JVS Veterans First Awarded $500,000 in VEAP Funding by EDD

JVS Veterans First has been awarded $500,000 in Veterans Employment-Related Assistance Program (VEAP) funds by the State of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), empowering the program’s mission to provide veterans with employment training and employment-related assistance for the pursuit of careers in high-growth industries. 

With a focus on female veterans, this generous grant will allow the program to expand its outreach to women veterans across Los Angeles County through strategic partnerships with the LA County Veterans Collaborative, Women Veterans Group, New Directions for Veterans, Women Veterans Alliance, and The Salvation Army Haven. Program services will include comprehensive career and skills assessment, intensive case management, job readiness activities, individual employment plans, networking activities, job placement assistance and job retention services.

 JVS Veterans First is committed to helping veterans gain sustainable employment opportunities.

JVS Veterans First is committed to helping veterans gain sustainable employment opportunities.

“Today’s job market is very competitive. Realizing that this depth and breadth of support is available provides some measure of relief to the challenges of transitioning from the military to life after service,” said John Gutierrez, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and operations manager for the JVS-operated Veteran’s America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) at the historic Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. “Our ability to partner with EDD gives veterans the most comprehensive assistance available to remove as many barriers to employment as possible while providing a support system that is lost upon exit from the military.”

JVS Veterans First is able to provide this critical support to returning service members and their families through the generous support of corporations, foundations, individual donors, and long-standing partnerships with training providers, community colleges, and employers. This collective effort enables the program to provide eligible veterans with access to resources, support and training for employment in targeted, high-growth industry sectors like information communication technology, construction and renewable energy, transportation and logistics, healthcare, business and finance, and protective services.

“EDD is proud to support programs that help employ the brave women and men who served in our armed forces,” said EDD Director Patrick W. Henning. “This year’s grants take an additional step to this end. Statistics show that women veterans in particular face significant challenges when seeking post-service employment. JVS SoCal’s commitment to helping women veterans, as well as all veterans, is one reason the team was selected for the award.”

To learn more about JVS Veterans First, please visit www.jvs-socal.org/veteransfirst


21st Annual JVS Strictly Business L.A. Breaks Previous Fundraising Record

JVS Strictly Business L.A. raised more than $541,000 on Thursday May 24, 2018, breaking the previous fundraising record for the awards luncheon. Celebrating 21 years, the premier networking event once again brought together hundreds of business leaders and partners on one common theme; this year, the future of workforce development. Art Bilger, founder and CEO of WorkingNation delivered Keynote remarks on the Future of Work and Steve Solk of OneWest Bank accepted the Corporate Partnership Award for their support of the JVS BankWork$® program. In addition, the JVS Founder's Award was presented to former board president and long-time agency champion Jim Hausberg by his colleague Elliot Weissbluth, founder and CEO of HighTower Advisors.

   Art Bilger , Founder and CEO of WorkingNation, Strictly Business L.A. Keynote Speaker

Art Bilger, Founder and CEO of WorkingNation, Strictly Business L.A. Keynote Speaker

2018 keynote speaker Art Bilger, an investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, shared the compelling mission of WorkingNation, the national non-profit media organization he founded, which is leveraging the power of media and institutional partnerships to motivate workforce thought leaders and empower organizations like JVS SoCal.

“This time it’s about the heart of America,” said Bilger, as he spoke on the importance of re-skilling workers for new positions. “JVS is doing exactly the types of things we’re trying to identify and tell in stories.”

Strictly Business L.A. guests were also among the first in the country to view a mini-documentary video about the life-changing JVS BankWork$® career training program. As the 18th episode in the WorkingNation series, Do Something Awesome, the 4-minute video illustrates how investing in training, curricula and infrastructure, like the kind that the JVS BankWork$® program provides, can prepare a greater number of workers for in-demand jobs with career pathways in growing industries.

  Steve Solk , President of Consumer Banking for OneWest Bank

Steve Solk, President of Consumer Banking for OneWest Bank

OneWest Bank received the Corporate Partnership Award in recognition of their commitment to provide those struggling in low-wage jobs with a first step on the career ladder in the financial services industry by both sponsoring the award-winning JVS BankWork$® program and offering career opportunities to graduates since 2011.

“By providing job training, mentoring and education, and employment opportunities, JVS sets individuals on a path for economic independence and a better life,” said Steve Solk, President of Consumer Banking for OneWest Bank. “I am proud to accept this recognition on behalf of OneWest and all the great people who make our bank special. We look forward to continuing our partnership in the future.” 

  Elliot Weissbluth , Founder and CEO of HighTower Advisors and  Jim Hausberg , Managing Partner for HighTower Advisors and JVS Founder’s Award Honoree

Elliot Weissbluth, Founder and CEO of HighTower Advisors and Jim Hausberg, Managing Partner for HighTower Advisors and JVS Founder’s Award Honoree

In recognition of his visionary leadership, Jim Hausberg, former JVS board president was honored with the JVS Founder's Award for his long-time commitment and his role in successfully expanding JVS partnerships and support within the corporate community, vastly increasing the impact of the agency.

The award was presented by HighTower founder and CEO Elliot Weissbluth, who said, “Jimmy embodies that spirit of generosity and service to others that our clients appreciate so much. I’m grateful to know him.”

Lastly, JVS clients Janet Romero, Edgar Rodriguez, Sonie Knott and Erika Crenshaw were welcomed to the event stage to share their personal stories of resilience, and a heartfelt message to supporters.

   Erika Crenshaw , JVS Veterans First Client and Project Manager at USC

Erika Crenshaw, JVS Veterans First Client and Project Manager at USC

“Together – Janet, Edgar, Sonie and I - represent just a handful of the stories behind JVS’ 87 years of service. On behalf of those who came before us and all those who will turn to JVS in the coming years to help them build a brighter future for themselves and their families -  we thank you for supporting this wonderful organization and for standing up for all of us,” said Crenshaw.

  Left to Right:  Jerry Walker,    JVS BankWork$® Graduate   and Relationship Banker at City National Bank,    Janet Romero , JVS BankWork$® Graduate and Customer Service Representative for Bank of America , Edgar Rodriquez , JVS ApartmentWorks® Graduate and Certified Maintenance Tech for Equity Residential,  Sonie Knott , JVS WoMentoring and JVS HealthWorks® Client and Certified Nursing Assistant for Southern California Hospital, Culver City,  Erika Crenshaw , JVS Veterans First Client and Project Manager at USC

Left to Right: Jerry Walker, JVS BankWork$® Graduate and Relationship Banker at City National Bank, Janet Romero, JVS BankWork$® Graduate and Customer Service Representative for Bank of America, Edgar Rodriquez, JVS ApartmentWorks® Graduate and Certified Maintenance Tech for Equity Residential, Sonie Knott, JVS WoMentoring and JVS HealthWorks® Client and Certified Nursing Assistant for Southern California Hospital, Culver City, Erika Crenshaw, JVS Veterans First Client and Project Manager at USC

It is only through vibrant public-private partnerships and the generosity of our donors that JVS SoCal is able to impact the lives of nearly 33,000 people each year, helping them achieve dignity and economic independence through sustainable employment.

