Speaker Bios for Sessions on
Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Brian Williams

Has over 20 years’ experience in the workforce development field assisting youth, adults, and dislocated workers with workforce options. He has specific expertise in employment and training program administration, youth programming, job development and career guidance. In addition, Mr. Williams has experience in human resource policies, labor laws, recruitment, grant and proposal writing, and marketing. Mr. Williams serves on several Community Boards including President for the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals Board, the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center Board of Hudson Valley Community College, the Questar III BOCES Advisory Board, and the Commission On Economic Opportunity in Troy.

Patrick Kelly

Patrick J. Kelly works with a team of New York State, St. Lawrence County, regional and local developers in the planning, implementation and administration of programs to assist and attract industries to locate, expand and succeed in St. Lawrence County. Patrick is a St. Lawrence County native and a graduate of Cornell University with a concentration in Business Management and Marketing. In addition to his role as Chair of the New York State Economic Development Council, Patrick is the Chairman of the Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board and is a board member of the St. Lawrence Health Alliance, the North Country Alliance and the North Country Economic Development Fund.

Melinda Mack

Melinda Mack is the Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), a nationally recognized, leading non-profit membership association in the field of workforce development. In her previous role, Ms. Mack was the founding Director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation program, Graduate NYC!, an ambitious initiative bringing together the City University of New York, New York City public schools, Mayor’s Office, and a range of external partners aimed at dramatically improving education outcomes across K-12 and community college completion rates. She previously served as the acting director of the NYC Workforce Board and in economic development and municipal finance in upstate NY.

Ryan Silva

Ryan Silva is the Executive Director of the New York State Economic Development Council. Most recently, Mr. Silva served as Director of Government Relations State Relations in the Office of the President for the University at Albany. Mr. Silva has served as Vice President of Regional Economic Development and Deputy Director of the Regional Councils for Empire State Development from 2014-2016, overseeing the Regional Economic Development Council process and developing several economic development policies and programs for New York State. Mr. Silva Graduated from the College of Saint Rose in 2003 with a major in Public Communications.

Michele Chang

Michele Chang is a seasoned executive with nearly 20 years of experience in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. She joins the Economic Development Administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy. She most recently was the Executive Director of the Rework America Business Network at the Markle Foundation, where she worked with Fortune 500 companies to help American workers without four-year degrees get the skills they need and access quality jobs.

Ms. Chang served in the Obama Administration as Acting Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), where she managed the day-to-day operations of the 3,000+ person agency. She also served as the agency’s point person on policy issues with the White House’s National Economic Council; coordinated cross-agency initiatives; and launched and ran new federal programs.

Frankie Clogston

Uniquely trained and adept as an economic development professional and senior manager with a background in media, academia, management consulting and non-profit management. Areas of expertise include economic analysis; economic development; diversity, equity and inclusion with a certificate from Johns Hopkins program in Racism, Immigration and Citizenship; disaster recovery and resiliency; and workforce development, 10+ years economic consulting, 10+ years journalism, 5+ years management experience, also work as an adjunct professor.

Clean Energy Programs at Work

Adele Ferranti

Adele Ferranti is currently the Director of NYSERDA’s $120 million workforce development and training initiatives targeting existing and emerging workers in all sectors.  Workforce development and training activities address energy efficiency, carbon neutral buildings, electrification technologies, energy storage, electric vehicles, building science, renewable power generation, including offshore wind, and other emerging technologies. NYSERDA is also supporting initiatives to develop career pathways and job placement for priority populations such as veterans, displaced fossil fuel workers, disabled workers, low and moderate-income residents, and individuals living in disadvantaged and environmental justice communities.  Adele has been with NYSERDA for 30 years. Prior to her current position, she was the Program Manager for Workforce Development and Training, Program Manager in NYSERDA’s Residential Market Development Program and Sr. Project Manager in NYSERDA’s R&D group where she started NYSERDA’s photovoltaic (PV) and wind training programs, and NYSERDA’s PV incentive program.

Katie Newcombe

Katie has more than a decade of economic development experience, spanning multiple states, public, private, and non-profit sectors. She currently leads CEG’s business attraction and expansion activities; directs and implements strategies for entrepreneurship, growth, workforce, and talent. Prior to joining CEG, she led economic development for National Grid in the Capital Region. At Capitalize Albany Corporation, Katie helped manage business development and Downtown Albany’s Revitalization Plan. Before moving to the Capital Region, Newcombe served as Northwest Region Director, where she led business attraction and expansion efforts on behalf of the Department of Community and Economic Development in a 12-county region of Pennsylvania.

