Innovating Georgia’s Workforce Pipeline Conference

Innovating Georgia's Workforce Pipeline Conference

Conference Information

Nearly 300 stakeholders from across industries gathered for the Innovating Georgia’s Workforce Pipeline Conference Nov. 14-15, 2023 at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel in Athens. With more than 24 breakout sessions and approximately 80 speakers, the sold-out event was an opportunity to learn about promising practices and emerging ideas to boost the state’s workforce.

Sponsored by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the conference brought together partners in workforce development, education, business and economic development.

The conference also provided networking opportunities among attendees, which included economic developers, chamber of commerce leaders and members, K-12 and post-secondary educators, CTAE representatives, and business representatives.

Conference Sessions

Please note: not all sessions had formal presentations.

View the Agenda

  • Youth Training Bootcamps: Expedited Work Ready Programs to Equip Youth for Entering the Workforce
    Speakers: Matthew Thomas, Deputy Director, Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development; Lisa Smart, Executive Director, Berrien County Chamber & Economic Development Authority; Brenna Taylor, CTAE Director/Assistant Principal, Berrien County Board of Education; Tristan Spencer, Safety, Training and Compliance Manager, Nots Logistics, L.L.C.

  • Building and Sustaining Teacher Externship Programs (Case Study and Workshop)
    Speakers: Susan Boatwright, Special Projects Consultant, NEGA WorkSource; Ilka McConnell, Director, Invest Athens - Athens-Clarke County Economic Development; Wesley Mellina, Chief Executive Officer, Athens Community Career Academy/Clarke County

  • Building The Future Workforce: Mohawk’s High School Programs
    Speakers: Brandi Hayes, Director of College and Career Programs, Calhoun City Schools; Laura Wood, Sr Program Manager - Workforce Development, Mohawk Industries

  • From Exploration and Exposure to Experience
    Speakers: Nikia M. Johnson, Workforce Development Specialist, Georgia Power; Joycelyn White Ed.S , NCC , LAPC, Twiggs County; Nataly Franco, Tool Repair Technician, Georgia Power; Torin Scruggs, Lineman, Georgia Power

  • Supporting Your Local CTAE Pathways and K-12 Pipeline
    Speakers: Calvin Gray, Industry-Certified Construction Teacher, Cobb Innovation and Technology Academy; Liz Campbell, Director of Chapter Development, Atlanta Electrical Contractors Association; Brent Davis, Assistant Superintendent, Inglett & Stubbs Electrical Construction

  • Lunch & Speaker: New Pathways to Opportunity and Success
    Speaker: Stuart Countess, President and CEO, Kia Georgia, Inc.

  • Hard Work Pays Off: Building Regional Alignment Between Industry and Education
    Speakers: Patrick Ledford, Economic Development Liaison, Georgia Department of Education- Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education Division; Barbara Wall, Deputy Superintendent for CTAE, Georgia Department of Education; Marcus Repp, Corporate Director of Food and Beverage, Noble House Hotels Cooperate

  • Mission Critical: How the Georgia Association of Manufacturers is Combatting Workforce Challenges for Manufacturers
    Speakers: Stephanie Scearce, Director, Workforce Development, Georgia Association of Manufacturers; Patrick Lenz, President and COO, Toyo Tires North America Manufacturing Inc.; John Fluker, CEO, Grenzebach North America

  • Innovative Approaches Expanding the Workforce Pool and Addressing Employee Scheduling Needs
    Speakers: Carter Stanley, VP of Operations, Southeast (GA, NC, SC), Veryable; Hjalmar Nieves, Regional Talent Acquisition Manager, Wayfair, LLC.; Drew Epting, Director of Talent Services, MAU

  • Alternative Pipelines for Workforce Development: Second Chance Careers
    Speakers: Leslie McFarlin, Vice President of Economic Development, North Georgia Technical College; Adam Fulbright, Business & Industry Training Manager, North Georgia Technical College; Marshall Sisk, Economic Development Instructor, North Georgia Technical College

  • Strategies and Resources for Employers to Address Childcare Needs
    Speakers: Deedee Johnson, Director, Client Services, Bright Horizons; Bentley Ponder, Deputy Commissioner, Quality Innovations and Partnerships, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

  • Empowerment Through Collaboration: Navigating a Path to Lasting Employment
    Speakers: Michelle Stanley, Director, Department of Community Supervision; Antonio Johnson, Director - Reentry, Cognitive Programming, & RSAT, GA Department of Corrections; Mary Elliott, Reentry Operations Manager, Georgia Department of Community Supervision; Joseph Obermeyer, Assistant Chief, Georgia Department of Community Supervision; Danny Rivera, Reentry Coordinator, Georgia Coalition for Higher Education in Prison; Kevin Skidmore, Owner, Four Forty Trucking

