IWIB Newsletter
2021 Issue 3 Vol 6
Table of Contents:

  1. National Apprenticeship Week
  2. New Workforce and Equity Commission
  3. Why I IWIB - Elba Aranda-Suh
  4. Welcome New Apprenticeship Committee Members
  5. Veterans Hiring Programs
  6. Identity and Innovation Summit 2021
  7. Success Story
Editor's Note
Mike Conley, IWIB Newsletter Editor
           Perhaps more than any era before it in American life, we live in a time that is rich with awareness of and respect for diversity in society and especially in the workplace. The intentional integration into the workforce of people of color, persons with disabilities, second-chance citizens, those with differing or undefined sexual identities, and women in non-typical roles, is cause for celebration both as a moral and ethical imperative and as a very practical solution to the critical labor shortage we face. One could argue that society has been dragged kicking and screaming into a sort of forced acceptance of diversity in the workplace, and there may be elements of truth in that. However we got here, we are at a critical juncture in the timeline of workforce development, when we are able to recognize that our differences can unite us behind a common strategy for filling the skills and labor gaps that face us while offering an unprecedented opportunity to previously underrepresented populations. 

           This IWIB newsletter recognizes and celebrates advocacy, the willingness of people of courage and character to unflinchingly agitate for the very necessary change society too often resists. There is no progress without those who are willing to fight for it. I hope all of you share the sense of pride I feel serving alongside so many who get up every day and advocate for the change that benefits people of differing races, nationalities, sexual orientation, gender, background, and ability.

--Mike Conley, Editor
IWIB Newsletter

National Apprenticeship Week
November 15-19, 2021
Mark your calendars! National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is a nationwide celebration that brings together business leaders, career seekers, labor, educational institutions, and other critical partners to demonstrate their support for apprenticeship.

           This week-long celebration highlights the benefits of apprenticeship in preparing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of Illinois employers across diverse industries.
           Apprenticeship Illinois is celebrating Apprenticeship Week 2021 by hosting a range of events, in-person and virtually, and amplifying local and regional celebrations of apprenticeship. This week provides apprenticeship sponsors with the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities, and apprentices in their community. It provides those curious about apprenticeship to learn more about all the benefits that come from learning and earning.
           We want to hear from you! If you are planning an event - a proclamation, an open house, or a worksite tour, just fill out this form and we will put it on an interactive calendar at: https://bit.ly/nawIL2021. This website is your one-stop-shop for event information and resources such as proclamation templates, logos, and more.

Looking for a virtual way to celebrate apprenticeships? Register for a Get to Know Apprenticeship Illinois webinars, daily from 9-10 a.m.

Want to share your event on social media? Use #NAW2021 and #apprenticeshipIL
IWIB Represented
New Workforce and Equity Commission
           Governor Pritzker announced on September 23 the new Workforce Equity and Access Commission at an event hosted by Manny Rodriguez at Revolution Workshop. Manny is an important member of the Apprenticeship Illinois Committee of the IWIB, and chair of the committee’s Pre-Apprenticeship workgroup. IWIB co-chair John Rico is IWIB’s representative to the commission, but a number of other commissioners who are serving in their capacities as advocacy leaders in the state are also deeply involved with the board. Elba Aranda-Suh, executive director of the National Latino Education Council (NLEC), is an IWIB member, co-chair with Dr. Lisa Bly-Jones of the board’s Equity Task Force, and a member of the Apprenticeship Illinois Committee. IWIB member Victor Dickson is the executive director of The Safer Foundation. Dr. Laz Lopez of District 214 is also heavily involved as a member of the IWIB’s Apprenticeship Illinois Committee and chair of the committee’s Youth Apprenticeship workgroup.
Elba Aranda-Suh - Executive Director at National Latino Education Institute
           With National Latino Heritage Month and its many observations and events concluded, it is appropriate that this IWIB newsletter features Elba Aranda-Suh. Elba Aranda-Suh is a longtime IWIB member and decorated workforce professional who heads up the National Latino Education Institute (NLEI) as its Executive Director, a position she has maintained since 2008. NLEI was founded as the Spanish Coalition for Jobs, Inc. in the mid-1960s. Its history is profoundly rooted in advocacy for workforce equity, job placement, and overcoming challenges that pivoted into needed opportunities in economic advancement for Latinos. NLEI is a unique nonprofit as it is both a nationally accredited post-secondary educational institution and a grass-roots workforce development organization. Today, NLEI offers proven performance-based workforce development programming in a variety of industries including healthcare, energy, construction, logistics, utilities, technology, business, retail, and media. Offerings provide a broad range of skills training covering technical, clinical, administrative, technology, trade-ready, and customer service for a diverse array of jobs and career pathways.

