Allert Brown-Gort is a Faculty Fellow of the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Work and the Economy. Previously he served for over a decade as the founding Associate Director of the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame, where he was responsible for the executive direction of the organization. A citizen of both the United States and Mexico, he has worked at The University of Texas at Austin, the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM) and Televisa in Mexico City, and at Columbia University. At these institutions he has worked on Latino, NAFTA, and Latin American issues. His research interests are the economics of immigration policy, and the political opinions and policy priorities of Mexican American and Mexican immigrant leaders. He has served as an advisor to the Fox administration in Mexico and to the U.S. Senate Hispanic Task Force. He has also provided testimony before the Indiana Senate on potential effects of proposed legislation aimed at controlling unauthorized immigration. Prof. Brown-Gort regularly lectures and provides media commentary on issues related to Latinos, immigration, and U.S.-Mexico bilateral relations at the regional, national, and international levels. He is a regular annalyst for the Instituto Nacional de la Radio in Mexico, and has appeared on the PBS Newshour, CBS News and CNN en Español, among others. His op-eds on immigration issues have appeared in magazines and newspapers such as The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, El Universal (Mexico City), and Indianapolis Star. His community service includes membership on the executive boards of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Chicago Center, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and the Hispanic Leadership Coalition of South Bend, as well as on the board of the Red Cross of St. Joseph County. Academic service includes membership on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Studies Committee, the board of the Center for InterAmerican Studies and Programs (in Mexico City), as well as the editorial boards of Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica (Mexico City), and Diálogo (Chicago).
Ronnie Bryant, CEcD, FM, HLM, is Senior Non-Resident Policy Fellow for Regional Economic Development at the Institute. He also is currently President and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership.
As President and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, Ronnie Bryant promotes the 16-county Charlotte USA region as a premier location for expanding and relocating businesses. With more than 30 years of technical, managerial and economic development expertise, Bryant is nationally known for establishing and implementing successful economic development programs, with a strong emphasis on existing industry expansion and retention, regionalism and marketing. The editors of Site Selection magazine have recognized Bryant for excellence in the field of economic development by naming three organizations he led, those in Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Charlotte, to its list of Top 10 economic development groups in the nation. He is the only economic development professional to have achieved this distinction. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ranked him No. 25 on its list of top 50 business leaders, and Charlotte – The City Magazine named Bryant No. 30 in its list of Charlotte’s Fifty Most Powerful.
Prior to joining Charlotte Regional Partnership, Bryant was president and chief operating officer of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance where he marketed the region and collaborated with regional economic development agencies to develop and implement job creation strategies. Before working in Pittsburgh, Bryant was the senior vice president of the Economic Development Division for the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association where he has been credited with the development of job creation strategies that resulted in more than 117,000 jobs within a five-year period. These professional skills grew from leading the development team at the Shreveport, La., Chamber of Commerce, working as a development consultant, and holding managerial and technical positions at AT&T’s Western Electric facility.
Bryant, a certified economic developer (CEcD) since 1991, is a graduate of Louisiana State University in Shreveport and the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma (OU/EDI) in Norman. While attending OU/EDI, he received the American Economic Development Council’s Robert B. Cassell Leadership Award for excellence in leadership and scholarship. He currently serves as the immediate past dean, as well as a member of the OU/EDI executive board and faculty. Bryant has lectured internationally and nationally on issues related to economic development marketing, professional development and organizational management, and is currently an adjunct faculty member at UNC Charlotte Belk College of Business.
Bryant is well known in economic development circles. He is a past chairman of the board for the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), which has designated him as a Fellow Member (FM) and an Honorary Life Member (HLM) for furthering the profession of economic development as a teacher and inspiration to others in many communities. Currently, he serves as a governor’s appointee to the North Carolina Economic Development Board and is a board member of CoreNet Global’s Carolinas Chapter. Among his other professional affiliations are the International Asset Management Council (IAMC), the Urban Land Institute (ULI), and both the North Carolina and South Carolina Economic Development Associations. Bryant’s civic participation includes board memberships with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Charlotte Community Advisory Committee, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Charlotte Research Institute, The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Charlotte Industry Roundtable, the Charlotte City Club and The North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
Jeff Marcella is Senior Policy Fellow at the Institute. He brings 20 years of workforce development experience in the public and nonprofit sectors across the spectrum of policy and program development and management to his work as a consultant to nonprofits and governments in areas of strategic planning, policy and advocacy, project development and management, partnership and system building, and organizational development.
