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2024 SKILLS SUMMIT
SPEAKERS

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Alphabetized by last name.

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Chike Aguh

Senior Advisor, The Project on Workforce at Harvard University

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Chike Aguh (Chee-Kay Ah-Goo) is the first person in his entire family born in America, a Fulbright Scholar, educator, business leader, award winning non-profit CEO, and Biden presidential appointee. A recognized authority on the future of work, economic opportunity, and innovation, Chike is committed to an economy that creates opportunity for all just like America did for him.  
 
Chike currently serves as Senior Advisor at Harvard University’s Project On Workforce, Senior Fellow on Workforce at Northeastern University’s Burnes Center for Social Change, and Senior Advisor at the McChrystal Group. 
 
Previously, Chike was appointed by President Biden on day one of his administration to serve as Chief Innovation Officer at the US Department of Labor, the first black person to do so. Reporting to Deputy Secretary and later Acting Secretary Julie Su, he led efforts to use data, emerging technologies (AI, quantum computing, cybersecurity, etc.), and innovative practice to advance/protect American workers. These efforts included creating the department’s first enterprise data strategy, serving a pivotal role in the $2B modernization of the nation’s unemployment insurance system, piloting the nation’s first workforce scorecard, and serving as the DOL’s designee to the National Space Council.  
 
Chike has also worked as an education policy official and teacher in America’s largest school system; Fulbright Scholar in Asia; director of corporate strategy and performance technologies at technology company EAB; CEO of a national nonprofit which helped connect 500,000 low-income Americans to affordable internet and digital skills, founding leader of the Community College Growth Engine Fund; and Director of Strategy and Future of Work Lead at the McChrystal Group, a business advisory firm founded by Gen. (ret.) Stanley McChrystal.  
 
Chike holds degrees from Tufts University (B.A.), Harvard Graduate School of Education (Ed.M), Harvard Kennedy School (MPA), and University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (MBA). He is a lifetime member at the Council on Foreign Relations, Presidential Leadership Scholar; and 40 under 40 honoree from Wharton and Washington Business Journal.  
 
Chike, his wife and their two kids are proud Marylanders and Prince Georgians. Appointed by MD Gov. Wes Moore, Chike is Vice-Chair of the Maryland Higher Education Commission. He is founder of the Aguh Workforce Scholarship at Prince George’s Community College and advisor to Prince George’s County focused philanthropy Pull-Up Fund. Chike and his family are members of Zion Church in Greenbelt, MD. 

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Keith Allred

Executive Director, National Institute for Civil Discourse

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Keith Allred is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD). His work to bridge the partisan divide has been featured in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, and Congressional Quarterly. 

  

Keith was recruited to lead NICD because he had recently launched CommonSense American. Its over 70,000 members are now three-for-three in championing in Congress solutions that attract bipartisan grassroots support. They played a meaningful role in passing legislation to end surprise medical billing in 2020, invest in America’s physical infrastructure in 2021, and update the Electoral Count Act in 2022. 

  

Keith piloted CommonSense American at the state level in Idaho from 2005 – 2009. Its major legislative achievements led the Idaho Democratic Party to make the unusual move of asking him, as an independent, to be their nominee for Governor in 2010.  

Prior to returning home to pilot the citizens’ group, Keith was the first professor of conflict resolution at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He started his academic career as a professor at Columbia.  

 

Keith earned a PhD in Organizational Behavior from UCLA and BA in American History from Stanford.  

  

A fifth-generation Idahoan who grew up working summers on the family cattle ranch, Keith finished eighth in the world standings of the National Cutting Horse Association in 2017.

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Amanda Ballantyne

Director, AFL-CIO Technology Institute

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Amanda Ballantyne directs the AFL-CIO Technology Institute and the AFL-CIO Working for 
America Institute and serves as a strategic advisor to AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. Amanda 
works closely with unions and worker advocates to educate and engage a broad set of public 
and private stakeholders on artificial intelligence and related technologies impacting working 
people’s rights, job security, job quality, and safety.


Through her advocacy, Amanda has testified before Congress, participated in multiple Senate 
AI Insight forums on behalf of the AFL-CIO and AFL-CIO Technology Institute, and worked 
closely with the White House and federal agencies to center workers within technology 
regulation, innovation, and workforce development. She is an advisor to the Block Center for 
Technology and Society at Carnegie Mellon University. She is also a member of the National 
Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee (NAIAC), a national committee formed by the U.S. 
Department of Commerce to advise the President of the United States and the National AI 
Initiative Office on topics related to AI. 


