This blog post is the second in a series honoring and highlighting the great work of our MassHire members who were nominated and chosen as finalists for the 2021 MassHire Awards. This blog focuses on the finalists for the Collaboration category, including the award winner, William “Bill” Ryan of MassHire Central Career Centers. 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?
- How did the nominee maintain or create effective partnerships which led to exceptional results?
MassHire Central Region Career Center, William “Bill” Ryan, Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Officer (Collaboration Award Winner)
Bill Ryan was nominated for this award based on his work conceiving, starting, and shepherding the Central Mass Veterans Coalition (CMVC). Bill founded the CMVC in 1994 with the goal of creating a network to expand services for the Veteran population in Central Massachusetts. The City of Worcester alone is home to more than 7,000 veterans (U.S Census, 2018).
Since 1992, Bill’s commitment to Veterans Services has resulted in several Performance Incentive awards from national and state veterans organizations—including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Benefits Administration.
When COVID-19 limited in-person gatherings, the ability to collaborate and network significantly changed. However, Bill was undeterred. He quickly switched gears to making phone calls, sending emails and texts to keep the collaboration alive. In addition to servicing the SBE Vets on his caseload, Bill is always seeking out new supporters to join the coalition. His efforts have created a solid network that all members turn to for help in successfully servicing the Veteran population. This has become a crucial resource, and is recognized as a model and best practice for other regions across Massachusetts.
Bill is also a consummate collaborator in the office. Bill makes sure MassHire Central Career Center staff are all informed and apprised of Veterans Services information. He conducts bi-annual staff training sessions, collaborates with the WIOA team for training opportunities, and engages with Career Counselors for SBE referrals. He also works continuously with the Business Engagement Team (BEST) for job referrals, recruiting events, and job fairs.
Although he is regarded as “THE Master Collaborator,” Bill is the first person to explain “that it is a collaborative effort” and graciously expresses his gratitude to all involved. The following excerpt from a letter of support for the nomination describes the impact of Bill’s work and why he was recognized as not only a finalist, but ultimately the winner of this year’s Collaboration MassHire Award:
“Bill is what we in the military call “a foxhole buddy.” Although as an Air Force veteran he doesn’t know personally about foxholes, he’s been around enough veterans to understand that a foxhole buddy is someone who has your back, who looks out for you, who comforts you when you’re down, kicks your butt when necessary, and always, always tells you the unvarnished truth. There isn’t a civilian equivalent, which is why many veterans struggle when they transition from the military into civilian life. As the quintessential foxhole buddy, Bill is the ideal person to help veterans in any stage in their career. The fact he’s done so for almost three decades makes him (in my humble opinion) the unequivocal choice for this MassHire award.”
MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center Employer Engagement Team: Susan Buckey, Maricela Menaker and Jacob Landis, Downtown Boston Career Center; MJ Ryan, Boston Healthcare Career Consortium, Mass General Brigham; Colleen Moran, Workforce Integration, Mass General Brigham
The healthcare industry dominates the Boston and state economy. However, individuals impacted by CORIs and those residing in disenfranchised neighborhoods in Boston struggle to access the quality jobs and career growth that the industry has to offer. In early 2020, the Boston Healthcare Career Consortium and Mass General Brigham convened their partners at Prophetic Resistance Boston and Project Hope to work on solutions. As MJ Ryan shared in her support letter, “Equity of access to healthcare jobs in the major Boston hospitals has been an ongoing part of our mission…Once we decided to coordinate a job fair, we knew it was time to bring MassHire Downtown Boston (MHDB) into the conversation.” JVS Boston and MHDB brainstormed strategies with the group, using their experience from holding one of the first virtual job fairs in the state soon after the COVID-19 shutdown. The group determined that they would partner on a large-scale promotional effort leading up to a job fair in August 2020.
The team suggested a format that would offer sufficient time for jobseekers to ask employers questions and made plans to record the webinars (and post them on the MHDB website) so that jobseekers with work and childcare demands could still benefit from watching. Mass General Brigham and the Boston Healthcare Career Consortium helped to recruit employers to participate in the job fair. Eleven healthcare employers (including 8 of the largest hospitals in Boston) participated. MHDB’s comprehensive promotional efforts drew in jobseekers via social media sites, Craigslist, email campaigns, and outreach to community-based organizations.
In the month prior to the job fair, MassHire Downtown Boston coordinated with Prophetic Resistance Boston and Project Hope to prepare jobseekers for the job fair and subsequent hiring process. Workshops focused on resume and cover letter writing, job fair preparation, interviewing, and sealing and expungement of criminal records. The partners also developed a dedicated page of the MHDB website where all of these resources could be found and accessed at any time. MHDB also prepared employers for the event by hosting a rehearsal to resolve any questions or potential technical issues. Employers appreciated the rehearsal and MHDB’s support and organization of the event.
