The National Fund is governed by a Board of Directors that includes leaders from diverse perspectives across business, education, labor management, workforce organizations and philanthropy.  

Board of Directors

Whitney Smith, Chairperson

The Joyce Foundation

Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer

Whitney Smith currently serves as the chair of the National Fund board of directors. Prior to re-joining the Joyce Foundation, Whitney led philanthropic strategy and investments in North America at JPMorgan Chase & Co. for six years, which included more than $100M in grant making annually aimed at improving economic opportunity for people in the region. She played an integral role in implementing the firm’s $2 billion philanthropic effort — a piece of its overall $30 billion Racial Equity Commitment. Whitney previously was with the Joyce Foundation for ten years as the 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, Whitney was associate director of the Chicago Jobs Council and worked with homeless families in New York. Whitney is Chair of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Board of Directors and is the co-founder of Workforce Matters and of the Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance.  Whitney holds a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago.

Ivye L. Allen


Ivye L. Allen, Ph.D. served 17 years as 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.

Earl Buford

Council for Adult and Experiential Learning


As the president of CAEL, Earl Buford oversees the national nonprofit organization's work to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth for adult learners in collaboration with workforce and economic developers, post-secondary educators, employers, industry groups, foundations, and other mission-aligned groups. Before CAEL, Buford was the Chief Executive Officer of Partner4Work, the leader of the public workforce system for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, as well as Employ Milwaukee, where he was nationally recognized for implementing and integrating a sector-based approach to workforce development. Buford was also the leader of one of the first intermediaries in the country, WRTP/BIG-STEP. Buford is an active board member with several organizations, including the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Apprenticeships for America, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Catalyst Connection, Bridgeway Capital, Cleveland Federal Reserve (Pittsburgh Chapter), and Strada Education Network's National Strategic Advisory Group. He is a former member of Vice President Joe Biden’s Task Force on Effective Workforce Strategies, the National Network of Sector Partners, the Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Minority Unemployment, and the National Skills Coalition Advisory Board, among many others.

Denise Cherenfant

1199SEIU League Training and Upgrading Fund

Director, Nursing Education

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 (retired)

Paula Gilberto has 44 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She capped a 24-year career with United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, retiring in March 2022 as its President and CEO. Prior to that, she served in various management positions with the American Red Cross, Connecticut Region. Paula’s career has included building public/private partnerships to further student achievement, economic mobility, and workforce development. She also held leadership roles in strategic planning, fundraising, and organizational development, as well as developing and replicating education and financial security initiatives regionally and nationally. Paula is a founding member of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s Women United and Women of Tocqueville (Co-Chair), two groups committed to ensuring economic mobility for women and families. She serves on the board of directors of the American Savings Foundation, Connecticut Voices for Children and the YWCA New Britain. She is also a member of the National Organization for Italian American Women/Connecticut Region and United Way NEXT, a national network of United Way leaders. Paula holds a Master of Science in Organizational Behavior from University of Hartford and a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Psychology from University of Bridgeport. She is also a Family Strengthening for Success Fellow from Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Michael Gritton


Executive Director

Michael Gritton has served as the Executive Director of KentuckianaWorks, the Workforce Development Board for Louisville and its 6 regional counties, for 20 years. KentuckianaWorks leverages federal, state, and local government dollars as well as private philanthropic grants to engage employers, educators and job seekers with resources to build a stronger community through the dignity of work. Gritton is a Louisville native who spent 20 years living in New York, Boston, and elsewhere before returning to his hometown in 2000. He is a graduate of Pleasure Ridge Park High School, Duke University and Columbia Law School.

Seung Kim


Senior Vice President

Seung Kim is Senior Vice President at LISC and leads the National Programs unit including Health, Economic Development, Child Care & Early Learning, Safety & Justice, and Sports & Recreation. She guides these programs in delivering technical and financial resources, thought leadership, program innovation and scaling, and external partnerships with an aim to enhance LISC’s impact in communities. Seung has led the strategic expansion of LISC’s national workforce and asset building initiatives, through its network of Financial Opportunity Centers, and its Bridges to Career Opportunities initiative. She was also instrumental to successful program development for LISC’s growing network of business development partners focused on serving small businesses owned by people of color and women. She has championed community-focused and data-driven approaches to pilot, test, and scale promising program strategies.

Alejandro Mendoza

Optimax Systems

Human Resources Director

Alejandro (Ale’) Mendoza is the Director of Human Resources at Optimax Systems Inc, a precision optics manufacturer, located in Ontario, New York. In this role, he is part of the Board of Directors at Optimax and focuses on aligning the company’s strategic goals and culture with a growing workforce. Before joining Optimax in 2006, Ale’ was a member of the United States Air Force, where he served in a variety of specialized roles. His military career included assignments with Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Space Surveillance, and Aircrew Life Support systems and training. In addition to his current role at Optimax, Ale’ has a passion for collaborating and building relationships with workforce development organizations. Ale’ serves the local community as a member of the Finger Lakes Community College foundation board, YMCA HR advisory committee, Veterans Employment Strategy Team and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce HR Executive forum while regionally, he’s a member of the NY state workforce strategy group – Invest in skills NY coalition and nationally, he serves as a board member of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and partners with the National Skills Coalition and Business Leaders United, including a member of their Manufacturing Industry Recovery Panel. He holds an associate degree from Monroe Community College (MCC), a bachelor’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and a master’s degree from St. John Fisher College.