Amanda has nearly 20 years of organizing, policy and legal experience in unions and 
nongovernmental organizations. She graduated from Smith College and earned her law degree 
from the University of Washington School of Law

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Michael Collins

Vice President, Center for Racial Economic Equity, Jobs for the Future

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Michael Collins is a Vice President at Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that accelerates the transformation of the American education and workforce systems to ensure equitable economic advancement for all. A mission-driven leader, he has a 25-year successful track record of building programs, influencing policies, and scaling high-impact networks to create equitable opportunities for economic advancement. He leads JFF’s Center for Racial Economic Equity which aims to increase economic opportunity for Black learners and workers through disrupting occupational segregation, increasing equitable talent practices, and closing the Black-white wealth gap. The insights and solutions the Center develops for advancing economic mobility for Black Americans will lay the groundwork for future initiatives to address economic inequities facing Latine, Native American, and AAPI communities, among others. Mr. Collins is a frequent public speaker on inclusive economic opportunity and has written for Bloomberg, Fortune, and the Hechinger Report, Mr. Collins holds a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

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Blair Corcoran de Castillo

Vice President, Policy, Opportunity@Work

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As Opportunity@Work’s Vice President of Policy, Blair leads the organization’s partnerships with the public sector, guiding the strategy to support policy shifts to enable STAR mobility nationally and in regions across the U.S. In her time at the organization, she has helped guide the strategy and execution of numerous projects across different departments, including the design of Stellarsight, the STARs Community, and the team’s move towards implementing an Anti-Racist design framework. 
 
Over the course of the last 15 years+, Blair has worked at the intersection of strategy and economic mobility in the public sector and mission-oriented organization. She has taught and led participatory design engagements that resulted in innovative solutions in affordable housing, public service delivery, and federal hiring. She has also worked with states, local governments, non-profits, and training institutions to explore, develop, and implement new approaches to family economic security and wellbeing. 

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Kevin Coughlin

Policy Initiatives Advisor - Executive,
Wisconsin Department of Health Services

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Kevin Coughlin has spent the last 30 years in the private and public sector working in the assisted living arena as an operator, a regulator and a public funder. Mr. Coughlin currently is a Policy Initiatives Advisor-Executive in the Wisconsin Division of Medicaid Services. Mr. Coughlin has been a speaker at numerous state and national conferences presenting on the subject of workforce, assisted living regulatory reform, and long-term care quality improvement. In 2007 Mr. Coughlin was the Recipient of the “Public Official of the Year” by Governing Magazine for collaborating with key stakeholders and reforming Wisconsin’s assisted living regulatory process by rewarding assisted living communities striving for excellence.

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Jeran Culina

Senior Manager
Business Leaders United (BLU)

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Jeran Culina is the Senior Manager of Business Leaders United (BLU). BLU is a national business network comprised of leaders from small and medium-sized enterprises representing a range of industry sectors who are concerned about our nation’s skills mismatch and promote public investments in skills training and education that prepare America’s workers for jobs in the 21st Century economy. Jeran manages the implementation of engaging and expanding the BLU network.

Before joining National Skills Coalition, Jeran worked as a Senior Policy Associate at Advance CTE, which supports state CTE leaders to advance high-quality and equitable CTE policies, programs and pathways. In this role, she managed two sites under the JP Morgan Chase New Skills ready network grant which supports sites in developing more equitable high quality career pathways for all learners.

Jeran has also served as the Education and Research Project Manager at Talent 2025, a systems level convener in West Michigan. As the Education Research Project Manager, she led the organization’s work in all the education priorities from early childhood to postsecondary education. Jeran guided the convening of several education working groups that focused their priorities on policy and advocacy that alleviated barriers and increased funding for at risk students throughout their educational journey from cradle to career.

Jeran has a Master of Educational Leadership Michigan State University and a B.A. in Interdisciplinary of Social Sciences with an emphasis on early childhood education from SUNY Buffalo.

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Liam deClive-Lowe

Co-Founder & Co-President, American Policy Ventures

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Liam deClive-Lowe is Co-Founder & Co-President at American Policy Ventures. At APV, Liam brings together policymakers, philanthropists, and other leaders to build projects that de-risk bipartisanship and help lawmakers get things done on the big issues of our time. 

