The Dakota-Scott Workforce Development Board (WDB) recently held its Legislative and Employer Awards luncheon. Honorees included:
Mark McAfee Friend of Workforce Development Award
Corinne Shepherd and Mark Lofthus each received the Mark McAfee Friend of Workforce Development Award. It is presented to an individual who has championed workforce issues at the local, state or federal level.
Shepherd served as WDB chair for six years and vice-chair for six years and led numerous committees. In her leadership role, she also represented the WDB at Minnesota Workforce Council Association and Greater Metro Workforce.
“Corinne is the consummate professional and wonderful to work with," said Ann Glaves, former WDB vice-chair. “Her strategic planning skills and leadership skills are excellent, and I learned so much from her."
Shepherd worked at Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Eagan in various director roles.
Lofthus succeeded Shepherd as WDB chair and before that led the board's business services committee for many years.
“He was a natural at convening and collaborating public and private organizations to make a difference for Dakota and Scott counties," Pam Oeffler, current WDB chair, said of Lofthus.
For the past seven years, Lofthus was economic development director at Dakota Electric Association in Farmington. Prior to that, he worked at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Bob Killeen Award
Jay Haugen received the Bob Killeen Award, which recognizes individuals or companies for their innovative or quality practices.
Haugen retired in November after serving as a school superintendent for 23 years, the past eight years in Farmington, where he was named Minnesota's superintendent of the year in 2019. Under his leadership, Farmington was named one of Minnesota's first Innovation Zones and the first district of its size in Minnesota to implement a K–12 personalized digital learning platform.
Over eight years, Haugen has brought waves of change to Farmington, making it among the first in the state to distribute iPads to all students and to implement flexible learning days to enable students to learn at home when school is canceled by bad weather.
Business Champion Award
USIC Minnesota in Eagan received the Business Champion Award. It is presented to an outstanding company that uses CareerForce services such as the job fairs, job postings or training.
USIC Minnesota performs underground utility location services. The company and their recruiter, ShayLynn Ager, were nominated for the award by all three of the CareerForce hiring event coordinators. They noted that Ager participates in events at all three locations and has made hires directly from that participation.
Bob Klas Sr. Entrepreneur Award
Jeryl Beaulieu and Showcraft Inc. in Burnsville received the Bob Klas Sr. Entrepreneur Award, which recognizes a local entrepreneur success story.
Founded in 1996, the company is a boutique experiential marketing agency managing events and designing and building exhibits for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Over the past 10 years, the staff has doubled in size and the company has had 23 consecutive years of growth and continuous profitability.
Showcraft, Inc. has been located in Burnsville since its inception, including a significant move and expansion in 2017 to its new location on County Road 42.
Beaulieu has served with the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce, Burnsville Convention & Visitors Bureau Board, Fairview Ridges Hospital Board of Trustees and other community organizations.
Employer of the Year for People with Disabilities Award
White House Custom Colour in Eagan received the Employer of the Year of People with Disabilities Award, which recognizes an employer who hires, recruits, supports and retains people with disabilities.
Started in the 1970s, White House Custom Colour is a professional photography and press printing lab serving photographers around the world.
The organization was lauded for its work by the District 196 Transition Plus Program staff who said: “Nineteen students immersed themselves in WHCC's positive work culture whose mission is to hire friendly, hard-working people who contribute to positive teams and the work environment. More than half of these students experienced their first job experience and were thrilled with their experience."
Willis E. Branning Excellence in Youth Employment Services Award–Dakota County
Jack Kolb-Williams, executive director of THE GARAGE in Burnsville, received the Willis E. Branning Excellence in Youth Employment Services Awards for Dakota County. The award recognizes commitment to preparing young people to enter the workforce.
THE GARAGE, an all-ages, alcohol-free music venue operated by the nonprofit Twin Cities Catalyst Music, provides equitable access and opportunities to young people to see, experience and participate in the local music scene.
“Jack recognizes the need for youth to have positive mentors in their lives and a safe place for entertainment, education and socializing," said Andrea Grossman, Dakota County Social Services coordinator. “When I was first introduced to Jack, he quickly offered to help work with youth we serve in Community Services."
THE GARAGE also partners with the City of Burnsville and District 191 to provide other learning opportunities for students.
Willis E. Branning Excellence in Youth Employment Services Award–Scott County
The American Red Cross received the Willis E. Branning Excellence in Youth Employment Services Awards for Scott County.
Brandon Kmety, Scott County employment counselor, said the county uses the American Red Cross as a nursing assistant training provider. They have a strong reputation and provide flexibility and extra help for youth clients.
“Red Cross staff maintain constant communication with our participants so they are able to complete all the necessary steps to earn their nursing assistant certifications," Kmety said.