Leadership

The National Fund is governed by a Board of Directors and its advisory Partners Council with leaders from diverse perspectives across business, education, labor management, workforce organizations, and philanthropy.  

Board of Directors

Chairman Peter Strange

Messer, Inc.

Chairman Emeritus

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Peter S. Strange is Chairman Emeritus of Messer, Inc., the parent company for Messer Financial Services and Messer Construction Co., a regional general contractor and construction manager. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati in Civil Engineering, Mr. Strange began his career with Messer as a co-op student. In 1989, he led negotiations resulting in the purchase of all outstanding Messer stock by management and employees. He served as CEO of the Messer companies from 1990 through 2013. Mr. Strange has served on many community and industry boards, including serving as board chair for the Cincinnati Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, board chair of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and board chair of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Currently he serves as board chair of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and on the boards of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum, and the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America. Mr. Strange's test for leadership is simple: If you think you are a leader, look behind you. If there is no one there, you're just out for a stroll. Mr. Strange and his wife Ginger reside in Erlanger, Kentucky. Their greatest accomplishments are their children—Andrew, Carrie, and Matthew, and their eight grandchildren.

Ivye Allen

Foundation for the Mid South

President

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Ivye L. Allen, Ph.D. is President of the Foundation for the Mid South, a regional foundation serving Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The Foundation supports programs and initiatives that focus on community development, education, health and wellness, and wealth building. The organization’s successes include assisting new and incumbent workers secure and retain employment, improving school district performance, and supporting more than 75,000 families improve their financial knowledge and assets. Dr. Allen previously served as Chief Operating Officer for MDC Inc. and was Director of Fellowship Programs for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. She has held finance and marketing positions in Fortune 100 corporations. Her education includes a Ph.D. in social policy from Columbia University; an M.S. in urban affairs from Hunter College; an M.B.A. in marketing and international business from New York University; and a B. A. in economics from Howard University.

Larry Beck

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital of Maryland

Past President and Advisor

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At Good Samaritan Hospital since 1990, Lawrence "Larry" M. Beck has served as president of the institution since 1994 when Good Samaritan merged with Helix Health, now called MedStar Health. During his tenure as president, he led the tremendous growth of this large Baltimore medical institution. In addition to expanding its emergency services, efforts were undertaken to strengthen specialty services the hospital had been known for during its 30 year history—acute inpatient rehabilitation, joint replacement surgery, rheumatology, and renal dialysis. As a teaching facility, admissions grew more than 130 percent during the 1990s, mostly from the local communities of Northeast Baltimore. Good Samaritan Hospital has been one of Maryland’s fastest-growing hospitals. In addition to expanded services, the hospital gained national recognition for quality and service excellence propelled by a focus on the importance of the hospital's workforce in driving excellent patient outcomes. Professional advancement programs geared to the frontline employees were a cornerstone of the hospital's focus on its most valuable asset. His passion for continuous improvement helps Good Samaritan prosper financially while garnering national credit for patient, employee, and physician loyalty via the hospital's "Putting You First" program and gaining national accolades for inpatient, outpatient, and emergency services. Since 2010, after stepping down as president, Mr. Beck has continued to serve Good Samaritan Hospital as past president/advisor, assisting the new president in strategic areas, including inpatient rehabilitation, leadership development, philanthropy, and advocacy. Mr. Beck, in addition to his continued relationship with MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, chairs, at the national level, the Executive Committee of CareerSTAT, the health care division of Jobs For The Future, focusing on career advancement opportunities for frontline health care workers. Mr. Beck also enjoys speaking nationally on topics such as the Affordable Care Act (American College of HealthCare Executives), health care leadership tools ( American College of Healthcare Executives, George Washington University, and Stevenson University) and showcasing his own work to organizations interested in advancing the careers of frontline health workers. His more than 42 years of experience in hospital leadership include administrative training and subsequent leadership positions in several Maryland hospitals, including Bon Secours, Carroll County General, and as president of Garrett County Memorial. His career began at Hutzel Hospital in Detroit, MI, where he held housekeeping and supervisory positions that led to his hospital leadership track. Beck has a bachelors degree in business from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and a master's in business administration and a master's in health care administration from George Washington University in Washington, DC. He is a member of several professional societies, including a fellow at the American College of Healthcare Executives, has served on the American Hospital Association Governing Board for Metropolitan Hospitals, numerous Maryland Hospital Association committees and task forces, and has served on the board of the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland.

Earl Buford

Employ Milwaukee, Inc.