 
Liam also serves as the Executive Director of Humanity Forward, where he founded their Policy Impact Fund. Among the policy campaigns he has led, Liam architected a successful bipartisan initiative led by Republican Congressman David McKinley and Democratic Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester to enable the advancement of historic economic recovery legislation during the COVID pandemic.  
 
His writings and editorials have been published in The Washington Post, The Hill, Washington Examiner, The Messenger, RealClear Policy, and DC Policy Journal. His work has been covered in POLITICO, CNBC, and Rolling Stone. 
 
Liam serves on the advisory boards of a range of organizations and companies, including the Fatherhood Initiative, Impact Fellows, Fifty50 Politics, and the Republican Main Street Partnership.  
Prior to his work in the policy arena, Liam staffed and advised numerous federal and statewide campaigns, and was the founder of the Wednesday Group Speaker Series. A native of Kentucky and Hawai’i, Liam lives in Washington DC with his partner.

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Brooke DeRenzis

Chief Strategy Officer, National Skills Coalition

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Brooke DeRenzis is the Chief Strategy Officer, where she advises the CEO on strategic opportunities and leads staff in the development, alignment, and implementation of National Skills Coalition’s network, policy, and communications strategies. Prior to her role as Chief Strategy Officer, Brooke was National Skills Coalition’s Managing Director of State Strategies, where she launched numerous multi-state initiatives, including the Skills State Policy Advocacy Network (SkillSPAN) — a first-ever nationwide network of state coalitions expanding skills training for thousands of people through state policy changes.


Brooke’s policy and organizing expertise, publications and partnerships with local community organizations, workforce practitioners, business leaders, and workforce advocates have helped educate policymakers and shaped workforce policy solutions that continue to make a meaningful impact for workers, businesses, and communities.


Prior to joining National Skills Coalition in 2014, Brooke was a Project Director at DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, where she led advocacy efforts on a range of public policy issues facing the District of Columbia, including workforce development and postsecondary education. She has also held research positions with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.


Brooke holds a master’s in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s from Sarah Lawrence College. She is based in Washington, DC.

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Robert Espinoza

Chief Executive Officer, National Skills Coalition

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Robert Espinoza is the Chief Executive Officer of National Skills Coalition, which fights for a national commitment to inclusive, high-quality skills training so that more people have access to a better life, and more local businesses see sustained growth. Since 2000, through expert analysis and technical assistance, broad-based organizing, targeted advocacy, and cutting-edge communications, NSC has changed hundreds of state and federal skills policies that have transformed the lives of workers across the country and grown local businesses and economies.

Robert Espinoza is a prominent advocate and thought leader in the fields of workforce, aging, and caregiving. He has dedicated more than 25 years to advancing public policy and fostering a greater general understanding about some of our most pressing societal issues, from the workforce to caregiving, LGBTQ+ rights to racial equity—and more. He presents frequently at events throughout the country and has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN, Forbes, and The Washington Post, among others.

Prior to his role at the National Skills Coalition, Robert served as the Executive Vice President of Policy at PHI, the nation’s foremost organization focused on the direct care workforce. For nearly a decade, he directed the organization’s award-winning national advocacy, research, and public education division. Under his leadership, the division produced over 100 original publications, launched multiple high-profile national and state-based initiatives, and garnered significant media attention and online engagement.

In recognition of his innovative contributions, Robert was selected for the inaugural CARE100 list in 2020, recognizing him as one of the most forward-thinking individuals reshaping the landscape of caregiving in America. Additionally, he was named one of Next Avenue’s 2020 Influencers in Aging. In 2021, he testified before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, emphasizing the urgent need to strengthen workforce interventions in direct care.

In addition, Robert serves as a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and sits on the board of directors for the National Academy of Social Insurance, the FrameWorks Institute, and the American Society on Aging, where he holds the position of Chair Elect. Since 2023, he has hosted A Question of Care, a widely syndicated podcast exploring the many challenges facing our country’s caregiving system.

Robert received his MPA from New York University, and his BA in English and BS in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he graduated summa cum laude. He is a 2014 graduate of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, and lives in Jersey City, New Jersey with his husband, Michael, and their dog, Gracie.

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Megan Evans

Senior Government Affairs Manager, National Skills Coalition

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As Senior Government Affairs Manager, Megan works closely with members of Congress and their staff as well as the Administration to advocate on behalf of NSC’s legislative agenda. She provides in-depth policy analysis of legislation and works to set advocacy strategy to move the needle on NSC’s priorities.

