Workforce Development

Baltimore Workforce Leadership Academy — 2023 Fellows and Facilitators

May 2, 2023  • Workforce Leadership Academies

We’re pleased to introduce the Fellows and facilitators of the 2023 Baltimore Workforce Leadership Academy! The Academy — launched in partnership by the United Way of Central Maryland and the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program — brings leaders from across the Baltimore workforce ecosystem together for a year-long series of retreats, workshops, and action learning projects. The Academy provides a forum for local leaders to work collaboratively to identify local and regional systems-based challenges and create shared solutions for economic opportunity for all. Fellows work with leading practitioners throughout the country as they deepen networks; strengthen systems leadership skills; apply race, equity, and systems change frameworks to their work; and increase understanding of effective strategies and programs.

The Baltimore Workforce Leadership Academy is one of eight local academies launched in 2023. Alumni of the Academy become part of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunity Fellows Network, joining Fellows from fourteen previous Academies in eleven cities in the US and Canada.



Meet the Fellows and Facilitators of the 2023 Baltimore Workforce Leadership Academy, launched in partnership by @UnitedWayCM and @AspenJobQuality!



photo of Liz Acosta Elizabeth (Liz) Acosta

Liz has been working closely with and in executive leadership for over 24 years. She started her career in sales at Publishers Business Services in Miami where she managed a top producing sales team. She later married and moved to Virginia where she was the Manager of Operations for 19 Boys & Girls Club sites across the Greater Washington DC metro area.

A move further north to Baltimore led her to work as a Manager of Operations for the United Way of Central Maryland. She resigned from her work at the United Way of Central Maryland to pursue a vocational call to ministry at Mountain Christian Church where she led a Campus team. She returned to the United Way of Central Maryland and currently serves as the Sr. Director of Operations for the Impact Strategies Division. Liz has a BS in Administration of Justice from George Mason University and a MA in Christian Ministries from Emmanuel Seminary.

Windy Deese

Windy’s career spans over 25 years in the private and non-profit sectors and several consultancies in the public sector. Currently, she is Vice President, Public Policy and Economic Development at United Way of Central Maryland. In this role, Ms. Deese is responsible for building and executing the public policy strategy with a committee of Board members. In addition she leads the workforce development strategy in supporting community members seeking employment through training, resource navigation, job search, employer relations and support, as well as facilitating the Baltimore Region Workforce Leadership Academy in partnership with the Aspen Institute.

Ms. Deese is an alumna of Leadership Maryland 2011 class and of Leadership Baltimore County 2008 class. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Notre Dame of Maryland University in Nonprofit Management and Bachelor of Arts degree from Morgan State University in Speech Communication. Currently, she serves on the National Advisory Board of Morgan State University School of Community Health and Public Policy.


photo of Ashley Bell
Ashley Bell

Senior Case Manager, Civic Works Youthbuild

I’ve been employed with the organization for 5 years now and I absolutely adore the work in the community with inner city youth ages 18-24years old. Being promoted to student service manager in December 2022, has been one of the many accomplishments I have achieved.

I’ve studied and graduated from Baltimore City Community College with a Certification in Allied Human Services. Once completion of that goal, I received my AA degree in Allied Human Services. I have also earned a certification as a certified case manager. I currently attend Morgan State University School of Interdisciplinary Studies to complete my Bachelors Degree in Health and Human Services. I am eager to start with the Baltimore Workforce Leadership academy for the journey.

photo of Kristen ChappelleKristin Chappelle

Program Manager, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake

I have been managing HabiCorps, an AmeriCorps workforce development landscaping and construction training program, at Habitat Chesapeake for 5 years. This program is a unique combination of service and trades training intended to support the need for skilled labor while addressing a community need: affordable housing.

