MassHire Award Finalists for Ingenuity Show Creativity and Dedication as the Pandemic Shifted Operations

This blog post is the final 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 Ingenuity category, including the award winner, Jacqueline Sylvia, Health Care Sector Specialist/Communications Manager, MassHire Greater New Bedford 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?
  • How was the nominee proactive in developing new skills, models, approaches, innovations, etc. which led to strong outcomes with a lasting impact on staff, partners, and/or customers?

MassHire Central Career Center, Jibrael Younis, Supervisor Business Engagement Solutions Team

Jibrael Younis, Supervisor Business Engagement Solutions Team (BEST) at the MassHire Central Region Career Center, was nominated for his work helping the Central Region switch to virtual job fairs and job seeker outreach when COVID-19 hit. 

Like most businesses, in March of 2020, the MassHire Central Regional Career Centers found themselves needing to replace “brick and mortar” events with remote options, and they needed to do it fast. Responding to this critical need, Jibrael leveraged and applied his technical skills and creativity to transition from in-person employer services to something the Center had never done before, virtual job fairs. 

Jibrael conceived, built, and promoted an interactive, user-friendly webpage that connected companies with urgent hiring needs with individuals seeking jobs. In creating this virtual platform, seemingly overnight, Jibrael dedicated an exceptional amount of time—much of it outside of standard working hours—as he coordinated with employers, staff, and job seekers. He also researched and found new and innovative ways to connect job seekers and employers. During a time when workforce boards across the country were struggling to connect employers and job seekers virtually, the public-private partnership Jibrael spearheaded earned national attention as a “best practice.” The work was featured in a Brookings Institution report and it garnered media coverage in the local Worcester area.

According to Jibrael’s supervisors, he is a consummate team player who exudes a positive demeanor and eagerly puts his staff in positions to succeed. While Jibrael has consistently shown ingenuity throughout his tenure with MassHire, the pandemic highlighted his talents in new ways. Congratulations Jibrael on your nomination as a finalist in the Ingenuity category!

MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Lukas Booker, IT Specialist

Lukas Booker, IT Specialist at the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center, was nominated for his ingenuity, flexibility, expertise, and knowledge during times of new challenges and circumstances.

Lukas was instrumental as a one-man IT team in getting staff at the Franklin Hampshire Career Center up and running remotely when the pandemic hit. Seemingly overnight, Lukas provided staff with laptops, instructions to access programs, developed a document, “Working from Home,” which became the go-to reference guide, and provided extra support to those who needed it during the transition.  

Lukas has the ability to both understand the complexities of IT software while being able to present technical training to staff and customers in a way that is easily digestible. It is a rare combination of skills to be able to present technical knowledge to non-techie staff and customers in a manner that both supports their learning and meets them where they are in a respectful way. Lukas’ expertise  was useful prior to the pandemic but became essential as services transitioned online and the need for digital skills exploded. 

According to his supervisor, Lukas’ speed of retooling, and his ingenuity in working around roadblocks, ensured that services to customers were not interrupted and that all staff were fully working remotely within a week of the office closing to in-person service delivery. All his work and his helpful attitude demonstrate Lukas’ commitment to the Career Center and its mission. Congratulations Lukas on your nomination as a finalist in the Ingenuity category!

MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board, Jacqueline Sylvia, Health Care Sector Specialist/Communications Manager (Ingenuity winner)

Jacqueline (Jacquie) Sylvia, Health Care Sector Specialist/Communications Manager at MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board was nominated (and won) for her talent, creativity, and ability to elevate the work of her organization. 

During the pandemic, Jacquie spearheaded efforts to take Greater New Bedford Workforce Board’s website to the “next level” by redesigning and including helpful resources and updates, all of which increased traffic to the site and customers looking to interact with the board and career center. She also created a quarterly newsletter to not only highlight the work of the Greater New Bedford Workforce Board but also updates on workforce development across the system and state. And her work extended to the Board’s new regional site for Advanced Manufacturing which can be viewed here. Jacquie played a major role in the creation of this website and single handedly created a new logo to publicize the manufacturing collaborative and its new name, Southeastern Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (SAMC). These are just some of the ways Jacquie’s ingenuity has led to strong outcomes with a lasting impact on staff, partners, and customers in the Greater New Bedford region. 

In her nomination packet, a local business leader referred to Jacquie as a “rare talent, one who deserves recognition, because she makes the entire workforce system look better every day.” This way of describing Jacquie is something her supervisor and colleagues wholeheartedly support. Congratulations Jacquie on your nomination and selection as the 2021 MassHire winner for Ingenuity!

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