  • WIOA & WorkSource Georgia: A Guide to Federal Workforce Development Programs & Funding in Georgia
    Speakers: Brandon Ona, Director of Business Services, Technical College System of Georgia; Rossany Rios, Director of Grants and Strategic Populations, TCSG; Brett Lacy, Deputy Director, Select Fulton

  • Strengthen Your Teams by Leveraging the Talents of Veterans and Military Spouses
    Speakers: Elena Comperatore, Director, Client Service Delivery, Hire Heroes USA; Brandon Owens, Business Development & Partnership Manager, Hire Heroes USA; Gabe Soltero, Program Manager, Home Depot

  • Plenary #2: The State of Georgia's Workforce
    Speakers: Rebecca M. Hunt, Public Service Faculty, Carl Vinson Institute of Government - UGA; Greg Wilson, Assistant Director, Carl Vinson Institute of Government - UGA

  • Plenary #3: Leveraging Skills-Based Practices to Solve Workforce Challenges
    Speaker: William Turner, Chief Program Officer, Markle Foundation

  • Strategies for Talent Attraction and Promotion
    Speaker: Symeria Palmer, Account Director, Lifestyle Public Relations, Development Counsellors International

  • Youth Workforce Development: Programs that Prepare the Next Generation
    Speakers: Laura Russ, PhD, Strategic Initiatives Coordinator, Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation; Melissa Dark, President & CEO, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Chamber of Commerce & Georgia FLEX; Barbara Rivera Holmes, President & CEO, Albany Area Chamber of Commerce & Albany Area Chamber Foundation

  • Labor Market Data Use Cases
    Speakers: Rebecca M. Hunt, Public Service Faculty, Carl Vinson Institute of Government - UGA; Marion Phillips, Research Supervisor, Georgia Power Community & Economic Development; Valery Lowe, Director of College & Career Development, Forsyth County Schools

  • The Challenge and Opportunity of Criminal Records and Workforce Development
    Speakers: Wade Askew, Policy Manager, Georgia Justice Project; Daniela Perry, Vice President, Georgia Chamber Foundation, Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Shella Goodson, HR Business Partner, ABB - ATHENS; Amelia Nickerson, CEO, First Step Staffing

  • Plenary #4: Strategies from the Field-Promising Practices Implemented by Georgia Businesses
    Speakers: Brian Cooksey, Director - Workforce Development, Shaw Industries Group, Inc.; Jeremy Whitaker, Director of Training & Recruitment, C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., Inc.; Tracy Suber, VP Education, Phoebe Putney Health System

  • Apprenticeship Georgia: Utilizing the TCSG Registered Apprenticeship Program for Workforce Development
    Speakers: Danny Mitchell, Apprenticeship Program Manager, TCSG - OWD; Steve Olive, Owner/President, Oasis Aviation Maintenance Inc; Monty Green, Program Manager, IT Apprentice Program, Elevance Health, Inc.

  • Second Chance Hiring: Partnering with Accountability Courts
    Speakers: Rachel Meyer, Data and Research Program Manager, Council of Accountability Court Judges; Charles Clement, Executive Director of Operations, Primo Fire Protection; Jennifer Tillery, Director of Accountability Courts, Superior Court of Cobb County

  • Entrepreneurship Support is Workforce Development
    Speakers: Vanessa Wagner, Marketing Program Manager, Georgia Power Community & Economic Development; Skip Mounts, Dean, School of Business and Public Administration and the Lucas Center for Entrepreneurship, College of Coastal Georgia; Kiakala Ntemo, Economic Development Manager, City of Brunswick

  • Innovative Talent Pipeline Development with YouScience Brightpath
    Speakers: Matthew Thomas, Deputy Director, Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development; Stephanie Scearce, Director, Workforce Development, Georgia Association of Manufacturers; Cayla O'Leary, Director of Employer Engagement, YouScience

  • What AI Means for Your Community and How to Plan for It
    Speakers: Sallie Holloway, Director of AI and Computer Science, Gwinnett County Public Schools; Leigh Hopkins, Sr. Project Manager, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute; Steven Lee, Product Manager, McKinsey & Company

Thanks to Our Sponsors

Sponsors included Amazon, Georgia Power, Georgia Realtors, Kia, Shaw Industries and Worksource Georgia. Additional support is provided by Atlanta Gas Light, Atlanta Electrical Contractors Association, Electric Cities of Georgia, Goodwill of North Georgia, Jackson EMC, MAU Workforce Solutions.