Joanne Pokaski

Beth Israel Lahey Health

Assistant Vice President, Workforce Planning and Development

Joanne Pokaski is the Assistant Vice President of Workforce Planning and Development at the Beth Israel Lahey Health System, the second largest private employer in Massachusetts with over 35,000 employees. Her team sponsors employees’ training and promotion to hard-to-fill roles, supports all BILH employees in their career development, and partners with community organizations to connect community members to jobs and careers at BILH. Prior to her current role, Joanne served as Senior Director of Workforce Development and Community Relations at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). Prior to BIDMC, Joanne served as director of Boston Career Link, a one-stop career center in Roxbury. She has also worked at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Clinton White House and as Special Assistant to the Administrator of the Medicare and Medicaid programs during the Clinton Administration. Joanne earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard College and a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University. Joanne is the Chair of the Massachusetts Workforce Board and a member of Boston’s Workforce Board. She serves on the board of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. Joanne founded and for seven years chaired the Boston Healthcare Careers Consortium, which convenes Boston’s healthcare employers, academic institutions and workforce system to improve training pathways that lead to healthcare jobs. Joanne was a founding member and for three years chaired the executive committee of CareerSTAT, an initiative of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions encouraging more US healthcare employers to invest in frontline workers.

Anne Price

The Maven Collaborative

Co-President and Founder

Anne has spent 20 years in the public sector working in a wide range of areas including child welfare, hunger, welfare reform, workforce development, community development and higher education. Anne is the former president of Insight Center. Prior to joining the Insight Center, Anne was the Project Director for California Tomorrow’s Community College Access and Equity Initiative, where she worked to introduce community college equity issues into a wide range of existing state, system, and campus-level conversations to garner increasing support for equity-based reforms. As a Senior Associate at the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, Anne distributed new data and new thinking on the city’s undereducated labor market as part of a larger strategy to build public and political will around workforce development issues. Anne also spent several years at Seattle’s Human Services Department, where she served as the Community Development Block Grant Administrator and Strategic Advisor to the Director. Anne holds a BA in Economics from Hampton University and a master’s degree in urban affairs and Public Policy from the Milano School of Management and Urban Policy in New York City.

Peter Strange

Messer, Inc.

Chairman Emeritus

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 on the board 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.

Strategic Advisory Council

Matt Bruce

Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance

Executive Director

Matthew Bruce became the first Executive Director of the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance in 2012. CWFA is a workforce development funder collaborative engaging employers and other workforce stakeholders to increase employment, earnings and racial equity for underprepared workers in the Chicago region. Previous to joining the Alliance, Matt was Manager of Regional Sector Initiatives for the Boston Office of Jobs and Community Services, where he started sector workforce initiatives such as Green Jobs Boston and the Skilled Careers In Life Sciences initiative. Matt has a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, and lives with his wife and 2 children in Oak Park, Illinois.

Ellen Buchman

Opportunity Agenda


Ellen Buchman brings to The Opportunity Agenda a breadth of knowledge, expertise, experience, and relationships having worked among leaders at local, state, national, and international levels for more than 25 years. Prior to joining The Opportunity Agenda in 2018, she served as Executive Vice President for Field and Communications at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, where she piloted the organization's field and organizing program, and developed and oversaw the vision for the integrated field, communications, and policy work at the center of the organization; led and put into place dozens of successful campaigns; spearheaded mobilization, training and support to national, state, and local coalitions; and created innovative organizing and communications training models for advocacy around the country and at the international level. Ellen is an internationally-known trainer, leader, and practitioner of organization and coalition building, campaign initiating and implementing, and training in the intersection of organizing, advocating, and communicating for social justice. Her career has focused on building effective and inclusive teams and partnerships for progress toward racial and gender equity. Ellen's work has centered mainly on issue areas including but not limited to criminal justice reform, immigration and immigrant human rights, and voting rights and access to democracy; and she has developed training curricula for advocates on the state, national and international levels on not only issues such as these but also on the skills needed for effective organizing, communicating and advocating for social change. Her expertise and vision is in building campaign and organizational structures to build power, and she is trained in outreach, leadership development, organizing and social work for change.  

David Chavis

Community Science

Principal Associate and CEO

Dr. Chavis is internationally recognized for his work in the implementation, support, and evaluation of community and systems change initiatives. The focus of his work is equitable community development as a central strategy to promote community resilience, economic and educational opportunities, improved health and well-being, and a more powerful citizenry. He also specializes in the design and implementation of community capacity building systems to bring about sustainable and scaled systems changes.  

