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Workforce Leadership Academy

Strengthening Arizona’s Workforce to Build The Arizona We Want

In partnership with The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program (EOP), Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) offers the Workforce Leadership Academy (Academy) for workforce development professionals in Arizona. It is one key initiative of many mission-driven efforts to improve economic mobility and prosperity for all Arizonans.

Why it matters

The workforce development system is a set of organizations and activities that prepares people for employment, helps workers advance in their careers, and seeks to build a skilled workforce to support employers and their local economy. Strengthening workforce development contributes to creating a stronger and brighter future for Arizona.

A high-capacity, responsive, agile workforce system is critical for Arizona's sustainable, equitable economic growth. The workforce system is inherently interdisciplinary, involving many fields of practice, types of organizations, and government policies across various industries, firms, educational institutions, nonprofits, and public sector agencies. Workforce Leadership Academies bring together leaders from across many local workforce systems in Arizona. By investing in leaders' knowledge, skills, and relationships, the Workforce Leadership Academies are well-positioned to build nimble collaboration so crucial to the statewide workforce system's success.

How it works

Workforce Leadership Academies bring leaders – recognized as Fellows of the Academy – from the local workforce together for a nearly-yearlong professional development series of retreats, workshops, and action learning projects. Through a competitive application process, twenty-four Fellows are selected to participate in each Academy. Senior-level managers from non-profit organizations, business associations, union-based training efforts, public agencies, and community colleges in a position empowered to foster change are encouraged to apply.

During each Academy, Fellows work with leading practitioners throughout the country and locally as they deepen networks; strengthen systems leadership skills; apply racial equity and systems change frameworks to their work; and increase their understanding of effective strategies and programs. Alumni of the Academy become part of the Aspen Institute's National Economic Opportunity Fellows Network.



Learn More About Academies in Arizona

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the goals of the Workforce Leadership Academies in Arizona?


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What Academy Alumni Say About the Professional Development Experience

Through the course of a year, it will transform how you view and leverage partnerships, advocate on behalf of disenfranchised populations, listen to dissenting views with earnest validation, along with transforming your community outcomes through an action-oriented systems thinking approach.


01 of 06

An incredible learning opportunity to understand yourself as a leader, challenge yourself in discomfort, identify the major players in the local workforce space and meet great people, doing great work - all through a critical racial equity lens.


02 of 06

My work is deep in program and operations and this was hugely helpful to challenge myself to take a step back and evaluate the bigger issues at play.


03 of 06

What I especially valued was the opportunity to hear different perspectives and opinions on controversial topics in a "safe environment.


04 of 06

It's had a great effect on my work and how I bring equity to the table in each conversation, leading with data.


05 of 06

I was a bit entrenched in competitive attitudes towards some of my peers - that faded during the course of the Academy.


06 of 06


National Partner

The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to spark intellectual inquiry and exchange, create a diverse worldwide community of leaders committed to the greater good, and provide a nonpartisan forum for reaching solutions on vital public policy issues. The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program advances promising strategies and policies to help low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy. Over its 25 years of work, the Economic Opportunities Program has focused on expanding individuals' opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build assets and economic stability


CFA wants to see more Arizonans thrive and realize their leadership potential in their own lives and in our community. This work and its impact on workforce leaders in our communities around Arizona would not be possible without charitable contributions. Support the 2023 Southern Arizona and future Academies today.


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June 04, 2024
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