President and CEO

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Earl Buford is president and CEO of Employ Milwaukee, Inc., the largest of 11 workforce boards in the State of Wisconsin. For 20 years, Mr. Buford has been bringing together workforce stakeholders locally, regionally, and nationally. Considered a thought leader in workforce development, Mr. Buford’s approach to aligning the workforce development system has been recognized on a national level. Under Mr. Buford’s leadership, Employ Milwaukee realigned to support an integrated and sector-based approach coordinating between both sides of the workforce system, supply and demand. In this sector-based approach, Employ Milwaukee provides direct employer engagement through industry advisory boards. Industry advisory boards drive the alignment of strategies and investments to respond to current workforce and labor market demands. The boards are employer-driven, led by chairpeople from the business community. Additionally, Mr. Buford and his team view the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act as an opportunity to ensure the public workforce system is operating effectively and efficiently to serve both businesses and jobseekers, and ultimately connecting people to employment for a lifetime. Previously, Mr. Buford served as the president/CEO of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG STEP. He developed strong partnerships with national and statewide businesses, labor unions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to develop high-road workforce and economic development efforts.

Denise Cherenfant

1199SEIU League Training and Upgrading Fund

Assistant Director for Nursing Programs

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Denise Cherenfant is the assistant director for nursing programs at 1199SEIU League Training and Upgrading Fund (TUF), a joint labor management health care training partnership. With more than 300 contributing employers, TUF is responsible for providing educational services to 150,000 health care workers in the greater New York City metropolitan area. Ms. Cherenfant directs the academic and support services for entry-level health care workers seeking to become nurses, serving more than 600 nursing students annually. She led the TUF’s efforts to increase enrollment in bachelor-level nursing programs and created an innovative series of transition-to-practice programs for newly licensed nurses. Ms. Cherenfant holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Lehman college and is a licensed registered nurse.

Paula Gilberto

United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut

President and CEO

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Paula Gilberto joined United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut (United Way) in Hartford, CT, in March of 1998 as vice president, community services, with oversight for annual funding of programs and initiatives and its nonprofit resource and volunteer centers. She provided leadership in developing United Way’s community priorities, associated multiyear goals, and an outcome-based orientation to program investments. In January 2007, Ms. Gilberto was named senior vice president with expanded responsibilities in strategic planning, resource development, community engagement, and initiatives with local, regional, and national partners. She became president and CEO in April 2016. Ms. Gilberto has led development of public/private partnerships addressing grade-level reading, student achievement, financial security and workforce development. She chairs the steering committees of Hartford Generation Work and Workforce Solutions of Metro Hartford and is on the board of directors of Capital Workforce Partners, the region’s workforce development board. On a national level, Ms. Gilberto has served on various United Way Worldwide task forces and project teams developing organizational standards and replication of successful education and financial security initiatives. Prior to joining United Way, Paula was with the American Red Cross in various managerial positions for the area chapter and Connecticut Regional Red Cross Blood Services.

Michael Gritton

KentuckianaWorks

Executive Director

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Since Michael B. Gritton's appointment as executive director of KentuckianaWorks in August of 2002, the agency has made several changes geared to creating a 21st-century workforce while improving services to its seven-county region. The result: 12,000 people found jobs, 46,000 received financial aid and career counseling, and more than 5,000 adults completed postsecondary training and found work in the past decade. Mr. Gritton was the co-founder and policy director of MassINC for five years, a non-partisan, nonprofit, state-level think tank in Massachusetts focused on expanding the size of the middle class in that state. While in New England, he also served as the communications director for a state political campaign. He is a member and past president of the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Workforce Development Council and serves on the boards of Greater Louisville, Inc. (the Louisville Chamber of Commerce) and the University of Louisville’s Community Partnership. He also chairs the Jefferson County Public School’s Adult and Continuing Education Committee. Mr. Gritton, has a law degree from Columbia University School of Law in New York City.

Whitney Smith

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Executive Director, Global Philanthropy

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Whitney S. Smith, executive director, leads the Global Philanthropy team and efforts in the Midwest, which includes over $20 million in grantmaking aimed at improving economic opportunity for people in the region. Specific priorities include workforce readiness, consumer financial health, small business development, and affordable housing. She also leads some of the foundation’s national workforce readiness grantmaking. Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase, Ms. Smith was with the Joyce Foundation for 10 years where she was a senior program director managing both the employment program portfolio supporting workforce and skill development initiatives, as well as the Joint Fund for Education and Employment. Prior to joining the Joyce Foundation, Ms. Smith was associate director of the Chicago Jobs Council and also served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Advisory Council on Agriculture, Small Business, and Labor. Ms. Smith serves on the board of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and is the co-founder of Workforce Matters and of the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance. She sits on several advisory boards and panels, including the Illinois Apprenticeship Committee and the U.S. Department of Education’s Moving Pathways Forward initiative. Ms. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago.She lives in Oak Park, IL, with her husband, nine-year-old twins, and dog.

