In This Issue:

  • ED Farewell
  • State and Federal Policy Updates: Waiting for Shelter Funding and Closeout Supp; New CommCorp CEO, Election Day 11/7, FoLDS Event Recap, Unemployment and Economic Updates, House Speaker Named, Budget Deadline, 21st Century Skills Act, NAWB Comments on USDOL UI RFI
  • MWA Updates: Racial Justice Resources, Advocacy Academy Kick Off, New MWA Board Members, Listen4Good Opportunity
  • Member Updates: Summit Recap - Mary Sarris Recognized
  • News From Around the Sector: Jobs, funding, news and updates
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Dear MWA Members, Colleagues, and Friends:

It is bittersweet for me to share my departure from the Massachusetts Workforce Association on November 3rd. For more than 4 years, I have enjoyed working with you to communicate the importance and impact of the Commonwealth's public workforce system, to build new partnerships and opportunities for collaboration and learning, and to lift up the successes and innovations of so many mission-driven workforce organizations and professionals.

MWA is in a strong position and I look forward to seeing the future success of the association. Valerie Sutton, MWA's current Board Chair, will assume the interim executive director role while our board conducts a search for a new executive director. Click here to learn more about the position and to apply. Kelly Hanlon, our Associate Director, will be on hand to keep the Association's work on track through the transition. I want to thank each and every one of you for your support, passion, and commitment to our Commonwealth's workforce system.

All the best,

Raija Vaisanen

Executive Director

State Public Policy

Governor Healey files Supplemental Budget to Continue Funding for Emergency Shelters; FY23 Closeout Supp Budget Still Needed

The Healey-Driscoll Administration requested $250 million in a supplemental budget bill last month to help manage the shelter system crisis. The House has said that they need more information about the actual costs of sheltering migrant families before it can act on the governor's request. The state is spending approximately $45 million per month to shelter the recent wave of immigrant families that have arrived. More recently, the Governor announced that they would have to implement a wait list, as the shelter system's capacity reaches its limits.

The State also needs to closeout the books on FY23 and to do so must pass a closeout supplemental budget. The deadline for that to be filed typically falls on 10/31, though the state has been late delivering this in the past. The Comptroller cannot file the final Statutory Basis Financial Report that summarizes the state's revenue and spending until this final bill is filed. This is used by bond rating agencies and others to assess the health of the Commonwealth's finances. The legislature's next recess is scheduled to begin 11/15.

Healey-Driscoll Administration Welcomes Molly Jacobson, New CommCorp President and CEO

Today, the Healey-Driscoll Administration Announced the appointment of Molly Jacobson to the position of President and CEO of Commonwealth Corporation. Formerly a Partner with Boston Consulting Group in their Public Sector practice, she is quoted in the press release saying: “I’m grateful to Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll, and Secretary Jones for placing their faith in me. I’ve been lucky to work alongside Commonwealth Corporation in recent years, applying a strategic lens to promote workforce and economic development across Massachusetts. I am honored now to roll up my sleeves and to dive deeper with Comm Corp's staff and partners to advance meaningful employment and upward mobility for all.” To read the press release, click here.

Don't Forget to Vote! November 7th State & Local Elections

To see whether your city/town or district is holding an election, click here. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7th, but many locations are holding early voting opportunities prior to that. Click here to learn more about when and where you can vote or check out your local election division's website.

September 2023 Unemployment Rate and Economic Analysis

On October 20th, the state released the unemployment rate for September and the revised rate for August 2023. Click here to read the 10/20 state press release. Massachusetts' September rate was unchanged from August's rate (2.6%), 1.2 percentage points below the national rate for September (3.8%). The MA labor force participation rate declined 0.1 of a percentage point over the month to 64.4 percent, down 0.4 of a percentage point from the prior year (September 2022). The labor force declined an estimated 1,200 from August 2023. Over the year, September 2022 to September 2023, the state gained an estimated 91,900 jobs. The largest over the year gains occurred in Education and Health Services; Leisure and Hospitality, and Professional, Scientific, and Business Services.

Click here to read the most recent state press release. Local unemployment estimates for August were released on 10/24. The most recent local press release can be found here.

MWA, WSG, and Friends of Longitudinal Data Systems Host State House Symposium

The Friends of Longitudinal Data Systems (FoLDS), a collection of education advocates, researchers, philanthropists, and policymakers dedicated to advancing cutting-edge social policy research in Massachusetts, held its second annual Symposium on October 18th at the State House. The Workforce Solutions Group was a co-host of the event. Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, Rep. Manny Cruz, and Sen. Pavel Payano helped facilitate conversations with researchers and national experts about the importance of developing and maintaining strong, secure and integrated longitudinal data systems for accountability, transparency, and program evaluation and reporting across states. H.530/S.343 An Act establishing an education to career data center codifies existing efforts and creates a governance structure for the data system. Click here for a recap of the event, including links to research shared and links to future FoLDS events.

Federal Public Policy

New House Speaker is Named, Another Budget Deadline Looms

New Speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson from Louisiana, has announced a plan to keep the government funded beyond November 17th and pass all 12 appropriations bills through the House chamber. For Labor, Health and Human Services, he plans to take the subcommittee approved version, which includes dramatic cuts to WIOA, straight to the House Rules Committee before House floor consideration during the week of November 13th. As with many things in Congress, there are real questions whether this bill will move forward. 250 organizations, including MWA, signed onto a letter urging Congress to fully fund federal education and workforce development.

