MassHire Collaboration Award Finalists Exemplify the Power of Community Partnerships

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 2022 MassHire Awards. This blog focuses on the finalists for the Collaboration category, including the award winner, John Nesti, Employer Services Manager at the MassHire Greater Brockton 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 maintain or create effective partnerships which led to exceptional results?

MassHire Greater Brockton Workforce Board: John Nesti, Employer Services Manager (Collaboration Award Winner)

Starting with a conversation over coffee with the Brockton Area Transit Authority, MassHire Greater Brockton Workforce Board (MHGBWB) began a regional collaboration to better serve their community and the residents of the region. Posed with the question, “What could you do with a bus?” John and his team, public and private sector members of the board, along with community partners including the Brockton Housing Authority, Southeast Regional Vocational Technical High School, Metro South Boys & Girls Club, and the Transit Authority, distributed surveys and polled members of their respective constituents to determine how they could utilize the vehicle and how to best position this opportunity to meet the needs of customers and the community. The ideas that were submitted showed a real need for bringing MassHire services directly into the communities and to employees where they work. 

From October 2020 to January 2022, students in five of Southeastern’s vocational programs worked to make repairs to and convert a decommissioned Brockton Area Transit Authority passenger bus into a mobile learning lab. Students from Southeastern’s Electrical, Automotive Technology, Carpentry & Makerspace, Precision Machine Engineering, and Collision Repair & Restoration contributed to the work on the bus. Students modified the interior of the bus to allow MHGBWB staff to secure workstations and other materials so that they stay in place while driving and can then be spread out and reorganized while the bus is parked. 

“Real-world experience is crucial to our students’ vocational education, and not only did this project provide that, but it also allowed our students to contribute to something that will help people in their community,” Southeastern Superintendent Lou Lopes said. “We are grateful to the team at the Greater Brockton Workforce Board for proposing the project and collaborating with us to provide this excellent opportunity to this group of students.” 

The bus, now called the MassHire MOVE Maker, will be an extension of the services the MHGBWB provides and will enable the Board to reach more people with its services, especially those community members who may not be able to easily get to the Board’s Brockton office. It will also be utilized as an extension of the Career Center, making job seeker services more conveniently accessible to members of the community. The bus’s first excursion was with community partners, including WIOA partner agencies, at the Brockton Housing Authority. They used the bus to offer a Career Center pop-up at one of the local housing developments to share available training opportunities and programs with residents. This collaborative pop-up offered a streamlined process and integrated services for residents of the housing project. In the future, Greater Brockton and their partners plan to explore offering various workshops and youth development or college to career programming using the bus.

Congratulations to John Nesti and MassHire Greater Brockton for winning the 2022 MassHire Award for Collaboration for such an excellent example of how collaboration and partnership can literally move a region forward.

John Nesti will be presenting a workshop for the Massachusetts workforce development community on the experience that led to their nomination on November 3rd. Click here to register. Click here for links to register for future MassHire Award Finalist Workshops in November and December. 

MassHire Lowell Career Center: Daphne Nichols, Career Advisor

Daphne Nichols has had a long career in workforce development and building trust in relationships. Prior to Daphne being a Career Advisor at MassHire Lowell, she worked for the MassHire North Central Career Center. Daphne was nominated for her stellar work providing career readiness classes at their Adult Education partner site, the Frederick A. Abisi Adult Education Center. 

Providing services onsite alongside the adult education instructors has been crucial to successfully engaging with the students in the English as a Second Language (ESL) class. The strong communication and collaboration between Daphne and the staff at the Education Center has increased the awareness of each organization’s services. After becoming familiar with the needs of the students, Daphne adjusted her workshops and offered appropriately leveled presentations to meet the students where their language skills were. Daphne’s workshops were interactive, even in remote settings, and she offered individual assistance to students as requested. Because of this work, the partnership is stronger, with a greater number of referrals between both organizations. By increasing referrals to MassHire, adult education students can take advantage of all the career center offers, including referrals to support services, occupational training, and job opportunities. Daphne has made students feel comfortable accessing these services because they have built a relationship with her at the Abisi Adult Education site.

As noted by Elizabeth McKiernan, the Director of Abisi Adult Education Center, 

“As Daphne shared her own family’s immigrant story, this resonated with many of our immigrant students. We saw that they could relate to Daphne on a heightened level. This is something special that we see with some of our teachers and workshop presenters. Daphne was the perfect choice to share her knowledge and expertise of the MassHire Career Center system with our student population. She was engaging, informative, and kind as she worked with hundreds of Abisi Adult Education Center’s students and staff. We feel most fortunate to have been given this wonderful opportunity.”

Congratulations to Daphne on being recognized as a finalist for her work with Abisi Adult Education Center!

Daphne Nichols will be presenting a workshop for the Massachusetts workforce development community on the experience that led to their nomination on November 17th. Click here to register. Click here for links to register for other MassHire Award Finalist Workshops in November and December. 

MassHire Metro North Career Center: Lisa Chakalos Ryan, Business Service Representative

Lisa’s work as a Business Service Representative in partnership with the Connecting Activities program has had an impact not only on the MassHire Metro North Career Center and Workforce Board, but even more importantly on students and employers in the region. 

Building strong employer relationships is crucial for the Connecting Activities (CA) program to be successful. But between student meetings, workshops, and individual coaching, it can be hard for Job Coaches to do.  With Lisa’s support and expertise, the CA employer list has grown immensely. Students now have a diverse set of industries to explore including retail, labor, food service, and more. Students often only recognize big box stores as places to work – Lisa has offered them many more career opportunities to experience. Lisa’s work identifying job opportunities that engaged and excited youth in Metro North enabled the region to grow their presence in Connecting Activities schools and meet individually with the largest number of students in the history of the program. At the time of Lisa’s nomination, Metro North had already increased the number of students accessing job coaching services by over 30%! In addition, they were able to exceed their goals of engaging over 30 employers at job fairs hosted by high schools in their priority cities: Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Revere, Somerville, and Woburn. More than 350 students attended fall job fairs, which were some of the first in-person events hosted at the schools since the start of the pandemic. The relationships Lisa fostered led to continuing partnerships with employers who could participate in workshops, career panels, and industry- specific student mentoring.

Lisa has also played a critical role facilitating communication and collaboration between MHMNWB’s Youth Team and the Career Centers. With a number of new staff being on-boarded at both organizations, Lisa acted as a mentor for youth programs specialists and a new employment engagement specialist.  Lisa improved staff awareness of career center resources and connected them to employers. Lisa frequently checked in with the Youth Team to see how she could assist students in the job application process. She kept the team updated with weekly emails detailing open positions and other communication from employers. Lisa followed up with hiring managers, helped young clients create their Jobseeker IDs in JobQuest, and referred many employers for their circuit of high school job fairs. As her colleagues attested, “Her attention to detail, consistency, and willingness to go the extra mile sets a fantastic example for our team and ensures strong communication between partners.”

Kudos to Lisa for her exceptional work facilitating a successful and growing network of education, employer, workforce board, and career center relationships in Metro North!

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