Penny Hill

Penny Hill is Hudson Valley Community College’s Dean of Economic Development and Workforce Initiatives.  In that role she provides leadership for the College in developing industry partnerships, creating skills-based training initiatives and develops cutting edge programs industry needs for their current and future workforce.  Additionally, she coordinates the StartUP NY program at the College creating important community and business partnerships that link to degrees and training programs.   Recently, she developed and coordinated a training program known as the Manufacturing Technology Boot Camp to build a pipeline for entry-level workers qualified to start manufacturing careers. Penny served as Associate Dean of TEC-SMART (Training and Education Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Renewable Technologies) in the College’s Extension Campus at the NYSERDA STEP Park in Malta for seven years. Prior to coming to HVCC, Penny acted as the Capital District Regional Director Valley from The Workforce Development Institute (WDI) of New York where she worked to advance training and education programs in a wide variety of areas, including manufacturing, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Ryan Wallace

For over 20 years Ryan Wallace has been working in housing and renewable energy.  Wallace is serial entrepreneur having founded eight startups. He constructed the first community solar farm in New York state, the first net-zero modular housing development on the east coast, and a factory that manufactures modular, solar-powered housing.  Wallace’s self-described passion is building affordable, sustainable housing while cultivating a manufacturing operation that is compassionate towards its workers.    Wallace leads the Solar Home Factory operations while his wife Tracey Wallace is President of the development operations; The Solar Village Company. 

Proven Scalable Approaches to Meet Employers Workforce Needs

Caelyn Prylo

With more than 18 years of progressive responsibility in higher education, she has extensive experience in workforce development and training, faculty development, and instructional design. Caelynn is the Vice President of the Continuing Education Association of NY and sits on the board of the regional Workforce Development Board for Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties. She currently oversees the offices of Continuing Education, Events Services and the Teaching & Learning Collaborative at SUNY Adirondack. These offices offer programs and services to students and the community including non-credit courses; customized workforce training; special initiatives in K-12 pipeline programs; entrepreneurship and small business support; and events services.

Chris Suozzi

Christopher J. Suozzi has led business development success with the GCEDC since 2007. Chris came to the Agency with 20 years of corporate executive experience in supply chain and site selection management from world class companies including; United Parcel Service, American Tourister/Samsonite, Alberto Culver, Rich Products and Rosina Food Products.  At GCEDC, Chris leads business and workforce development. He uses a Tech Led Economic Development model in attraction, retention and expansion projects.  Chris is responsible for land sale transactions for GCEDC’s seven industry specific shovel-ready sites including the 250-acre Genesee Valley Agri Business Park (Ag Park) and 1250-acre Western New York Science & Technology Advance Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP).

Liza Ochsendorf

Liza Ochsendorf is the Director of Employment & Training for Warren County, NY.  She oversees the county operations of WIOA Title I programs in the Warren County Career Center and works closely with local and regional leaders and partners to address barriers to employment such as child care, housing, transportation, skill deficits, etc.  Her work in addressing local industry needs has led to stronger private-public sector partnerships to problem solve collaboratively for short and long-term solutions to workforce challenges.  Her passion for workforce development and economic development is rooted in community collaboration, effective communication, and clear goals and desired outcomes for all stakeholders.  Liza has 14 years of experience working in urban education in Washington, DC where she oversaw Life Skills programs and was instrumental in implementing Restorative Justice practices to build community.

Shelby Schnieder


Shelby Schneider is the Deputy Director of the New York State Economic Development Council. Schneider has over twenty-years of experience working in economic development in Saratoga County. In her most recent role, she served as the President and CEO of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership leading critical economic and workforce development initiatives across the public and private sectors, driving economic success for residents, businesses and government in Saratoga County, New York. 

Over her career she has had the opportunity to work on transformational economic development projects. She has also worked extensively with Saratoga County employers and start-ups to assist with business expansion strategies. Schneider has immense experience promoting Saratoga County and business assets to the global semiconductor and clean-tech industries. She traveled throughout the US and abroad to industry trade shows and developed an extensive knowledge of the industry and relationships with key industry decision makers and site selectors.