I have worked with approximately 65 men and women focusing on personal growth, development and stability through great work habits and the skills to support a long-lasting career in the trades. I have nearly 30 years experience working to empower under-served and vulnerable members of Baltimore area communities through non-profit and social service programs.

photo of Krysti Dickerson
Krysti Dickerson

Workforce System Strategist, Mayor’s office of Employment Development

Krysti is a passionate leader with over 15 years of experience in workforce development. She is the Workforce System Strategist within the Strategic Initiatives department at the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. Krysti is an experienced workforce practitioner with an extensive history of working in the civic & social organization industry. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Leadership Development, Case Management, Program Development, and Community Outreach.

A graduate of Coppin State University, Krysti is a workforce development professional who has demonstrated her passion for improving employment practices and opportunities for Baltimore City residents.

Erin Finnegan-Smith

Director, Workforce Development, Catholic Charities

Erin brings with her, 15 years of workforce development experience and a passion for changing lives by creating career pathways and onramps to in-demand careers. Her career includes a myriad of experiences from working with youth to adult populations and individuals experiencing various barriers to employment. She is the Director of Workforce Development for Catholic Charities of Baltimore and is responsible for driving workforce strategy agency wide. In addition to strengthening current workforce initiatives, she will be working with agency staff to build new and innovative programs that benefit those served by Catholic Charities as well as those employed by them.

She is a subject matter expert in the area of nontraditional Registered Apprenticeships and believes strongly in the power of nontraditional pathways to careers and opening doors to opportunities that were previously closed.

photo of Demetrius Goodwin
Demetrius Goodwin

Executive Director, NPower

Demetrius is a native of Anniston, Alabama.  As a Non-Commissioned Officer in the US Army Signal Corp, Demetrius served four years supervising a team of data, voice and satellite communication specialists for the 29th and 67th Signal Battalions.  He is also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Demetrius has served as Program Director for the NPower Maryland Region since 2018 and Executive Director since April 0f 2022. Prior to NPower, his experience includes over 12 years of government contractor staffing, recruitment, account management and business development.

Shawn Gunaratne

Director of Economic and Workforce Development, Bon Secours Community Works

Shawn was born and raised in Southern California but has called Baltimore home for the last 6 years. After finishing his undergraduate degree he did an AmeriCorps program called City Year for two years in Los Angeles supporting students in Koreatown. He then worked for 3 years for an education technology company in Washington D.C. and finished his MBA from Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in 2019.

He worked for 4 years at the Baltimore Development Corporation supporting small businesses and now supports West Baltimore residents find employment at the Bon Secours Community Works where he serves as the Director of Economic Development and is responsible for the success of all job training programs including the returning citizens program, healthcare training, employment and financial services, and food access services.

Patrice Kingsley

Community Manager, CareFirst BCBS

Patrice serves as the Manager of the CareFirst Engagement Centers, working to improve the health and wellbeing of communities across Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia.  She has been with CareFirst for 8 years, supporting Health Services as a Community Health and Social Impact Advisor, a Strategic Business Consultant with Strategy and Planning and as a Program Manager for PCMH Operations.

She earned her Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration from The University of Maryland in College Park and her Bachelors in Political Science from North Carolina Central University. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Patrice currently resides in Bolton Hill, Baltimore with her husband and toddler. She serves as President of the Board of Bikemore, a transportation advocacy organization.

Jon Law

Program Manager, Associated Black Charities

Jon is a Program Manager for Associated Black Charities. He works on strategies for the development and advancement of Black worker-leaders and to move the Baltimore workforce and nonprofit ecosystem toward racial equity.

Jon also serves on the Board of Directors of GLSEN Maryland and is an organizer with the grassroots Baltimore Asian Resistance in Solidarity. His work focuses on understanding the complex and historical roots of oppression in order to build new systems and ways of living.

Patressa Leonard

Job Developer, HEBCAC/Youth Opportunity Baltimore

Patressa is the job developer at HEBCAC/Youth Opportunity (YO!) Program in Baltimore City, MD.   YO! Baltimore is a GED/Workforce Development program.  As the job developer, Ms. Leonard assists young adults ages 18 – 24 with job readiness training, job placement, resume writing, life skills, etc.  Ms. Leonard has been the job developer since June 2019.  Also, Ms. Leonard is a family therapist for a private agency in Baltimore County, MD.