For information and sponsorship opportunities for the 22nd Annual JVS Strictly Business L.A., please contact Mary Koenig at mkoenig@jvs-socal.org or (323) 761-8888 x8891.



JVS Veterans First and Big Voice Video Partner On JVS Video Profiles for Veterans

Part of an innovative partnership between JVS Veterans First and Big Voice Video (BVV), an LA-based production company, JVS Video Profiles for Veterans assists veterans and their spouses who are transitioning from military service into the civilian workforce. Through the program, we provide multimedia tools for veterans to effectively market their qualifications to potential employers and gain meaningful career opportunities.

 Program Participant with BVV Founder Bill Barnett

Program Participant with BVV Founder Bill Barnett

One of the challenges veterans often face is accurately reflecting everything they have learned and accomplished throughout their military service into the language of the civilian workplace. The video profile clearly communicates transferable talents and skills and offers a sense of the candidate’s character through their personal story. The result is a compelling, well-rounded profile for submission to potential employers, augmenting the veteran’s resume and increasing the opportunity for an in-person interview.

According to proprietary data, veterans who included a JVS Video Profile in their job application, gained employment opportunities more quickly and were offered a higher rate of pay than veterans who did not participate in the program.

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By supporting the JVS Veterans First-BVV partnership, you will be giving our veterans the tools they need to begin their journey toward a new career path. By assisting our veterans to make a smooth transition from military service into fulfilling and sustainable civilian employment, you are empowering them to put their substantial skills and experience to work right here at home.


To learn more about how you can help, please contact:

BVV logo 1.png

Scott Duncan (LtCol USMC – Retired)

Big Voice Video

Director of Business Development


(757) 371-3250



JVS logo 1.png

Mary Koenig


Director of Philanthropy


(323) 761-8888  Ext. 8891


JVS SoCal and WorkingNation Partner on JVS BankWork$® Career Training Program Mini-Documentary

JVS SoCal, a regional non-profit leader in workforce development for more than 87 years, has partnered with WorkingNation, a national non-profit campaign dedicated to helping Americans prepare for a rapidly changing labor market, to create a mini-documentary video about the life-changing JVS BankWork$® career training program. The video will be screened at the 21st Annual Strictly Business L.A. Awards Luncheon on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at The Beverly Hilton and released as an episode in a WorkingNation-produced series called "Do Something Awesome."


"With technological innovation eliminating entire categories of jobs and creating the need for new workforce skills, we are proud to partner with JVS SoCal in exploring the future of workforce development." - Art Bilger, Founder and CEO of WorkingNation

Part of JVS SoCal's JVSWorks® suite of career training programs that includes JVS HealthWorks® and JVS ApartmentWorks®, the JVS BankWork$® program prepares job seekers for entry-level positions in the financial services industry. The intensive eight-week program consists of job training, job placement assistance and on-going coaching for career advancement, providing not only skills training but direct access to top employers.

With an 89% placement rate and a 90% retention rate at 6 months, the award-winning JVS BankWork$® program has proven that careers in banking can be valuable and rewarding, which is vitally important as the global banking industry is expected to exceed US $163,058 billion in 2018 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8% over the next few years, according to Research and Markets.

Each episode in the "Do Something Awesome" series highlights a different scalable program that is working to create a more sustainable workforce in a rapidly changing U.S. economy.  As the 18th episode of WorkingNation's heartfelt, human mini-docs, the 4.5-minute video will highlight how investing in training, curricula and infrastructure, like the kind that the JVS BankWork$® program provides, can prepare a greater number of workers for in-demand jobs with career pathways.

The mini-documentary will be viewed by guests at the annual JVS Strictly Business L.A. Awards Luncheon, a premiere networking event that will once again bring together hundreds of business leaders and partners on one common theme; this year, the future of workforce development.

2018 Strictly Business L.A. keynote speaker, investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder and CEO of WorkingNation, Art Bilger will take the event stage to deliver remarks on the future of work and how WorkingNation is leveraging the power of media and institutional partnerships to motivate workforce thought leaders and empower organizations like JVS SoCal that train and re-skill workers for new positions.

The 21st Annual Strictly Business L.A. Awards Luncheon takes place on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at The Beverly Hilton. For tickets and information, please visit www.jvs-socal.org/sb2018.

The BankWork$® episode of WorkingNation's "Do Something Awesome" series featuring the JVS BankWork$® program will be released online on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Watch every episode of the series at www.WorkingNation.com.


21st Annual JVS Strictly Business L.A. Looks to the Future of Work and Honors Corporate Giving

Founder and CEO Art Bilger of WorkingNation to deliver keynote speech on the Future of Work and OneWest Bank to be recognized for their support of the JVS BankWork$® program on May 24, 2018 at The Beverly Hilton.


LOS ANGELES - April 10, 2018 - PRLog -- Celebrating 21 years, JVS Strictly Business L.A. will bring together hundreds of business and community leaders to engage on the future of workforce development and honor corporate partner OneWest Bank. In addition, the JVS Founder's Award will be presented to former board president and long-time agency champion Jim Hausberg by his colleague and friend, HighTower Advisors CEO Elliot Weissbluth. The event takes place on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at The Beverly Hilton, with award-winning NBC4 weathercaster Fritz Coleman returning to serve as event host.

This year's program will include keynote remarks by investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist Art Bilger, founder and CEO of WorkingNation, a national non-profit media organization. WorkingNation exists to expose hard truths about the looming unemployment crisis in the United States and bring the country together to create new jobs for a changing economy. "With technological innovation eliminating entire categories of jobs and creating the need for new workforce skills, we are proud to partner with JVS SoCal in exploring the future of workforce development," said Bilger.

 Art Bilger, Founder/CEO of WorkingNation and 2018 Keynote Speaker

Art Bilger, Founder/CEO of WorkingNation and 2018 Keynote Speaker

OneWest Bank will be honored with the JVS Corporate Partnership Award at the luncheon. The Southern California based bank will be recognized for their significant contributions in providing those struggling in low-wage jobs with a first step on a professional career ladder. "JVS SoCal plays a pivotal role in preparing Southern California residents for bright futures in the financial services industry," said Steve Solk, president of Consumer Banking. "We are pleased to support JVS for the sixth consecutive year, both as a sponsor of the BankWork$® program and through the hiring of graduates across our OneWest Bank branch network."

 Steve Solk, President of Consumer Banking for CIT/OneWest

Steve Solk, President of Consumer Banking for CIT/OneWest

Through its vibrant public-private partnerships, JVS SoCal is able to offer its award-winning training programs BankWork$®, HealthWorks®, and ApartmentWorks®, at no cost to participants, creating a career pathway to a sustainable future for people from underserved communities.

 Jim Hausberg, 2018 JVS Founder's Award Honoree

Jim Hausberg, 2018 JVS Founder's Award Honoree

Jim Hausberg, former JVS board president and current chair of the Investment Committee, will receive the JVS SoCal Founder's Award for his long-time commitment and his role in successfully expanding JVS partnerships and support within the corporate community. The award will be presented by HighTower Advisors founder and CEO Elliot Weissbluth, who said, "It's a great honor for me to present this award to Jim.  He is a valued member of the HighTower community, a person of great integrity, and my friend. His efforts on behalf of JVS over the years more than merit this recognition, and are a reflection of his great magnanimity of spirit."