Before Joining NSC in 2021, Megan served as a lobbyist for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers working on a portfolio including trade, infrastructure, and workforce development. She also spent several years performing legislative analysis research on a variety of federal issues in the Legislative Department for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Prior to that role, Megan served as a Staff Assistant for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where she performed legislative research and provided administrative support to Committee Democrats.

Megan graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Politics and Government; History; and Pre-Law. She is based in Washington, D.C.

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Assistant Secretary Susie Feliz

Assistant Secretary of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs,
U.S. Department of Commerce

Susie Feliz was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA) on August 23, 2022, following unanimous confirmation by the Senate. As the leader of the office responsible for managing the Department of Commerce’s relationship with Congress, Assistant Secretary Feliz serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Commerce on all matters before Congress, as well as the Department’s outreach to the nation’s governors, mayors, and tribal leaders. Ms. Feliz also serves on the Secretary of Commerce’s Leadership Team and plays a key role in helping the Biden-Harris Administration implement historic economic initiatives. As such, she oversees the development and implementation of strategies to advance the Department's legislative initiatives and articulates the Department's position on legislation proposed by Congress to key congressional and intergovernmental stakeholders. Additionally, Ms. Feliz guides OLIA’s facilitation of the appearance of Department witnesses at congressional hearings, coordinates the Department's responses to congressional committee requests, and participates in the Senate confirmation process for the Department’s nominees. 

Assistant Secretary Feliz has dedicated the last two decades of her career to public service. Notably, she served as a senior staff member in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, including as an aide to former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY); and as legislative director to Representatives Joe Baca (CA-43), Al Green (TX-09) and Karen Bass (CA-37). Ms. Feliz previously served as Vice President for Policy and Legislative Affairs at the National Urban League, a community-based, civil rights organization dedicated to the economic empowerment of underserved communities.  She was instrumental in securing the National Urban League’s economic priorities in legislative proposals and building effective strategic partnerships within the private sector, trade associations, and other civil rights and racial justice organizations. As a result, she brings an in-depth understanding of how public policy is formulated, a track record of bipartisanship, and an extensive network that will serve the needs of Congress, governors, mayors, and tribal governments at the Department of Commerce. 

Assistant Secretary Feliz holds a Master of Public Administration degree from George Washington University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Denver. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband and their two sons. 

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Melissa Johnson

Managing Director, State Strategies, National Skills Coalition

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Melissa Johnson is the Managing Director of State Strategies at National Skills Coalition, where she leads the organization’s efforts to advance workforce policy solutions at the state level. Melissa oversees the development of NSC’s state policy agenda and works with the organization’s network of state coalitions and partners to provide strategic guidance for policy development, advocacy, advancement, and implementation.

Melissa’s publications, policy expertise, and engagement with local community organizations, workforce boards, business leaders, and workforce advocates have helped educate state policymakers and shaped state workforce policy solutions that continue to make a meaningful impact for workers, businesses, and communities.

Prior to joining National Skills Coalition in in 2017, Melissa was a Senior Policy Analyst at Georgia Budget and Policy Institute where she led the organization’s research on several issues, including gender economic equality, affordable child care and workforce development. Earlier in her career, she worked in policy analysis and legal roles for the Administrative Office of the Courts of Georgia and in the private sector as a management consultant.

She holds a J.D. from Emory University School of Law, as well as an MBA and bachelor’s degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Melissa is based in Atlanta and Washington, DC.

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Allyson Knox

Senior Director of Education and Workforce Policy
Microsoft 

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Allyson Knox is Senior Director of Education and Workforce Policy in Microsoft’s Washington DC office.  She currently serves as an advocate at the federal and state levels for the company’s positions on AI and workforce development. Other issues she's worked on include digital equity, cybersecurity education, STEM, and technology in education. She recently led an initiative to make computer science courses count as core high school graduation credits in all fifty states. She's worked at Microsoft for almost twenty years and forged partnerships on behalf of the company with organizations such as the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and American Association of Community Colleges. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Allyson lived in Michigan and worked on small business and rural economic development, as well as education outreach programs. 

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Dane Linn

Senior Vice President
Corporate Initiatives, Immigration
Business Roundtable

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Dane Linn is Senior Vice President of Corporate Initiatives at Business Roundtable. In this role, Linn leads efforts that bring together the organization’s membership to make collective progress and apply best practices on issues such as worker training, diversity, investments in rural communities, veteran and second chance employment, and engagement with small business suppliers.  

