This blog post is the third and 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 Reliability category, including the award winner, Edda Daniele-Johnson, Managing Director of Career Center Services, MassHire Hampden County 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 did the nominee create trust and reliability with colleagues, partners, or customers despite extenuating circumstances or challenges, thus leading to sustainable and exceptional results?
MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, Edda Daniele-Johnson, Managing Director of Career Center Services (Reliability Award Winner)
Edda Daniele-Johnson, Managing Director of Career Center Services at the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, was nominated (and won) for the key role she played in helping her region shift from in-person to remote services when COVID-19 hit.
Edda has the ability to quickly visualize and articulate effective strategies, and understands the value of collaboration and relationship building. These skills help her to efficiently and effectively get things done. When the workforce board and career centers had to transition to virtual services in 2020, Edda’s knowledge of services and processes allowed for a smoother transition as she was able to effectively prioritize and problem solve as challenges arose.
Of importance, Edda was able to ensure important projects continued despite challenges. One example is the MassHire Moving to Work Career Pathways initiative. For this initiative, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) partnered with the MassHire system to build new pathways for Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 recipients that focus on long-term career development. In January, Edda convened Hampden County working groups from the workforce board, both career centers, and Way Finders, the housing partner, to design, implement and deliver a career pathways model that helps a particularly vulnerable population achieve their employment and economic self-sufficiency goals. This program was only off the ground for 2 months when the pandemic started. Despite the abrupt changes, so far the project has exceeded its planned outreach and recruitment numbers, and met or exceeded its program participation goals. This success would not have been possible without Edda.
As highlighted in her nomination, Edda is an innovator, consensus builder, problem solver, collaborator, and trusted and reliable colleague. Not only does she assist her colleagues in the Hampden County region but she serves as a resource to MassHire staff across the state. Congratulations to Edda on her nomination and selection as the 2021 MasHire winner for Reliability!
MassHire Metro North Career Center, Mary Beth Beatrice, Business Service Representative
Mary Beth Beatrice, Business Service Representative at the MassHire Metro North Career Center, was nominated for her reliability as a team member and her consistency in providing high quality services to businesses, jobseekers, partners and colleagues.
In her role, Mary Beth creates trust with businesses and partners by providing accurate and timely information. She thinks outside the box and is always looking for “connectors” to partner with. One example of her innovative thinking involved her ability to design creative solutions when the career center’s normal processes were not working during the pandemic. Mary Beth had been assigned to recruit for several Healthcare companies. Through discussions and research, she realized that many customers that had been laid off from hospitality jobs had transferable skills that, with some training, would allow them to have career pathways in the healthcare industry. Mary Beth pulled together Healthcare employers and training providers and held a Virtual Healthcare Career Panel targeting individuals who maybe would not have considered a career in the healthcare field. The panel provided information on the opportunities, transferable skills, salaries, career pathways and training options. Career Panels are now another tool in the career center’s overall toolbox.
In addition to transitioning to remote work during the pandemic, the Metro North Career Center also experienced an operator change which resulted in a reduction in staff. Despite her team being short staffed, Mary Beth was always willing to step up and be a team player. In fact, during the pandemic she volunteered to take on the new role as a customer service representative supporting the Department of Unemployment Assistance. Mary Beth attended all UI training and on her own researched and read anything she could to learn more. This allowed her to field “basic” issue customer calls and subsequently she was asked to field more complex customer situations. Mary Beth’s intelligence, perseverance, and compassion ensured positive customer experiences during a highly stressful time.
MassHire Central Region Career Center, Alison Boisvert, IT Administrator
Alison Boisvert, IT Administrator at MassHire Central Region Career Center, was nominated for the responsiveness, expertise, and reliability she demonstrated when COVID-19 forced the career center and workforce board to close their doors and pivot to remote services. As MassHire Central Regional Career Center’s only IT support staff person, Alison’s responsibilities and tasks grew exponentially overnight. She rose to the occasion and showing patience and dependability, while providing almost round-the-clock support to staff and customers.
Alison quickly switched gears, helping forty-one career center staff and six workforce board staff get up and running remotely. This included coaching and mentoring staff on programs such as WebEx, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and helping staff resolve connectivity issues. Alison also trained staff on how to remotely access systems and databases of the City of Worcester, the Department of Career Services, and MOSES. Although her phone rang nonstop and her email inbox was perpetually full, Alison answered every call and responded to every email, even as she continued to update the career center website, social media, and assist with webinar production.
Alison’s nomination – submitted by MassHire Central’s Finance Department – featured the “Top 10” ways Alison helped staff during the pandemic. Alison’s “Top Ten” included everything from setting up virtual meetings, helping to create virtual job fairs, onboarding new employees, and basically providing mission-critical IT support that allowed career center and board staff to maintain services and relationships during the challenges of COVID-19. Her superiors noted: “the entire organization—would not have operated as smoothly during the remote work period without Alison’s rock-steady reliability.”