To my fellow Board members:

I’m pleased to greet you for the first time as the chair of the Baltimore Workforce Development Board. I want to thank you again for selecting me for this role. Workforce services are critical to our city, industries and the thousands of residents who need and deserve the opportunity to work and live meaningful lives. I’m honored to take up the effort started under Andy Bertamini’s leadership to ensure this Board – that we are doing our part to advance strategies and policies that make a difference in this city.

I’ve taken the reigns of this Board at a crucial and exciting time. In the past several months workforce training partners, funders, support service providers and neighborhood-based organizations have begun meeting with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development to create a shared vision for how partners will work together to deliver workforce services. Building on the successful One Baltimore for Jobs initiative, this vision aligns and integrates services making it easier for jobseekers and employers to meet their needs through the system. It embraces the value that we each hold a part of the solution to the problem of chronic unemployment and underemployment faced by many of our residents. And that includes this Board.

In September we voted to approve our 3-5 year plan. The basis of the plan came out of the idea generation session we held in June and was developed by our Executive Committee. It identifies four clear ways we can contribute to the vision being developed by our partners in the workforce field. Specifically, we agreed to assist in the building of a coordinated workforce system by:

1. Creating clear access points into the workforce system for jobseekers
2. Developing a standardized assessment that all jobseekers will use upon entering the system (in order to collect the same information on all jobseekers)
3. Supporting a job matching tool and protocol to provide small yet qualified pools of candidates to fill job orders by our employers and
4. Hosting an annual expo that aligns job training programs with industry leaders to ensure we have pipelines of workers ready for future employment opportunities

To quote the words of one of our members, this realization of the broader vision to coordinate, align and integrate services across partners will be transformative for Baltimore. I hope that you will roll up your sleeves and make your contribution as a member of this Board. This city needs support and no one person or agency can do it alone. We are stronger in partnership.

Peace,

Yariela Kerr-Donovan
Chair, Baltimore Workforce Development Board