 

He previously oversaw the Education & Workforce Committee, advancing the BRT’s positions on education reform, U.S. innovation capacity and workforce preparedness. He is also the lead staff member for the Immigration Committee, promoting an approach to immigration reform that will help drive U.S. economic growth and keep the American workforce globally competitive. 

 

Linn joins the BRT most recently from The College Board, where he served as Executive Director of state policy. Prior to The College Board, Linn served as Director of the Educational Policy Division of the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices. During his 16 years in this role, Linn represented governors’ education policy issues at the federal level and to state and local associations. He also co-led the development of the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by 46 states. 

 

In addition, Linn has led national efforts to ensure more students are college- and career-ready and worked on issues related to STEM, early childhood, Perkins and the Workforce Investment Act, and high school redesign. Before joining the NGA, Linn worked for 14 years in the education system as Coordinator of the Office of Special Education Programs for the West Virginia Department of Education, Principal of Guyan Valley Elementary School in West Virginia, and teacher and later the Assistant Principal at Matheny Grade School also in West Virginia. 

Linn is a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and holds a master’s degree in Education Administration from West Virginia Graduate College and bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Cabrini College. 

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Dr. Girard Melancon

President/Founder of Durango Works
Board Chair, National Skills Coalition

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Dr. Melancon brings over 25 years of progressive workforce development experience to serve in his role as President/Founder of Durango Works, an independent workforce development consultancy firm. He is also the Director of the National Green Jobs Advisory Council (NGJAC) at NCWE.  Dr. Melancon has just been appointed to the 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board (EWAB) and advises the Secretary of Energy in developing a strategy for the Department of Energy (DOE) to support and develop a skilled energy workforce to meet the changing needs of the U.S. energy system. In addition, he recently completed his 10-year tenure at Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) as the Vice-Chancellor for Workforce Solutions. Dr. Melancon has worked with a very small team and many employers in the Greater Baton Rouge area to achieve national recognition for his programs. From 2012 to 2015, he grew his workforce development program from serving only 350 students per year (not including contract training) to over 3,500 BIPOC students with more than 40 diverse instructors.  

 

In May of 2018, Dr. Melancon’s North Baton Rouge Industrial Training (NBRITI) program was nationally recognized after only two years of program redesign with great support from businesses and industry.  This updated NBRITI program has become a top-three workforce development program in the United States, according to the National Skills Collation (NSC). In 2019, Dr. Melancon received the National Skills Coalition Skill Champion Award. From 2015-2020 his team has helped generate over 20 million dollars for business and industry. His team has also provided more than 22,000 people with the necessary skills to embark on careers in multiple industry sectors, including transportation, healthcare, construction, energy, petrochemical, and manufacturing.  

 

Dr. Melancon has over 20 years of experience in executive-level leadership and has been recognized by independent workforce development policy leaders.  Dr. Melancon has many years of experience in managing more than 150 million dollars of direct workforce development initiatives for the State of Louisiana and the federal government.  He was also the Office of Juvenile Justice Assistant Secretary (acting as the Deputy Secretary) for a statewide agency that included three 24-hour secure-care facilities and 11 regional offices. He oversaw a very diverse staff of over 1,100 employees.   

 

Dr. Melancon has the passion and track record for being the ideal servant-leader for business and industry, state and local government, and federal policymakers. Being the President/Founder of Durango Works has better positioned him to bring more resources to local communities nationwide.  Dr. Melancon states.” I want to play a more significant role in growing our economy by providing pathways for high school students, college students, disconnected young adults, and the working poor to obtain gainful employment and to be competitive with the future changes of work.”

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Michael O'Bryan

Founder and CEO, Humanature

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Michael O’Bryan is the founder and CEO of the management consulting firm humanature and is a dedicated practitioner and researcher in the fields of community development, organizational culture, and human well-being. His work, fueled by the intersections of developmental science and design, resonates in both the public and private sectors. Notable clients such as Neighborworks America, Campbell Soup Foundation, and The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia have benefited from his human-centered approach. At Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, he founded a design lab called The Wealth + Work Futures Lab focused on the futures of work, economic development, and wealth building. His flagship project, The Metro Futures Coalition, is cultivating public-private collaboration for jobs that produce family-thriving wages and benefits that generate assets. Michael is the co-author of "Connected Community: A Trauma Informed Community Engagement Toolkit," and a lecturer at The Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, sharing insights on community engagement and design research. Beyond his work endeavors, he is proud to serve on the boards of three local philanthropic institutions: The Samuel S. Fels Fund, The Union Benevolent Association, and The Philadelphia Cultural Fund. In recognition of his work and service Michael was awarded the Diversity in Business Award from The Philadelphia Business Journal and the Promise Leader Award from Worldmaker International.

