Skip to main content

Bridging Gaps Between Education and Employment

CFA hosts first Healthcare Workforce Summit & Apprenticeship Accelerator in Yuma
Posted on December 12, 2023 • Category: Story

Regional Healthcare Workforce Summit & Apprenticeship Accelerator
Pictured: Yuma Regional Healthcare Workforce Summit speakers capture the attention of educators, industry leaders, and workforce professionals.


The first-ever Regional Healthcare Workforce Summit & Apprenticeship Accelerator took place in Yuma on Nov. 22, 2023. This important education and workforce initiative was hosted by Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA), in collaboration with Arizona Western Entrepreneurial College (AWC) and made possible with support from Jobs for the Future (JFF). The summit brought together educators, industry leaders, and workforce professionals to address local healthcare workforce shortages in Yuma County with practical and actionable solutions.

Over 40 industry partners, employers, government training programs, educators, and nonprofits attended the two-part event to not only ensure the region’s healthcare ecosystem remains robust, adaptable, and capable of delivering high-quality care to its residents but to create pathways for the region’s students to continue their education and obtain high-quality jobs in Arizona.

Moises Pimentel

Moises Pimentel, CFA’s Regional Project Manager for College & Career Pathways in Southwest Arizona, having spent his entire life in Yuma, understands firsthand the challenges of retaining talent and developing a skilled workforce in Yuma County. Still, the event broadened local employers’ perspectives and energized innovative thinking. “There were a lot of good moments where employers realized, ’Wow, our schools are graduating a lot of students with healthcare . How can we retain those students in our community?’” said Moises.

The Summit featured a diverse group of speakers fostering collaboration and exchanging knowledge to shape the future of healthcare workforce development in the Yuma area:

  • Katie Belous, Senior Director, Pipeline AZ
  • Joann Bueno, PHR, Director of Apprenticeships, Arizona State Apprenticeship Office
  • Dr. Daniel Corr, President, Arizona Western College (AWC)
  • Reetika Dhawan, CEO of Entrepreneurial College & Vice President of Workforce & Healthcare, AWC, CFA Board Member
  • Lorie Honeycutt, Executive Director of CTE, YUHSD
  • Kate Lemke, Director of Pathways Development, Pipeline AZ
  • Dr. Trudie Milner, Chief Operating Officer, Yuma Regional Medical Center
  • Dr. Jonathan Payne, Director, Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning, Jobs for the Future
  • Moises Pimentel, Regional Project Manager, College & Career Pathways, Southwest Arizona, Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA)
  • Dr. Sue Roe, Healthcare Consultant, CFA
  • Jeni Sumner, Executive Director of Program Management, STEDY
  • Darrick J Trump, Executive Director, Ridgeview Transitional Rehabilitation


Reetika Dhawan, the Chief Executive Officer of Entrepreneurial College & Vice President of Healthcare programs at AWC, spearheads the school's support for the Yuma and La Paz communities. With the remarkable collaboration achieved at the Summit, the school will launch a Youth Healthcare Apprenticeship program in the spring of 2024.

The program will be open to high school juniors and seniors, offering them the chance to enroll and gain valuable credentials while working part-time in healthcare. Completing certification and advancing their education will equip students for success in their chosen paths.

Reetika emphasized the importance of collaboration and the value CFA provides by bridging gaps within and across sectors. “Understanding high schools' perspectives and leveraging the expertise of community colleges with successful programs are vital to AWC's success.”

The Apprenticeship Accelerator component of the Summit captured CFA’s “do-tank” attitude, further advancing Yuma County's efforts in implementing apprenticeship programs.

Ridgeview Transitional Rehabilitation Center, a short-term care facility in Yuma, connected with a high school district partner to launch student internships. Moises explained how internships in healthcare for students pose unique difficulties due to the age barrier and added, "So, having a provider take that challenge on and figuring out how to say, “yes,” is a big deal. Their solution also has the potential to be utilized as a best practice to replicate with other employers in expanding healthcare internships across the region and state."

According to CFA’s Gallup Arizona Survey, 33 percent and 31 percent of Arizonans in Western Arizona counties identified “more quality jobs” and "quality K-12 education” as important issues for Arizona’s future. However, only 67 percent of Arizonans in those Western Arizona counties are satisfied with Arizona’s opportunities to advance their education or training.

The Yuma Healthcare Workforce Summit & Apprenticeship Accelerator answered what Western Arizonans want and will continue to impact Yuma’s workforce and education systems. Attendees expressed feedback about hosting the event quarterly. CFA also plans to host additional Regional Healthcare Workforce Summits & Apprenticeship Accelerators in Southeast Arizona and Maricopa County.

If you’re an employer wanting to say “yes” to work-based learning opportunities or an educator interested in implementing college and career pathways for students, learn how to partner with CFA.