As a consultant, Jeff works to support government and nonprofit organizations with their strategic planning, program design and development, program management, organizational development and public policy activities. Recent projects include developing a strategic plan for the San Diego public workforce system; developing and administering a comprehensive benchmarking of Adult Education services in Indiana and assisting the state government in developing a strategy for system improvements and professional development of Adult Education providers; assisting the Chicago's Career Tech initiative in improving its IT industry training offerings and better linking internship activities to classroom training; and providing successful grantwriting and policy development assistance to numerous workforce boards and nonprofits. Jeff has led national and regional workshops on workforce "sector" strategies, enhancing workforce service through stronger linkages to industry and the education system. In all of his work Jeff leverages deep experience in leading successful workforce initiatives and a broad knowledge of workforce programs across the US.
Jeff spent eleven years in roles of increasing responsibility at the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development where he led the department’s policy and strategic planning work. He developed policies and procedures for MOWD’s 100 service providers, and led the department’s launch of key initiatives including the local Welfare to Work and Workforce Investment Act programs. His expertise in the emerging “sector” model of job-training initiatives was built through creation of Chicago’s nationally recognized “Sector Center” workforce hubs and enhanced through supporting sector initiatives in New York City and Washington, DC and was recognized when Jeff was named a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Sector Skills Academy.
Prior related experience has included positions managing the Chicago Neighborhood JobStart program for the Chicago Community Trust, and delivering a welfare-to-work program at the Jubilee Association in Pittsburgh. Jeff’s role at JobStart demonstrates the integrated approach to policy and program development and project management that he champions. In a rapid project launch supported through the 2010 economic stimulus, Jeff and his team quickly converted a rough framework developed by a public/private team into a fully-developed, multi-partner program model, coordinating ten grantee agencies to successfully place more than 1,600 Chicagoans in supported employment and maintain a high proportion of participants through successful program completion and permanent job placement.
Jeff holds a Masters in Public Policy and a Masters in Divinity from the University of Chicago and a Bachelors degree from Georgetown University.
Diana Polson, Ph.D., is a Senior Policy Fellow working currently on two Institute projects. One is as part of the Institute's external evaluation team of the New App for Making it in America project in Pittsburgh. She also is a key contributor to a project examining the challenges to apprenticeships in the U.S. This project is an initiative of Skills for America's Future, a program of the Aspen Institute, and is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She has worked as a policy analyst for universities, policy think thanks and applied research centers. Prior to joining the Institute on the New App project, she worked with the Keystone Research Center in Pennsylvania on both the evaluation and program side of this Pittsburgh-based workforce and economic development project that aims to fuel local manufacturing and train individuals in a maker space-based apprenticeship program.
Diana earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from CUNY Graduate Center in New York City, where she completed her dissertation on care work and the low-wage economy. Previously, Diana served as a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project where she coordinated a survey of more than 4,300 low-wage workers in NYC, Chicago and LA and co-authored several reports and articles on the research findings. Diana has more than a decade of experience partnering on research initiatives and organizing campaigns on a range of economic justice issues, including wage theft, cross-national family leave policies, workforce development and labor-community alliances. She enjoys working at the nexus of applied research and low-wage worker organizing.
Lance Pressl, Ph.D.,has extensive experience in the public, private and not for profit sectors. He currently serves as Senior Policy Fellow at the Institute for Work and the Economy while leading two new startup ventures.
Previously, Pressl served as President of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation where he developed and implemented programs and events promoting long-term economic growth through innovation-based economic development. Highlights of his tenure as Foundation President include: Founding and leading “The Territorial Review of the Chicagoland Tri-State Metropolitan Area”, the first of its kind study in the United States conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); creating the InnovateNow! Initiative and producing annual Innovation Summits; founding the Illinois Innovation Index; leading the effort to establish the Illinois Innovation Council and re-establishing The Illinois Science Technology Coalition.