Partners Council

Gina Breukelman

The Boeing Company

Community Investor, health and human services

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Gina Breukelman is the northwest region community investor for health and human Services at the Boeing Company. In her role with Global Corporate Citizenship, Ms. Breukelman leads Boeing’s relationships with United Ways and health and human services agencies in the Puget Sound region. She manages corporate charitable contributions of grants, sponsorships, and in-kind donations to health and human services agencies that promote the economic well-being and health of the Puget Sound’s most vulnerable residents. She also engages employees to support partner nonprofits through volunteerism and executive board service. Ms. Breukelman serves on the Community Building Committee of the United Way of King County, Washington Families Fund Leadership Committee, SkillUp Funders Group, Asset Building Roundtable, and other groups in Puget Sound focused on workforce development and poverty issues. Gina also leads Boeing’s community engagement work around military and veterans initiatives. Prior to joining the team at Boeing in June 2009, Ms. Breukelman worked in the nonprofit sector, managing fundraising and programmatic activities for organizations addressing hunger and poverty issues. She served as the deputy director at the Emergency Food Network in Pierce County, WA, from 2005 to 2009. Ms. Breukelman earned her master's in social work degree from the University of Washington Tacoma in 2006 and served as an adjunct professor at UWT in 2007 and 2008, teaching master's-level courses in social policy and community organizing. Ms. Breukelman has a bachelor of arts degree in English and women’s studies from Washington University in St. Louis.

Laura Chandler

Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council

Executive Director

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In April 2010, Laura Chandler became the executive director for Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC), a nonprofit organization formed in May 2008 with a mission to develop strategic partnerships which attract, educate and train students and workers to better meet employer needs and foster economic growth in a global marketplace. Prior to joining SAWDC, Ms. Chandler held the position of president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation, a private, nonprofit corporation that was formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and in response to the critical need for workforce housing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Shortly following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and prior to her position as CEO, Ms. Chandler was asked to join Fannie Mae’s Disaster Relief team as senior deputy director. Over a 15-month period, Ms. Chandler worked with local jurisdictions along the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast in support of their rebuilding efforts. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Ms. Chandler held the position of development manager for the Apartment Division at The Mitchell Company, Inc., responsible for multifamily development in the Southeast. Prior to her position at The Mitchell Company, Inc., Ms. Chandler was a development manager with Gables Residential (formerly Trammell Crow), a national premier multifamily real estate firm. During her 10-year tenure, Ms. Chandler was involved in the development of over 2,000 market-rate apartment homes in the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area. Ms. Chandler holds a master's in city and regional planning with a concentration in land development from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)and a bachelor's of science in business administration from Auburn University. Ms. Chandler serves on the Partners Council of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Alabama 65-County Workforce Development Area board of directors, the Central Gulf Industrial Alliance board of directors, the Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute advisory board, the Mobile County Public Health advisory board, and the Education Commission.

Allison Gerber

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Senior Associate

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Allison Gerber joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Center for Community and Economic Opportunity as a senior associate in November 2013. In this role, she is responsible for administering the foundation's workforce development portfolio. She brings a wealth of experience in promoting social and economic opportunity for low-income Americans from a range of institutional perspectives, including that of a direct service provider and program manager, researcher and program evaluator, and local public policy maker and funder. Prior to joining the foundation, Ms. Gerber was the executive director of the District of Columbia's Workforce Investment Council, where her primary responsibilities included facilitating and staffing a 35-member Workforce Investment Board charged with creating a vision for the district's workforce system, and developing the necessary policies and programs for implementing that vision. Prior to the Workforce Investment Council, she was a senior associate with the Aspen Institute's Workforce Strategies Initiative. While serving in that capacity, she was responsible for conducting research and evaluation activities related to a variety of adult education and workforce development programs, as well as for managing leadership development programming. Ms. Gerber has a juris doctor degree from Tulane Law School in New Orleans, LA, and a bachelor's degree in American studies from Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, VA.

