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The Community Foundation Blog


Facilitating change in workforce development
By KateGibson / July 9, 2019
Facilitating change in workforce development

“Coalition work is how we’re going to make change that’s sustainable and systemic. When everyone comes together to evolve their thinking and behaviors, and sometimes their policies and procedures, that’s what builds a solid foundation for change — as opposed to everyone moving individually and hoping it all works out, “said John Dougherty, Vice President of Community Workforce with Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia.

In the last year, leading workforce development agencies have come together to change the way that Greater Richmond builds a prepared and capable workforce. This coalition is creating a centralized network of career and wrap-around services to help meet the multifaceted needs of people seeking employment in the Richmond region.  

Numerous organizations are involved in this effort, including: Capital Region Workforce Partnership, ChamberRVA, Community College Workforce Alliance, Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, the Office of Community Wealth Building, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, and a growing number of employer partners. 

“It is exciting to be a representative of one of the employer partners in this dynamic planning process,” said Sheryl Garland, Chief Health Impact Officer for VCU Health System. “The collective wisdom of the organizations that are focusing on the development of a comprehensive workforce strategy is impressive. This regional initiative has the potential to transform the way job seekers and employers connect in the future.”    

With so many stakeholders, collaboration presents its own challenges. “Each coalition member has resources such that they can ‘stand-alone’ with some impact, has its own Board or governing authority and, in some cases, regulations that can restrict or confine operations. Collaboration strategies of this magnitude have not previously been fully explored, much less implemented,” said Brian Davis, Executive Director of the Capital Region Workforce Partnership.

To help the group create shared goals, manage projects and coordinate their movements, the Community Foundation has provided lead funding for an independent facilitator to staff the coalition. Mary Davis Hamlin, senior consultant with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, has over 20 years of experience bringing community partners to the same table for a common initiative. 

“In this role, I’m a neutral facilitator who is helping the partners shape their direction through active conversations,” Hamlin shared. “I’m only as good as this group, and they are a remarkable group of people.”

“Mary’s work with our coalition, and the Foundation’s support for that work, is creating a foundation through which each participating organization will be able to scale a shared mission to help our region’s residents move from unemployment or underemployment into careers offering family sustaining wages and opportunities for continued personal growth,” said Elizabeth Creamer, Vice President of Workforce Development and Credential Attainment, Community College Workforce Alliance. 

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