Pressl began his professional career in state government in 1979, serving as a budget analyst for the Illinois Bureau of the Budget and later as the special assistant to the chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. After pursuing his graduate studies, he joined a small Chicago-based venture capital firm as vice president and held several leadership positions at Philip Morris Companies, Inc., including director of issues management and director of corporate affairs. In 1996, Pressl was named president of the Civic Federation, the oldest taxpayer watchdog organization in the country. The leadership he demonstrated at the Civic Federation earned him a gubernatorial appointment to the Illinois Accountability Council.
In 2000, Pressl was the Democratic Candidate for the United States Eighth Congressional District of Illinois. His congressional race is the subject of the book, Challenging the Incumbent, Congressional Quarterly Press, 2004. Later, Pressl was appointed senior associate for government and public policy for the American Council on Education and previously served as vice president for federal relations and public policy at the Council of Graduate Schools, based in Washington, D.C.
Pressl was awarded the Ford Fellowship for Regional Sustainable Development in the spring of 2008. He chairs the Economic Development Committee for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and sits on several boards. He earned his BA, MA and Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University.
James M. Schultz graduated from the University of Denver, receiving his B.S.B.A. in 1969 and his M.B.A. in 1971. Joining Walgreens Store Operations in 1971, he moved to the Human Resource Division in 1973. Retiring in 2004, his responsibilities covered a wide range of H.R. areas: training, management and executive development, productivity improvement, knowledge management, human factors engineering, systems documentation, human resource planning and information systems, and media production. He currently operates a private consulting firm, Pretty Good Consulting, in Wilmette, Illinois.
He served as a member of the Illinois Occupational Skills Standards and Credentialing Committee, a group working towards standardized and readily recognizable and transferable job competency designations. He recently finished serving on the Illinois Workforce Investment Board, a group advising the Governor about optimizing workforce development programs.
Mr. Schultz is Past-President and Honorary Director of the Board of the Jewish Vocational Services of Chicago, a non-sectarian agency providing vocational and rehabilitation services for the Chicagoland area. He belongs to the International Society for Performance Improvement, the American Society for Training & Development, the Human Resource Planning Society, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the National Center for Nonprofit Boards.
Mr. Schultz is a Senior Policy Fellow and a principal researcher on the Institute's project on the integration of new immigrants in the workplace.
Mary V. L. Wright is the Senior Policy Fellow for Workforce Development at the Institute. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute and is contributing to the design and fundraising for the Achieving the Promise of Work initiative.
Ms. Wright has many years of experience connecting the public and private sectors in municipal finance, government affairs, and workforce development as a project leader, facilitator and subject matter expert. As principal at Van Lear Associates, she concentrates on bringing greater employer focus on issues of economic mobility through improving workforce readiness skills, implementing and promoting career pathways, developing work-based learning strategies including apprenticeships, encouraging the hiring and retention of the untapped workforce and better linkages between human resource and corporate social reponsibilty professionals.
Previously, Ms. Wright was a director at Jobs for the Future (JFF) where she designed and supervised the completion of foundation, government and employer-funded projects on topics including: expanding employability skills, developing apprenticeship and work-based learning strategies, utilizing labor market information to determine educational focus, better hiring and training practices for people with disabilities, improving entry level jobs for the retail sector, determining the correct educational focus for specific geographic areas including the state of Florida and Columbus Ohio, and an in-depth analysis of green infrastructure jobs.
Prior to joining JFF, she served as director at The Conference Board in New York City, driving its work in workforce readiness, business, and education partnerships. She also focused on improving the employment outcomes for people with disabilities through research and convenings. Ms. Wright co-authored or acted as project director on several key Conference Board reports regarding workforce readiness skills, including Are They Really Read to Work? and The Ill-Prepared Workforce.
Ms. Wright received a master of business administration in public/nonprofit management from Columbia University and a bachelor of arts in urban affairs from Connecticut College.
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