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The Dr. Alma Salazar Bridge Builder Award was established by the National Skills Coalition’s board of directors in 2021 in memory of their beloved fellow board member and one of the most important leaders in the organization’s history. The award is given annually to a member of NSC’s network who exemplifies Alma’s commitment to bringing together uncommon allies in support of inclusive skills policy.   


Alma spent her career fighting for high-quality education and training for students and workers. In that fight, she was a bridge builder: A steady and resolute connector of people with different perspectives who didn’t know they could find common cause. As Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce Development for UNITE-LA, she demonstrated the sustaining power of finding common cause between advocates for working people and the business community in support of inclusive education and skills policy. This extended to her early role in developing state affiliates of NSC’s Business Leaders United network, and her role in helping to create the Skills for California coalition in her home state. Alma was resolute in addressing the impact of structural racism and anti-immigrant policy on economic opportunity and outcomes, with a faith in the power of bringing new allies and new perspectives to that work. Alma served on NSC’s board from 2015 to 2020, holding the office of vice chair.    

2024 award winner:

Luis Sandoval Headshot.jpg

Luis Sandoval
Executive Director, Building Skills Partnership 

As the leader of Building Skills Partnerships, a nationally recognized labor-management training partnership, Luis has been instrumental in creating the Skills for California coalition, a member of NSC’s SkillSPAN network. Luis has built bridges across business and worker organizations, creating a multi-stakeholder state network. The coalition has successfully advocated for policies to increase the number and diversity of workers on a path to good jobs and meet the labor needs of local employers, including through the advancement of high-road training partnerships and workforce literacy training programs serving immigrants, refugees, and English Language Learners.  


Luis’ efforts are grounded at the intersection of skills training, racial equity and job quality, creating space for the lived experiences of workers and employers. His dedication to engaging diverse perspectives is reflected in Luis’ role in creating and serving on the Skills for California leadership council. Luis’s efforts organizing workers and employers have significantly shaped the California Worker Equity Initiative.  


Luis has leveraged his partnership with NSC to strengthen the advocacy capacity of his constituents and partners and has been generous in sharing his expertise with advocates in other states. As part of NSC’s Digital Equity @ Work campaign, Luis has raised the visibility of the digital skill divide in California, partnering with NSC on a Sacramento Bee op-ed asking policymakers to recognize the value of digital skills training as a lever to improve job quality and expand economic outcomes for more Californian workers and businesses. 

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