A Seat at the Table - Womack and Team at the WIB Symposium


Despite some still pretty dreadful unemployment data within the city of Los Angeles, back-patting and collective “attagroups!” were more the order of the day at the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board’s (WIB’s) morning symposium at L.A. EXPO Center. This kind of figured, given the symposium’s title: “Turning Vision into Action: The Future of Workforce Development in Los Angeles” and the detailed brochure WIB brochure “Building a Stronger Los Angeles Workforce: Highlighting Eight Years of Collaboration.”

From 2005-2013, the City and its partners helped move more than 200,000 L.A. area residents into living wage jobs and helped put more than 75,000 youth to work through summer jobs.

Outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa dropped in to give not one, but two speeches (one to the symposium participants, the second to the press). In both instances, the Mayor generously volleyballed the credit for any jobs-related progress to the WIB and its partners. That list includes the city’s Community Development Department (CDD), the city of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, L.A. Unified School District, United Way, the state Employment Development Department (EDD), Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. (LAEDC) and WorkSource Centers of California.

That’s where JVS comes in, by the way, since we operate full-service WorkSource Centers in West Hollywood and the Marina del Rey. JVS WorkSource Centers are part of the $13 million National Emergency Grant designed to train and help re-employ 2,100 workers who were laid off by a host of employers during the Great Recession. That campaign, Getting L.A. Back 2 Work, closed the ceremonies.

Among the JVS Workforce development team in attendance were Pat Dial, Candis Noel, Brian Halili and our Director of Workforce Development Marguerite Womack who knows this territory as well as probably anybody in the room.

Both during her time at JVS and previously, Womack has played a huge role in strengthening the partnerships between public, private, nonprofit and municipal agencies  in pursuing goals toward workforce development. As the former Director of Operations and Economic and Workforce Development for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Womack led United Way’s entrance into the workforce development arena. She also developed the Los Angeles Workforce Funders Collaborative, helping to secure more than $3 million in public and private dollars toward county job-related improvements.

Since joining JVS in the summer of 2012, Womack’s advocacy work has continued. She recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. as part of a workforce development advocacy group organized by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Fittingly, at this week’s WIB symposium, Womack was part of the workshop dedicated to the Systems Collaborative: the Future of Collaboration, where she joined high ranking officials from the Los Angeles Community College District, WIB Executive Director Richard Verches and LAEDC President and CEO Bill Allen whose Layoff Aversion Program has been credited with saving more than 5,000 jobs since 2009.

Harkening back to her experiences in 2006, Womack said she learned “that sector strategy does work, and that it’s the best practice. We also learned that the WIBs didn’t talk to each other very much back in 06-07 and we learned that the systems, although they were all doing workforce development, weren’t necessarily working with other areas. As a non threatening entity, United Way was poised to do this kind of work to bring people together and to help make that an easy transition for everyone.”

“Now I’m with JVS,” she added. “We work very closely with partners at community college, and we use LAEDC information to make sure we’re focused on the right sectors. I’m using everything I’ve learned.”

She put in a plug for JVS’ BankWork$™, the agency’s award-winning program which trains participants – free of charge – to become bank tellers and thereby take their first step into a career in finance. BankWork$™, which is highlighted in the WIB brochure’s Los Angeles Workforce Development Scorecard, just graduated its most recent


class of 40 trainees in that very same EXPO building less than a week ago, and is about to start a new training session on April 29th.

You can learn more about Getting L.A. Back 2 Work here.

Watch a video clip of Marguerite Womack at the WIB symposium on our Facebook page.