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United Way of Central Maryland Introduces the Baltimore Region Workforce Leadership Academy Fellows

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Local leaders selected for the program in partnership with the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program 

Baltimore, MD (March 21, 2023)Today, United Way of Central Maryland introduced the inaugural class of the Workforce Leadership Academy, a new program designed to improve local economic mobility and workforce development efforts and present innovative solutions to the challenges faced by workers and businesses. 

The Baltimore Region Workforce Leadership Academy, a fellowship developed through a partnership with the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, engages nonprofit, government, academic, and business leaders in a series of retreats and workshops as they work together to advance an innovative and equitable workforce ecosystem. 

The Baltimore Region Workforce Leadership Academy is the first in the region, and one of eight to be launched this year through the support of Walmart, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. This Academy is the latest in a series of several  Workforce Leadership Academies hosted in communities across the United States and Canada. 

The 22 fellows of the Baltimore Region Workforce Leadership Academy Class of 2023 represent a range of nonprofit organizations, business associations, institutes of higher education, training efforts, and public agencies. The Academy launches on April 18 and will culminate with a collaborative capstone project presentation in December.  

Fellows selected for the Baltimore Region Workforce Leadership Academy are: 

  • Ashley Bell, Student Services Manager/Senior Case Manager (Civic Works/Youthbuild) 
  • Kristen Chappelle, Program Manager (Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake) 
  • Krysti Dickerson, Workforce System Strategist (Mayor's Office of Employment Development) 
  • Erin Finnegan-Smith, Director, Workforce Development (Catholic Charities) 
  • Demetrius Goodwin, Executive Director (NPower) 
  • Shawn Gunaratne, Director of Economic and Workforce Development (Bon Secours Community Works) 
  • Patrice Kingsley, Manager, Community (CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield) 
  • John Law, Program Manager (Associated Black Charities) 
  • Pattresa Leonard, Job Developer (Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition/Youth Opportunity Baltimore) 
  • Michael Lewis, Jr., Director of Workforce Development (City of Refuge Baltimore) 
  • Antonio Logan, Site Director (Jane Addams Resource Center (JARC) Baltimore) 
  • Catherine Pitchford, Chief Program Officer (Baltimore's Promise) 
  • Beverly Purnell, Post High School Resources and Opportunities Manager (Thread) 
  • Christin Ralls, Director of Workforce Development and Social Enterprise (Art with a Heart) 
  • Arthur Ransier, Director, Business Strategy (nTech Workforce) 
  • Chris Sweeney, Workforce Development Manager (Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service) 
  • Magdelena Tagliaferro, Director of Programs and Services (Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare) 
  • Kumasi Vines, Director, Career Readiness (Baltimore City Public Schools) 
  • Minah Woo, Vice President of Workforce, Innovation, and Strategic Partnerships (Howard Community College) 
  • Randi Woods, CEO (Sisters Together and Reaching) 

“The Workforce Leadership Academy is a way for representatives across all of Central Maryland’s industry sectors to come together and develop ways to overcome workplace challenges across the board,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “This inaugural class has the potential to make big changes in our region’s workforce. We look forward to seeing the creative solutions they develop through this program.” 

“Collaboration grows at the speed of trust, and today’s workforce development leaders are increasingly being asked to devise solutions through collaboration,” said Sheila Maguire, senior fellow at the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. “This Academy is a rare opportunity for these local leaders to step back with colleagues from Baltimore, reflect on their own organizational challenges, hear from leading practitioners from around the country, and develop the network and trust so essential for success.” 

The Baltimore Region Workforce Leadership Academy is led by United Way of Central Maryland and an Advisory Board that includes:  

  • Eli Allen, Senior Program Director (Civic Works) 
  • Elaine Carroll, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives (Jane Addams Resource Center) 
  • Sara Cooper, Senior Associate for Economic Opportunity (The Annie E. Casey Foundation) 
  • Linda Dworak, Director (Baltimore Workforce Funder’s Collaborative) 
  • Jermaine Jones, Director (Baltimore DC Metro Building & Construction Trades) 
  • Kendra Parlock, Vice President, Partnership Development (NPower) 
  • Jason Perkins-Cohen, Director (Mayor’s Office of Employment Development) 
  • Louis Slezak, dean, Continuing Education and Workforce Development (Community College of Baltimore County) 
  • Alex Smith, Founder (Division Street Landscaping) 

Additional information on the Workforce Leadership Academy is available here 

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 United Way of Central Maryland helps the working poor and those in poverty access basic needs like housing, healthcare, jobs, and education. The nonprofit’s programs promote equity, create opportunity, and improve the lives of our neighbors and the neighborhoods they call home. For nearly 100 years, United Way has tackled the toughest challenges in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties. Learn more at 

 © 2022 by the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Leadership Network. We are pleased to make this work available under a Creative Commons license, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.