Turnout far exceeded the collaborative team’s highest projections. A typical in-person healthcare job fair at MHDB attracts between 150-180 job seekers; this event engaged nearly 500 unique job seekers, nearly 300 of whom submitted their resumes to employers after the webinars. Of those who submitted their resume to employers, 44% were from Boston neighborhoods and 56% were from beyond Boston’s boundaries. Over 55% of these job seekers identified themselves as being minorities/people of color.
Employers were even more pleased. Mass General Brigham helped collect interview and hiring data from the event: at least 30 candidates were hired. The response to the event and the outcomes were so positive that Mass General Brigham immediately requested to make this a regular bi-annual event. On March 25, 2021 the second event was held using the new Premier Virtual Platform – with another event slated for September of 2021.
The MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center Employer Engagement Team, with Susan Buckey, presented a workshop for the Massachusetts workforce development community on the experience that led to their nomination. Click here to view the PowerPoint. Click here for the link to register for the October 7th MassHire Award Finalist Workshop on Strategically Working with Businesses and here for the October 14th Workshop on Advancement of Services for Disadvantaged Job Seekers.
MassHire Holyoke Career Center and the Westfield Education to Business Alliance: Yunas (Jonah) Badiab, Holyoke Career Center; Idalis Salgado, Holyoke Career Center; Gladys Lebron-Martinez, Holyoke Career Center; Stefan Czaporowski, Westfield Public Schools; Charles Jendryzik, Westfield Public Schools; Susan Dargie, Westfield Public Schools
Yunas (Jonah) Badiab and Idalis Salgado both joined the MassHire Holyoke Career Center during the pandemic. While both had prior experience as YouthWorks site supervisors and even participants when they were younger, the COVID-19 pandemic led to challenges they had never encountered before. This team effectively found a way to keep the Westfield High School (WHS) Reed Career Center running in a virtual and pandemic environment, while strengthening relationships with the WHS management team, Superintendent’s office, and the local business community including the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce.
The Westfield Education to Business Alliance (WE2BA) managed to develop internships, career exploration opportunities and work sites despite the challenges of doing so during a pandemic. Jonah and Idalis set up google classroom meetings to address the fear and concerns of students and parents. The team added programs, outreach, and business connections quickly, providing career exploration, work readiness and gainful work experience to all levels of high school students. The team set up regular meetings with college admissions staff to learn about higher education and occupational training opportunities. Exploration of military careers was facilitated by both visits and on-line research. This work was all developed with guidance from the Westfield Public Schools (WPS) and in response to stated student goals and objectives. While operating remotely, the team learned which efforts and programs would serve students more effectively once in-person services returned. Students at Westfield High School continue to, as the Principal put it: “receive top notch resources which enhances the quality of their education, and sets them up for future success.”
This collaboration (which began over three years ago as a casual conversation at a MassHire regional planning meeting between WPS Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski and MassHire Holyoke President and CEO David Gadaire) continues to grow and prosper in spite of the difficult times our education and workforce development system are experiencing. The leaders of these organizations remain committed to the success of the program and conduct monthly data reviews and quarterly meetings to assess, evaluate and strategize about further program activities. The WHS Principal, Charles Jendrysik has been a crucial ‘go to’ for the MassHire Holyoke staff stationed at the High School. Finally, Susan Dargie (Director of Curriculum and Education Services) and Tara Bean (School Counselor, Early College Access) have been crucial in providing in-school opportunities for the Career Center staff.
Two participant testimonials describe the impact of this successful collaboration best:
“Mr. Badiab helped me by reviewing my resume, and having multiple conversations with me and my guidance counselor about where I should apply and what I could do to give my applications the best chance of succeeding. In addition, knowing that my top choice is the College of Charleston, Mr. Badiab set-up a zoom meeting with him, one of his friends who graduated from C of C, and myself. This made me more confident and comfortable in my choice to apply, and I was accepted to the college. I am thankful to Mr. Badiab for his assistance throughout the process and for checking in on me multiple times.”
“Due to the pandemic, getting a new [driver’s license] appointment in my area and through my driving school was difficult. I urgently needed to get an appointment scheduled so that I could assist my family and have adequate transportation. I contacted Mr. Badiab about my situation and he helped me find a location that would test me in a few days! In addition, he sent me several resources about Massachusetts driving exams and counseled me on what the process would be like. He also gave me some very helpful tips. I ultimately was able to get my license much earlier than I had anticipated thanks to Mr. Badiab and the Career Center. As a result I was able to begin searching for work and he assisted me with that by reviewing my resume and completing a mock interview with me. He also assisted me through [the] work permit application process and I was able to quickly begin work at my local Big Y grocery store! I would not have a job if it was not for the career center’s support and I am very grateful.”