Governor's Workforce Cabinet Meets For The First Time

May 1, 2018

A couple of months after being created by lawmakers, the newly-formed Governor’s Workforce Cabinet met for the first time Tuesday.

A mixture of government and education officials, as well as business leaders from across the state make up the 21-person cabinet. Chairman Danny Lopez says the cabinet must be results-driven to work. 

“The role and the charge of this cabinet is to take this from an academic exercise into an operationalized exercise,” Lopez says. “The charge of this cabinet is to build the weight bearing crossbeams of the foundation that ultimately as we evolve as an economy and as our workforce continues to evolve, that foundation is in place.”

The meeting focused on members sharing challenges they’re experiencing in their line of work. Fort Wayne Metal Facilities Director Bruce Watson says skills haven’t necessarily changed, but what’s being offered to children in school has.

“We may teach programming, we may teach computer use, but we don’t teach electricity,” Watson says.

Members of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet say the state must focus on educational messaging if it wants to create a more skilled workforce. Ivy Tech Community College President Sue Ellspermann says her school has a difficult time recruiting high school students.

“They were never exposed to [high-demand jobs], whether it’s building trades or whether it’s IT, they don’t really understand the opportunities,” Ellspermann says. “So, we’re limited at how much we do, so we look for partnerships with you all.”

Vincennes University President Chuck Johnson says state leaders must strengthen vocational education if it’s to be recommended as an alternative to a traditional four-year degree.

“How many of us sitting around this room have a child that has gotten a certificate versus a degree or that we are going to encourage them to go get an associate degree in a career path?" Johnson says. “So many of us think that this is good for others people’s kids, for the kids who aren’t doing this, but how many of us are actually encouraging our own kids to look at these paths.”

The cabinet is scheduled to meet every other month unless more meetings are determined to be necessary. The group still lacks legislative representation required to receive federal money, but Gov. Eric Holcomb has requested a waiver in hopes the state will receive an estimated $50 million.

Governor's Workforce Cabinet Members:

  • Chairman Danny Lopez
  • Secretary of Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo
  • Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne
  • Indiana Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers
  • Indiana Economic Development Corporation President Elaine Bedel
  • Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick
  • Ivy Tech Community College President Sue Ellspermann
  • Vincennes University President Chuck Johnson

Governor Holcomb's appointees:

  • Jená Bellezza (Crown Point), vice president of strategic partnerships and branding for the Indiana Parenting Institute
  • Amy Brown (Elkhart), vice president of Flexible Concepts, Inc.
  • Jason Ells (Indianapolis), senior vice president of Custom Concrete
  • Christine Ernst (Indianapolis), president of Trans-Plants, Inc.
  • Mark Kara (Hobart), assistant to the coordinator for Local 150 Operating Engineers
  • Paul Perkins (Jeffersonville), president of Amatrol, Inc.
  • Brad Rhorer (Lafayette), senior manager of Subaru of Indiana
  • Rebecca Schroeder (Albion), president of Whiteshire Hamroc
  • Bob Stutz (Indianapolis), CEO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • Alan Taylor (New Albany), director of career and technical education for Prosser Career Education Center
  • Tony Vespa (Indianapolis), founder of Vespa Group
  • Bruce Watson (Fort Wayne), director of facilities for Fort Wayne Metals
  • Maurice Coates Jr. (Evansville), president of CK United