Employment and Jobs

Building a Better Workforce System, One Fellow at a Time

May 2, 2023  • Economic Opportunities Program

While federal and state governments make many of the policies that shape workforce services, the local level is where the rubber hits the road. This is where practitioners — including community-based organizations, city and county offices, community colleges, and industry associations, to name but a few — must break down the infamous workforce silos and weave the components into coherent systems that balance the needs of both workers and businesses. But local workforce leaders have few opportunities to step back from the demands of day-to-day operations to think together about their collective efforts and about how to foster collaboration and integration toward the development of a healthy workforce ecosystem.

Workforce Leadership Academies are designed to meet this need. They bring together leaders from across local workforce ecosystems into a 10-month Fellowship to deepen networks, strengthen systems leadership skills, apply race equity and systems change frameworks to work, and deepen understanding of effective strategies and programs. The Academies provide a forum for local leaders to work collaboratively to identify — and create shared solutions to — local and regional systems-based challenges. Participants are recognized as Fellows of the Academy and join the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunity Fellows Network. In the years prior to 2022, the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) offered 14 Academies in 11 cities.

In 2022, with the support of Walmart, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, EOP sought to scale the effort and deepen the emphasis on building local capacity by selecting and coaching a cohort of local partners to run Academies in their regions. Through a rigorous application process, eight local partners were selected from diverse communities across the country. These partners are responsible for all aspects of the Academy — including the day-to-day facilitation — with support from EOP, which provides a curriculum, coaching, and a regular Facilitators’ Forum with all eight partners.

Today, we are pleased to announce the 180 Fellows who are beginning their journey in the eight Academies, and we look forward to sharing insights with you as the Academies move forward. Learn about them below:

For more information about the Academies, contact Dee Wallace (Senior Fellow), Sheila Maguire (Senior Fellow), and Victoria Prince (Research Associate).


Introducing the @AspenInstitute’s new Workforce Leadership Academy Fellows! Meet the nearly 200 Fellows — from eight regions across the country — who are building a healthier workforce ecosystem.

Learn more

The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.

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