 Developing Career Pathways for People with Disabilities

Diosdado Gica

Dio has close to 30 years’ experience in education and non-profit organizations. At ICD, he works closely with the CEO and the Senior Leadership Team as well as directly with all Vocational Rehabilitation & Workforce Development programming staff. Prior to this role, Dio was the Director of Learning and Literacy at Queens Library overseeing all adult programming, including its Adult Learning Centers and Job & Business Academy. Dio has also worked for the YMCA of Greater New York as Executive Director; the NYC public school system; and various other non-profits and community-based organizations. Prior to this, Dio participated in the NYC Fellows Program at a high-needs high school in East New York.

Joana Lisboa

Joana Lisboa currently serves as a Senior Consultant for CVS Health’s Workforce Initiatives team, managing workforce development programming and community partnerships on behalf of the enterprise within the 5 boroughs of New York City and Long Island. She also has oversight of the NYC Workforce Innovation and Talent Center located in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, one of the four fully operational store and pharmacy training locations support the development of colleagues and partnering community agencies. In her current role, Joana partners with community-based organizations, educational institutions and more to provide youth, mature workers, individuals with disabilities, veterans and other, diverse talent access to meaningful employment opportunities.

Larry Grubler

Dr. Grubler began his career working with individuals with mental illness as a counselor in a day program operated by Mercy Hospital and Medical Center.  After four years of providing direct clinical services on both an outpatient and inpatient basis, Dr. Grubler began working as an administrator of mental health programs, both overseeing programs and developing new initiatives. In 1992, Dr. Grubler was hired as TSINY's Associate Director of Residential Services.  He was appointed CEO in March of 2007 and has expanded under his leadership to a corporation with a budget of 30 million dollars, servicing over 4,000 people per year. The Agency maintains a host of outpatient services, such as a clinic, a day program, and outreach and vocational services, as well as an affirmative business.  Dr. Grubler believes that the rehabilitation services that are provided by the staff of TSINY are so unique and the Agency mission and vision that he helped establish are so important that the services should be expanded to other parts of New York initially and, ultimately, throughout the United States.

Marie Zwickert

Marie Zwickert is the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Business Development Manager for Corporate Affairs at Cisco.  Ms. Zwickert is responsible for driving Cisco's corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs through public-private partnerships that use technology to create positive, sustainable change in education and workforce development. As a steward of Cisco's CSR vision, Marie influences key, education, government and business leaders, to understand the value of Cisco Networking Academy, which makes  a positive impact for people and communities around the world. The Cisco Networking Academy program has become one of the largest Information Communication Technology education programs in the world, helping over 2.2 million people get jobs. Ms. Zwickert envisions a world where everyone will be able to participate and succeed in the global economy.

Martha Jackson


Martha joined MOPD in 2015 to create New York City’s first workforce program for New Yorkers with disabilities: NYC: ATWORK, a public-private partnership that is business-led/business-driven and person centered connecting over 400 New Yorkers with disabilities to jobs within high growth sectors in the past 3 years. NYC: ATWORK was awarded the 2021 Zero Project Award for Innovative Policies in Employment. She established MOPD’s first Business Development Council, developed abilITy, the only Cisco IT Training Academy for New Yorkers with disabilities in partnership with the  Institute for Career Development; was instrumental in creating EMPOWERED NYC, the first financial coaching program specifically for New Yorkers with disabilities and their families, in partnership with NYC Office of Financial Empowerment and National Disability Institute. In 2021 launched, EMPOWERD CITIES, a national initiative addressing the needs of people with disabilities, spearheaded by NYC MOPD and in collaboration with the Commissioners of Disability in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Stephen Casey

Stephen Casey is a Managing Director and the Head of Wholesale Credit Risk Review for BNP Paribas in North America. In addition, he is the Executive Champion of the Ability USA Employee Resource Group. Stephen co-founded ABILITY in 2013 with two other colleagues to focus on people with disabilities. The goals of ABILITY are awareness raising, volunteering in the community, providing support and information to BNP Paribas employees and to provide employment opportunities at the Bank for people with disabilities. In 2018, BNP Paribas and Stephen Casey were recognized by the Mayor of the City of New York as “Champions of Change” for the BNP Paribas sponsorship of a NYC program to train people with disabilities in the field of Cyber Security. 