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Lindsey Reichlin Cruse

Senior Fellow, Postsecondary Education
National Skills Coalition

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Lindsey Reichlin Cruse is a Senior Fellow at National Skills Coalition where she leads the organization’s work on postsecondary education policy, particularly for adults with low incomes, and access to public benefits, childcare, and holistic supports for postsecondary students.

For nearly a decade, Lindsey has worked to build more inclusive and equitable pathways to postsecondary education and economic security for marginalized communities, with special attention to students with children. Her research has spanned college affordability, access, and success; holistic student supportive services, such as childcare and non-tuition assistance; and cross-system alignment to support students and families. Lindsey has authored numerous publications sharing findings from original research and their implications for state, federal, and institutional policy and practice. She is regularly sought after to share her expertise and has been quoted in several national outlets including The Washington Post, The Atlantic, NPR, and PBS Newshour.

 

Prior to joining National Skills Coalition in January 2022, Lindsey spent over eight years at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). Most recently, she served as Managing Director, Student Parent Success Initiative, for which she led IWPR’s research on strategies to increase postsecondary attainment and economic security for families with low incomes, with a focus on families headed by single mothers and mothers of color.

 

Lindsey has a master’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is based in the Washington, DC area.

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Jason Resendez

Vice President of Research & Evaluation, PHI

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Jason Resendez is the President and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, where he leads research, policy, and programmatic initiatives to build health, wealth, and equity for America’s 53 million family caregivers. Jason is a nationally recognized expert on the intersections of caregiving, aging, and the science of inclusion in research. In 2023, he was named one of the most consequential leaders in health, science, and medicine by STAT News.
Prior to joining NAC, Jason was the founding executive director of the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Center for Brain Health Equity and was the principal investigator of a Healthy Brain Initiative cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While at UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, he pioneered the concept of Brain Health Equity through peer-reviewed research, public health partnerships, and public policy.


Jason has advised federal agencies and organizations working to advance equity for communities of color, including the National Institute on Aging, the National Academies of Medicine, the Administration for Community Living, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). He has also served as a volunteer policy advisor for the presidential campaign of President Joe Biden.

 

Earlier in his career, Jason worked at the nation’s leading Latino civil rights organizations UnidosUS and the education arm of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).


His efforts to champion health and racial justice for patients and caregivers have earned national recognition and in 2020, he was named one of America’s top influencers in aging by PBS’s Next Avenue alongside Michael J. Fox and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Jason has received the Service Award for Caregiving from the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), the LULAC Presidential Medal of Honor and the HerMANO Award from MANA—A National Latina Organization—for his advocacy on behalf of the Latino community. He has been quoted by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, STAT News, Time, Newsweek, and Univision on issues related to caregiving, health equity, and research inclusion.

 
Jason is from South Texas and graduated from Georgetown University. 
 

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Nakeisha Ricks-Pettyjohn

Senior Fellow, Workforce Development, National Skills Coalition

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Nakeisha Ricks-Pettyjohn is a Senior Fellow at National Skills Coalition, where she serves as the organization’s expert on federal and state workforce development policy and strategy implementation. In this role Nakeisha brings significant state policy expertise and relationships to inform NSC federal and state policy advocacy campaigns and provide technical assistance to state policy leaders and other workforce development stakeholders.

Prior to joining NSC, Nakeisha was the Senior Director of Workforce Programs for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development where she managed the coordination of external partnerships for the statewide Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs and oversaw the operations and program implementation of Tennessee American Job Centers. Nakeisha is passionate about innovative program development, system alignment, and policy changes addressing equity, access, and economic mobility barriers for workers of color, workers with children, and justice involved individuals. She has a proven track record in furthering workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and implementing a wide variety of student services to meet the diverse needs of adult learners and workforce participants.

Nakeisha graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Biology. She is based in Tennessee.

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Kezia Scales, PhD.

