The Skilling America Distinguished Fellows Network is a high caliber network of leaders in the workforce field dedicated to the development of a resilient, transparent system that supports economic opportunity for all individuals.
Distinguished Fellows are nominated based on their success in facilitating the adoption of competency-based methodologies and career navigation across multiple locations and industries. They serve as subject matter experts for the development of Skilling America curriculum and support program implementation in their communities.
The Network was established in 2018, and is managed by Hope Street Group with contributions from the Arconic Foundation. For more information about the Network and ways to collaborate with these workforce leaders, please follow @HopeStreetGroup and #SkillingAmerica on Twitter or contact Senior Manager, Jobs and Economic Opportunity, Chelsey Crim (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Director, Adult Career Pathway Design Challenge, Institute for Educational Leadership
With over 15 years of diversified experience, Alicia is passionate about connecting the dots between data and trends to develop and implement strategies and programming. Spanning K-12 education, real estate, and banking institutions, she brings a unique blend of skills and experiences that all map to her passion for building solutions that drive impact for youth and adult learners. Alicia currently serves as the Director of the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Adult Career Pathway Design Challenge, which is part of the organization’s Minds that Move Us Initiative. Through this challenge, ten cross-sector teams of educators, employers, community organizations and adult learners from around the country were selected to design innovative career pathway programs for adults 26 and over who do not have any formal postsecondary training or education and lack the skills necessary to put them on a career path. Over the course of the project, teams will partake in a Design Camp, ongoing coaching, and a Career Pathways Festival to pitch their proposed solutions with a chance to win prize money for their creativity. Alicia is a thoughtful leader with a track record of strengthening policies and educational programs on both the national (U.S. Department of Education) and district (D.C. Public Schools) level. In addition, she has a variety of experiences successfully managing complex projects, designing older youth and adult career programming, overseeing intricate budgets and grants, leading and developing teams,
and partnering with a variety of stakeholders to build buy in and diversify funding sources.
Director, Lifelong Learning, Drucker Institute
Lex leads development of the Drucker Institute’s lifelong learning system for cities, which is currently being piloted in South Bend, Indiana. In his previous role, Lex served as the Chief Strategy Officer of enFocus, Inc, a nascent organization centered on building better communities through talent attraction and civic innovation. At enFocus, Lex was responsible for the design and execution of major strategic initiatives. As the organization’s second staff hire, Lex was instrumental in catalyzing 400% growth in revenue from 2013-2018. Lex graduated from the University of Notre Dame with Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Spanish. He is a New Jersey native and loves reading and, when he’s not at work, playing and watching sports.
Dr. Donnie Hale, Ed. D, is the Director, of The Education Effect, a university-assisted community school partnership that works with schools in Liberty City, Overtown and Little Haiti through a cross-sector collaboration with FIU and MDCPS, and Private Donors. Prior to coming to FIU, he was an Assistant Professor of Education and Director of Precollege Programs at Carroll University (Waukesha, WI), Outreach Coordinator and Instructor in Education Studies at University of Oregon (Eugene, OR), Assistant Director of Federal TRiO Upward Bound and Adjunct Instructor at Boise State University (Boise, ID), college football coach and elementary teacher. He is originally from Stockton, California.
Working for over a decade to expand economic opportunity across policy and direct service, specifically in education, workforce and healthcare Courtney has been a part of numerous teams and organizations, working to bring diverse stakeholders together and create sustainable change. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Operations and External Affairs at Hope Street Group. Courtney believes strongly in viable career
pathways that don’t necessarily need a 4-year degree. She also believes there is currently so much untapped skill potential across our community and country and is passionate about ensuring all those who can and want to be in this field will know their options and have access to quality programs like Turing. When she’s not at Turing, she likes spending time with her husband, daughter, and pup, hanging out with friends, hiking, and enjoying the Colorado sunshine.