Racial Equity Initiatives Across NYS

Adrian Hale

As a Senior Manager at the Chamber of Commerce, Adrian has been working to improve educational outcomes for the Greater Rochester’s youth and enhance the quality of our workforce. Examples of his work include career readiness efforts such as, Mentor to Employment-- an internship program designed to introduce East High School students to available careers throughout the Rochester area, while also creating a pipeline into jobs that do not require further credentialing. He has also partnered with the non-profit organization Pencils and Paper to organize a school supply drive for economically disadvantaged students. By leveraging the generosity of chamber members, Adrian has helped place school supplies into the hands of over twenty thousand students in need. As a thought leader on the Democrat and Chronicle’s Editorial Board, Adrian was a driving force in making education coverage a priority.

Daniel J. Lloyd

Daniel founded Minority Millennials in 2017 as a tool to bridge the gap between policy and culture on Long Island. It is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping young people of color access jobs, build wealth and become civically engaged. Standing firm on “Proof of Progress” the grassroots organization has been touted as leaders in tackling disempowering narratives around minority communities and mobilizing millennials & gen z with the tools needed to become the next generation of change-makers in society. In his role as Economic Inclusion Advisor for the Babylon Industrial Development Agency (IDA), Daniel spearheads their Economic Inclusion Initiative, an innovative program that provides financial, technical, and legal assistance to existing and aspiring MWBE entrepreneurs who reside or operate their businesses within the Town and surrounding region.

Diana Caba

Diana Caba is Assistant Vice President of Policy & Community Engagement at the Hispanic Federation (HF), the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization. Diana implements HF’s advocacy strategy, developing and driving HF’s issue campaign activities, with a focus on increasing the financial security of Latino families. She also oversees HF’s Latino Digital Accelerator initiative which enhances and expands the digital workforce activities of Latino-led and Latino-serving nonprofit organizations across the nation. Prior to joining the Hispanic Federation, Diana served as the founding Program Director of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and has worked with a variety of community development nonprofits in New York City. She currently serves on the board of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union.

Evelyn Ortiz

Evelyn Ortiz joined the New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals (NYATEP) as the Deputy Director where she leads the development, execution, and evaluation of NYATEP’s downstate (NYC & Long Island) based policy priorities, inclusive of policy analysis and direct advocacy. Prior to joining NYATEP, Evelyn held the position of Chief External Affairs Officer at Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT), a leading youth and adult workforce development agency serving over 4,000 NYC residents. Through her advocacy, she was able to triple the amount of discretionary funds OBT secured, ensuring the sustainability of OBT’s critical programming for years to come. Evelyn realized the power of advocacy while working for NYS Senator Kevin Parker as the Director of Constituent Affairs. In this role, she came face to face with constituents who were experiencing alarming unemployment rates and risked eviction due to the mortgage crisis and recession. In order to help strengthen the community she established workforce development initiatives that alleviated her constituent’s financial burdens and enhanced their access to economic success.

LB Hannahs


As a genderqueer person growing up in Johnstown New York to a large Greek American family, LB’s personal and professional journey can best be described in one word, untraditional. Insight and experience gained from the untraditional journey inform LB’s approach to the role of Inclusion Development Strategist at Tangible Development. Using a blend of scholarship as a researcher, and practical, hands-on experience as a diversity educator and higher education administrator, LB is a bridge builder and problem solver with an expertise in organizational transformation. In 2016, LB was named an Imagining America PAGE Fellow, an organization dedicated to working across institutional, disciplinary, and community divides to strengthen and promote public scholarship, cultural organizing, and campus change that inspires collective imagination, knowledge-making, and civic action on pressing public issues.

Sharon Sewell-Fairman

Ms. Sewell-Fairman joined WPTI in 2010 and was appointed Executive Director in October 2012. She brings over 20 years of workforce development experience at the local, state, and national level through roles with the Consortium for Worker Education, New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals, New York City Employment & Training Coalition, National Association of Workforce Boards in Washington, D.C., and Wadley-Donovan Growth Tech, LLC.

Converting the Skills Gap Into Opportunity for Workforce and Economic Development

Martie Telepo

Martie, brings over 25 years of operational management experience of which 15 has been focused solely in the public sector staffing and workforce development arena. Ms. Telepo has wealth of government program management experience and has driven results for our clients and partners by developing processes and standardization of all aspects of program support including hiring programs. Her understanding of compliance and operational excellence along with her experience as a Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP) provides our clients, partners and job seekers a customer centric results driven approach. Martie is passionate about workforce development and career pathing opportunities for communities and building successful partnerships helping job seekers and companies succeed. Having ran Youth, Work experience, Veterans, and Disability employment initiatives programs she works directly with our partners, both public and private, to face the challenges of evolving workforce needs across the nation.

