A Retirement Message from Our Executive Director
Meet Our Interim Executive Director
We Want Your Input to Help Improve Our Regional Workforce System
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Partner Spotlight: Equitable Economic Recovery Task Force
It seems hard to believe that I’ve come to the end of my professional life and am standing at retirement’s door. As a child in the 1950s, I was taught that my only options in life were the roles of wife and mother. Yet at age 32, I enrolled in college. At 45, I earned a bachelor’s degree. And at 50, I earned a Master of Public Administration. I pursued my studies over the years while I worked part time (sometimes full time), helped my husband run our family business and raised three children, along with nieces and nephews and other young people who came into our lives over the years. I learned I could wholeheartedly embrace the roles of wife and mother and build a professional life for myself.

I may have been a late bloomer, but I am proud of the career I built for myself, including the last 10 years with Contra Costa County. When I became Executive Director of WDBCCC, it had an impending budget deficit of more than $1 million. Turning around our financial situation was a challenge. Luckily, I had a world of experience behind me that uniquely prepared me for the job, and I am proud to have led a team that worked hard to get the workforce development board back on track. Now, it is someone else’s time to lead.

This unprecedented year of 2020 has prompted a lot of reflection about life, aging and my career – and led me to the question we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives: What’s most important? For me, family is at the top of the list. In retirement, I am looking forward to having more time to dedicate to my grandchildren.

My departure at the end of this month will not be without emotion. After a decade, staff and colleagues become family. I consider myself extremely lucky to have found so much joy through my family and my work. A critical component of that joy is the people whom I have met and worked with along the way. I am humbled and honored to have walked this journey with you and learned from so many of you.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.”

I am choosing to embark on a new adventure.

With Gratitude,
Donna Van Wert
Executive Director, Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa
Starting in January, Patience Ofodu will assume the position of Interim Executive Director for WDBCCC.

Patience currently serves as our Business Services Manager. She serves as staff to the WDB’s Business and Economic Development Committee and supports the county's economic development activities.

Before joining WDBCCC, Patience served as the one-stop site manager for the San Pablo Career Center and One-Stop Career Center Case Manager, providing her direct contact and perspective on how to increase customers' experiences at the America’s Job Center of California. She also worked for Alameda County's Workforce Development Board (NUMMI Reemployment Center) as Business Services lead, managing a staff of 10, and as a Business Services Coordinator for City of San Jose's Office of Economic Development, Work2future.

Patience is a licensed realtor with a top brokerage and has worked for top-rated builders in the Bay Area since 2001. She has experience working with businesses and providing exceptional customer experience to clients. She brings that expertise to her work at the WDBCCC in connecting businesses with their future workforce. She worked in various positions for Fortune 500 companies, including Computer Associates, as a sales account representative, which enables her to support the private and public sector at business speed.

Patience is very active in the community, serving on numerous economic development committees and boards, including the City of San Ramon Economic Development Advisory Committee; board member for the Concord Chamber of Commerce; member of the California Association for Local and Economic Development (CALED); East Bay Leadership Council's (EBLC) Business Task Force; and East Bay Economic Development Alliance (EBEDA) Directors’ Council, among others.

Patience has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and a Master of Public Administration from California State University-East Bay. She is a graduate of the California Workforce Association Executive Boot Camp and the CALED Keys to Economic Development Certificate Program and currently is participating in the Leadership Contra Costa Program.
We want your input! Let us know how we can work together to improve the ability of the local workforce system to meet the workforce and education needs of the community. On Jan. 6 and Jan. 13 (see details below), we will be hosting virtual public meetings on Zoom to discuss strategies to ensure equal access to regional sector pathways for unserved/underserved populations, coordination with partners to improve access to high-quality education and training, and ways to use technology to deliver services remotely.

Zoom Meeting Dates

WDBCCC-East County
Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021

WDBCCC-Central County
Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021
3 p.m.-5 p.m.

While the sessions are designated for specific regions of the county, participants are welcome to attend any session, regardless of their location. Register for one of the above dates and help shape our workforce system!

WDBCCC is a member of the East Bay Regional Planning Unit and as such is required to work with other members of the planning unit to develop a regional plan for improving the ability of the local workforce system to meet the workforce and education needs of the community. We work with other workforce development boards in our region – Alameda County, The City of Oakland and The City of Richmond – to develop a regional plan that connects and complements our local plans.
Need guidance on remote workers, hiring and firing processes and other areas of human resources? Call the no-cost Human Resources Hotline for Employers at 888-599-7645.

The hotline, available to Contra Costa County businesses, is provided through a partnership between WDBCCC and the California Employers Association. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Watch this video to learn more about the hotline and the types of answers it can provide.
WDBCCC envisions an equitable economic recovery for all in Contra Costa County and is actively working with the Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services Department (EHSD) and the Contra Costa Economic Partnership (CCEP) as a partner in the Equitable Economic Recovery Task Force.
“We are working together to respond to an economic crisis made worse by COVID-19,” said Kristin Connelly, Executive Director of the CCEP. “Building back with a more equitable and sustainable economy is not just possible, it is essential.”

CCEP has taken the lead on the action-oriented task force, which has been meeting since last summer. It has brought together local business leaders and key nonprofit organizations to address the systemic barriers to economic opportunity in Contra Costa County that COVID-19 has amplified. The countywide task force is working to align efforts; track and guide actions to support job creation in the public and private sector; identify and promote policies to retain local employers; and expand connections to training and employment for those disproportionately impacted by recent layoffs.

The task force includes five working groups focused on:

  • Expanding and supporting the local workforce in the healthcare industry, a growing part of Contra Costa’s economy and an industry with high-wage jobs.
  • Developing recommendations for how to spend the 20-year, ½-cent sales tax Contra Costa voters approved in November for the the public hospital, public safety and other county services.
  • Expanding broadband access to all to ensure families have access to the high-speed Internet they need for school and work and for healthcare through telehealth.
  • Supporting the county’s industrial base by working to attract businesses to the county, which is the second most industrial county in California.
  • Making it easier for businesses to hire displaced workers through federal wage subsidies, exploring ways in which public agencies may potentially assume some of the risk and investment that comes with the use of federal pass-through dollars.

The work groups are guided by existing models and programs, drawing on best practices of others to shape recommendations for local solutions. Ultimately, Connelly said, the task force is working to inspire action by businesses and other stakeholders.

“It’s one thing to know that this crisis has hit low-wage and minority workers the hardest and another to do something about it,” said Connelly. “We are committed to helping those affected the most find a path back to work and a career ladder for the future.”

Learn more about the task force, its upcoming digital events and how you can get involved!
Bounce Back Contra Costa