Message from the Director Subscribe
I’m retiring… When I first started at NOVAworks 12 years ago the world was a different place. We were in the middle of the “Great Recession,” where there was a dramatic shift in the economy, a surge in unemployment, and tremendous demand for workforce development services. NOVAworks had just shifted to a new integrated service-delivery model, serving everyone eligible who came through our doors. There were no limits on capacity. With the onset of the recession, the demand for services exploded and NOVAworks went from serving hundreds of job seekers to thousands of job seekers seemingly overnight. It was a difficult and exhilarating time. Over the years, the organization has evolved in response to the changing needs of employers and workers. And, it has embraced new technology and innovations to meet these needs. Invaluable community partnerships have been formed that capitalize on the strengths and assets of each partner to resolve critical issues. NOVAworks has also provided an important voice for workers seeking to gain access to a better quality of life.
The world is now changing again for different reasons, which presents new opportunities and challenges. COVID-19 has made us question the way we look at work and how we value workers. A hybrid remote/in-person approach will likely become a permanent part of our work life. And we are now reprioritizing our long-neglected work/life balance to ensure a healthier future. The pandemic has also exposed the economic, racial and gender disparities that confront our society. Underpaid essential workers played a key role in supporting the community during this crisis and are now reassessing their circumstances. Many are forging new careers with guidance and training in response to the “Great Resignation.” A shift in power from employers to workers has emerged that will challenge their respective views of each other. Inequities will force us to reexamine and dispel previously held beliefs, practices and biases, creating better pathways for those left out. The economic recovery is expected to be slow and the changes that our community faces will require a fresh new look and approach. The NOVAworks service model must continue to evolve in response to a new reality. It is for this reason that I have decided to retire and pass the torch to someone I know will take up this important charge. I am pleased to introduce the new NOVAworks Director Marléna Sessions.
Marléna brings to NOVAworks decades of experience in workforce development as director of the Seattle-King County Workforce Development Council and San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board. She has also served as Vice President of public and private partnerships at Grant Associates, a national workforce development company. Throughout her career, Marléna has been nationally recognized for her exceptional leadership. Although she has worked in the corporate realm, her heart is with direct service and ensuring that workers have the right skills to access and advance in today’s job market. I have known Marléna for 20 years and encouraged her to bring her immense talents to NOVAworks. Marléna’s first day is November 15.
As I enter a new chapter, I am hopeful about the future. With all of the unknowns, it’s an exciting time to be in workforce development. While I am retiring from NOVAworks, I look forward to participating in the conversations that will shape workforce policy and models for the new economy. It’s been a pleasure to work with you and I wish you all the best.