           NLEI’s mission is to advance the Latino community’s economic independence through the market- and results-driven education, training employment, and advocacy.
Elba fills a number of roles on the IWIB, including as co-chair of the Equity task force, a member of the Apprenticeship Illinois committee, and served previously in various IWIB committees and task forces.  Elba was recently appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Workforce Equity and Access.

           As busy, involved, and essential as she is to IWIB, however, her activity on the board pales in comparison to the advocacy initiatives and programming she conceives and develops in her “regular” life at NLEI. Her passion for NLEI and for workforce development are informed by a lifetime full of intersections with business, the Institute and its precursor, the Spanish Coalition for Jobs,

           Growing up in an immigrant Latino household in Chicago, Elba remembers the Spanish Coalition for Jobs as a key important institution in the community for many families seeking to achieve the American dream and attain economic independence. She witnessed the ability to alleviate poverty and combat social ills that plagued the community through what is today called workforce development. “One of the many reasons I’m involved with the IWIB is because of the lessons I learned from my community’s early engagement with NLEI and my family’s strong work values and their contributions to jobs, entrepreneurship, and economic development,” Elba says today. “Empowerment is real when it is tangible. A meaningful job that affords growth and sustainability gives families the ability to take control of and improve their own lives.” But she soon experienced that doing this was not enough. Another motivating factor that led Elba to a life’s work in the workforce were the inequities she experienced as a child and young adult. Elba worked in leadership for SER- Jobs for Progress and in the private sector prior to NLEI where she created workforce initiatives and brought new investments that today continue, but it was the history and advocacy of the then Spanish Coalition for Jobs that would influence her advocacy efforts. While the organization’s name may have changed, the mission and the idea that relevant education and training drive economic independence supported by intentional needed advocacy remains the same.  Elba also has a track record in working with large corporations, government, and media advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels from the corporate board, C-Suite, and main workforce. 

           One story Elba does share when engaging with employers and others on issues that are important to NLEI is one of the Spanish Coalition for Jobs, shortly after its inception, suing communications giant AT&T (formerly Illinois Bell) for lack of diversity in its workforce… and winning. The punch line to the story is that AT&T was a founding NLEI board member and is one of NLEI’s most important and helpful business partners having hired hundreds of NLEI participants. Behind every significant change in society, we are leaders agitating for it. “It shows how far we’ve come as a society,” said Elba, “and how important it is for us to advocate and fight for our values.”

“I am truly honored to be a Co-Chair of the IWIB’s Equity Task Force alongside my esteemed colleague and workforce leader, Dr. Lisa Bly-Jones. At NLEI we do believe a challenge can change into opportunity, but it begins with acknowledging and accepting that we do indeed have challenges. Only then can we open the floor to meaningful solutions that create greater opportunities. I do see our task force as an opportunity to look at our workforce system and its policies understand our gaps but thoughtfully and purposefully integrate modern changes for systemic good." Elba feels that her own personal and professional history coupled with the current social unrest in our country have made this task force even more meaningful. Authentic human-centered change is needed.

           Elba has led NLEI in creating and delivering award-winning and nationally recognized programs affording skills, credentials, new careers, and pathways of economic prosperity for the Latino community. She is a thought leader with respect to Latinos on the topics of the workforce, talent pipelines, vocational education, and overall inclusion and diversity. She has a successful record in designing and launching innovative and high-performing market-driven services and economic advancement initiatives for Latinos including the attainment of funding and resources for their delivery. By focusing on advocacy, education, and training—the rungs of the economic ladder—Elba empowers Latinos to achieve an independent, sustainable future. Many programs she has pioneered have been used as models to fuel advocacy for increased awareness for culturally competent curricula for generations of underserved Latinos.

