TNCC VP for Workforce Development Receives National Award

Published: November 14, 2005

Deborah Wright, Vice-President for Workforce Development at Thomas Nelson Community College, has received the 2005 National Leadership Award, Inside the Field from the National Council for Continuing Education and Training for the accomplishments of the Pipeline, the ACT and Career Resources Center, and WIB-One Stop alliances. The presentation was made at the National Conference of Community College Workforce Development and Continuing Education Professionals in Jacksonville, Fl.This is the highest award given nationally to a community college workforce development professional.

In his letter of nomination, Dr. Charles A. Taylor, President of Thomas Nelson Community College said, “In the five years since joining the Cabinet at TNCC, Deborah Wright has assembled a team of over 56 individuals who have established Thomas Nelson Workforce Development as a national model of community college continuing education, training, and career services. Deborah and her team have won three top state awards for college-business partnership and several national awards and grants, including a High Growth Initiative Grant for Advanced Manufacturing and designation by the National Association of Workforce Boards as one of seven national Demand Driven Workforce System model sites.”

The TNCC Workforce Development achievements include:

  • Offering more than 350 continuing education classes, 100 customized credit classes, and 150 classes for organization employees, serving 15,000 individuals and 700 businesses in training, business development, and assessment services.
  • Launching the new Governor’s Career Readiness Certificate, using the WorkKeys program, and awarding nearly one half of the first 5,000 certificates in Virginia. The college obtained grants to fund free and low cost training labs so that 98% of those tested earn scores to achieve bronze, silver or gold certificates.
  • Forming a consortium of the community college, the state employment department, and the regional technical high school to operate the region’s WIA one stop system. The college employs 36 staff at nine locations, includingthree employment centers, a regional workforce center, and five military bases. Peninsula Worklink, which served over 35,000 people this year, as the first and only one stop system to receive full state WIA one-stop certification on the first go round.
  • Leading a team that established a successful manufacturing employment and training pipeline combining services of the college’s regional WorkKeys center, the college’s Manufacturing Excellence Center, the One Stop System, the Virginia Employment System, a college open-entry/open exit lab. The pipeline has helped over 1,800 people gain employment in manufacturing in the first 18 months.
  • Leading a partnership of the community college, Old Dominion University, the Workforce Investment Board, and the Virginia Employment Commissionin partnerships to operate a new92,000 square foot regional workforce development center.
  • Establishing the first fully certified ACT Center in Virginia, which has grown into a comprehensive testing center for Microsoft and industry high-stakes certifications. The Center is integrated within a WIA one-stop center and combined with the Thomas Nelson Community College career center.
  • Leading a public-private partnership of manufacturers, eight local governments, four community colleges, and the WIB to win a $1.965 million High-Skills, High Growth grant from the US Department of Labor that will put 5,000 individuals in manufacturing jobs in the next three years.
  • Partnering with the College of William and Mary, James City County Economic Development and Incogen, a biotechnology company, to establish a combined economic and workforce development center in Williamsburg, to open in September 2006.
  • Leading a team which worked with Northrop Grumman Newport News to create a highly successful ship design associate’s degree program, with over 150 paid cooperative education students annually. Over 85 have graduated the program, all were placed with NGNN at starting salaries of over $31,000, and all graduates have remained employed. The partnership has won state and national recognition.
  • Leading the Executive Committee of the state’s 23-college Workforce Development Advisory Council. The group has worked closely with the state’s Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development to develop innovative and customer responsive policies, establish a funding proposal for non-credit workforce training classes, which is currently before the Council of Presidents for approval, and developed strategies for business responsive implementation of a management informationsystem.

Wright is currently completing a research project for The George Washington University for her doctorate on the transition dynamics of college presidents and corporate CEOs in successful community college-business strategic alliances for workforce and economic development.

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For more information please contact the Office of Public Relations (757) 825-2725

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