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The 2023 Skills in the States Forum The 2023 Skills in the States Forum will begin at approximately 12pm ET on Thursday, November 16, 2023, and conclude around 2pm ET on Friday, November 17, 2023. A full schedule is below.

Event speakers can also be viewed here


Invitation only pre-meetings 


12 - 2pm

Opening Plenary: What Workers Want From Skills Training and Good Jobs

Advocates sometimes debate whether policies to expand skills training and policies to improve job quality are congruent or in conflict. How do the perspectives of working people inform this discussion? This session will explore what workers want from skills training and jobs and how workforce providers, organizers, advocates, and businesses can center the perspectives and expertise of workers to shape a good jobs agenda.

Worker Panel:
Chrissie Powell, Chief Growth and Impact Officer, ByteBack
Eli Allen, Senior Program Director, Civic Works

Dominic Redmen, Worker Expert
Chantelle Williams, Worker Expert 


Moderated by Michael Richardson, Director of Worker and Student Voices, National Skills Coalition

Panel Discussion:
Janel Bailey, Co-Executive Director, LA Black Worker Center
Dr. Ana Luz Gonzalez-Vasquez, Project Director, UCLA Labor Center, POWER in Workforce Development
Sarah Miller, Principal Adviser, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity
Rick Plympton, CEO, Optimax

Moderated by Brooke DeRenzis, Chief Strategy Officer, National Skills Coalition

2 - 2:15pm


2:15 - 3:15pm

Concurrent Sessions


WIOA Today & Tomorrow: Investing More, Investing Differently, & Investing Equitably  


The workforce of the future is likely to be vastly different from what we see today. With the advancements in technology and automation, workers will need to develop new skills to remain competitive and employable in the job market. The U.S. economy will continue to evolve and shift and workforce systems and policies will need to adapt and change to work better for everyone, including Black and Brown workers who continue to face structural barriers. In this session, come discuss ideas for adapting the workforce system to this evolving future.

Julio Rodriguez
, Deputy Director of the Office of Employment and Training (OET), IL Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Katie Gilbertson, Policy Analyst, Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation (GOWINN)
Yolanda Macklin Crewe, Ph.D., 
Director of Operations, Career Education and Workforce Programs, Virginia Community College System
Drew Hubbard
Executive Director, DC Workforce Investment Council 

Moderated by Nakeisha Ricks-Pettyjohn, Senior Fellow, Workforce Development, National Skills Coalition

Making College Work: Policies that Propel Equitable College Access, Credential Completion, and Connection to Quality Jobs    


High-quality postsecondary credentials offer a bridge to meaningful employment, career advancement, higher pay, and future education and job opportunities. Yet many students face challenges in accessing and completing such programs, especially quality nondegree credentials that lead to good jobs. Find out how states are expanding financial aid to improve college affordability, providing holistic student supports, creating career pathways, supporting alignment with business and industry, and enhancing the measurement of postsecondary outcomes and value. Hear how these policy reforms can help dismantle structural inequities that have disproportionately affected adult, parenting, justice-impacted, Black, Indigenous, and other students of color.


Johntel Greene, Director or Legislative Affairs, Maryland Association of Community Colleges
Dr. Girard Melancon, President/Founder Durango Works
Dr. Ian Roark, Vice Chancellor of Workforce Development & Innovation, Pima Community College

Moderated by Kate Kinder, State Strategies Director, National Skills Coalition


Centering Racial Equity in Policy and Advocacy    


Oftentimes, calls to prioritize racial equity in advocacy efforts fail to move beyond lip-service. This session will provide attendees with a framework and tools to meaningfully incorporate racial equity goals in their coalition building, policy work, and advocacy. Building off learnings from NSC's Racial Equity Learning Group and SkillSPAN network, panelists will discuss their experiences applying a racial equity lens to their work and the challenges they've faced. The session will conclude with space for panelists and attendees to discuss shared challenges and possible strategies to overcome said hurdles and move towards an equitable workforce development system.  