Vice President of Research & Evaluation, PHI

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Kezia Scales, PhD, is the Vice President of Research & Evaluation for PHI, a national research, advocacy, and workforce innovations organization committed to promoting quality direct care jobs as the foundation of quality care for older adults and people with disabilities. In her role, Kezia leads PHI’s strategy for building the evidence base on state and national policies and workforce interventions that improve direct care jobs, elevate this essential workforce, and strengthen care processes and outcomes. Kezia has been studying and advocating for person-centered, high-quality long-term care with a focus on direct care workers for over 15 years, is published in a range of academic journals, and regularly disseminates research findings, policy recommendations, and best practices to diverse audiences through conferences, webinars, testimony, media outlets, and more. Kezia currently co-chairs the workforce committee of the national Moving Forward Nursing Home Quality Coalition, co-leads the Advancing Workforce Analysis and Research for Dementia (AWARD) Network, and represents PHI as a core partner and subject matter expert for the national Direct Care Workforce Strategies Center, among other roles. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Nottingham and an MS in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford (England), and is based in Durham, NC.

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Katie Spiker

Managing Director, Government Affairs, National Skills Coalition

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Katie Spiker is the Managing Director of Government Affairs at National Skills Coalition, where she works to advance NSC’s Washington-based policy efforts through federal legislation, agency regulation, and national funding initiatives. As a workforce policy expert, Katie works closely with members of Congress and their staff, as well as Cabinet agencies – like the Departments of Labor and Education – to develop and implement bipartisan workforce policy solutions to help workers and businesses succeed. Katie also partners with state and local workforce leaders to elevate their advocacy efforts to lawmakers in Washington.

Katie has authored numerous publications on workforce policy issues and her policy expertise, insights, and commentary have been cited and published in local and national media outlets, including CNN, The Hill, Bloomberg, Morning Consult, Inside Higher Ed, The Hechinger Report, IndustryWeek, San Diego Union-Tribune, and many other outlets.

Prior to joining NSC in 2015, Katie was the Associate Director of the National Center for Women’s Employment Equity at Wider Opportunities for Women where she managed the design and provision of on-site and virtual technical assistance and the creation of case studies and policy briefs related to nontraditional occupations and occupational segregation. Katie has also consulted with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the National Women’s Law Center. She served as policy counsel for Workplace Flexibility 2010 and the National Partnership for Women and Families as a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow. Katie is a 2015 Ford Foundation Public Voices Fellow.

She holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami. She is based in Washington, DC.

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Jennifer Stiddard

Senior Fellow, Government Affairs, National Skills Coalition

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Jennifer Stiddard is a Senior Fellow at the National Skills Coalition, where she serves as an expert on higher education and workforce policy for the organization’s government affair’s team. In that role, Jennifer focuses particularly on federal policies to increase access and remove financial barriers and for individuals seeking skills training and postsecondary credentials.

For nearly two decades, Jennifer has worked in various roles on Capitol Hill and the non-profit sector to advance policies supporting access, success, and equity in higher education and workforce. Most recently she served as senior policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions overseeing the workforce portfolio for Chair Patty Murray. As senior policy advisor, Jennifer worked on legislation addressing recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan Act, and the Build Back Better Act, as well as policies to reform the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the National Apprenticeship Act.

 

Prior to her work on the Senate HELP Committee, Jennifer was director of government relations for the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). During her time at ACCT, she played a key role in advancing legislation to provide students with year-round access to the Pell Grant program and increase federal funding for key community college priorities. She has worked closely on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) both during her time at ACCT, as well as her years serving as senior legislative assistant to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. For the 2008 reauthorization of the HEA, Jennifer worked to enact a provision into law that provided access to the Pell Grant program for children who lost a parent in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also served as a lead to the Congressional Black Caucus Education Taskforce while working for Congresswoman Johnson.

 

Jennifer is a sought-after speaker on postsecondary and workforce policy, as well as federal advocacy. She has participated on numerous panels, including presenting on Capitol Hill. She has also served as a contributor to many publications, including as one of the main authors to The Trustee’s Role in Effective Advocacy (2019).  

Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, and a Master of Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in education policy with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is based in Washington, D.C. 

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Julie Su

Acting Secretary of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor

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Julie Su became Acting Secretary of Labor on March 11, 2023. She was previously confirmed by the Senate to serve as the deputy secretary of labor on July 13, 2021. As deputy secretary, she served as the de-facto chief operating officer for the department, overseeing its workforce, managing its budget and executing the priorities of the secretary of labor.
 

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Labor, Acting Secretary Su served as the secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. The LWDA enforces workplace laws, combats wage theft, ensures health and safety on the job, connects Californians to quality jobs and career pathways, and administers unemployment insurance, workers compensation and paid family leave.
 

