Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Some day I hope that future generations will be able to look back upon our era and find recorded how we were able to transform this region from the “Appalachia of the West” into a vigorous center of prosperous economic activity. Therein they will find that the key to our transformation was capitalizing and leveraging the opportunity to live within a multicultural environment and accepting that those things that united us were far more important than those things that divided us. While this transformation is still a work in progress, it is the shared commitment of many individuals to abide by the standard of behavior called for by the community values that has made change possible. May it be our legacy that silo based philosophies and crude accusations against those with differing opinions will one day be only footnotes in the history books of those who will come behind us.
Workforce Investment Board (WIB)—Steward Leadership in Action
The first issue of the New Valley Times was issued in 2002 with a dateline of 2015. This newspaper, delivered alongside The Fresno Bee, was filled with stories of success across every sector. Embedded in every one was the notion of compound interest, a commitment to the long-term, not just short-term results. Years ago WIB was a reactive, human services program that “prepared people for jobs that didn’t exist.” Today, thanks to the early commitment of Chamber leaders and the strong staff leadership of Blake Konczal and Pam Lasseter, the Fresno WIB is considered exemplary. Their adopted WorkKeys System, measures skills across a wide workplace spectrum, guides participants in matching their skills to specific careers and provides certificates that can be used in the hiring process. This win/win, matchmaking approach led to the creation of the Central California Career Readiness Certificate which is supported by nine WIB’s across 14 counties, community colleges and Fresno State. The work was done through a grant from the San Joaquin Partnership. Today’s WIB mirrors similar long term results of stewardship and collaboration in other organizations.
Results—Quantitative and Qualitative
To prepare for a December opportunity to share stories about Fresno with regional leaders from across the state, we are assembling a list of accomplishments that have resulted from our shift to steward leadership. The list is impressive and humbling. The WIB story helps to explain why numbers alone are an inadequate measure of success and are easy targets for cynics, single interests and spectators. While unemployment remains too high and many are ill equipped for the workforce, changing the underpinnings of the economy and education are long term endeavors. The fact that our region is aligning resources, interventions have occurred in major institutions, we continue to gain expertise in collaboration, and more people are engaging is strong evidence of the qualitative changes happening in our community. We are changing the way we think and act in terms of issues, solutions and one another. Cultural change—how we do the community’s business--is sustainable change. We are collectively developing the skills of innovation, resilience, adaptability and collaboration stemming from a one page contract—the community values.