As a family therapist, Ms. Leonard works with youth and families within an evidence-based intervention model.  She has been a family therapist since January 2015.  Additionally, Ms. Leonard has previous work experience with the following populations:  foster care, childcare, substance abuse, sales, residential care and homelessness.

Mike Lewis

Director of Workforce Development, City of Refuge Baltimore

I have a passion for Workforce Development! The past 10 years of my professional experiences have been in a variety of roles supporting workforce development. I started out as a Job Coach for a pilot program and immediately admired my responsibilities from meeting employers, creating career portfolios, to assisting job seekers with employment and facilitating workshops. I enjoy helping and assisting people who are in need, I am a fixer. In my spare time, I like to travel, spend time with my mom, and eat seafood.

photo of Antonio Logan

Antonio Logan

Site Director, JARC Baltimore

Antonio currently serves as the Site Director at JARC Baltimore. Antonio is a well-respected, award winning and sought after strategic planning partner in the workforce development sector. Over the course of his career, Antonio has primarily served communities in Southern Virginia and the greater Baltimore region; while impacting multiple levels of workforce development service delivery.

Antonio has coordinated large scale job fairs, managed WIOA programs, created avenues for virtual service delivery, developed new projects/initiatives and has also served on various state-wide boards and committees throughout both Virginia & Maryland.

Catherine Pitchford

Chief Program Officer, Baltimore’s Promise

Catherine has been Chief Program Officer at Baltimore’s Promise since April 2021. She previously worked at Center for Urban Families for 14 years, most recently serving as Director of Programs. She has 20 years of workforce development experience. Catherine’s drive to explore and pilot innovative service-delivery models and methodologies has resulted in positive outcomes for community members. Her commitment and connectivity to the community she serves uniquely positions her to best understand their needs and successfully support in filling gaps within challenging systems.

Catherine graduated from University of Baltimore with a bachelor’s degree in human services administration and received her master’s in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She is a licensed master social worker and a practicing therapist.

Beverly Purnell

Post High School Resources & Opportunities Manager, Thread

As the Post High School Resources & Opportunities Manager at the Baltimore City nonprofit Thread, Beverly Purnell partners with young adults to address barriers encountered as they work toward their personal and professional goals. She also networks with individuals and groups to identify resources and opportunities and is the head of the Thread legal/incarceration project.

Beverly started her career in the sciences. She earned a PhD in molecular and cellular biology from The Penn State University and did postdoctoral work in Goettingen, Germany. She then worked for 25 years as an editor at the world-renowned journal Science where she networked with researchers worldwide for the solicitation, selection, and technical editing of manuscripts. While working as an editor, Beverly mentored young people one-on-one and volunteered with multiple Baltimore non-profits. These relationships pulled her in another direction for full-time work with Baltimore young people.

Christina Ralls

Director of Workforce Development and Social Enterprise, Art with a Heart

Christina has been the Director of Workforce Development and Social Enterprise at Art with a Heart (AWAH) since 2013, and directs HeARTworks, AWAH’s workforce development program for youth ages 14 to 24. The program uses marketable art as a vehicle to teach job readiness and life skills, and additionally has a digital arts track that focuses on graphic design and 3D printing. HeARTworks was a participating training partner in the One Baltimore For Jobs demonstration in 2016-2017.

Ralls is a member of MOED’s Workforce Systems Effectiveness Committee and Practice Advisory Governance Committee, a board member of the Autism Society of Baltimore-Chesapeake and the Music and Gaming Festival, and is also an active volunteer for the Baltimore Rock Opera Society.