The Strictly Business L.A. Awards Luncheon takes place on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Business Networking Reception begins at 11am, followed by the luncheon program from Noon to 1:30pm at The Beverly Hilton located at 9876 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills 90210. Hosted parking. Individual tickets are $195. To register online, please visit: www.jvs-socal.org/sb2018. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Mary Koenig at mkoenig@jvs-socal.org or (323) 761-8888 x8891.

2018 Strictly Business L.A. Sponsors (list to date):

Presenting Sponsors:
AFEX, Belmont Village Senior Living

HighTower Advisors, The Hausberg Group, Patricia and Marshall Geller, Anita Hirsh

Armanino LLP., Avalon Bay Communities, Banc of California, Boeing, City National Bank, Harris Office Products, Pacific Western Bank, Wells Fargo, Martin J. Wolff

The Jewish Federation, Jill, Harris, Stephanie and Jordan Smith

Arthur J Gallagher Risk Management Services Inc., Ashjer LLC., Debbie and Rick Powell, Black Equites Group LTD., Cooper Design Space, Pam & Steve Hirsh, Alicia and John Goldsmith, Susan & John Schwarz, Karen & Matt Winnick, Robbi & Tom Schiff

About JVS SoCal
JVS SoCal is a non-profit 501(c)(3) founded in 1931 to assist immigrants and the jobless in the midst of the Great Depression. Over eight decades later the agency remains committed to providing hope and economic opportunity for all.  JVS SoCal builds better lives, one job at a time by empowering individuals to achieve dignity and economic independence through sustainable employment. www.jvs-socal.org

Susie Plascencia

Boeing Expands Its Support For Veteran Services with Grants to Nonprofits

Los Angles – January 16, 2018 -- Boeing has made generous grants of $75,000 each to nonprofits JVS SoCal (formerly Jewish Vocational Service) for the Vets In Tech program and U.S.  VETS for the Outside the Wire program -  two innovative initiatives designed to meet the diverse needs of veterans.  Both programs are based at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown L.A. and partner closely with the newly-opened L.A. County Veterans America’s Job Center (AJCC) on site. 

"We aspire to be a top performer in every area of our business, and that includes leading in the communities where our employees and their families live and work," said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer. 

Boeing’s 2018 charitable grant programming includes a three-year commitment of more than $25 million in support of veterans’ recovery and rehabilitation programs and transition services. In addition, Boeing employs 20,000 military veterans, representing 15% of their total workforce.

“Boeing’s commitment to military veterans, including their national hiring initiative, sets a high standard in the business community. Boeing’s philanthropic support of JVS SoCal and U.S. VETS, two outstanding nonprofits that work closely with the L.A. County Veterans America’s Job Center, is a perfect illustration of the kind of public-private-nonprofit partnership that is key to creating meaningful impact and lasting change in our region,” said L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.

 Grand Opening of LA County Veterans America's Job Center at Patriotic Hall

Grand Opening of LA County Veterans America's Job Center at Patriotic Hall

The JVS Vets In Tech program assists military veterans to enter the growing information technology field, offering access to training and recognized industry certifications in the areas of web support, database administration, software and app development. In addition, veterans receive expert guidance in writing resumes, preparing for interviews, networking effectively and building confidence, empowering them to launch IT careers with tremendous growth potential.  

“Our partnership with Boeing enables us to build bridges and provide support to veterans who lack the resources for critical training and equally important, the direct access to employers. We are pleased to report that we have already placed veterans in positions paying from $50-80,000,” said JVS SoCal CEO Alan S. Levey.

U.S. VETS, the nation’s largest nonprofit addressing veteran homelessness, has developed a program specifically for veterans suffering from combat-related psychological injuries. Outside the Wire is an early-intervention and prevention, non-residential program for veterans and their family members.  The goal is to provide access to mental health counseling as soon as service members separate from the military and begin the transition to civilian life.

“It is only through the generous support of corporations like Boeing that we are able to intervene and provide life-saving services to those veterans and military families most in need,” said Robert K. Stohr, Executive Director of U.S. VETS – Patriotic Hall.

In addition to working closely with the network of service providers at Patriotic Hall, JVS SoCal and U.S. VETS are both active members of the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative and partner with local community colleges, the entire AJCC network, as well as donors and employers across a broad range of industries.

"By harnessing our teammates' unique skills and passion for giving, our professional networks and partnerships, and our financial resources,” said Boeing’s Muilenberg, “we will inspire the dreamers and doers of tomorrow and drive positive, lasting change in our communities across the globe."

The Boeing Company and its employees, through purposeful investments, employee engagement and thoughtful advocacy efforts, support innovative partnerships and programs that align with the company's strategic objectives, create value and help build better communities worldwide. This includes improving access to globally competitive learning as well as workforce and skills development, and supporting our military and veteran communities. See how Boeing and its employees give their time, talent and resources in communities around the world. Download the 2017 Boeing Global Engagement Portfolio. Chicago-based Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries. 

JVS Veterans First assists veterans in their transition to the civilian workforce. Services include professional career coaching, assessments to identify transferable skills, training in high growth industry sectors plus job placement assistance. Veterans First is a program of JVS SoCal, which has been serving Southern California since 1931, empowering people to achieve dignity and economic independence through sustainable employment.  www.jvs-socal.org 

U.S. VETS supports the successful transition of military veterans and their families through the provision of housing, counseling, career development and comprehensive support. www.usvetsinc.org/patriotichall/ 

L.A. County Veterans America’s Job Center (AJCC) provides comprehensive employment and training services tailored to meet the unique needs of Veterans and their families.  The easily accessible location of the Veterans AJCC at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall enables veterans and their families to access a full range of additional services located on-site, including VA benefits, housing, child support, legal and mental health services.  

Organización brinda entrenamiento gratis a personas que aspiran a la industria bancaria en L.A

 Judy Olivares recibe su diploma por completar el programa.  (Selene Rivera / HOY)

Judy Olivares recibe su diploma por completar el programa.  (Selene Rivera / HOY)

Hasta hace pocas semanas, la meta convertirse en gerente bancaria eran solo un sueño para Judy Olivares, ya que no podía dejar su trabajo de tiempo completo, en un Home Depot, por ayudarle a su familia económicamente.

En una búsqueda en internet, sin embargo, encontró BankWork$, un programa gratuito que entrena a personas de bajos ingresos y minorías en carreras de la industria de servicios financieros, en la región de Los Ángeles.

Dos meses después de haber cursado las clases, la muchacha de 26 años tiene tres propuestas para trabajar en diferentes bancos locales.


 Judy Oliveres entre los 21 graduados del mes. (Selene Rivera / HOY)

Judy Oliveres entre los 21 graduados del mes. (Selene Rivera / HOY)

“Estoy muy contenta de estar cada vez más cerca de mi sueño, gracias al programa", dijo la residente del Sur de L.A.

