Full Employment Council Highlights Systemic Partnership during National Apprenticeship Week

Updated: Nov 23

The Full Employment Council celebrated National Apprenticeship Week with several events designed to highlight partnerships and celebrate diversity, inclusion and equity in the workforce. Events included a roundtable discussion with Lenita Jacobs-Simmons Deputy Assistant Secretary for the US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration; a partnership coordination meeting that included Ann Flagg, Director of the Office of Family Assistance for the US Department of Health and Human Services; a panel on apprenticeships held at the FEC for local Job Corps students, and more. “We’ve had a unique focus with all of these system leaders sitting at the same table here in Kansas City,” said Clyde McQueen, President and CEO of the Full Employment Council. “It was an exciting week. The discussions held were substantive, informative, thoughtful – and will help us continue to facilitate career opportunities to be sustained in the Kansas City region.” The Full Employment Council hosted a roundtable discussion during a visit from the regional office of the United States Department of Labor. Along with Deputy Assistant Secretary for the US DOL and Training Administration Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, Pam Gerassimides, Regional Director for the US Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration; and Rosaura Zibert, Deputy Regional Administrator for US Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration also attended. Employer partnerships were represented by Kevin Draeger, Human Resources Manager from Ford Motor Company; Pamela Bean, Vice President of Ambulatory Care, Access Leader for University Health; Raj Anantharaman, Founder + CEO of Yoodle Information Technology; and Tim McCoy, President + CXO of Yoodle Information Technology, who presented best practices for businesses partnering with the public workforce system. Community partners were represented by Scott Boyce, Workforce Development Program Manager of the University of Central Missouri; Kora Miggins, Manager, UHTHMC PC Center for Family Health and UH Care Connection of University Health; Gayle Hobbs, President of the Local Investment Commission (LINC); Dawn Patterson, Director of LINCWorks; and Dr. Pamela Ford, Director of the Office of Educational Innovation for the Kansas City Public School Systems. System partners were represented by Richard Jarrold, Deputy CEO of the Kansas City Area Transit Authority; Jon Stephens, President & CEO of Port KC, the Kansas City Area Port Authority; Michael Shaw, Director of Public Works of the City of Kansas City Public Works Department; Andrea D. Dorch, Director of Civil Rights & Equal Opportunity Department of the City of Kansas City; and Myron McCant, Owner/Vice-President from KD Academy.

Stephens discussed the new Logistics Hiring & Workforce Advancement Program, a partnership with Port KC and the Full Employment Council to promote and highlight job opportunities in the logistics, warehousing, and manufacturing sectors; identify and address issues impeding employment in these sectors; offer training and certifications where skill gaps exist; support training programs to youth seeking careers in these sectors, and establish a fund that would provide financial assistance to employees or potential employees in these sectors. During the roundtable, Stephens announced a substantial award made available to the Full Employment Council for the Logistics Hiring & Workforce Advancement Program. (For more information on this partnership, click here.)

FEC customers were also in attendance, sharing their experience with apprenticeships and their successes in their new careers. The stories they shared really underscored the need for workforce development programs that provide access to training opportunities, apprenticeships, good-paying jobs and supportive services. “I’m all your hard work, your dedication sitting right here,” said LaKeshia Drew, a current healthcare apprentice. “I feel like I won the lottery with this job.” The roundtable participants discussed affordable housing, transportation, and childcare – all of which play a critical role in workforce development. The partnerships between the community and the FEC focus on these supports. For Assistant Deputy Secretary Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, it was the “first true systems partnership” she had seen in a while, she said. “The partnerships are critical,” said Boyce. “The FEC is excellent in convening employment partnerships." He added that the Kansas City & Vicinity Workforce Board is "excellent in convening employment systemic partnerships, and sector partnerships, and determining what is going on in the community in real-time." For Shelley Penn, COO of the FEC, the roundtable was reflective of the best of workforce boards’ partnerships. “Servicing our community requires a seamless system,” Penn said. On November 16, McQueen gave the opening address at the Equal Opportunity Summit and co-facilitated with Director of the Missouri Division of Workforce Development Dr. Mardy Leathers, and Anna Hui, Missouri Director of Labor & Industrial Relations.


On November 17, the FEC hosted approximately 50 students from the Excelsior Springs Job Corps Center. Several area employers came, and McQueen facilitated a panel on apprenticeships. The event gave Job Corps students a chance to learn more about opportunities available in the KC region, and the opportunity to network with regional employers in need of skilled workers. Employer partners in attendance included Janis Kerr Reed, Co-founder & CEO of Reko Direct; June Berry, Human Resources Manager at Kansas City Area Transit Authority; Trisha Pepper, Manager of Recruitment and Employment at John Knox Village; Gigi Jones, Owner of GiGi’s Vegan Café; and Kora Miggins, Manager, UHTMC PC for Family Health and UH Care Connection – MA Apprentice Liaison. For more on this event, click here.

On November 18, the FEC, along with Director of the Office of Family Assistance for the US Department of Health and Human Services Ann Flag, attended a Partnership Coordination meeting hosted by LINC, the Department of Social Services, ACF-OFA, and Midtown Psychological Services, to discuss the 25-year partnership between LINC, FEC, and DSS. Those in attendance included: Gayle Hobbs, President & CEO, LINC; Jeff Hill, Director of Finance, LINC; Dawn Patterson, Director of LINCWorks; Andrea Robins, Managing Director of Planning, Compliance & Management Systems of the FEC; Ann Flagg, Director-OFA, ACF-OFA; Kathryn Thomas, Co-Owner, Midtown Psychological Services; Karen Beckerman, Regional TANF Program Manager, ACG-OFA; Stephanie Fowler, Program Manager, DSS; JaCinda Rainey, Program Coordinator, DSS; Kami Macias, Program Coordinator; Hayley Dutcher, Program Specialist, DSS; Jennifer Paul, Program Specialist, DSS; Heather Pratt, Program Specialist, DSS. McQueen led the roundtable discussion on diversity and inclusion.


“National Apprenticeship Week was an opportune time have all of these different groups together to discuss opportunities for the needs of so many in our area,” said McQueen. “This is the first time that so many people within the Public Workforce System, led by FEC, were able to engage at this scale with so many different partners in the greater Kansas City Region. Discussing the benefits of the workforce system in KC, along with best practices when it comes to partnerships, as well as the benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion with Deputy Assistant Secretary Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, Ann Flag, and folks from Ford, KCATA, Port Authority, Job Corps and more was an honor and a privilege.” For more on National Apprenticeship Week, click here.

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