           Broad, dynamic partnerships across business and industry are crucial to NLEI’s goals of ensuring a competitive Latino workforce and initiating inclusion, equity, and diversity programs. This approach has facilitated a lifelong learning framework that assures Latino workers will have the foundational skills to be competitive in entering the workforce, and for advancing along career pathways that include higher education opportunities.

           Success for NLEI is measured by Latinos reaching economic prosperity and flows from the concepts of accountability, efficiency, and community development. All are touchstones from Elba’s background in family, faith, and culture, and are achieved through her vision of leaders as servants and stewards. Her collaborative style, passion, and vision support her management team, staff, and volunteers to fulfill their personal and professional potential. She has been described as having a unique ability to pull pieces together “like a jigsaw puzzle – thousands of tiny pieces that add up to one big picture.” She encourages innovative and creative solutions to the challenges that face the organization and the larger Latino community.

           Under Elba’s leadership, NLEI has earned national and industry accreditation, merits from the U.S. Department of Education, and the congressional records for high attainment of job placement. She has also received numerous national awards for its exemplary programming and standards including a distinction as an honor roll school. Elba’s passion and advocacy shine through to NLEI’s donors as well; Elba has secured millions in capital, program support, and strategic fundraising.
           Elba has led the conceptualization, development, and funding of a number of firsts, during her leadership of NLEI, including but not limited to:
  • Privately-funded STEM scholarships for Latinos including doctoral studies at ivy league institutions.

  • A trade pathways program that graduates participants into living-wage, sustainable careers catapulting NLEI to spin off its construction and energy training offerings.

  • A bilingual healthcare training pathway that has expanded NLEI’s footprint in that workforce sector and enabled NLEI to become a national competency testing center of Allied Health occupations. This broadened the organization’s offerings to include disciplines in clinical settings, medical assisting, medical office management, healthcare customer service, nursing, pharmacy, cultural competencies, and technology.

  • A unique bilingual digital literacy program--supported by a national tech leader—that increased educational access and computer competency through the first-ever Bilingual Community Technology Center in the state of Illinois.

  • A first nationally accredited customer service and sales program for disadvantaged Latinos, which has since grown to become a business development program now used by several universities and post-secondary programs.

  • Higher Education pathways that have enabled NLEI alumni to earn work credit and to customize bachelor degrees for them in business management and healthcare leadership with National Louis University and the University of Illinois demystifying the belief that a college degree is not attainable for NLEI participants.

  • Wealth Education programming for Chicago’s Latino community, including training in saving, investing, and asset-building. The first pilot gave participants significant stipends of cash for initial investments.

  • Customized training for employers in retail, utilities, media, healthcare and transportation. Such have evolved into some of today’s flagships for NLEI and other nonprofits as coalitions of best practices arose.

  • Health and wellness programs for workers that have been recognized by national organizations including Life Source, the Kidney Association, and Lung Association, among others.
           Elba’s leadership was highlighted in the national Latino Magazine for delivering high-performance outcomes while maintaining low overhead and creating a diversified funding portfolio. She is known as a good steward of resources. Her work and volunteer service have been recognized at high levels of government and industry. Some awards include:

  • 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, Negocios Now “Who’s Who in Hispanic Chicago”
  • 2018/2019-Rotary Leadership Award
  • 2016 - National Football League (NFL), Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award
  • 2015 - National Museum of Mexican Arts, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz Leadership Award
  • 2014 - Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Community Leadership Award
  • 2012 - Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval, Leadership Award
  • 2012 - Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Leadership Award
  • 2011 - Lake County Chamber of Commerce, Inspiration Award
  • 2010 - National Diversity Council, “The Most Powerful & Influential Women in Illinois”
  • 2009 - Un Buen Doctor Magazine Hispanic Heritage person of the Year
  • 2007 - Citibank Corporate Hispanic Leadership Award
  • Pepsi - Cola Corporate Hispanic Leadership Award
  • Lucent Technologies Hispanic Leadership Award
  • LULAC Citizenship Service Award
  • SER-Jobs for Progress, Excellence Award

