Nearly 100 education, community, industry and business stakeholders attended the spring Workforce Development & Literacy Initiative (WALI) forum held May 3, 2017, at the Santa Maria Inn. Co-hosted by WALI organization co-leads EconAlliance and United Way, the forum featured Kevin Walthers, Superintendent/President, Allan Hancock College, speaking on “The Expansion of Four-Year Degrees in North County”. Also on the program were district representatives Erica Reyes (Office of Congress Member Salud Carbajal), Brad Hudson (Office of State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson), and Felix Esparza (Office of Assembly Member Jordan Cunningham), each giving a brief snapshot of education/workforce issues, policy or legislation of importance to their districts and respective elected officials.
Another element of the WALI spring forum program was the “Superintendents’ Panel”, moderated by WALI Co-Lead Eddie Taylor, CEO, United Way Northern Santa Barbara County. Panelists, who were asked to describe recent district successes as well as how the community could better support schools and students, included:
- Deborah Blow, Superintendent, Orcutt Union School District
- Ed Cora, Superintendent, Guadalupe Union School District
- Kathi Froemming, Assistant Superintendent, Lompoc Unified School District
- Luke Ontiveros, Superintendent, Santa Maria Bonita School District
- Mark Richardson, Superintendent, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District
WALI organizers also reported on WALI-inspired efforts, with WALI Co-Lead Victoria Conner, Initiatives Director of EconAlliance, providing a brief overview of the “Working Neighborhoods Initiative – WNI”, a spin-off collective impact effort of 10+ partner organizations working together to bring a portfolio of several literacy and workforce development programs and dozens of activities to six North County neighborhood locations, four of which are anchored by Peoples Self-Help Housing communities.
Key to the WALI spring forum was a data update describing progress on the WALI 2020 goals, presented by WALI Data Chair Cary Gray, CEO, Academic Scholar. Gray showcased information on all five WALI goals, garnered from WALI educational and other partners contributing positive impact in the WALI areas.