Olivares asegura que durante su entrenamiento aprendió a tratar al cliente, servir sus necesidad financieras, conocer cuál es el trabajo que desempeña cada persona en un banco, y hasta los servicios y pólizas que ofrecen en diferentes rubros.

“Aunque los puestos iniciales son de cajera, ahora sé quepuedo escalar a ser una gerente bancaria, algo que me apasiona y con lo que siempre he soñado”, agregó Olivares.

Las clases duran ocho semanas. Aquí capacitan a las personas en las habilidades necesarias para puestos como investigadores de finanzas, representantes de servicio al cliente y banqueros personales, señala Lissa Meadows, directora asociada del programa.

BankWork$ también ofrece práctica de entrevista de trabajo, ayuda para la colocación de empleo y mentoría para ayudar a los participantes a avanzar en su carrera.

 La meta de Judy Olivares es convertirse en gerente. (Selene Rivera / HOY)

La meta de Judy Olivares es convertirse en gerente. (Selene Rivera / HOY)

El programa se inició en 2006 en L.A., impulsado por la Fundación de la familia Sheri y Les Biller, y actualmente se ejecuta en Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, Portland, Oregón, Houston, Denver y Chicago.

Desde entonces, más de 1,500 graduados han sido contratados por bancos y otras instituciones financieras. Anualmente, alrededor de 130 a 150 estudiantes se gradúan de las clases.

“Aunque muchos jóvenes tocan nuestras puertas, no hay edad límite para los que aspiran a trabajar en la industria bancaria", sostiene Meadows.

Para tomar las clases se requiere ser mayor de 18 años de edad, tener el diploma de preparatoria o GED, hablar inglés, tener entendimiento de computación básica y aceptar la revisión del historial criminal.

“Aquí solamente necesitas tener ganas de aprender y de ahí el cielo es el límite”, aseguró.

Las personas que acuden a este programa regularmente están desempleados, y a veces no tienen muchas oportunidades de asistir a la escuela.

El programa trabajo con más de 10 bancos a nivel nacional , entre ellos están Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of América y Union Bank.

Olivares, entretanto, ahora se pregunta cuál de las tres ofertas de compañías bancarias debe escoger.

“Se siente muy bien cuando tienes opciones de trabajo, en lugar de estar buscándolas”, concluyó la joven.

Para más información sobre BankWork$ asistir al 117 E. Colorado Blvd. Ste. 600 en Pasadena, o llamar al teléfono 626.219.1694. Se puede escribir al email: info@bankworks.org

JVS Woman To Woman Conference draws over 500 attendees

 L to R: Dr. Margareta Pisarska, Nikki Crawford and Nancy Spielberg

L to R: Dr. Margareta Pisarska, Nikki Crawford and Nancy Spielberg

JVS Woman To Woman Conference draws over 500 attendees to Skirball in support of agency programs serving women in crisis and transition

Los Angeles, CA (Nov. 17, 2016) —Over 500 women filled the ballroom at the Skirball Cultural Center for the 4th Annual Woman to Woman Conference on Thursday, November 17. The popular networking event featured keynote speakers Margareta Pisarska, MD, an OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist leading cutting edge research on fertility at Cedars Sinai, and award-winning documentary filmmaker Nancy Spielberg. Sponsored by the JVS Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) the conference supports a number of JVS programs that serve women in career crisis or transition, with a special focus on its signature program, WoMentoring. 

The WLN is a donor support group that works to sustain and enhance JVS' programs serving women in crisis or transition, and to make these programs available to a diverse community of women in need – from the long-term unemployed to people with disabilities; women veterans transitioning to the civilian workplace, single parents and women who have come through the foster care system.

Barbara Leanse, Director of Volunteer Services and Cedars and Nancy Paul, both members of the WLN Leadership Council, chaired the event. Award-winning actress, singer and dancer Nikki Crawford was event host.

Nancy Spielberg shared how she discovered a passion to make documentary films in her fifties and overcame her self-doubt and fear of failure while making “Above and Beyond,” her first film which tells the story of Jewish-American WWII veterans who took unimaginable risks to fly for Israel in the War of Independence.

“I am still learning lessons every single day,” she said. “One of the most important is knowing that collaboration, support, and respect are the salt in every successful recipe whether you’re running a business or making a movie. There’s never really an easy road.  Through the decades, there are struggles and they change with the chapters in your life. You have to learn how to roll with it; how to forge ahead.  Don’t let fear stop you.”

In an insightful talk that covered the science and politics of fertility and reproductive medicine, Dr. Pisarska lauded her parents (both concentration camp survivors) and her early mentors who gave her strength and direction in navigating her career.  

“We as women need to be active in issues involving reproductive health,” she said, citing that research focused on women and babies trails as the most poorly funded. 

Attendees began the day with a breakfast networking reception and were treated to accessorizing tips from celebrity fashion critic, author and red carpet guru Steven Cojocaru, also known as Cojo. Diagnosed mid career with a devastating disease that lead to a kidney transplant, Cojocaru is the author of an inspiring memoir, “Glamour, Interrupted.”

JVS Los Angeles Gala Celebrates 85 Years and Honors Vivian Seigel

 JVSLA CEO Emerita, Vivian Seigel with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz

JVSLA CEO Emerita, Vivian Seigel with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz

Los Angeles, CA (September 28, 2016) – Former JVS CEO Vivian A. Seigel received a rousing tribute at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Saturday, September 24, as JVS leadership and supporters, along with Los Angeles dignitaries, gathered in a packed ballroom for the agency’s Fall Gala to celebrate its 85th anniversary.

The formal evening that included cocktails, dinner, music and dancing began with a video message from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti who sent the agency and Seigel a heartfelt virtual thanks for JVS’ extensive contributions to the region’s workforce and economic development.

The sentiment was echoed throughout the exciting evening as JVS clients and leadership, family and friends, took the stage to extol Seigel’s significant role in guiding the 85-year-old agency in growth and expansion that has created high-quality programs that serve nearly 30,000 people across Los Angeles County with skills assessment, job training, career coaching, placement and retention.

Themed “Celebrating a Legacy,” the Gala Tribute was chaired by JVS Past President Rick Powell and board members Steve Seigel and Matthew Winnick.  It was hosted by comedian and actor Larry Miller and featured musical performance by Jump Start and a surprise appearance by The Three Waiters.

Guests included LA City Controller Ron Galperin; LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz and his wife Gail, who serves as Government Liaison in the Mayor’s Office; Eran Hazary representing Congressman Brad Sherman and Robert Sainz, Assistant General Manager for Operations in the L.A. City Economic and Workforce Development Department. 

Seigel received the agency’s Lifetime of Service Award for her 39 years of visionary leadership. Presented to her by JVS Board President Harris Smith, Seigel was also surprised with the news of the newly created Vivian A. Seigel Legacy Fund that has, to date, raised over $600,000 toward its goal of $1 million. The Fund includes the naming in her honor of the Education Center in the JVS La Cienega Career Training Center.

“The Legacy Fund represents an invaluable opportunity to invest in a series of core strategic initiatives and to expand the impact of the JVS Works career training programs,” said JVS CEO Alan Levey, who took the helm from Seigel in January. “It will also enable us to expand our Government Relations effort and advocacy work on the issues that most deeply impact the people we serve.”