            Elba's volunteer and industry affiliations symbolize her tireless commitment to her work. In addition to her work on the IWIB, she serves on the following board, councils, and commissions (and the list of her past associations is a least as long):
  • Latino Council on the Media (LCOM), Board President
  • Illinois Latino Family Commission, Chair, First Woman Chair of Commission - Appointed by Governor as Chair.
  • Illinois State Treasurer Personnel Review Board. Appointed by Senate and General Assembly
  • Esperanza Health Centers, Board of Directors
  • Illinois Lotto Control Board, immediate former Board Member - Appointed by Governor.
  • Illinois Tollway Earned Credit Advisory Council - Appointed.
  • Illinois Tollway Board Diversity Advisory Council, former Workforce Executive Committee
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Advisory Council on Agriculture, Small Business & Labor - Appointed.
  • ComEd Corporate Business Advisory Council
  • NBC 5 Community Action Board/Telemundo Advisory Board
  • University of Illinois, Latino Advisory Board Member
  • Rotary Club of Little Village, Past President - Elected
  • Illinois Commerce Commission Next Grid Community Engagement Task Force
  • Fox News Advisory Committee, Former Member
  • Peoples Music School, Former Board Member
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), former board & deputy director
  • Maria High School, former board member
  • 77 Thought Leaders Council, City of Chicago
  • Illinois Latino Agenda (40+ organizations), Founding Executive Member
  • Illinois Apprenticeship Collaborative
  • Illinois Skills Coalition
Welcome, New Committee Members!
Apprenticeship Illinois
            The Apprenticeship Illinois Committee welcomed six new committee members this past September 2021. Arthur Bishop - Safer Foundation, Tim Engstrom- Essendant, Sean Glowacz - Power Construction, Dan Serota - Aon, Eric Shine - Rivian, and Karen Kryder - FHN.
Arthur Bishop
Chief Program Officer
Tim Engstrom
Senior Vice President, Supply Chain
Sean Glowacz
Senior Community Development Manager

Karen Kryder
Innovation Learning Team Leader

Dan Serota
Senior Manager, Public Affairs North America

Eric Shine
Production Scheduling and Systems Manager 

Veterans Hiring Programs
Work-Based Learning Initiative
           Most of us—even those who have never served—are aware of the G.I. Bill and its educational benefits for both active duty and separated military service members. It is the most well-known of veterans’ benefits, providing educational and job-training assistance to service members and their dependents in colleges, technical and vocational schools, and apprenticeships.

           But while the G.I. Bill is the overarching legislation that supports an American appreciation for the difficult and critical jobs veterans undertake to serve U.S. interests at home and abroad, it is far from the only available workforce training available for members of the Armed Forces and their spouses.

           Here are some of the other programs eligible veterans can utilize to plan and execute their life in the civilian world:

  • Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E), service member or Veteran and have a disability that was caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service and that limits your ability to work or prevents you from working, you may be able to get employment support or services to help you live as independently as possible.

  • Veterans technology education courses (VET TEC), helps Veterans gain computer experience to start or advance their career in the high-technology industry.

  • Veteran Employment Services Office (VESO), provides employment readiness assistance and outreach to transitioning service members, Veterans, and eligible military spouses.

  • Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP), offers education and training for high-demand jobs to Veterans who are unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Personalized Career Planning and Guidance (PCPG), or VA Chapter 36, offers free educational and career guidance, planning, and resources to Veterans and their dependents who are eligible for a VA education benefit.

  • Get free classes for a year (LinkedIn) right-arrow: Veterans receive one year of free access to LinkedIn Premium and LinkedIn Learning.

  • Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program (DVAAP), supports and promotes the recruitment and hiring of returning injured Service Members and disabled Veterans in order to increase employment outcomes of the Veterans with disabilities throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs.

           Veterans add immense value to the workplace, through the military experiences and skillsets they acquire during their service. Even more important than the technical skills they learn while ‘in service,’ the Armed Forces instill the kind of soft skills that are highly desired by private employers.

           Veterans have learned the lessons of leadership during their military experience, including the acceptance of responsibility for resources, tasks, and their own behavior. They learn to delegate tasks, give clear and detailed directions, and be accountable for outcomes. Military service requires a strong and independent work ethic.

