CWP Reflections on 2020

CWP leaned heavily on its organizational values, as the COVID-19 health pandemic and associated economic crisis made its impact on our state and nation. In particular, I am grateful for the way in which our staff looked to our “Supportive” value as a steady reminder of the importance of supporting each other as we work to support youth and adult job seekers and employers throughout the North Central CT region.

It has been a stressful year, full of uncertainty and loss, and the CWP staff and I have been reflecting on the vital importance of maintaining one’s physical and mental health and the communicative power of technology to keep us connected to each other and our customers through difficult times.

It has also been a year of accomplishments, and I am proud of my CWP colleagues for the way in which they adopted both new technologies and new ways of doing their work in 2020. Their creativity and positive mindset ensured that CWP remained rooted to its Mission of leveraging public and private resources to produce skilled workers for a competitive regional economy.

As we turn into the new year, we recommit to this Mission as there is much more work to be done. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the following selections of reflections from some members of our staff.

Wishing you have a safe, healthy and happy New Year.

Alex Johnson
President & CEO
Capital Workforce Partners

 

Capital Workforce Partners’ Top 2020 Organizational Accomplishments

  • CWP secures $3.7 million CARES ACT Grant and provided participants training comprised of short-term (4-14 week) occupational training along with a professional skills component. There were 13 training program options among 9 training provider partners, Targeted Sectors: Healthcare, IT/Business Services, Financial, Construction, Manufacturing, and Transportation
  • CWP has been selected as one of several national pilot sites in the semifinal round of the Jobs for the Future (JFF) Future of Work Grand Challenge. During the 15-month semifinals time-period, CWP will partner with JFF, NewProfit, and various technology innovators to develop and deploy market-ready technology and training solutions to reskill and employ at least 300 jobseekers in the Greater Hartford area.
  • CWP was the lead planner and applicant for the statewide H1B proposal.
  • The Governor’s Workforce Council’s strategic plan was released in October. CWP is supporting the plan through its work with the nationally-recognized Next Gen consulting group relative to the industry partnership strategies. Additionally, CWP is working with the GWC in supporting work related to work-based learning, adult literacy and other employment and training initiatives.
  • CWP was able to extend the Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program (SYELP) through the end of November to serve and additional 235 participants in job placements, primarily in the City of Hartford. In total, 1310 youth were served by SYELP, regionally.

Lessons Learned

From making time to unwind to Zoom!, the staff at CWP learned more than a few lessons this year:

How to use technology to work/survive in a virtual world, including successfully pulling off the Annual Disability Resource Fair via Zoom!
Jill Larmett

Make more time for the love ones, whether it be by phone, video chat, or by mail. Slow down and appreciate life as it’s given to me and above all thank the good Lord for waking me up every day to enjoy these things.

Marisol Concepcion

Be appreciative of what you have!

Shelly Henderson

There are many things outside my control, and sometimes I have to relax and roll with it. I believe we are faced with challenges for a reason and always learn and grow from them.

Andrea Eastman

Patience.
Liz Saunders

You’re not always going to get the closure or the explanation you think you deserve! It’s ok, bring your mindset and heart to let go and move on!

Latonia Tabb

Be kind to yourself and others.
Laura Hitt

Life is so fragile, cherish every moment, and I feel privileged to play a role in creating some sort of stability in people’s lives.

Mohamed Chaouk

Adaptability to major challenges comes through good communication, teamwork, multiple supports and faith and strength in relationship with others.

Jim Boucher

As FDR famously said, "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."

Ben Clapp

Never underestimate your career capabilities.
Valerie Roman

Sometimes you just need to take a time out and decompress – take a walk, do ten minutes of yoga, lie on the floor and stare blankly at the ceiling, read a book, ignore the dishes…

Alissa Johnston

Work Accomplishments

Technology, a positive attitude and an unshakable commitment to helping others enabled CWP to serve jobseekers, employers and each other in 2020:

The National Conference of Mayors used CT’s/CWP’s Best Practices on serving job seekers with disabilities in the public workforce system. I presented on a national webinar and was featured in the newsletter.