Michelle Henry

JPMorgan Chase

Vice President and Senior Philanthropy Manager

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Michelle Henry is Vice President and Senior Philanthropy Manager at JPMorgan Chase. In this position, she manages New Skills at Work, the firm’s $250MM, five-year workforce readiness initiative that  focuses on supporting demand-driven workforce systems, meeting skilled labor needs of business, and developing career pathways for job seekers. Prior to joining the firm, Michelle was Vice President, Workforce Services at MAXIMUS, a global government services contractor, where she oversaw employment contracts with the NYC Human Resources Administration and scouted out new business development opportunities.  From 2004 - 20012, Michelle led operational and expansion efforts of a national benefits access initiative at a large economic development nonprofit organization headquartered in New York City.  For seven years prior, Michelle held various management positions at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), an alternative to incarceration program which provides youth services in NYC’s criminal and family courts. Since 2004, Michelle has served as a board member for the Center for Community Alternatives, a leader in the field of community-based alternatives to incarceration, whose mission is to promote reintegrative justice and a reduced reliance on incarceration through advocacy, services and public policy development in pursuit of civil and human rights.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland at College Park, where she was a Benjamin Banneker Scholar; and then she went on to earn an MPA from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, where she was a Public Service Scholar. In 2016, Michelle earned the Corporate Social Responsibility Award in Banking, Finance and Insurance from City and State Institute.

Marci Hunn

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Program Director, workforce development

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Marci Hunn focuses on the workforce development portfolio at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Ms. Hunn manages a grants portfolio of more than $12 million annually for organizations locally and internationally that support job readiness, adult entrepreneurship, and financial literacy projects. In this capacity, she serves as co-chair of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and serves on the Executive Committee of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. In 2016, Ms. Hunn was appointed by Governor Hogan to serve as a Commissioner for the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism. She was also appointed in 2016 by Baltimore City Mayor Rawlings-Blake to serve on the Baltimore Workforce Development Board. Ms. Hunn was honored as one of the Leading Women under 40 years old in 2011 and one of the Top 100 Women in Maryland in 2016, both honors from the Maryland Daily Record. Ms. Hunn is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in human development and family studies with a focus on adult development. Ms. Hunn is married with two young children.

Matthew Muench

The Joyce Foundation

Senior Program Officer, employment

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In managing grant making for Joyce’s Employment program, Matt seeks new and business-led approaches to helping underprepared adults acquire the skills and credentials they need to get good jobs and advance in careers. Current emphases include technology-enabled learning; apprenticeships and other work-based learning models; and the role of “non-cognitive” factors (e.g., agency, critical thinking, and communication skills) in success at work. He is also leading the foundation’s “Future of Work” exploration to determine how jobs and economic opportunity are changing as a result of technology, new business models, and other political and economic forces—and how public policy should respond. Formerly, he created and sunset the program’s Innovation Fund, through which he developed new areas of transformational impact for foundation grant making. Before joining Joyce, Matt’s professional background was in the aerospace and defense industry, as an advisor to Fortune 200 firms with special focus on market entry and growth strategies, opportunity identification, and M&A. Immediately prior to joining the foundation in 2011, Matt was a Management Fellow at the Chicago Workforce Investment Council (now the Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership), where he advised City of Chicago agencies on effective program design and management. Matt holds degrees from The University of Michigan (MBA), London School of Economics (MSc), and Tulane University (BA).

Ross Meyer

United Way of Greater Cincinnati

Vice President of Community Impact

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Ross Meyer is vice president of community impact for United Way of Greater Cincinnati, and is responsible for the management of nearly $40 million in community impact funding, the development of strategic initiatives to promote systemic change, and the oversight of United Way's 211 system. Mr. Meyer previously served as executive director of Partners for a Competitive Workforce—a nationally recognized partnership working to help people develop skills for in-demand jobs. A graduate of Leadership Cincinnati Class 37 and C-Change Class 5, Mr. Meyer holds a master's degree from New York University, where he was a Catherine B. Reynolds Fellow in social entrepreneurship, and a bachelor's degree from Miami University, where he was a Harry S. Truman Scholar. A native Cincinnatian, he lives in Hyde Park with his wife, Emilie, and their three sons.

Kelly Ryan

Incourage Community Foundation

CEO

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Kelly Ryan has worked for nearly two decades to advance leadership and economic reinvention in south Wood County, WI. As CEO  of Incourage Community Foundation, Ms. Ryan has championed an adaptive framework for both the role and culture of her organization, so it can continue to assist residents in shaping their futures and the future of the community. Incourage is expanding information access through a multiyear Knight Community Information Challenge grant, and has partnered with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, creating new economic opportunities for local workers and employers. In 2012, Ms. Ryan was named the Citizen of the Year for Wisconsin Rapids. A year earlier, The Nonprofit Times called her one of the 50 most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector for her role in improving the local workforce and economy. Ms. Ryan serves on the Hitachi Foundation Board, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Partners Council, and a number of committees and task forces focused on workforce, community philanthropy, and civic engagement.