           As military members, veterans spend years learning how to work together, build camaraderie, and understand the value of teamwork in unifying people with diverse
backgrounds and different personal ideologies to work together to achieve common goals.

           Veterans are fast learners by necessity; their military experience often included learning new tasks quickly and sometimes under pressure.

           In Illinois, a group of employers are collaborating to adopt an intentional approach to hiring veterans. These employers make the term “veteran-friendly” real rather than simply a platitude by committing to implement active recruitment, training, and retention of military veterans.

           Under the Illinois Hires Heroes banner, employers agree to post their job openings on Illinois Job Link and participate in Hiring Heroes events throughout the year.
Employer members commit to at least one of the following Human Resources Training initiatives:

  • Participate in the Department of Labor – Veterans Employment and Training Service's "USERRA 101" and "USERRA 102" online training modules.

           Members of the consortium also agree to implement retention programming and support veterans in the workplace in at least one of the following ways:

  • Sign the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Statement of Support and highlight, on company media and web-based platforms, veteran hiring/employment support programs and initiatives on a recognizable tab/page.

  • Utilize the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs or National Able for post-employment support to assist veterans to overcome their challenges.

  • Pay National Guard and Reserve members the differential between their normal wage and their National Guard wage when they are activated for duty.

Illinois Hires Heroes Resources

            Veterans and those who employ them are also eligible for assistive technology including specialized tools, equipment, and workplace modifications; wage offset incentives for employers who hire veterans who face extraordinary obstacles to employment; tax credits for providing work opportunities to veterans; and placement in units of government for work experience programming.
Identity & Innovation Summit 2021
Connecting Employment to People Living with HIV and The Disabled Trans Communities
           On October 20, 2021, Illinois workforce partners celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness month with an Identity and Innovation Summit. This free virtual summit focused on recruitment, hiring, and retention of disabled workers who identify as transgender or non-gender conforming and/or people living with HIV. The all-day event showcased local and national experts and stakeholders covering three key areas of policy, practice, and professional development as they relate to working with these underserved communities. All sessions from the day were recorded and can be accessed from the toolbar menu on the left. View the Recordings from the Summit Here.
Success Story
Work Experience Boosted Her Skills!
          Michelle loves to work with data and numbers. She had commuted into Chicago for almost 20 years to work as a bookkeeper and fundraiser.  When she was laid off in November 2019, she wanted to stay in her field but work closer to home. Since she had not worked in Lake County in several decades, though, she did not know what was available to her in the area. 

          After she filed for unemployment insurance, Michelle was contacted by an Employment Service Program Representative from the Illinois Department of Employment Security to discuss her employment options and goals. She was referred to the WIOA program administered by Lake County Workforce Development and applied for a paid work experience. Within a week, she had two interviews with potential worksites and started a work experience at the Lake County Assessor’s office in February 2020. Unfortunately, the work experience ended after four weeks due to the pandemic.   

          After a few months, Workforce personnel connected her with another paid work experience at the Lake County Health Department. Her first assignment there was quite different from her previous experience, as she started out by processing rabies certificates for the animal control department. When she demonstrated organizational skills with this project, Michelle’s supervisor gave her additional assignments at the Health Department. When a position was advertised for a Senior Account Specialist at the Health Department, Michelle’s supervisor encouraged her to apply. She interviewed and was hired in January 2021. Michelle explained, “I’ve had this extensive background of coming in every day and asking my employer where I’m needed.” She believes that this flexibility, along with help from IDES and Workforce Development, helped secure her a permanent job in a tough market. She describes her new job as a good lifestyle fit. The position challenges her daily while allowing her to work close to home.
DCEO Newsletter
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Our mission: To celebrate the accomplishments of the workforce system and its clients, both employers, and job-seekers.

Our vision: To share ideas, best practices, and to fully actualize the federal and state workforce resources in order to promote economic development and transition targeted populations into meaningful careers.

Our goal: To highlight each local workforce area in Illinois and the unique regional approaches they take to workforce development, to shine a light on each business member of IWIB and contextualize their reasons for serving in this volunteer capacity, and to lift up the many inspiring stories from around the state of job seekers leveraging the workforce system.
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