This blog post is the fourth in a series honoring and highlighting the great work of our MassHire members who were nominated and chosen as finalists for the 2022 MassHire Awards. This blog focuses on the finalists for the Living MassHire category, including the award winner, Edward Gagne from the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board.
MassHire is committed to understanding and valuing the diverse, unique requirements and professional goals of the businesses and people they serve. Nominations for this category were based on answers to the following questions:
- How did the work achieved by this individual or team effect innovative, sustainable change and positive outcomes for customers (both businesses and jobseekers), partner staff, community organizations, and/or MassHire colleagues?
- With everything we have to do every day, it’s easy to just keep plugging away at a job without seeing the bigger picture.
- How does this nominee engage in meaningful work with an understanding of the MassHire Vision?
- How does the nominee’s efforts contribute to the long-term goals of the organization?
MassHire Central Region Workforce Board: Edward Gagne, Director of Youth Services & Adult Literacy Programs (Living MassHire Award Winner)
Ed Gagne was nominated for his over 35 year commitment to workforce development and the countless ways he has meaningfully, memorably, and measurably championed MassHire’s mission, vision, and values.
Ed is a nationally known and respected workforce development leader who has embodied and championed the values of MassHire long before the MassHire brand was created. Throughout his career, many of Ed’s pioneering initiatives for at-risk and underserved youth have been replicated by colleagues across Massachusetts and the country. In his time with the Central Region Workforce Board, Ed has created one of the most comprehensive “Youth Individual Service Strategy Assessments” which has guided the region’s workforce development efforts and initiatives for youth.
Years ago Ed discerned a trend among high school students, their growing interest in affordable community colleges. After discovering this, Ed engaged his peers at Quinsigamond Community College and worked with them to create a first of its kind bi-annual workshop series for local high school students called “College Can Be Your Future.” This unprecedented collaboration between a workforce board and community college helped students understand the admissions process, how to choose a major, and apply for and get financial aid. Since inception, more than 50% of workshop attendees applied to and enrolled in college. Seeking to build awareness of this successful workshop series, Ed wrote and published an article entitled, “Transitioning Youth to Post-secondary Education,” and “Maintaining Youth’s Participation in Post Program Placement.”
As stated by a colleague in Ed’s nomination, “Ed’s talent as a visionary anticipating and addressing the needs of underserved youth seeking employment is exceptional. Additionally his successful implementation of a strategic vision, which has become a national model, clearly sets Ed apart.” And in a long and glowing nomination from Jeff Turgeon, Executive Director of the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board, “Ed’s encyclopedic knowledge of youth programming and adult literacy programs, and the innovative, creative, results-oriented initiatives he has applied throughout his career, reflect positively on MassHire in general and on MassHire Central Region specifically. For these reasons, he has truly earned the “Living MassHire” award.”
Congratulations, Ed! Your nomination and selection as the winner for the 2022 Living MassHire Award is SO deserved!
MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board: Heather Shogry-Williams, Youth Director, and Kat Toomey, Youth Program Specialist
Heather Shogry-Williams and Kat Toomey, the small but mighty Youth Team, at the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board, were nominated for the Living MassHire category for their ability to envision a better future for the youth they serve. Heather and Kat strive every single day to be better people, to connect “just one more” youth to employers, and to establish quality career awareness, career exploration, and career immersion activities for the region’s youth.
Heather has been the Youth Director at the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board for 17 years. In that time, she has sustained the college/career readiness programming for the 32 communities in the Berkshires and has successfully engaged every high school in the region with Connecting Activities. More than 40,000 youth have benefited from Heather’s leadership in the community. Kat has served as the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board’s Youth Program Specialist since 2019. In this time, she has made a significant impact within the region’s public school districts to enhance their Career Readiness Models in providing all students in grades K-12 with vital, high quality career awareness, exploration and immersion experiences.
The Youth Team’s philosophy is that youth are 100% of the future workforce and that they need to expose young people to and connect them to as many career opportunities and support as they can. On a daily basis, Heather and Kat are creating and sustaining networks and collaborations to ensure opportunities for their region’s youth. As a team, Heather and Kat believe in the power of partnership and participate in numerous task forces and committees to ensure a consistent message of opportunity for young people. The Youth Team has established trust and reliability by always going the extra mile to deliver high quality services. Heather and Kat are highly visible in the community and are respected and inclusive with their values and goals. This amazing team not only lives the MassHire brand, they also love and celebrate it.
As described in their multiple nomination letters from employer partners, “we are grateful to have reliable, humble, and committed workforce professionals like Heather Williams and the Youth Team working with our company to maximize recruitment and retention efforts. Their willingness to offer dependable, steadfast, and trustworthy assistance as well as sound advice is the very definition of reliability. We wholeheartedly support the nomination of Heather Williams and the Youth Team for this prestigious award.”
Amazing work Heather and Kat! Congratulations on your nomination!