WIOA Reauthorization is still a priority for both Chairperson Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), so while delayed by the Speaker vacancy, there is a possibility it could move forward before the end of the calendar year.

NAWB Submits Comments to US DOL on UI Data Accessibility

Last month, NAWB submitted comments in response to a request for information by the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the use of unemployment compensation information to support the development and evaluation of workforce development programs. Across the country, public workforce systems struggle with interpreting the current federal statute and making use of best-in-class technologies that can both protect privacy and secure data, while also integrating with education and workforce data to understand whether these public investments are successful and leading to equitable outcomes. This challenge led to MWA and the Workforce Solutions Group's Data Campaign. In Pennsylvania, our colleagues have launched a campaign called #FreetheData. Click here to read their comments.

21st Century Skills Act

Rep. Norcross (D-1st/NJ) recently introduced to House the 21st Century SKILLS Act. This legislation would convert individual training accounts (ITAs) which are funded through federal discretionary funds under WIOA (subject to annual appropriations) to a mandatory spending mechanism. Workforce boards would still be the fiscal entity to manage the funds and administer the training programs under the proposal. Click here for a bill summary and here for the bill text.

Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources

MWA is following the conversation among the workforce development and related communities about how racism and white supremacy influence the field and practice of workforce development. We will continue to use this newsletter to share relevant tools, articles, webinars and resources to support the workforce development community.

MWA Welcomes Emmanuel Owusu and three new MassHire Representatives to the Board of Directors

MWA's Board of Directors welcomed several new board members at its September 19th board meeting. Emmanuel Owusu, Founder and Executive Director of the African Bridge Network joined along with Greg Bunn, Executive Director of the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board, Maura Geary, Executive Director of the MassHire Franklin-Hampshire Career Center, and Joe Lopes, Executive Director/CEO of MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board. We sincerely thank founding board members Mary Sarris, Executive Director of the MassHire North Shore Workforce Board, and Michael Weekes, former President and CEO of the Providers' Council, for their 5 years of service to MWA.

MWA Kicks of First MA Workforce Development Advocacy Academy

This month, MWA launched our first ever MA Workforce Development Advocacy Academy. In partnership with Black Lion Strategies, and with funding from a SkillWorks Fellowship Design Grant, MWA developed a 6 session program that takes participants from learning to practice in public policy advocacy specific to Massachusetts' workforce system. Twelve participants from a range of workforce organizations and backgrounds have completed two sessions - Federal Workforce Legislation, facilitated by our friends at NYATEP, and the Massachusetts Workforce System and State Budget 101, in partnership with MassBudget. The cohort has also been divided into four policy project groups, which will develop policy recommendations and briefs over the course of the Academy. Stay tuned for more updates!

Listen4Good No Cost Learning Community

Listen4Good's New England Equitable Access Fund is now accepting applications to participate in Listen4Good’s program and regional Learning Community (at no cost) starting in January 2024. Local funders are partnering with Listen4Good to support nonprofits across New England to gather and analyze client feedback data for fundraising, strategic decision-making, and advancing equity goals. 

To learn more, register for an upcoming informational webinar:

If the program is a good fit for your team, you can register at this link by December 1, 2023. 

MassHire North Shore Workforce Board ED Mary Sarris Honored with 2023 Kathie Mainzer Award

The 14th Annual Jobs and Workforce Summit was another success this year with a wide array of timely conversations from the Workforce Skills Cabinet, to AI and its emerging impact on work, and how to more effectively connect new immigrants to good jobs in the Commonwealth. We heard directly from an energized panel of young people about what they find most important and helpful in their early work experiences. The Summit also offered opportunities to think about new funding from federal sources like the Department of Transportation or the Department of Energy and new partnerships developing between workforce development and these sectors. A highlight for MWA was celebrating Mary Sarris as she was honored with the Kathie Mainzer Award, which recognizes an individual that has demonstrated their commitment to the betterment and transformation of our workforce development system, and displays leadership in spearheading new initiatives, and sharing new resources for workforce development to build a better, more inclusive economy. Congratulations to Mary!


There are so many job postings and funding announcements, we moved our News from Around the Sector section to our website, where you can access the news, jobs, funding announcements and more anytime throughout the month. Go to:

Here is a just sample of the events, funding opportunities, jobs, and more posted on our website:

  • Job Opportunity: MWA is hiring an Executive Director. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • Job Opportunity: MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board is hiring a new President and CEO. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • Internship Opportunity: MassHire Metro North Workforce Board is hiring for a Communications Intern position. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • Job Opportunity: The City of Boston Office of Workforce Development is hiring an Assistant Deputy Director for Grants Management. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • MA Clean Energy Center RFP for Professional Services Support for Equity Workforce Grantees and Programming - Rolling applications welcome through December 1st. Click here to learn more.
  • Funding Opportunity: MA Clean Energy Center has announced Equity Workforce Planning and Capacity Grants. Click here to learn more and apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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