Raleen Gagnon

Raleen Gagnon oversees a team responsible for market, business, and competitive intelligence for workforce analysis, including collecting and analyzing trends related to the availability, cost, regulation, and productivity of workforce skills/resources across 80 countries globally. In this role, she is responsible for delivering global and regional quarterly market reports, developing ManpowerGroup's Total Workforce Index, producing critical workforce updates and other market intelligence solutions. Her team provides consulting services to clients seeking insight into market trends, compensation strategy, and workforce alignment. She has a consulting background and previously served as research director and practice lead at Fuld & Company, managing consulting engagements for Fortune 50 clients. Raleen has a Marketing degree from Bentley University and teaches certification courses for the Academy of Competitive Intelligence in Cambridge, Miami, and London.

Getting Back to Work: New Ways to Attract and Retain Good Employees

Ale Mendoza

Alejandro (Ale’) Mendoza is the Director of Human Resources at Optimax Systems Inc., a precision optics manufacturer, located in Ontario, New York. In this role, he is part of the Board of Directors at Optimax and focuses on aligning the company’s strategic goals and culture with a growing workforce. In addition to his current role at Optimax, Ale’ has a passion for collaborating and building relationships with workforce development organizations. Ale’ serves the local community as a member of the Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise (FAME), the Finger Lakes Community College foundation board and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce HR Executive forum while regionally, he’s a member of the NY state workforce strategy group – Invest in skills NY coalition and nationally, he serves as a board member of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and partners with the National Skills Coalition and Business Leaders United, including a member of their Manufacturing Industry Recovery Panel.

Lynn Freid


Lynn Freid is the executive director of the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board serving Wayne, Ontario, Seneca and Yates Counties. Prior to joining FLWIB, as regional director for The Workforce Development Institute (WDI) covering the Rochester, Finger Lakes, Genesee Valley and some Southern Tier regions, Lynn brokered best training practices to various industry employers; leveraging resources and services among workforce and economic partners to build skilled labor workforce pipelines. Lynn has over thirty years of work experience in management with small and large business operations, including director of workforce development at Finger Lakes Community College for twelve years including delivering training as a certified At-Risk Youth trainer. Lynn brings diverse expertise to the workforce and economic development to achieve training and pipeline solutions.

Robin King

Robin King is the President & CEO of CareerSource Flagler Volusia, the local workforce development board located in east central Florida. CareerSourceFV is tasked with upgrading the skills of the unemployed and underemployed while helping businesses find talent. On average CareerSourceFV served over 20,000 job seekers and over 2,000 businesses through their three career centers and online services. Robin has 35 years of experience in workforce development and serves on various boards for local economic development organizations and NGOs. Her goal, to create access to prosperity for all, fiercely drives her collaboration with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. She holds an adamant tenet in cultivating relationships and teamwork with economic development, education, and businesses.

Ryan Hundt

In his role as Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Works! Association, Ryan connects with various stakeholders to generate enthusiasm for workforce development policies and priorities that will positively impact Michigan businesses and workers. To accomplish these objectives, Ryan focuses on building cooperation across the state, while orchestrating the efforts of the Michigan Works! staff, board members, and other stakeholders toward common goals that reflect the needs of the workforce development system.  Prior to joining the Michigan Works Association, Ryan spent eight years with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Most recently, Ryan served as a Regional Director of Growth & Development at the MEDC, where he led a team focused primarily on business retention and expansion. Ryan believes that anything can be accomplished through teamwork, dedication, and a positive attitude.

Best Practices for Executing Virtual Job Fairs and Virtual Services

Chris Bernhardt

Is a national speaker with a proven track record of creating effective workforce development initiatives that connect businesses with the skilled talent they need to operate and grow.  As the Senior Vice President of Training with Grant Associates, he oversees the training needs, analysis, design, and implementation for workforce development programs across the nation.  Christopher has a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and a master’s degree in Education, both from Texas A&M University. His professional affiliations include membership with the Association for Talent Development and the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals.  Additionally, he is a proud holder of the Eagle Scout rank through the Boy Scouts of America.

David Olson

David Olson is the Internal Communications Director for Workforce Solutions Capital Area, the local workforce development board for Austin/Travis County, Texas. He is a storyteller and has earned communications and marketing experience in roles in workforce development, private business, and the U.S. Navy.