Senior Development and Training Specialist, Goodwill University, Goodwill Industries of Southern Piedmont
Marvin Kelley joined Goodwill in 2013. He currently serves as a Senior Development and Training Specialist within Goodwill University, the training division of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. In this role, he has been instrumental in the research, development and growth of their Information Technology training programs, which led to significant grants from Google.org and The Cognizant Foundation. Previously he served as a Business Relationship Representative for Goodwill and was responsible for building brand awareness of the organization’s workforce services, including job training and placement services that result in increased employment and business enterprise opportunities for individuals with vocational barriers. Marvin’s ability to build relationships with local employers has helped Goodwill University to conduct I.T. Employer Roundtables over the last two years, providing valuable insight into the needs of the I.T. industry. This data allows Goodwill University to develop in-demand programs, while striving to be the go-to destination for technology training and talent. Prior to joining Goodwill, Marvin worked at Dimensions International (Honeywell Technology Solutions), where he was responsible for reviewing and analyzing demographic and financial information for more than 600 organizations, such as World Vision, Save the Children Federation, Habitat for Humanity International, and others with multimillion-dollar budgets.
Director and Principal Consultant, The Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative, Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Inc.
A change agent, LeRoy brings a fresh perspective and innovative approaches to address society’s most pressing social challenges that plague many of our cities and communities. LeRoy is the Director and Principal Consultant for The Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative, a division of Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Inc located in Northern Indiana. A licensed training site for a national initiative, Aha Process! Bridges’ four initiatives empower the entire community from all sectors to build the necessary resources needed to eliminate or dramatically reduce poverty and its impact: Employer Resource Network, Bridges “Day One” Workshop Training, Getting Ahead In A Just Getting’ By World, and The Bridges Financial Management Class. To date, over 1500 individuals have graduated from Bridges classes and over 5000 local community leaders have participated in Bridges workshops and training events. Recently, LeRoy has been named as a Skilling America Distinguished Fellow, an initiative equipping Educators, Workforce Development and Human Resource Professionals to unlock access to better jobs. As a bold and vivid communicator, trainer, workshop conference speaker, LeRoy brings close to 30 years of experience working in the social sector with emphasis in serving economically disadvantaged families. But what LeRoy treasures most is his family. Married to the love of his life, Terri, for 34 years, together they raised three beautiful girls. In addition, the King family has grown to include a wonderful son-in-law and four amazing grandchildren.
Founder, R4 Workforce
Rebecca Kusner is the founder of R4 Workforce and a workforce development expert and strategist based in Northeast Ohio. Over her 20 years of experience, Rebecca has worked on projects that involved multiple community organizations, government and non-profits, and the business community. Before launching R4 in 2017, she was Director of Strategic Planning and Policy for New Growth Group, a workforce consulting firm based in Cleveland and led policy efforts and special projects for Towards Employment including WorkAdvance, TalentNEO, and Generation Work. She has also staffed the Ohio Workforce Coalition, authored several workforce development reports, and managed workforce programs for WIRE-Net, a regional manufacturing association. Rebecca has a strong focus on the intersection of programs and systems. She is an active member of the Ohio Workforce Coalition and the National Skills Coalition, where she serves on the Higher Education and Welfare-to- Career Advisory Panels. This year she joined the Board of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and the Strategic Functions Committee of her local workforce board. Rebecca has a Master of Public Administration and Graduate Certificate in Urban Economic Development from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Government and Sociology from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Director, Business Services, Charlotte Works
Eric is a global business leader who serves as an advisor, mentor, thought solutions leader, and coach to corporate leaders and their teams, as well as to individuals working to release their inner brilliance. Working to improve business operations for industry leaders like Charlotte Works, Celgard, Mars, Intel, PepsiCo, and Anheuser Busch have given him knowledge, skills and abilities to work in any industry. Directing successful multinational teams in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe, Eric creates a positive working atmosphere by building unity between divergent groups, and bringing out the best in others, committing to serving the team, fostering a culture of continual improvement, listening and learning, valuing differences, and making effective decisions. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He has executive management certificates from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgia Institute of Technology.