Jill Larmett

Making sense of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and complying with its requirements for notification, administration, etc.  The FFCRA was passed quickly at the Federal level without much time to implement the provisions with 100% clarity.

Andrea Eastman

I have never collaborated with so many departments within our System and outside like before, the virtual work has its challenges, but it sure makes the collaboration seamless.

Mohamed Chaouk

Completing Hartford Foundation for Public Giving Leadership Training and being named Co-Chair of the NAWDP Membership Committee.

Kimberly Staley

I procured 310 laptops and 61 Chromebooks to enable every CWP and AJC employee to work remotely, and to connect more than 200 customers to remote training.

Julie Watson

This year in Healthcare has been different in many aspects. Despite a global pandemic, we were able to grow our MACH (The Metro-Hartford Alliance for Careers in Health) Sector Partnership membership, develop a new strategic plan and implement numerous incumbent training opportunities. This partnership was the backbone for employment opportunities for the CARES ACT. Identifying over 150+ CNA positions, with 11 employer and 33 sites along with Sterile Processing and Pharmacy Technician opportunities.

Michelle Fuhrman, MS

Working closely with the Mayor of Bristol’s team, and serving the community hand-in-hand during these difficult times.

Marisol Concepcion

Working with a great staff team to support lead assistance to the statewide Governor’s Workforce Council’s Work-based Learning Strategic Plan.

Jim Boucher

The ability to use technology to conduct our Committee and Board meetings.

Liz Saunders

My proudest work accomplishment for this year has been my assistance with the 2020 CARES Act grant. This grant has given the participants new educational skills, new hope for better employment, and the best part…hope for a better future. I am extremely thankful to our organization for granting me this opportunity and proud to be an employee of an organization that genuinely cares and their continuous efforts to make a positive change and a great impact to serve our community.

Vanessa Pacheco

CARES Act implementation/recruitment/enrollment.

Shelly Henderson

Personal Accomplishments

Amidst the global pandemic, the staff at CWP made time for mindfulness and achieving numerous personal goals:

I completed Levels 2 & 3 of American Sign Language Classes.

Jill Larmett

I learned that I can stay active and exercise at home on my own just as effectively as I can inside a gym.

Andrea Eastman

Reached my goal weight, feeling healthier inside and out.

Valerie Roman

Adhering to strict safety precautions for my family and me. I feel that this was productive year, despite the circumstances. Spirituality has helped me keep everything balanced.

Mohamed Chaouk

I planted and harvested a decent tomato crop, despite multiple heat waves.

Julie Watson

I found more balance, making time to be outside and enjoy nature.

Ben Clapp

I have completed 29 out of 40 hikes – I set a goal of completing 40 different hikes in my 40th year and am pretty far along considering I had some health issues to resolve along the way. I have also completed 19.5 puzzles so far, lol. Hopefully by the end of next week this will be 30 hikes and 20 puzzles.

Alissa Johnston

Being presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters from Charter Oak State College. Prior to COVID-19, I was to be the commencement speaker at the 2020 Graduation ceremony. I wrote a commencement speech that was approved by President of Charter Oak State College, Ed Klonoski. The graduation ceremony was virtual, and I was still given the opportunity to give a short congratulatory message to graduates…and I was presented with my Doctor of Humane Letters. This was a great honor and a recognition of the work I do for CWP and the community.

Wendy Garcia

Enjoying life to the fullest and becoming a Godmother to a baby boy who I love so much.

Marisol Concepcion

Letting go and moving forward. Heavy on the PEACE!

Latonia Tabb

Most Excited for in 2021

As we turn the corner into 2021, here are a few things that CWP staff members are looking forward to in the New Year:

Exploring my new home!

Laura Hitt

Setting new goals!

Shelly Henderson

I am most excited about the immense opportunity in workforce development, as the work we do has never been more important.