Edgar Castillo, Senior Manager, Workforce Development Systems & Policy, UNITE-LA

Rebecca Kusner, Director, Ohio Workforce Coalition, Founder, R4 Workforce, LLC

Debra Carr, Chief Executive Officer, Job Opportunities Task Force

Moderated by Erin Sheehan, State Network Manager, National Skills Coalition

3:30 - 4:45pm

Afternoon Plenary and Networking Session

4:45 - 5:15pm

CEO Recognition

Join the NSC Board in a tribute to NSC’s founding CEO Andy Van Kleunen followed by a reception in his honor. Andy will be leaving the organization at the end of 2023 after 23 years of leadership.

5:30 - 7pm



8:30 - 10am

Opening Plenary: Seizing the Historic Opportunity: Promising State Strategies on Leveraging Infrastructure Investments  


Federal laws passed in the last two years have set up a huge opportunity for a diverse group of workers to repair our nation’s infrastructure and fight climate change. But it’s up to workforce advocates to partner with – and where necessary apply pressure to – the state agencies accountable for creating equitable access to these good jobs. This session will spotlight training providers and advocates helping to realize this monumental opportunity.


Portia Wu, Secretary of Labor, Office of Secretary
Maryland Department of Labor


Panel discussion: 

Christopher Montgomery, Director, Syracuse Build
Jamal Jessie, Workforce Development Manager, Georgia Power
Shana Peschek, Executive Director, Machinists Institute
Randy Stamper, Associate Vice Chancellor, Career Education and Workforce Programs, Virginia Community College System


Moderated by Melissa Johnson, Managing Director, State Strategies, National Skills Coalition

10 - 10:30am


10:30 - 11:30am

Concurrent Sessions


Creating a Workforce System that Serves and Centers Workers  


With a workforce system that has historically been riddled with racist narratives and systemic barriers, it is imperative to intentionally engage workers and learners in designing the solutions. Learn how community-based organizations, worker centers, community colleges, and human services providers have implemented innovative strategies and built partnerships to redesign the workforce system while centering the voices and expertise of those closest to the work and directly impacted by the issues. 


Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Executive Director, Pilipino Worker Center of Southern California
Julie Parks, Dean & Executive Director of Workforce Training & Tassell M-Tec, Grand Rapids Community Colleg

Marisol Tapia Hopper, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Funding, Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

Moderated by Karina Paredes-Arzola, State Network Manager, National Skills Coalition 

Digital Skills in High Demand: How State Leaders and Advocates Can Respond    


The federal Digital Equity Act is sending billions of dollars to states to support digital skills, as well as access to broadband internet and digital devices. This money is timely, as NSC's new research shows very high demand for digital skills across industries and occupations. In this session, hear from leaders about how they are taking action to ensure that digital skill-building policies and programs reach all workers, including those facing additional barriers. Find out how other state advocates are bringing small business to the table, weighing in with public comments, and garnering policymakers' support for digital skills policies. 


Erin Macey, Executive Director, Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute
Ze Min Xiao, Executive Director, Center for Economic Opportunity and Belonging
Cody Dorsey, Executive Director, Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition

Crystal Griffith, Director of Workforce Development and Education, The Business Council of New York State

Moderated by Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Fellow, National Skills Coalition

Delivering on the Promise of Non-Degree Credentials: State Efforts to Measure and Report on Credential Quality and Learner Outcomes    

Ensuring states transparently measure and communicate non-degree credential quality and the equity of learner outcomes is critical for both policymakers and consumers to make informed decisions and meet their goals. This session will share reflections on NSC's engagement with states working to establish quality assurance for non-degree credentials, and research to understand the data mechanisms necessary for understanding and communicating the quality of non-degree credentials and the outcomes of people who earn them. A presentation of NSC's work will be followed by a discussion among three experts about how to effectively deliver on the promise of non-degree credentials.



David Troutman, Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Innovation, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Christine Barrow, Ph.D., Director, Education Strategy Group


Moderated by Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, Senior Fellow, Postsecondary Education, National Skills Coalition

11:30am - 12pm


12 - 2pm

Closing Plenary and Lunch

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