If you ask Clyde McQueen about what he does at the Full Employment Council, he's likely to use the word "serve" rather than "lead." But for 35 years, he's helped shape workforce development in the Kansas City region, with a constant commitment to creating ladders of economic opportunity for underserved populations. FEC Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President has worked side-by-side with McQueen for years, and calls him a "force in workforce development, locally and nationally," adding that he's secured millions in funding for residents in the Kansas City region. "He’s fought the big fights, the ones behind the scenes that often go unnoticed, in order to level the socioeconomic playing fields for the underrepresented. He’s brought national attention to our region with initiatives executed by or through the FEC," said Penn. McQueen credits his father and uncle with teaching him the value of hard work. His father initially dropped out of high school and joined the Navy. After leaving the service, McQueen's father not only finished high school, but went on to earn two separate Master's degrees and published a book. His uncle never attended college, but made his way successfully in the business world. Additionally, they taught him to appreciate the value of relationships - and that the road to success for many looks different than the traditional route of high school, college, career. McQueen's career has focused on tackling issues beyond just employment, and includes the supports people need in order to be successful in their career, such as child care, transportation and other supportive services.
"We use a systematic approach and not a programmatic approach so that it can just be self-sustaining and that it creates a system that enables all persons to rise," McQueen said.
Over the years, McQueen has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Local Hero award from Ingram’s. He's also been listed as one of Kansas City’s Top 100 Most Influential Leaders. He has also received national recognition for his innovation within workforce development, including congressional recognition. "Most of all, Clyde understands that helping people is reason why we do what we do, and remains the big reward. He’s developed and mentored leaders throughout our region, many of whom are women, and these people moved on to become leaders in other organizations, taking with them those lessons and that passion from Clyde," said Penn. Check out KSHB's coverage of McQueen's 35th anniversary here.