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2017 PWDA Annual Conference was a resounding success!

We met great expectations! More than 800 workforce professionals, state executives, and partner agencies gathered for the 33rd PWDA Annual Employment, Training & Education Conference, dubbed “Great Expectations,” held May 10-12 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The resoundingly successful event included thought leaders, industry experts, and featured speakers who offered information, insights, and inspiration throughout the three-day event, considered one of the largest and most comprehensive workforce development conferences in the country. A total of 65 workshop sessions featured topics ranging from business and economic development, job training and building career pathways, and how to communicate with Congress, to welfare to work, employment for youth and the formerly incarcerated, and implementation of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Again this year, several state agencies joined PWDA in the Governor’s Achievement Awards for both employers and individuals (see below).

Opening keynoter
Steve Gilliland kicked off the conference with his signature presentation, Making a Difference,™ an eye-opening and heartfelt message detailing how to positively influence people in every imaginable way, regardless of position or status. His well-received presentation centered on three empowering dynamics: purpose, passion, and pride. 

Four state executive leaders who directly impact workforce development policy joined us for a facilitated discussion about their unprecedented efforts to remove barriers to service integration. This engaging, candid dialogue was a clear demonstration of the Wolf Administration’s willingness to include workforce development at the policy table.

Pictured from left-right: Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, Secretary of Human Services Ted Dallas, Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis Davin, and Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development Eileen Cipriani. 

The Governor’s Achievement Awards recognized nine Pennsylvania businesses for advancing employment and workforce development. The awards are jointly sponsored by state workforce development agencies – the departments of Aging, Labor & Industry, Human Services, and Education – and the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association to recognize exceptional employers and training providers who promote outstanding hiring and workforce development practices. In addition, Labor & Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation presented two #CollaborationWorksPA Awards. Antwanette Ross was recognized as a student participant with OVR, while Braddock Borough was recognized as an employer championing OVR’s initiatives.
Department of Labor & Industry and Pennsylvania Partners
Governor’s Job Creator Awards 
Awarded by Susie Snelick, PWDA Chair (pictured second from left) and
PA Department of Labor & Industry Deputy Secretary Eileen Cipriani (pictured fourth from left)
Eastern Pennsylvania –
Brown’s Super Stores, Inc. (pictured in center)
Central Pennsylvania –
Opportunity Construction, LLC (pictured at far right)
Western Pennsylvania – TruFoodMfg (pictured at far left)
Department of Labor & Industry Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Governor’s Award for Employers Hiring Workers with Disabilities
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom (pictured below)
#CollaborationWorksPA Award
Braddock Borough and Antwanette Ross (pictured below)
Department of Aging
Hall of Fame of Champions of Older Workers 2016 Outstanding Employer
City of Bethlehem Recycling Bureau (pictured below)
Department of Human Services
Employer Honor Roll Awards
Morgan Corporation (pictured below)
Ideal Concepts, Inc. (pictured below)
Hope Enterprises (pictured below)
Department of Education
Education Workforce Leadership Award
Central Westmoreland Career & Technical Center and Smail Auto Group
(pictured below)
Department of Labor & Industry and PWDA
Youth Program Participant
Christopher Garn, Washington (pictured third from left)
Nominated by Washington Greene County Job Training Agency
Adult Program Participant
Aghyad (Alex) Kanafani, Lewisburg (pictured at center, rear)
Nominated by the Central PA Workforce Development Corporation
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Program Participant
Trevor Tobias, Harrisburg (pictured below, third from left)
Department of Aging
Outstanding Senior Community Service Employment Program Participant
Cynthia Steadman, Philadelphia (not pictured)
Department of Human Services
Governor’s Achievement Awards
Leah Stark, Brownsville (left)
Dina Kolisnyk, Prospect Park (center)
Hope Dunn, Coatesville (right)
With an engaging blend of poise and practicality, Dr. Beverly Ford (at right) instantly captured and retained audience attention with her make-sense wit and wisdom regarding case management. Dr. Ford spoke candidly about the need for case managers to empower job seekers with self-sufficiency and problem-solving skills. Her double-hitter workshops and plenary session were met with north-south nods of agreement and approval.

Closing speaker and nationally renowned career development training expert Elisabeth Sanders-Park (below) closed the conference with snippets and lessons learned drawn from her book, No One is Unemployable. 

AND … we were entertained! Back for an encore performance, PWDA conference-goers enjoyed the rock and blues tunes of the Bureaucats, featuring Sam Giannetti, Executive Director of the West Central Workforce Development Board, former Pennsylvania Department of Human Services staffers Dave Florey and Antonio Andrade, along with John McHenry.   

THANK YOU to our advertisers, exhibitors, and sponsors! 

PA Workforce Development Association