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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the goals of the Workforce Leadership Academies in Arizona?
- Expand and deepen professional networks and partnerships;
- Strengthen organizational and systems leadership skills;
- Apply a race and equity lens to assess and improve workforce services and strategies;
- Apply systems change framework to Fellows’ work;
- Deepen understanding of effective strategies and programs; and
- Provide a forum to work collaboratively to identify local and regional systems-based challenges and create shared solutions
Who is qualified to participate?
Applicants need to be:
- Located and working within the State of Arizona.
- Working within nonprofit organizations, business associations, community colleges and universities, union-based training efforts, public agencies, economic development, and community-based organizations providing workforce-related services, educational institutions, economic development agencies, City/County/State agencies, professional business or industry associations, labor union and management partnerships.
- In a position of leadership and decision-making authority related to workforce development efforts, with the capacity and ability to execute strategies on behalf of their organization.
- Engaged in or planning workforce development efforts in Arizona related to connecting workers to quality jobs and/or career pathways.
- Interested in designing and implementing effective strategies to strengthen their local workforce system.
- Committed to achieving equity across race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
- Eager to collaborate with others in their local workforce system, reflect on their current work, explore leadership practices, and gain feedback from colleagues.
Inclusivity and diversity are core values of the Workforce Leadership Academy. Applicants of color are strongly encouraged to apply. The cohort of Fellows will be selected to represent the diversity of organization type, industry focus, as well as race, ethnicity, and gender.
What is the commitment?
The Academy is a significant investment of time (outlined below) as well as a commitment to constructively engage with colleagues from across the workforce ecosystem. Fellows also commit to preparation before sessions (readings, assessment, videos) and continued learning, application, and collaboration between workshop sessions. In addition, Fellows will engage in collaborative project work across a small team of Fellows.
- A virtual 90-minute orientation
- An opening in-person three-day retreat (two overnights)
- Four Academy sessions and five Collaborative Lab meetings held during the same week:
- four sessions held online (5 hours)
- five labs held online (3 hours)
- One in-person Academy session halfway through the 10 months including a Leadership 360 assessment process and debrief workshop and networking session
- A closing in-person three-day retreat (two overnights)
- Collaborative Learning Lab presentations at an in-person stakeholder event
- Continued learning, application, and collaboration between workshop sessions (self-directed time of up to two hours between sessions as well as nine to 12 hours of collaborative project work across a small team of Fellows)
Is there a cost to participate?
The program cost per participant is $500.00 from the organization where the Fellow works, which assists with meeting costs and program materials. Financial assistance is available on a limited basis to those with financial needs to ensure that cost is not a barrier to participation.
What Academy Alumni Say About the Professional Development Experience
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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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