Seigel arrived at JVS in 1977 with a master’s degree from UCLA to work as a career counselor. At that time, the agency was serving about 1,000 clients. By 1996, when Seigel became CEO, the agency had grown to 5,000 clients annually with a budget of just over $1 million. She became central to JVS’ efforts to respond to the changing demands of the employment market and the ups and downs of the economy. When she retired, JVS was serving 30,000 people a year with a budget of $17 million.

“I believe JVS has unlimited future growth potential because I know the agency’s core mission is so closely aligned with the economic health of Southern California and the wellbeing and growth of our families and communities,” said Seigel.

JVS Scholarship Program Awards Over $600,000 to 193 College Students In Need

 Six-year scholarship recipient Niv Ashkenazi

Six-year scholarship recipient Niv Ashkenazi

Los Angeles (Aug. 10, 2016) — The JVS Scholarship Program this year helped 193 college students get closer to their higher education dreams when it awarded a total of$614,000 in need-based scholarships, each gift ranging from $500 to $10,000.

“This is an impressive group of special individuals who show a lot of promise and provided the scholarship committee with a real wow factor,” said Scholarship Program Co-Chairman Leland Felsenthal.

Before the committee members make their final scholarship selections, they will have interviewed more than 100 students in person to ask about their involvement with community service, their grades and school careers, their financial need and family histories.

Scholarship recipients are attending colleges from NYU to Harvard, Stanford, CSUN and many other American and even international schools. Their studies range from medicine and law to education and the arts. The group includes students who have emigrated from other countries, students with learning disabilities and students who are returning to school for advanced degrees.

For the third year in a row, thanks to a generous $100,000 gift from the William and Leah Molle Foundation and the enthusiastic support of Trustee, Susan Howard, JVS once again supported ten medical school students with scholarships of $10,000 each.

Most recipients attended the 44th annual Award Reception that took place July 28 at Sinai Temple where they had the chance to personally thank the many scholarship donor in attendance. Six-year scholarship recipient Niv Ashkenazi addressed the filled-to-capacity auditorium as keynote speaker. A distinguished graduate of The Juilliard School of Music who has performed worldwide, he told students that, though his primary ambition remains becoming a violin soloist, he decided early on to expand his scholastic horizons by taking a variety of classes. He discovered that by following his interests and gaining new knowledge he has developed skills that make him more employable. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Ashkenazi’s busy music career includes performing and teaching, writing music and serving on several boards.

Ashkenazi’s presentation included the performance of two pieces on violin: Nigun by Ernest Bloch and Jules Massenet Thais Meditation, on which fellow Julliard alum Leah Kohn accompanied him on bassoon.

Since the JVS Scholarship Program began in 1972 it has awarded over $7.8 million to more than 4,400 outstanding local Jewish students. It remains the largest need-based scholarship program serving Jewish students within the Los Angeles community. 

JVS partners and donors helped raise over $400,000 to support JVS programs


 (L-R) Corporate Honoree Richard S. Lopez, Jr. of Universal Protection Service; JVSLA CEO Alan S. Levey; Inspiration Honorees Deborah Smith and Roland Williams with daughter Elliana; Event Host Fritz Coleman of NBC4; Inspiration Honoree James Acosta; JVSLA Board President Harris Smith; JVSLA COO Claudia Finkel

(L-R) Corporate Honoree Richard S. Lopez, Jr. of Universal Protection Service; JVSLA CEO Alan S. Levey; Inspiration Honorees Deborah Smith and Roland Williams with daughter Elliana; Event Host Fritz Coleman of NBC4; Inspiration Honoree James Acosta; JVSLA Board President Harris Smith; JVSLA COO Claudia Finkel

 Dan Goldenberg, executive director of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty Endowment, a leading funder of veteran employment-focused organizations nationwide, delivers the keynote speech at the 19th Annual JVS Strictly Business Awards Luncheon

Dan Goldenberg, executive director of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty Endowment, a leading funder of veteran employment-focused organizations nationwide, delivers the keynote speech at the 19th Annual JVS Strictly Business Awards Luncheon

May 19, 2016 (Los Angeles, CA) – Military veteran employment issues were front and center at the 19th Annual JVS Strictly Business L.A. Awards Luncheon that took place Thursday, May 12, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, as Dan Goldenberg, a highly regarded national advocate for veterans, addressed hundreds of business owners, professionals, entrepreneurs and philanthropists gathered to support a luncheon with a purpose. Award-winning NBC4 broadcaster Fritz Coleman returned for his 4th year as event host.

One of the city’s premiere networking events, JVS Strictly Business highlights the life-changing work of JVSLA, a nonprofit, non-sectarian agency dedicated to lifting people out of poverty by helping them overcome barriers and challenges to employment. Critical funds raised through Strictly Business help support the life-changing programs of JVS that give its many diverse clients the training, tools and resources they need to become economically self-sufficient.

This year’s event raised over $400,000, with $120,000 of that amount donated during an urgent appeal at the event.

Dan Goldenberg is executive director of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty Endowment, a leading funder of veteran employment-focused organizations nationwide, establishing best practices, promoting veteran hiring, and supporting organizations like JVS that are helping former service members transition into civilian careers.

Since 2009, Activision Blizzard, through the Call of Duty Endowment, has provided more than $18 million in grants to veteran organizations throughout the U.S. These gifts have helped place 22,752 veterans into high-quality careers.

 The JVS Veterans First program is a multiple-year recipient of Call of Duty Endowment funding and a partner in the regional effort to place military veterans into high-quality jobs.

In his keynote address that provided insights into the state of veteran employment in L.A. and in the United States, Goldenberg cited a 2015 government report said that young, post-9/11 veterans are three times more likely to be unemployed than the average American, despite the fact that their military skills, experience, and accomplishments are sought after in the civilian job market. 

Goldenberg pointed to a schism between statistics presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that says veteran unemployment is down and what veterans are actually experiencing regarding civilian employment.

“We know government unemployment numbers are off because our grantees from across the country—that serve upwards of 5,000 veterans each quarter—have seen a 15 percent increase in demand for their employment services compared to this time last year,” said Goldenberg, who has 24 years of active and reserve military service and over a decade of corporate experience. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Harvard Business School and the Air Command and Staff College. 

“Something just doesn’t add up when the organizations on the ground are experiencing a significant uptick in demand for their employment services,” Goldenberg said.

Goldenberg said, however, that Call of Duty Endowment grantee partners, all of whom are carefully vetted to assure they are effective in their mission, are reporting tremendous success in their work: the six-month retention rate for vets placed by Call of Duty Endowment grantees is 89 percent, which outpaces the average, and starting salaries of the vets placed by its partners average above $50,000.  “Considering that the national average starting salary for new college graduates is $45,000, it’s fair to say our grantees are doing a terrific job,” he said, adding, “JVS is one of the very special organizations we’ve worked with for some time that’s had great impact.”

During the luncheon JVS also honored Universal Protection Service, one of the largest American-owned security services providers, with its Corporate Partnership Award for its significant contributions to a public-private-nonprofit partnership that creates meaningful change in the community. A division of Universal Services of America, the Santa Ana-based company works closely with JVS to put veterans and other job seekers back to work.

