National Skills Coalition Announces Melinda Mack as the recipient of the First Annual Dr. Alma Salazar Bridge Builder Award

Feb 17, 2022

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 17,2022
Contact: Tina Posterli at [email protected]


WASHINGTON, DC- National Skills Coalition (NSC) is excited to announce that their board of directors has named Melinda Mack, Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), as the first recipient of the Dr. Alma Salazar Bridge Builder Award.

This award is given to a member of NSC’s network who exemplifies Dr. Salazar’s commitment to bringing together uncommon allies in support of inclusive skills policy.

โ€‹โ€‹During 2021, Melinda exemplified the spirit of the award, bringing together a coalition of diverse stakeholders – workforce boards, colleges, community organizations, business, and labor – to advocate for an inclusive economic recovery nationally and in New York. Centering racial equity in her efforts, Melinda led the New York SkillSPAN coalition in saving the state’s summer youth employment program and was the most engaged member of NSC’s network in mobilizing her coalition to advocate for investments in people under federal recovery efforts.  

“I am humbled to receive this award named for my fierce friend and colleague,” shared Melinda Mack. “I learned many things from Alma, but my biggest takeaways are to be effective you must be generous with your knowledge and build bridges to reach a common ground.  Thank you for this incredible honor.”

The award will be presented to Melinda by NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen as part of the closing of NSC’s 2022 Skills Summit on February 17th at 4pm. Information on how to view the virtual award presentation can be found at:

About the Award:

The Dr. Alma Salazar Bridge Builder Award was established by National Skills Coalition’s board of directors in 2021 in memory of their beloved fellow board member and one of the most important leaders in the organization’s history. The award is given annually to a member of NSC’s network who exemplifies Alma’s commitment to bringing together uncommon allies in support of inclusive skills policy. Alma spent her career fighting for high-quality education and training for students and workers. In that fight, she was a bridge builder: A steady and resolute connector of people with different perspectives who didn’t know they could find common cause. As Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce Development for UNITE-LA, she demonstrated the sustaining power of finding common cause between advocates for working people and the business community in support of inclusive education and skills policy. This extended to her early role in developing state affiliates of NSC’s Business Leaders United network, and her role in helping to create the Skills for California coalition in her home state. Alma was resolute in addressing the impact of structural racism and anti-immigrant policy on economic opportunity and outcomes, with a faith in the power of bringing new allies and new perspectives to that work. Alma served on NSC’s board from 2015 to 2020, holding the office of vice chair.