Aligning System Resources for Community Hiring

Al Marzullo

Alan Marzullo is Business Manager and Financial Secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local #43. He has been a member of the IBEW for 32 years. He was indentured into the Electricians Apprenticeship Program in July 1989 and completed his training in June 1994. He has held the following elected and appointed positions for his union: Apprentice Training Instructor, Executive Board member, Executive Board Chairman, Examining Board and Political Action Committee member, Trustee for the Joint Apprentice Training Committee and Local #43 Health, Pension and Annuity Funds. Alan is an active volunteer with the American Heart Association, Charity for Children, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity. He is a vice president of the Area Labor Federation, a board member for CNY Works, as well as the vice chairperson of the Onondaga Community College Foundation.

Chris Montgomery

Christopher Montgomery has been a strong advocate, counselor and emerging community leader for academic and workforce development and finding creative ways to strengthen the city of Syracuse. Christopher Montgomery now serves as Director of Syracuse Build at CNY Works. This unique opportunity allows Christopher to build an initiative that will create a robust and inclusive workforce pipeline of Syracuse, NY residents aligned with upcoming employment opportunities associated with unprecedented levels of investment in the city’s urban core. Previously, as Staff Assistant and Program Coordinator at the Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center (Syracuse EOC), Christopher assisted with the development, coordination, and recruitment of workforce development programs.

Dominic Robinson

Dominic is the Vice President of Economic Inclusion for the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CenterState CEO).  CenterState CEO is a regional economic development and business leadership organization and chamber of commerce, based in Syracuse and representing Central Upstate New York. In this role, Dominic works to engage business leaders and community partners in advancing equity and shared prosperity. Dominic oversees a portfolio of programs that include neighborhood revitalization initiatives, workforce development partnerships, and a business incubation and development program, targeting minority and neighborhood based entrepreneurs.

The Impact of Recreational Cannabis Legalization in NY

David O'Brien

David O’Brien is the President and CEO of Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association with a mission to convene, voice, and advocate for the Commonwealth’s cannabis business community and ancillary services. David has spent his career providing public engagement, government relations and strategic communications counsel to the private, public and non-profit sectors at the state, national and international level. A pioneer in the Massachusetts Cannabis industry, David previously served as the director of East Coast government relations for Weedmaps where he led strategy for cannabis legalization, regulation and taxation. He also developed and provided municipal officials with data-driven research to inform effective adult-use cannabis zoning laws.

Senator James

Senator James Sanders Jr. is a member of the New York State Senate, serving since January 2013. He represents the 10th district, which includes the Queens neighborhoods of Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale and parts of Far Rockaway.

Melinda Mack


Melinda Mack is the Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), a nationally recognized, leading non-profit membership association in the field of workforce development. In her previous role, Ms. Mack was the founding Director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation program, Graduate NYC!, an ambitious initiative bringing together the City University of New York, New York City public schools, Mayor’s Office, and a range of external partners aimed at dramatically improving education outcomes across K-12 and community college completion rates. She previously served as the acting director of the NYC Workforce Board and in economic development and municipal finance in upstate NY.

Tremaine S. Wright

Tremaine S. Wright is a former member of the New York State Assembly who thereafter served as the first Director of the DFS Statewide Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment. Ms. Wright is an attorney, entrepreneur, small business owner and activist who is a second-generation Bedford Stuyvesant resident invested in preserving the rich legacy of her community and building a strong foundation for the future. She has dedicated her career to empowering and creating opportunities for her neighbors and her community.

Apprenticeship in Non-Traditional Occupations

Allison Quigney

Allison Quigney is the Director of Client Services at Public Works Partners. She designs solutions for complex programs and partnerships at the intersection of urban planning and human service delivery. She previously led and directed training and upskilling initiatives at the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

Dominique Cherubin-Dijon

Marie Dominique Cherubin-Dijon is a Community Habilitation Worker with Access: Supports for Living, providing on-going support services to community members. Dominique has over 15 years of experience working in healthcare. Prior to her role as a Community Habilitation worker, Dominique was a Court Appointed Special Advocate in New York and New Jersey.

Evelyn Fernandez Ketcham

Evelyn Fernandez-Ketcham, LCSW is Executive Director of Workforce Development at Hostos Community College (CUNY) – Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development, where she manages a portfolio of federal, state, and city contracts, including privately funded projects for workforce development and literacy programs.

Rachel Tarr

Rachel Tarr, Senior Professional Development Coordinator at Access: Supports for Living, specializes in training and staff development, online course and curriculum design and implementation, and employee and community engagement programs.