Promoting Racial Equity and Inclusion

8:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Wednesday, June 26

The opening plenary will feature a keynote address from Michael MacAfee, the President & CEO of PolicyLink, on the importance of addressing racial disparities in workforce development and employment. CEO Fred Dedrick will also make a presentation on the National Fund’s Five-Year Strategic Plan.


  • Fred Dedrick, President and CEO, National Fund for Workforce Solutions
  • Michael McAfee, President and CEO, PolicyLink
  • Whitney Smith, Executive Director- Midwest, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase
  • Jennie Sparandara, Executive Director of Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase
  • Michelle Wilson, Director of Evaluation and Impact Assessment, National Fund for Workforce Solutions

The Journey of Good Jobs

1:15 PM – 2:30 PM – Wednesday, June 26

Employers committed to making jobs better for their frontline employees are each on a unique journey. Central to their organizational change process is figuring out how to invest in a way that is good for workers and good for the company. While the journey is often long and marked by resistance and limited resources, achieving success is sweet when employees are thriving, and companies are more competitive. During this plenary, three leaders will share their organization’s journey and the strategies they used to make jobs better for their frontline workers. They will discuss their strategies to overcoming resistance to change and the critical partners who made success possible.


  • Kelly Aiken, Vice President and CareerSTAT Director, National Fund
  • Marnese Elder, Senior Vice President and Associate Chief Talent Officer, Parkland Health and Hospital System
  • Debbie LaPinska, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, PGT Innovations
  • Alejandro Mendoza, Director, Optimax Systems

Uplifting Worker Voice

4:30 PM – 5:15 PM – Wednesday, June 26

As the National Fund shifts focus to uplifting worker voice in the National Fund’s Strategic Plan, we’ve chosen to highlight stories of worker voice by inviting participants attending this year’s conference to share inspirational vignettes of times when their voice as a worker was heard. The goal of this plenary is to inspire our work moving forward leaving no doubt about the need to support this agenda in our future work. The time is now.


  • Denise Cherenfant, Director, Nursing Education, 1199SEIU League Training and Upgrading Fund
  • Pete Strange, Chairman Emeritus, Messer, Inc
  • Sailu Timbo, Director of Diversity, Hy-vee
  • Pao Velez, Apprentice, Central Piedmont Community College
  • Michelle Wilson, Director of Evaluation and Impact Assessment, National Fund

Next Generation of Workforce Development

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM – Thursday, June 27

Since the National Fund was created in 2007, we have weathered the Great Recession and are now in the midst of an economic recovery and a record low labor-force participation rate of prime-age workers. We have moved from focusing primarily on reskilling laid-off workers to help them get back to work to now working with employers to improve the quality of their jobs. What might be next in the continuing evolution of our field? During this session, you will hear about the work in Boston on Project Catapult and how that is informing the next generation of workforce organizations.  You will also have time at your tables to work on what that might mean in your communities.


  • Marybeth Campbell, Executive Director, SkillWorks
  • Paul Grogan, President and CEO, The Boston Foundation
  • Jerry Rubin, President and CEO, JVS-Boston
  • Janice Urbanik, Senior Director for Innovation and Strategy, National Fund for Workforce Solutions

Thank You to Our Partners & Sponsors