As a national leader in Workforce Development, I am afforded the opportunity to work with a wide range of groups across the country.  There are so many components that make up the world of workforce development.  With each dimension of the work, a door opens to partner with a variety of organizations and corporations.  Workforce development is built on partnerships based on the scope and magnitude of the desired community impact and efforts to support a vibrant regional economy.  I whole-heartedly believe in the theoretical framework designed for workforce development and prosperity for all.    

Our work is broad, expansive, and often exists on the cutting edge of emerging industries with modern jobs springing up.  From the field of workforce development, we are constantly analyzing, assessing, and developing strategies for communities, employers, and career seekers to make the match between available talent and job openings.  It is not easy work.   

Workforce Development is a continuum of various elements that must be carefully managed to define success based on opportunities aligned with feasibility and capacity.  We are strategic and service oriented as we work tirelessly to accommodate both employers and career seekers. 

As the Executive Director of The Workforce Connection Board, I keep the organization focused on our mission and what we can control.  We are allocated funds to do workforce development and we are a regional resource.  After assessing the landscape during the Covid-19 Pandemic, I was intentional about pursuing and securing additional funds to re-skill our workforce to recover from unprecedented unemployment rates that are being compared to the 1930s Great Depression.  As professionals and a sector, we have a pivotal role in local economic development because we oversee the people portion.   

Workforce development professionals understand the barriers and obstacles individuals face when seeking employment.  It is our responsibility to understand the demographics of our population, the job market, and employer’s expectations.  Everyone does not start at the same place in life and we do not all possess the same innate knowledge, skills, and abilities to navigate the road to meaningful employment with livable and sustainable wages.   

The Workforce Connection board offers Economic Empowerment to a community of people in Boone, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties when they need us.   

I share a sentiment expressed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”  

I have spent my entire career being in service to others, in government, education, non-profits and workforce development.  I am proud to lead, educate and advocate in the world of Workforce Development!   

Dr. Lisa M. Bly-Jones, Board Executive Director of The Workforce Connection Inc.