Linda Dworak

Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative


Linda serves as the Director of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, a group of public and private funders committed to advancing equity, job quality and systems change efforts that lead to family-sustaining wages, strengthened communities and a vibrant local economy. The Collaborative is hosted by the Maryland Philanthropy Network and is a partner of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. Linda began her career working with out-of-school youth in Tijuana, Mexico and has remained devoted to the work of enhancing economic opportunities for individuals and communities through direct supports and systems changes. She formerly served as the Executive Director of the Garment Industry Development Corporation in New York City – a labor + management + government partnership which was one of the first nationally recognized sector-based workforce partnerships; as Senior Consultant to the Aspen Institute's Workforce Strategies Initiative where she helped build the field of industry sector partnerships; and as a workforce/corporate social responsibility consultant to a number of national and international organizations. Linda currently sits on the Board of two industry sector partnerships and participates in a wide range of committees and workgroups in Baltimore. Linda holds a master’s degree from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a post-graduate certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Columbia University School of Business.  She is most proud of being mom to her tenacious teen daughter.

Andrea Glispie

Pathways to Work

Senior Director, Career Pathways

Andrea Glispie serves as Senior Director, Career Pathways at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. In this role, she oversees investments that United Way makes in job training, career development, and adult literacy programs. She also manages the Pathways to Work initiative, a cross-sector collaboration of funders, employers and training providers working to create innovative solutions for moving entry-level workers into good middle-skill jobs and ensure employers have a pipeline of skilled and ready-to-work employees. Before joining UWMD, Andrea served as Senior Field Organizer for National Skills Coalition. In this role, she implemented outreach and advocacy strategies to bolster policymaker support of workforce development policies on state and federal levels. She also managed state-based policy and communication campaigns to improve education attainment outcomes for adult workers through public will building and policy change. One of the most successful campaigns motivated lawmakers in Iowa to increase funding for adult education and related programs by $10 million. Prior to National Skills Coalition, Andrea worked in Illinois to improve the coordination of publicly funded youth programs and services. Her efforts helped to facilitate the passage of state legislation that created the Illinois Commission on Children and Youth. Andrea holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Master of Social Work Degree from Washington University –St. Louis.

Annelies Goger

Brookings Institution

David M. Rubenstein Fellow

Annelies Goger is an economic geographer focused on developing innovative policy solutions to address rising inequality and increase access to economic opportunity. Dr. Goger’s recent work investigates how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the hospitality industry in the U.S., how to fix the unemployment insurance safety net, and how to increase access to quality jobs and investments in talent to foster ongoing learning and innovation. She is an expert in U.S. workforce development policy, global supply chains, and inclusive economic development. Dr. Goger’s work has been prominently featured in CNNNPRWashington Monthlythe Hill, and a number of local outlets and podcasts. Dr. Goger’s work has challenged the dominant “skills gap” narrative, arguing that building stronger education and labor market institutions and making long-term investments in talent development are the key to unleashing regional innovation and addressing racial and gender inequities in the labor market. Her vision is to build an education and training ecosystem with multiple paths to a quality job that is designed around the needs of a diverse set of learners, workers, and employers. Dr. Goger has outlined state policy frameworks to scale earn-and-learn opportunities such as apprenticeship and other forms of employer-based training. Dr. Goger’s current research focuses on digital transformation in labor and education data systems, the employer role in talent development, state credentialing policies that recognize diverse forms of learning, and closing the opportunity gap for displaced hospitality workers and returning citizens. She is a member of the Better Employment and Training Strategies task force, a coalition of more than 40 workforce experts and practitioners that focuses on modernizing America’s outdated and inequitable workforce policies. Before coming to Brookings, Dr. Goger spent more than 10 years conducting field research to evaluate American workforce development and food security programs at Social Policy Research Associates and IMPAQ International. Her doctoral research focused on the links between global supply chains, ethical trade initiatives, production processes, and inclusive growth. Dr. Goger was a Fulbright scholar in Sri Lanka and Social Science Research Council Fellow. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and edited a book of case studies on values-based food procurement called Institutions as conscious food consumers: leveraging purchasing power for systems change with Dr. Sapna Thottathil (Elsevier, 2019).

Enrique Juncadella

Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford

Director, Workforce Solutions

Enrique Juncadella is an economist and educator dedicated to helping people and organizations reach success.   Enrique’s career includes strategic management consulting with an international firm.  He focused on the healthcare sector during the previous decade with a holistic approach to addressing social determinants of health, including housing and employment, and the pervasive racial and ethnic disparities that define the industry.  He teaches the Business Seminar at Yale University Summer Session, a part time faculty appointment held for the past twenty years. In addition, Enrique has volunteered with town government commissions and as an advocate of refugee resettlement programs with IRIS in New Haven.  He was a member of the board of directors of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain.  He is currently a board member of Fair Haven Community Health Center. Enrique received graduate degrees in economics, with concentration in economic development from Yale University. Enrique and his wife live in Guilford, CT, where they had the joy of raising their three children.