A military-friendly employer, Universal Protection Service is committed to offering opportunities to job seekers in underserved communities as well as to hiring veterans who bring unique skills and training to the industry. They are partners in the national 100,000 Opportunities Initiative and locally in Mayor Garcetti’s 10,000 Strong Veterans Hiring Initiative.  

Regional Recruiter Richard S. Lopez, Jr., representing the company, said:  “The relationship between JVS and Universal Protection Service is grounded in our shared commitment to workforce development. Over the past eight years, we have come together to meet the changing staffing and employment needs throughout the greater Los Angeles Region.”

JVS presented its Inspiration Award to three JVS clients whose successes illustrate the mission of the agency to help lift people out of poverty and over significant barriers to employment. This year’s recipients included Roland Williams, a formerly homeless veteran now employed as an apartment maintenance technician; Deborah Smith, a survivor of domestic violence who now works for Wells Fargo, and James Acosta, a formerly out-of-school and unemployed youth now employed at Starbucks and working toward his high school diploma. A video about the honorees can be viewed here: www.jvsla.org/strictlybizla View the event photo album here: https://jvsmarketing.smugmug.com/Strictly-Business-2016/

In 2016 JVSLA marked a significant transition in its leadership as it installed new Board President Harris Smith and welcomed new CEO Alan S. Levey.


JVS is a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization celebrating its 85th anniversary of service this year. www.jvsla.org

“El programa que cambió mi vida”

This article was published in La Opinión by Virginia Gaglianone on March 4, 2016. 

José Robledo, de 21 años de edad, siempre le gustó trabajar con sus manos, haciendo arreglos y ayudando en la casa. Pero nunca se imaginó que podría recibir entrenamiento gratis y la oportunidad de trabajar haciendo lo que le gustaba. Sin embargo, fue precisamente eso lo que obtuvo a través de la organización sin fines de lucro, Jewish Vocational Services (JVS). En la actualidad, el joven está a cargo del mantenimiento de un edificio residencial de 132 unidades, de Encino, California, haciendo lo que siempre le gustó.

“Hago de todo un poco, un día cambio focos, otro día arreglo liqueos. Me gusta mucho mi trabajo. Ahora quiero seguir estudiando y aprendiendo, para poder avanzar en la compañía. Algún día me gustaría ser supervisor, o trabajar en otras áreas de la construcción”, expresó el joven.

Pero las cosas no siempre fueron fáciles para Robledo, quien nació y se crió en Los Ángeles, de padres oriundos de Zacatecas, México. Cuando tenía 15 años de edad, los padres de Robledo fueron deportados y el joven y sus dos hermanas, de entonces 18 y 20 años de edad, quedaron a la deriva, sin saber qué camino tomar.

“Para mí fue muy difícil”, confesó José. “De un día para el otro, se llevaron a mis papás y eso me dio mucho coraje. Sentía coraje contra el mundo, no quería hacer nada, y tenía miedo de que volvieran y se llevaran a mis hermanas también”, recordó.

“Cuando se me pegó la tristeza, me empezó a ir muy mal en la escuela, y terminé dejando todo y yéndome a México”, contó. Pero en el país vecino, las cosas tampoco fueron fáciles.

“En México todo es muy bonito, pero no te creas que es fácil”, señaló. “Mis padres vivían en el rancho y el trabajo era muy duro”.  Robledo decidió volver a EEUU y darse una nueva oportunidad.

“Una vez llamé por teléfono a mi papá y me puse a llorar porque me sentía perdido, y él me recordó que había  gente a quienes les faltaba un brazo, o una pierna, y que yo en cambio estaba sano, ytenía que echarle ganas. Esto me ayudó a reaccionar y a convertir mi coraje en motivación. En ese sentido, puedo decir que lo que me pasó me ayudó a crecer y a ser mejor persona”.

Robledo también destacó el rol de sus dos hermanas. “Ellas son mi inspiración porque siempre se están superando y ayudando a la comunidad. Una de las razones por las que siempre aprender a trabajar en mantenimiento fue para ayudarlas y ser el hombre de la casa”. El joven también sueña con poder ahorrar dinero, para algún día ayudar a sus padres con los documentos de inmigración.

Una nueva oportunidad

Robledo consiguió un trabajo en una fábrica de plásticos. “Trabajaba 60 horas por semana, pero no había oportunidades para avanzar. Un día me desperté y me pregunté, ‘¿Esto es lo que quiero hacer para el resto de mi vida?’”.

Una de sus hermanas que trabaja en MEND (una organización que ofrece recursos y ayuda a la comunidad), siempre le enviaba folletos de clases y oportunidades. Fue entre estos folletos que José descubrió el programa de JVS.

El programa cambió mi vida”, aseguró el joven. El centro ofrece entrenamientos gratuitosacelerados e intensivos de un mes y medio. “Fue como tener un segundo trabajo. Estudiaba durante el día y a la noche iba a trabajar a la fábrica”, explicó.

Para ser aceptados en el programa, los interesados deben pasar una entrevista. “De 110 aplicantes, aceptan sólo a 10, porque quieren asegurarse de que sean personas que están realmente interesadas, que van a terminar el programa y que van a echarle ganas”, explicó.

“Todos en la clase nos ayudábamos y terminamos siendo amigos. Creo que una de las mejores cosas que gané con el programa fueron las amistades”, opinó.

Durante el entrenamiento, Robledo no sólo aprendió de mantenimiento, sino que recibió ayuda para preparar su curriculum, consejos para presentarse en entrevistas de trabajo, recomendaciones de sus instructores y ofertas laborales.

JVS no sólo ofrece programas de mantenimiento, sino también de enfermería, para trabajar en bancos,  programas de mentoría, y de ayuda para veteranos, entre otros.

BankWork$ Grad Commences Culver City Career

This article was published in the Culver City Observer, by Sandra Coppersmith, February 2016

When one thinks of hope and personal fulfillment, a financial institution is generally not the first image that springs to mind. However, when it comes to Bank of America in Culver City's Culver Center Abigail Reyes, its employee for the past few months, has a very positive perspective concerning its role in her future.

Reyes, a bright, poised young woman, is one of the many beneficiaries of BankWork$®, an innovative and award-winning career training program launched in 2006 by Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles (JVSLA). The eight-week course, which is free to qualified participants, has been a life-changer for her. Four years ago her future was flung off course when she was struck by a car after school, resulting in over a year of trauma, treatment and physical therapy.

"After regaining my health I got my first job, which was in the food industry," Reyes said. "While working, I completed the studies necessary to obtain my GED. After getting the GED I wanted to move to a career, and I told a friend I was looking."

Her friend suggested that she explore the BankWork$ program offered through JVSLA, its vocational training partner. Reyes researched it on the Internet (see http://www.bankworks.org and http://www.jvsla.org), spoke with Associate Director Lisa Meadows at JVSLA, was interviewed by phone, formally applied, and entered the program in May.

That turned out to be a win-win situation for Reyes and Bank of America, which recruited her upon graduation (several banks were present at the on-site job fair), a joyful celebration marking completion of an intensive training period involving three classes a week for eight weeks.