Su is a nationally recognized expert on workers' rights and civil rights who has dedicated her distinguished legal career to advancing justice on behalf of poor and disenfranchised communities and is a past recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant.
 

As California labor commissioner from 2011 through 2018, Su enforced the state's labor laws to ensure a fair and just workplace for both employees and employers. A report on her tenure released in May 2013 found that her leadership resulted in a renaissance in enforcement activity and record-setting results. In 2014, she launched the first "Wage Theft Is a Crime" multimedia, multilingual statewide campaign to reach out to low-wage workers and their employers to help them understand their rights and feel safe speaking up about labor law abuses.
 

Prior to her appointment as California labor commissioner, Acting Secretary Su was the litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the nation's largest non-profit civil rights organization devoted to issues affecting the Asian American community. Su is known for pioneering a multi-strategy approach that combines successful impact litigation with multiracial organizing, community education, policy reform, coalition building and media work.
 

Frequently named to top-lawyer lists such as the Daily Journal's "Top 75 Women Litigators" in California and California Lawyer's "Super Lawyers," she was the first labor commissioner to be included among the Daily Journal's "Top 75 Labor and Employment Lawyers." She has also been named one of the 50 most noteworthy women alumni of Harvard Law School and one of the 100 most influential people in Los Angeles in Los Angeles Magazine.

Su has taught at UCLA Law School and Northeastern Law School. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School and began her career with a Skadden Fellowship. Su speaks Mandarin and Spanish.

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Caroline Treschitta

Senior Government Affairs Manager, National Skills Coalition

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In her capacity as Senior Government Affairs Manager, Caroline (she/her & they/them) spearheads the implementation of NSC’s federal advocacy strategy while conducting thorough analyses of workforce development and education policies at the federal level and actively engaging partners nationwide, fostering opportunities for them to showcase their impactful work to key stakeholders in Congress and the administration.

Caroline’s journey with NSC began in April 2019 as a Communications Associate, where they orchestrated the coordination of NSC’s written, digital, social, and video content. This included managing the organization’s social media platforms, producing webinars, and editing publications and blogs. Caroline transitioned to the Government Affairs team as a Policy Analyst in November 2020, where they continued to make significant contributions to NSC’s mission by advancing the organization’s skills platform with Congress and the administration.

Prior to joining NSC, Caroline interned and then worked for Women in Government, where they researched state-based economic policy. They also worked as a legislative intern for the office of Senator Murphy, where she conducted legislative research and attended briefings for staffers on a variety of policies; and then as a Support Specialist for RAINN, where she used crisis-intervention skills to assist those impacted by sexual assault. Caroline graduated from American University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and is based in Washington, DC.

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Rachel Unruh

Chief of External Affairs, National Skills Coalition

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Rachel Unruh is the Chief of External Affairs at National Skills Coalition, where she develops initiatives that support strategic partnerships that advance the organization’s agenda and reach new audiences. Rachel leads NSC’s public opinion research efforts and was the chief strategist for Voices for Skills, a campaign to mobilize working people, students, teachers, and business leaders to educate policymakers and 2020 candidates about overwhelming public support for a new national investment in skills training. In 2021, she led the development of NSC’s Industry Recovery Panels, which advised the Biden administration and congressional leaders on skills policy to support an inclusive economic recovery. She currently leads NSC’s Digital Equity @Work campaign.

As a workforce policy and communications expert for two decades, Rachel has written on skills policy, politics, and public opinion and is a trusted, nonpartisan resource to local and national media, including The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, MSNBC, Morning Consult, and The Guardian.

Rachel served as NSC’s Chief of Staff for ten years, leading the development and implementation of NSC’s policy, organizing, advocacy, and communications strategies. She joined NSC in 2006 to develop and lead Skills2Compete, a national campaign endorsed by hundreds of organizations that made the case for a 21st-century skills guarantee to address the demand for U.S. workers with middle-skill credentials. Replicated in 13 states, the campaign brought jobs that fall between a high school degree and a college degree to the attention of the public, policymakers and the media, and helped inform policy changes at the state and national level.

Prior to joining National Skills Coalition in 2006, Rachel served as Director of Community Relations and Senior Policy Associate at Chicago-based Women Employed, a leading national advocate for women’s economic advancement. Rachel’s work included policy analysis and advocacy to increase access to and success in higher education for low-income women.

Rachel holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College. She is based in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

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