past event
Workforce Development

Launch of the Communities that Work Partnership

Audio (MP3)

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About the Event

This event was the launch of the Communities that Work Partnership, a US Department of Commerce-funded program of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI). Penny Pritzker, the US Secretary of Commerce, and Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson spoke at this event.

The Communities that Work Partnership aims to build more effective, employer-led workforce initiatives across the country. AspenWSI will competitively select six teams from different regions, comprised of leaders in industry, government, education and workforce/economic development. These six groups will receive technical assistance and participate in leadership development activities through the Communities that Work Partnership, with the goal of strengthening their ability to boost skills development in their regions. Immediately after the event, AspenWSI released a request to participate for leadership teams interested in applying to be one of the six participating communities. To expand effective models of regional talent development partnerships beyond the six original teams, AspenWSI will develop new learning tools and case studies describing how local ecosystems can work in new ways to grow the region’s talent pipeline for jobs in demand today and in the future. These will serve as guides for communities around the country.


Featured speakers

The Honorable Penny Pritzker
US Secretary of Commerce

Penny Pritzker has served as the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce since being sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on June 26, 2013. As Secretary of Commerce, she is focused on providing American businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow and hire. In addition to traditional Commerce priorities like trade and manufacturing, Secretary Pritzker has expanded the Department’s focus to include, for the first time, skills and workforce development. Through the “Skills for Business” agenda, the Department is bringing employers and job creators to the table to define precisely what they are looking for in prospective employees. The Department is also working with educators and trainers to ensure they provide the skills demanded and joining forces with labor and social service organizations to strengthen the safety net for workers. Secretary Pritzker earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Stanford University. She and her husband Dr. Bryan Traubert have two children.


Walter Isaacson
President and CEO, The Aspen Institute

Walter Isaacson is the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, DC. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine. Isaacson was born on May 20, 1952, in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at The Sunday Times of London and then the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He joined TIME in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor, and editor of digital media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996. He became chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, and then president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003. He has honorary degrees from Tufts University, Cooper Union, Franklin College in Switzerland, University of New Orleans, University of South Carolina, City University of New York (Hunter College), Pomona College, Lehigh University, and Duke University.


…with opening remarks from:

Maureen Conway
Vice President for Policy Programs, The Aspen Institute
Executive Director, Economic Opportunities Program

Maureen Conway serves as Vice President for Policy Programs at the Aspen Institute and as Executive Director of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program (EOP). Ms. Conway founded EOP’s Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI) and has headed up workforce research at the Aspen Institute since 1999. Ms. Conway’s previous experience includes consulting for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and work for the U.S. Peace Corps, where she advised on the design, management, and evaluation of the organization’s economic development programs in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Maureen has an M.B.A. from Columbia University, a Masters in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, and a B.A. in economics and mathematics from Holy Cross College.


The Honorable Jay Williams
US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Jay Williams was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and was sworn into office on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. As the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), Williams is charged with leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the global economy. Williams is the recipient of the 2007 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award. The JFK Library Foundation, in conjunction with the Harvard University Institute of Politics, annually recognizes two exceptional young Americans- under the age of 40, whose contributions in elective office, community service or advocacy demonstrate the impact and value of public service in the spirit of President John F. Kennedy. Assistant Secretary Williams was born and raised in Youngstown. He graduated from Youngstown State University with a B.S.B.A., majoring in finance.



Keep the conversation going on Twitter with the hashtag #communitiesthatwork.

Event information
Mon Apr 27, 2015
9:00am - 10:00am GMT+0000
Aspen Institute
One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC, United States