"I learned all about the various careers in banking during those sessions," she continued, recalling that "there were three speakers that came in. We covered bank procedures, regulations and expectations. Hearing is a very different game from doing, but when I came to the bank I had knowledge of what to expect and why, and this was so valuable in preparing me."

Attitude was a key factor.

"BankWork$ helped me to have a better attitude about how I see myself," Reyes shared. "I learned to be part of a team – and my team here at the bank has helped me a lot – and to receive constructive criticism. It helped me to gain confidence because I didn't think I was going to get it when I first applied to BankWork$ and now – I'm here! At the bank I did my online training, finished in a week, and had my own cashbox within the following week."

Reyes focuses on "presenting a quality experience to a customer. Being a teller doesn't just involve counting money. It's an opportunity to interact with others. I hope to become a personal banker and then an auditor, and am willing to put in the work and invest the time. This branch has been very welcoming and has a strong family feeling.

The head of that family would be Alex Cordova, Vice President and Financial Center Manager III of this very active branch. "We process over 12,000 transactions a month," he said.

Cordova, who has been in banking for 15 years, was exposed to ROP (Regional Occupational Program) as a senior at Los Angeles High School. He started as a teller and has been a manager for 10 years, since the inception of BankWork$ in 2006.

"In the beginning a representative came to the branch to introduce the program and get us involved," he said. He subsequently had experience with its graduates at other Bank of America branches where he worked.

"JVSLA does very comprehensive training that gets the graduates ready," Cordova stated. "They know bank terminology and practices, give great customer service, and go above and beyond for the client. The training makes it easier for them to adapt to the specific policies of the hiring bank.

"We work with our employees to understand where they want to grow within the company, and help provide them with the tools to get there. Graduates from BankWork$ are not just looking for a job, they are looking for a career. The program demonstrates the endless opportunities in the financial services industry to all of its students, and Abigail is one of those associates with the potential to have a strong career path. The extensive training that she received has helped her in her current role."

Cordova described how the bank is "committed to being a strong local partner and making a positive contribution to the local community where we live and work. We focus our support on three core issues that address local challenges: housing, hunger and jobs. Our partnership with BankWork$ allows us to connect people to the training and education they need to secure employment. By working with community partners such as JVSLA, we are able to help empower individuals and communities to thrive and be more financially stable."

Key to the success of BankWork$ is Lisa Meadows, a former banker who heads the program at JVSLA. It was an ideal match. "I have 27 years in banking," Meadows said. "I began my career when looking to use my teaching credential right out of college and found the job market difficult. I applied to several banks and started working at Union Bank as a teller. I took to banking and enjoyed a long career, retiring from banking as a Senior Vice President at Comerica Bank.

"Additionally, for the last 11 years I have worked at Suicide Prevention Center as a Crisis Line Supervisor and trainer. When I saw the position open at JVSLA for someone to write the BankWork$ program and get it off the ground, I knew this was the right job for me. I've been at JVSLA almost 10 years and have taught 60 sessions. JVSLA has graduated over 1,000 candidates and we have placed over 800. Nationally, this program has placed over 1,000 people. I have a passion for helping others and find great satisfaction in knowing that I may have made an impact on someone's life."

The graduation ceremony for the latest BankWork$ training class of 21 members was held Feb. 4 at the EXPO Center in Los Angeles, with the next session starting Feb. 24.

Lisa Meadows, Associate Director, at the BankWork$ graduation ceremony on Feb. 4. She created the curriculum. Meadows described the event as "inspiring. These graduates now have an opportunity to be well-trained, self-sufficient members of the workforce, contributing to the community and to their own future. This is an example of effective interaction, when various elements partner together for a positive outcome."

That interaction was acknowledged when JVSLA BankWork$ won the Project Collaboration Award at the 2013 Los Angeles Business Journal (LABJ) Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing "innovation, involvement of multiple stakeholders and the engagement of the community being served."

If the recipe for success calls for desire, opportunity, dedication and knowledge, then JVSLA BankWork$ has combined just the right ingredients to produce candidates sure to whet an employer's appetite – and you can bank on that.

Banking program coming to Santa Monica College

This article was published in the Santa Monica Daily Press, February 2016

Santa Monica College is joining forces with an area nonprofit to offer a career-focused training series through its extension program. Campus officials are working with JVSLA to bring the organization’s existing BankWork$ program to the local community college by May.

The 8-week program, one of several job training and workforce development initiatives orchestrated by JVSLA in Southern California, aims to promote upward economic mobility by preparing low-income people for jobs in the banking industry. That goal made the program a natural fit for SMC, said Michelle King, the school’s director of career and contract education.

“It’s part of the mission to help build and prepare the local workforce,” King said, adding that the college is always looking for new partners for its extension courses. “That’s part of what we’re doing. It’s an opportunity to work with an organization that has a curriculum built, and they have a history of success. It makes sense. We have a shared goal here.”

For JVSLA, the partnership advances its goal of helping adults from traditionally underserved communities pursue careers with good pay and growth opportunities. Earlier this month, the organization held a graduation for its 58th BankWork$ training class at the EXPO Center in Los Angeles. BankWork$ has been successful, associate director Lisa Meadows said, because the 1,000-plus trainees who have gone through the program are introduced to potential employers and recruiters. More than 800 of them have been placed in jobs with help from JVSLA.

“We’re really excited about getting on the Westside more,” Meadows said. “We have a class in L.A. near Downtown, and we want to address the Westside too because there are a lot of bank openings.” The partnership came about after officials from SMC’s Community Education department reached out to the nonprofit, which was founded during the Great Depression and which now has more than 30 training and counseling centers across the region.The program resonated with King, who was a vice president of financial management for Union Bank of California before taking a leadership position at SMC.

“She was super excited about getting this kind of program at Santa Monica College to reach more people who would like to pursue careers in banking,” Meadows said. “It’s wonderful because it helps people achieve self-sufficiency and get full-time positions.”

Thanks to support from banks and charitable foundations, JVSLA is able to offer the 8-week program for free. At the local community college, it will be available to students who are actively pursuing degrees, as well as people in the community. Prospective candidates who apply for the BankWork$ program must be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED certification, speak and write English and have basic computer skills.

“We’re hoping for the non-students that we’re able to introduce them to the college and that they would consider returning to the college as they seek to advance their career and develop their skills,” King said.


OneWest Bank Presents Donation to JVSLA BankWork$

As guest speaker at the 58th BankWork$ graduation ceremony that took place Feb. 4 at the L.A. Expo Center, Terri Decker, a senior vice-president at OneWest Bank, welcomed the 21 graduating trainees to join her in a fulfilling career.

“Retail banking is all about people, about taking care of your customers, and I have loved it,” she said.

Decker then underscored OneWest Bank’s commitment to supporting the BankWork$ program, now in its 10th year, by presented a $25,000 check to JVSLA.

JVS BankWork$ is an award-winning job training and placement program that prepares low-income adults from traditionally underserved communities for careers in the financial industry. The eight-week intensive course is free, but applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, speak and write English, have basic computer skills and have no adult felony convictions. What sets BankWork$ apart from other training programs is that, immediately following the graduation, recruiters from partnering banks meet with students in an on-site job fair.