Ben Clapp

Too early to say, I’m living life one day at a time.

Marisol Concepcion

Continuing to be there for others who will have significant employment needs and being able to contribute to supporting this as much as possible.

Jim Boucher

New family members, hopefully remaining employed, continue helping those who are not as fortunate as I am, staying healthy and praying COVID-19 goes away.

Valerie Roman

Health, Wealth and Strength.

Latonia Tabb

Staff Report: Approval of Candidate for Honorary Doctoral Degree

Charter Oak State College

 

Background Information

The Selection Committee for this year’s Honorary Doctorate committee was the Charter Oak Executive team.

The Committee decided to offer our honorary doctorate to Wendy Garcia. Wendy is a Charter Oak alum whose journey illustrates the core reasons why Charter Oak was created. Like many of our graduates, Wendy did not start her education with us. She began her academic work in 1984 at Central Connecticut State University. In her own words, “that process was interrupted by life.” Her educational aspirations were set aside after she married, had children, and needed to work. It was when she noticed that her promotional opportunities were restricted, that the importance of completing her degree come to the forefront. As with many adult learners sandwiched between work and family, fitting another responsibility into a full schedule proved challenging. In 2009, she heard about Charter Oak State College. The notion of affordable online courses was promising, and Wendy decided to try one more time to finish her degree. The convenience of the online format offered her the flexibility to schedule her studies around the rest of her responsibilities, which was a game changer. In January of 2012 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Shortly afterwards, she was promoted to a new position.

Wendy’s path illustrates two essential truths about Charter Oak. First, Charter Oak offers a critical service to non-traditional students in removing barriers by offering an affordable, non-traditional structure. They begin their educational journey, but it gets interrupted. They have credits and life experience, but those credits and/or experience often don’t transfer or translate into meaningful credits. Additionally, non-traditional learners have financial responsibilities, oftentimes forcing tough decisions between family, work, and life, leaving them with limited time for educational pursuits and restricted funds. Such was the case with Wendy.

The second truth is that Charter Oak is an excellent second chance partner for the CSCU system. By the time students who have stopped out for a prolonged period re-enter their education journey, their needs are very different. Wendy’s college experience at CCSU was appropriate for a traditional student, but as an adult learner with limited time and funds, Charter Oak’s specialty in degree completion and online structure offered an efficient, flexible, and viable option. By accepting Wendy’s CCSU credits and working with her towards degree completion, Charter Oak supports the CSCU system in its mission to provide high quality post-secondary education and its aim to enable individuals to achieve their life and career goals.

What makes Wendy Garcia’s accomplishment so notable and worthy of recognition is that she has, in effect, internalized the CSCU and Charter Oak missions. Wendy understands the value of a post-secondary education and its impact on the workforce. But more importantly, she understands the value of education for the individual in need of a job or in need of bettering their job situation. She understands the self-esteem value that comes with accomplishing one’s educational goal. And she understands what it takes to achieve that goal. She is helping others accomplish that goal through her current role at Capital Workforce which involves collaborating with employers and trainers to assists individuals in their re-entry into school to overcome gaps between skills and business hiring. Capital Workforce’s training and provider list includes the CSCU community colleges, universities, and Charter Oak State College. Individuals who decide to enroll at Charter Oak State College with assistance from Capital Workforce are largely adult learners. They are high achieving and driven to complete their program requirements. Wendy’s ability to connect Charter Oak and the CSCU schools with the needs of individuals in the Connecticut workforce for a better career alignment and future is commendable and a much-needed service to the state and local communities.

The Charter Oak Honorary Doctorate Committee, after reviewing Wendy Garcia’s accomplishments, leadership, commitment to higher education and commitment to adults, recommends that she receive the 2020 Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Charter Oak State College at our May 31, 2020 graduation.

 

Action Recommended

That the Board of Regents approve the selection of Wendy Garcia for the 2020 Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Charter Oak State College.

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