2014 Advancing the Profession Award Winners


Jodie Spiegel Enhancement of Customer Service Award




Mary Hennessey, CWDP

CTWorks/KRA Corporation

Mary Hennessey currently serves as the ex-offender retention specialist for CTWorks/KRA, where she helps court involved individuals maintain employment and avoid re-incarceration. Her commitment to workforce development is extraordinary.


From 2009-2012, she was site coordinator in the Manchester CTWorks Center. During that time, she set the tone for customer service, which ultimately earned the center a 95 percent customer satisfaction rate. She also was active in the Manchester business and education community.


Whether it was dressing a scarecrow for the local Halloween Festival or encouraging CTWorks employees to run the Manchester Road Race, she maintained a high level of visibility for the center, ensuring that Manchester residents knew how to access the services offered by CTWorks.


In 2012, CTWorks Manchester received an award from Vernon Adult Education for its support and referrals to the adult education programs, in part from Mary’s collaboration with community partners.


Leadership Award





Sandra Harmsen

San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board

Sandra Harmsen is the executive director of the San Bernardino County Workforce investment Board (WIB) and director of San Bernardino County Department of Workforce Development (WDD). Sandy was appointed director of WDD in January 2008. She has dedicated more than 18 years of service to the workforce community. She has been instrumental in handling projects affecting workforce programs and service delivery to the county’s residents and businesses.


Sandy does not believe in backing down from a challenge.  Sandy has an ability to motivate people in the face of adversity, inspiring staff to work hard and change lives. When new California standards required 25 percent of the annual budget to be used for direct training costs, Sandy immediately explained this to staff strategically and asked, “How can we accomplish this together”? Staff responded, and with her help, formulated a plan to meet and exceed this requirement.


Sandy is truly the epitome of a leader, whether working with staff, boards, the public or any other audience, she is poised and knowledgeable. She is approachable, well respected, and extremely passionate about workforce programs. She is often heard saying, “Our jobs are changing lives”!


  Professional Development Award




Patricia Gill

Institute for Educational Leadership


Patricia D. Gill has been working for over 15 years to improve the competence and capacity of workforce development professionals as both a skilled trainer and as a national leader of various professional development initiatives. Her work as a trainer started with the Chicago Youth Agency Partnership. Patricia then joined the Academy for Educational Leadership, where she played an integral role in developing professional development curricula for youth workers and supervisors.


Patricia currently directs the Youth Service Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities initiative, a project of the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Center for Workforce Development.


What sets Patricia apart is her talent for designing and delivering professional development opportunities that are truly engaging for adult learners and full of practical strategies and easy-to-use tools. She is adept at creating tools and activities that workforce development professionals can use with ease in their day-to-day work with youth.


While many people can offer information to professionals, Patricia brings the information to life in ways that enable the learner to understand, retain, and use what they learn to improve their work.



The H.G. Weisman Award




Tom Phillips, CWDP

Capital Workforce Partners

Tom Phillips has extensive and proven expertise in resource identification and project implementation with broad and measurable impacts. He has applied his ability to integrate workforce development with economic development; business, government, community and educational initiatives; and resource development, planning and fiscal management to create successful outcomes to complex challenges and opportunities.


In 2001, Mr. Phillips took on the leadership as president and CEO of Capital Workforce Partners, He turned a relatively obscure, negatively viewed, and poor performing regional workforce investment board into a nationally recognized, highly respected, innovative, and results oriented organization.  


Among Mr. Phillips’ many achievements at Capital Workforce Partners were his 1) development of an integrated budget and business plan, tied to results based accountability, which has led to dramatic improvement in the investment board's customer and community impact and 2) reorganization of the board's governance structure, which resulted in a more engaged and mission-committed board. 


NAWDP Chair Don Scott added, “As a lifetime member of NAWDP, Tom has been very supportive of the association as well as a tireless advocate for professional development targeting the workforce industry.”


  Tom Ahlers Systems Building Award




Kevin W. Shaughnessy

BakerHostetler, LLP

Former Board Chair, Workforce Central Florida





Kevin Shaughnessy is a class action litigator, based in Central Florida, who provides high-level consultation to employers on sensitive internal matters and corporate compliance issues.  


As the chair of Workforce Central Florida’s (WCF) newly appointed Board of Directors in October 2011, he stepped into the leadership role, and truly went above and beyond to restore the reputation of Workforce Central Florida in the community. He put on the line his valuable professional and personal reputation, and volunteered hundreds of hours of time to turn the entire organization around – creating an environment of transparency, restoring the public’s trust, and saving the organization from public censure.


Kevin’s commitment, expertise, and tenacity serve as an example of what a caring community member and business leader can achieve amidst increased public scrutiny and numerous fiscal challenges. His passion and drive ensured not only that Workforce Central Florida and its resources were maintained and strengthened in the community, but also that the agency transformed into a culture of openness, fiscal integrity, and collaboration.


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