Arthur Ransier

Director, Business Strategy, nTech Workforce

Arthur is Director of Business Strategy at nTech Workforce. He is an advisor to nTech’s leadership team, accountable for growth & resilience and responsible for strategic management, marketing, community, business solutions, and transformation. His team builds collaborative relationships, shares resources with workers and partners, designs new ways of working, and enables meaningful change. Arthur’s mission involves building the business case for cross-sector collaboration to unlock pathways toward career advancement. He sees opportunities to substantially reduce business expenses by developing workers, reduce government spending by improving the socioeconomic status of residents, and accelerate social impact.

Arthur serves on the Board of Directors at Byte Back, is an active volunteer with the United Way of Central Maryland, and represents nTech as a member of the Coalition for Workforce Innovation. Arthur received a Bachelor of Science degree from Towson University and is a Certified Contingent Workforce Professional (CCWP) by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA).

Chris Sweeney

Workforce Development Manager, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

Chris is the Workforce Development Manager at Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. In 2016, he joined MVLS  as the coordinator for the One Baltimore for Jobs project, and continued in the position as the organization built their own workforce development project. Chris runs expungement clinics throughout Baltimore City and supports job trainees with legal services aimed at removing barriers to employment. He is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law.

photo of Magdalena TagliaferroMagdalena Tagliaferro

Director of Programs and Services, Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare

Magdalena has served as the Director of Programs and Services at the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (BACH) since January 2022, after originally joining the organization as a program manager in 2017. BACH’s mission is to address unemployment, underemployment, and healthcare workforce shortages in the Baltimore region by identifying career pathways and connecting residents to skilled jobs leading to economic independence.

As Director of Programs, Magdalena provides leadership in the development and implementation of healthcare workforce initiatives, including pre-employment trainings and apprenticeships, that link the Baltimore community with educational institutions and major healthcare employers. Prior to joining BACH, she worked at the Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism as the Senior Program Officer for Maryland AmeriCorps State and National

Kumasi Vines

Director of Career Readiness, Baltimore City Public Schools

In this role, he oversees the centralized career preparedness programming for students, including Career and Technical Education pathways, work-based learning opportunities, and the exploration and exposure to post-secondary options and success. Before joining City Schools, Mr. Vines was the Senior Director of Finance and Real Estate of a Washington, D.C. public charter school network overseeing the financial operations and management and construction of real estate assets. Mr. Vines previously served as the managing executive of the City of Baltimore’s municipal water utility which served over 1.8M customers across the region.Mr. Vines earned his B.A. in Economics and African-American Studies from Northwestern University. He was a Robert F. Toigo Foundation Fellow while earning his M.B.A from Columbia Business School. Mr. Vines also holds a M.Ed. through The Broad Residency Fellowship.

Minah Woo

Vice President of Workforce, Innovation, and Strategic Partnerships, Howard Community College

In this role, she works closely with businesses and industry partners to foster partnerships, provide workforce talent development, and training solutions.  She also oversees the community educational programs which include GED, English as a Second Language, World Languages, personal enrichment and 60+, adults with special needs, and Kids On Campus.

Additionally, she serves on various board positions including Association of Community Services, Howard County Chamber of Commerce, Howard County Board to Promote Self-Sufficiency, Leadership Howard County, Maryland Center for Construction Education and Innovation, and The 3rd, a non-profit to support Women of Color entrepreneurs.

Randi Woods

CEO, STAR-Sister Together and Reaching

Randi is the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Sisters Together and Reaching, Inc. (STAR), a community-based nonprofit. STAR provides care coordination services to citizens of the Baltimore.

Randi has earned a strong reputation for helping practitioners show up and practice collaboratively from a place of empathy and awareness – with a focus on measurable outcomes. She leverages her unique skill set and passion to curate a culture of health by designing sustainable value-add solutions that contribute to thriving communities. She is former faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and also serves on the Board of Directors at Healthcare for the Homeless. Randi holds dual Masters degrees in Health Services Leadership and Management and Business Administration from University of Maryland and University of Baltimore Merrick School of Business respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Temple University.