With a 42-year career in banking, Decker well understands the qualities that make someone successful in banking and at the BankWork$ graduation and job fair, she saw the quality in spades.

“All of the graduates presented themselves so well,” Decker said. “OneWest Bank will absolutely continue to support this program, and we will hire people.”

BankWork$ alum Janiel Douglas, 30, spoke to the graduates about how the program had helped her push the “reset button” on her career. Douglas had previously trained as a pharmaceutical technician but when she could not find a job in that field she simultaneously worked at a Dollar Tree store and managed a bridal shop. While those jobs provided her with valuable customer service skills, she was unable to make ends meet. At the suggestion of her sister, who was a program graduate herself, Janiel signed up for BankWork$, was subsequently hired by OneWest Bank as a teller and was soon promoted to personal banker.

 “Now, I now have a car, my own apartment and a job I love,” she said. “In three years my life took a 180 turn.”  

BankWork$ powerfully demonstrates how public-private partnerships can successfully bridge the skills gap by partnering with employers to prepare job seekers for positions businesses need to fill. The program is funded by local banks, foundations, private donors, and the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) via JVS’ WorkSource Centers, as well as EDD and ETP State funding.

JVSLA Installs Incoming Board President Harris Smith and Welcomes New CEO Alan Levey


Jan. 27, 2016 – In a heartfelt ceremony laced with humor and good-natured roasting, JVSLA marked a significant transition in its leadership as it installed incoming board president, Harris Smith, new board officers and directors, and welcomed new CEO Alan Levey. The event, hosted by long-time JVS supporters Rick and Debbie Powell, took place Jan. 20 at a West Los Angeles country club. The more than 100 guests that gathered for a light supper and drinks included JVS past and present board members and donors, their family and friends, staff, and numerous JVS community partners.  

Newly elected President Harris Smith, who previously served as board treasurer, took the reins from outgoing President Jim Hausberg, who joined the JVS Board in 2005. “What I love about Harris is that he has always taken a hands-on approach,” said Hausberg during the ceremony. “He has visited our WorkSource Centers, attended program graduations and many other milestone events that are changing people’s lives every day. We drove out to Lancaster together to meet the staff at all of our programs in the region and see 18 clients complete a commercial truck drivers course. Veterans, long-term unemployed and lots of other people who never thought they’d work again or get a second chance at life, were overjoyed to have received free training and certification with jobs waiting for them on the other end.” Smith outlined his goals while board president: “To complete and implement the new strategic plan; to work towards the operational and fiscal health and sustainability of the agency; to partner with the development team on their efforts and to maximize the engagement and access the talents of our board. I can’t wait to get started.”

Belmont Village Chief Operating Officer Doug Lessard was the Installing Officer. Belmont, which operates 24 innovative assisted living and retirement communities across the country, is JVS’s newest employer partner with its HealthWorks program. Immediately following the official installation, Smith accepted a check for $25,000 from Lessard on behalf of Belmont Village in support of the JVS HealthWorks Program. The ceremony concluded with new CEO Alan Levey thanking retiring CEO Vivian Seigal for her 38 years of service to JVS. “I am thrilled to be building on Vivian’s legacy, a wonderful foundation for the future of JVS,” he said. 

  2016 New and returning JVS Officers:

  • Board President:  Harris Smith
  • Honorary Vice President: Steven Hirsh
  • Vice Presidents: Ted Feldman; Leland Felsenthal; Eileen Coskey Fracchia; Jonathan Karp; Sabrina Shadi
  • Secretary: Ronny Bensimon  
  • Treasurer: Micah Dekofsky

Charles Hill joins as a new member of the board of directors; board members who retired after many years of dedicated service include Bradley Gibbons, Roz Goldstine, Nan Kalish Goodman, Salli Harris and Richard Krelstein.

Mayor Garcetti's 10,000 Strong Newsletter Highlights JVS Vets in Tech Program

This article was published in the City of Los Angeles 10,000 January 2016 newsletter

JVS Vets In Tech

As program coordinator for Vets in Tech, a new initiative from JVS’ Veterans First Program, Alicia Baker is familiar with the predicament that job-seeking veterans can face. For instance, a veteran may have received rigorous on-the-job training that led him or her to manage the network for his entire command post, “but if the military didn’t certify him and he didn’t go to school, how does he parlay this information technology experience into a good job in the civilian IT.

This quandary led JVS to launch Vets In Tech in the summer of 2015 - thanks to a generous grant from the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) — to proactively address the marketability of veterans to meet current and future needs of the robust information technology computer science field. This groundbreaking program is among the first such veteran program that concentrates on the IT field. By working with local community colleges, specialized post secondary schools and employers, Vets In Tech assists qualified veterans in accessing training and obtaining industry certifications in the areas of web support, database administration, software and app development.

The program helps them write winning résumés, network with other vets, build professional confidence, and interface with professionals from hiring agencies. What’s exciting for Veterans First Program Manager Anthony Rodriguez is that IT is a growing industry that is accessible to veterans, pays well, and offers ongoing career opportunities. “We’ve already placed veterans who are making $50,000 to $80,000” salaries, he said, adding that too many vets are pushed into security guard and commercial driver positions. “The CETF grant also enables us to partner with other WIOA [Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act] programs to serve veterans across the region. 

We are currently partnering with four to five other non JVS WorkSource Centers. By leveraging this private sector funding, we have been able to expand the reach of the In short, it builds bridges and provides support to veterans who lack the resources for critical training and access to employers. “Having performed network related tasks before going into management at my previous company, I began to look into IT training to prepare me for a new career path,” said Rashid Saboor. “I then found out that the VA benefits I had expected to be there had expired and the EDD training budget had been exhausted for that fiscal year. At that point, having worked briefly in security, I had become discouraged. Then I received an email from Alicia Baker informing me about the Vets In Tech program and inviting me to a meeting. All of the events, job postings, resume writing, support and the training advantage have been outstanding.” 

The ultimate goal is to put the veterans in front of employers who are veteran-friendly, so Vets In Tech also provides job search and placement assistance. Baker says she currently has a range of participating veterans who could be hired into positions that range from help desk to  network administrators and project managers. Thanks to the success in recruiting veterans for the program, Baker said her office is now focusing on finding veteran-friendly employers in Los Angeles County who can hire for full- or part-time positions as well as internships in the IT/computer science field. To that end, Veterans First will host a job fair in March at the JVS WorkSource Center in Marina del Rey and is currently seeking employers to participate. Interested companies can contact Alicia Baker at (310) 776-6245 or abaker@jvsla.org.

JVS Veterans First provides free resources to assist returning US Service members  in readjusting to civilian life, including profes-sional career coaching, assessments to identify transferable skills, training in high growth industry sectors, and job placement assistance. To learn more, please visit www.jvsla.org. 

Partner Spotlight  Each edition of this newsletter will spotlight a 10,000 Strong partner that is providing important services to the veteran community. If your organization has an ini-
tiative that deserves to be featured, tell us more at mayor.veterans@lacity.org.