Gustavo Morales joined the Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP) in July of 2010 as a community school coordinator at San Fernando Middle School and is currently the Director of Community Schools. He supports over 20 community schools in South LA, East LA and the Northeast Valley. A leader in the education and public policy sectors, Gustavo has worked with students, families and community members for over 10 years across Los Angeles. Before joining LAEP, Gustavo served as a community organizer for Pacoima Beautiful and worked for Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes. He holds a B.A. in political science from San Diego State University.
Strategist, Open Way Learning
Ben Owens is a former physics and mathematics teacher at Tri-County Early College High School in Murphy, NC and a 2014 Hope Street Group National Teaching Fellow. He earned degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, respectively, from North Georgia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. After a 20-year career as an engineer with DuPont in locations across the U.S., he got his Masters of Arts in Teaching from Marshall University and then left the private sector in 2007 to teach in rural Appalachia. He is passionate about changing the status quo in education by better connecting what happens in schools to what’s needed to thrive in today’s global, innovation economy. Ben is coordinator of TCEC’s Competency-Based Education and Project-Based Learning efforts. He is the 2017 Bridging the Gap Distinguished Teacher in STEM Education, the 2016 North Carolina Science Technology & Mathematics Center’s 9-16 Outstanding Educator, and a Center for Teaching Quality Virtual Community Organizer. He has served on the Teacher Advisory Council for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is currently a Community “TA” for MIT’s Course: “Envisioning the Graduate of the Future,” and is co-author of an upcoming book on #OpenSourceLearning.
Senior Director, Mission Advancement, Goodwill Industries International
Kristin R. Pratt serves as the Senior Director of Mission Advancement for Goodwill Industries International (GII) where she leads her team in management of national grants that fund workforce development and other programs and initiatives at many local Goodwill organizations operating around the country. Kristin is also responsible for establishing and maintaining systems that promote consistency, quality and continuous improvement across projects and initiatives. As part of the GII Mission Advancement leadership team, Kristin assists in growing mission initiatives with strategic focus. Kristin was previously the program director for GII’s older worker initiatives for seven years, leading the Senior Community Service Employment Program, a Department of Labor federal grant. Kristin began her career in workforce development in 2001 working for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana as manager of the one-stop operation sites operating workforce development initiatives in the Indianapolis area.
Director, Business Initiatives, Lancaster Chamber
Anna has spent the last 17 years of her professional career involved in workforce related work at various levels. Most of that work was as an advocate for job seekers under the Department of Labor and Industry (WIOA) funded programs as the Site Administrator/Project Director for Title I services at Lancaster’s local PA CareerLink. Most recently she has been with the Lancaster Chamber for the past two years. In her current position, as the Business Initiatives Director, Anna is tasked with engaging with businesses to learn their needs and implementing strategies that meet employer demands through the Chamber’s professional development trainings/programs.
Director, Programs, Charlotte Works
As the Director of Programs at Charlotte Works, Shemia C. Williams is the compassionate and client-focused leader responsible for building and strengthening community, public and private partnerships and increasing economic stability for NC residents through training and development. With her Charlotte Works tenure starting in 2013, Williams has had progressive roles to include Career Coach, Business Services Representative, Business Project Manager and Director of Job Coordination. She is woven into the fabric of the Charlotte community through her philanthropic affiliations, professional affiliations and volunteering. For over a decade, Williams has been a committed proponent of individuals passionately finding purpose in their calling, establishing occupational goals and navigating through their journey. Prior to joining Charlotte Works, she achieved career success through diverse industry experience and initiatives in talent acquisition; business development; academic advising and career coaching; and operations/account management. Williams has received accolades for her leadership and contributions. July 2018, she participated in the U.S. House Committee on Education and Workforce’s first Innovation Forum and Showcase in Washington, D.C. This forum provided a platform to highlight the job coordination efforts that she has successfully led to assist in filling the workforce needs aligned to Health Career Pathways Network national initiative. Throughout the year, she works with the youth and underrepresented groups alongside several Health and Wellness fundraisers and events. Williams earned a B.A. in Political Science from Morgan State University in Baltimore. Through Paradigm 360, a global coach training and consulting company, she also earned Life Focus Coach Certification and Accelerated Coach Training Certification. She also serves as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and CASHRM.