed to re-invent the city’s workforce development system. That System has been criticized in an internal audit as ineffective, ridiculed in the press and is the subject of an… Read more →

Finding the Future: South Suburban Community College Community-Centered Strategic Planning

We recently completed another strategic planning engagement for a college in Illinois, and I was moved by the engagement, interest and passion this group brought to the task of finding a better future for their institution and the community it serves.

South Suburban Community College brought about 100 leaders together from this region just south of Chicago for an intensive, 2-day event designed to drive innovation and planning to guide the institution’s next five years. Using our Community-Centered Strategic Planning Process, stakeholders from the community representing K-12, the university system, economic and workforce development and employers joined those internal to the college (including students) in the effort.

This process is intense, it is time-consuming and it isn’t for everybody. It just works.

We use the essence of the “Re-Claiming the American Dream” report from the American Association of… Read more →

Reemployment Connections: New “Virtual Institute” Model Drives Innovation in Technical Assistance

We recently completed an online “virtual institute” for the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI) that brought teams from six states together with leaders from Washington to consider innovative approaches to reemployment services for the Nation’s unemployed.

The “Reemployment Connections Virtual Institute” saw states form cross-functional teams that followed a scripted process over an intensive, six-week timeline. State teams were brought together in an online institute – using virtual meetings, training sessions, in-person state-level meetings and scheduled topical chats with subject matter experts to drive the process. State team facilitators worked in concert with a national facilitator to keep teams on track, and a dedicated web community was used for sharing best practices by and between states.

The outcomes from the Institute were state plans to re-connect UI claimants to re-employment services using… Read more →

Re-inventing Education – One Community College at a Time

I recently was able to work with the leadership of another community college in a retreat to craft the focus of the College’s next strategic plan.

For the second time this month, we used our Community-Centered Strategic Planning Process℠ – a process carefully designed to involve a broad array of internal and community leaders to align community needs with educational priorities – to drive our work. Rooted in AACC’s “Re-Claiming the American Dream” report, the process positions the college as an economic engine of regional growth and stability, not just an education or training provider.

During the session, leaders exchanged thoughts about the skills gaps in key sectors within the region, the need for a more agile and nimble curriculum (that shifts with the dynamic needs of the market), and more rudimentary things – like the need to dramatically… Read more →

Community Colleges as Engines of Regional Prosperity?

Recently I had the privilege of working with a group of leaders from Kankakee Community College (KCC) and the surrounding region, in a planning retreat designed to drive the College’s next four-year strategic plan.  It was rewarding to see a group so engaged and focused – so aligned on the need to make an impact – not just for students, but also for the regional economy.

Kankakee is about an hour southwest of Chicago. In the next few years, the community is projected to see a significant shift in the region’s demographics that has major implications for the education and workforce systems.  Further complicating matters, the community has also witnessed the decline of its historical manufacturing industry – leading to high unemployment (third highest rate in Illinois) and a workforce with low post-secondary attainment rates. Kankakee's place in a new,… Read more →

Don’t just stand there. Find your future!

As part of a recent leadership development initiative, I had the pleasure of assisting with facilitation of what appeared to become a “cultural shift” for one of New York’s premier healthcare service providers.  About 100 senior leaders representing a full range of geriatric, rehabilitative and home health care service divisions participated in the Future Game ®. Together they planned the future of a hypothetical region in the Australian Outback.  How could this possibly shift a culture?  Let’s take a closer look…

In teams of five, these senior executives rolled up their sleeves, kicked off their shoes, and assumed the role of Aussie regional leaders – a mayor, a public works official, leading employers, and the like.  Together they tackled a series of critical decisions to find a future for rural areas suffering a wide range of economic,… Read more →