Next Generation Sector Partnership Community of Practice




The Next Gen Sector Partnership Academy & Community of Practice uses the real experience of practitioners in the field to train emerging leaders on the steps and strategies of Next Gen sector partnership-building. 


Stephen Baiter, Executive Director, Oakland Workforce Development Board. 

Stephen is currently the Executive Director of the City of Oakland Workforce Development Board (OWDB). The OWDB is a 25-member body comprised of leaders from business, economic development, education, labor, and select public agencies that aligns a variety of networks and resources to support economic vitality in the City of Oakland and the East Bay. In this role, Stephen is responsible for working with regional leaders and a diverse set of stakeholders to design strategies and policies that enhance the local talent pipeline to benefit the businesses and workers in our region’s communities.

Prior to assuming his current position, Stephen held a variety of leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors working in partnership with business, economic development, education, and other organizations. He is currently the Chair of the California Workforce Association, a statewide membership organization representing the local workforce system in California and also serves on the board of directors of a couple of East Bay nonprofit organizations focused on education and economic development. He has a BA in Political Science from Boston College and a Master’s in Public Administration from California State University-East Bay

Jacob Castillo, Economic Development Director and Enterprise Zone Administrator, Larimer County Colorado
Mr. Castillo currently serves as the Economic Development Director and Enterprise Zone Administrator for Larimer County Colorado. In this role he has been active in forming and leading the manufacturing and health sector partnerships in Northern Colorado. He has a background in regional economic development, having previously served as the Vice President of the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation. Mr. Castillo’s past entrepreneurial successes include an international clean technology product distribution company and a leading-edge bicycle manufacturing firm- both of which have a strong social and environmental focus. He was a contributing author to a text book on sustainable venturing and has been an instructor at Colorado State University (CSU)for the past five years. He holds three undergraduate degrees in Agricultural Business, Foreign Language and Literature, and Economics from CSU and pursued a double masters in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise and Agricultural & Resource Economics.  

Seth Dyson, City of Surprise, Human Service & Community Vitality Director

Seth has 15 years of non-profit and local government experience in economic development, workforce development, community development and business development. Seth currently works for the City of Surprise, (yes Surprise!) Arizona as the Director of the Human Service & Community Vitality Department. Former roles include Director of Community Partnerships and Workforce Development at the Maricopa Community College District, Business and Workforce Development Supervisor at the City of Phoenix, and Project Manager at the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council. Seth holds a B.S. from Arizona State University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Utah. 

Shalee Hodgson, Deputy Administrator, Workforce Investments, Oregon Employment Department, Oregon

Shalee Hodgson is the Deputy Administrator of Workforce Investments for the Oregon Employment Department. Her previous experience includes implementing both community college and workforce development programs in Oregon and Minnesota, most recently working with Oregon’s Workforce Development system to support sector strategies at the local level as well as implement system integration and strategic planning. She also has experience working with Oregon’s community colleges to implement Career and Technical Education programs and align systems. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree from North Dakota State University and a Masters of Business Administration from Marylhurst University.


Meagan Lannan, Manager, Livingston Office of Montana Workforce Services, Montana

Meagan Lannan is the Manager of the Livingston office of Montana Workforce Services and serves as a  co-convener of the Gallatin Valley Manufacturing Partnership based in Bozeman, MT. Meaganis in her element when working to align and mobilize groups to develop creative, out-of-the-box solutions that can only happen when you have them sharing one 'big collaborative brain.' She has spent the last five years working in workforce development and also has diverse work experience.Meagan holds a Lean Green certification and is completing her portfolio to complete her SME Lean Bronze certification.

Jennifer Mellor, Vice President of Economic Development, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (GPCC), Arizona

Jennifer Mellor serves as Vice President of Economic Development for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (GPCC). In this role, Jennifer is responsible for Phoenix Forward, GPCC’s economic development initiative focused on strengthening existing businesses in the community. Jennifer also oversees the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation which focuses on industry-led workforce development strategies to enhance the talent pipeline for key industry sectors.Prior to this role, Jennifer served as Vice President of Program Development, overseeing fundraising, events and programs. Jennifer initially came to the Chamber as the Director of Finance and was responsible for all day-to-day accounting functions, financial statement preparation, overseeing the annual audit and general supervision of the operations team.

Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Arizona State University and earned her MBA from the University of Phoenix. Jennifer serves on the City of Phoenix’s Citizens Transportation Commission and is involved with several local nonprofit organizations including the Valley of the Sun United Way Women’s Leadership Council and the Downtown Phoenix YMCA. Prior to joining GPCC, Jennifer worked as an analyst for Best Software and as a senior accountant for Casino Arizona. She is a licensed CPA in the state of Arizona.


Todd Nell, Executive Director, Oregon Workforce Investment Board

Todd is the Executive Director of the Oregon Workforce Investment Board (OWIB) at the Office of Workforce Investments (OWI).  Prior to his current position with the OWIB, he was the Workforce Initiatives Manager at the Department of Community Colleges (CCWD) leading a team focused on Sectors Strategies, Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC) initiative and the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). He holds a BS from the University of Oregon and an MBA from Northwest Christian University. Todd is a native Oregonian, has lived in West Salem since 2004 with his wife and two daughters, and is an avid Duck fan.  


Kristina Payne, Executive Director, Lane Workforce Partnership, Oregon

Kristina Payne grew up in Santa Cruz, California and is a University of Oregon Alum and graduated with her business degree from Northwest Christian University. Kristina became the Executive Director of Lane Workforce Partnership (LWP), the Local Workforce Board for Lane County,  in January 2014. Shortly after becoming the Executive Director of LWP, Kristina moved the organization out from under the County Government structure and set it up as an independent private non-profit and quasi-government organization.  With the assistance of a strong board of directors, Kristina was able to launch and create the Lane County Sector Strategy Team, made up of high-level government and private sector leadership from across Lane County.  The LC Sector Strategy Team has launched initiatives that have drawn significant national attention for the growing Tech Sector – which is now being replicated to support the Food & Beverage Industry in Lane County.  

Eric M. Seleznow, Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Eric has over thirty years of progressively responsible “up through the ranks” experience managing a range of workforce development and correctional reentry programs at the federal, state and local levels. He is an experienced practitioner with expertise in sector partnerships, career pathways, registered apprenticeship, and reentry initiatives.

Eric most recently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration under Secretary Tom Perez, where he worked on the Obama administration’s vision for workforce development and skills training. Prior to his post at DOL, Eric served as the State Policy Director with the National Skills Coalition, working with many diverse stakeholders to strengthen state workforce policies. He has also served as a local workforce director for the Montgomery County (MD) Department of Economic Development, where he oversaw the local workforce development system, and as Executive Director of the Governor's Workforce Investment Board (GWIB) under Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. Eric also worked for nearly 20 years in the corrections system operating jail-based training, employment and pre-release programs - re-entry efforts for which he is still regarded as a national expert.Eric resides in Washington, D.C

Stephanie Veck, Director, Colorado Workforce Development Council

Stephanie Veck is the Director of the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC), a dynamic public-private partnership that is a Governor appointed, business-led, coalition of industry, state agencies and their local system partners. This coalition works to create an integrated talent development system that meets the needs of students, job-seekers, workers and businesses by aligning education, training, workforce and economic development efforts with the needs of industry.   Stephanie serves on the Governor's Business Experiential Learning Commission, the Denver Public Schools Career Connect Board, and the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance Board; she is an Executive Board Member of the Colorado STEM Champion’s Board, and the Colorado Companies to Watch Legacy Board. She has become known as a national leader in cross-agency and public-private partnerships (including next generation sector partnerships), sharing Colorado’s work with national audiences through a variety of outlets.

A Colorado native and entrepreneur, Stephanie most appreciates the opportunity to work with great volunteers and business leaders throughout Colorado in implementing solutions for our future.  The vision of the CWDC is that every Colorado business has access to a skilled workforce and every Coloradan has access to meaningful employment, resulting in statewide economic vitality. To accomplish this goal, all stakeholders must work together to face the always changing challenges of our labor and economic markets; convening these collaborative partnerships is the role of the CWDC.

Lynn Vosler, Director of Workforce Solutions, Front Range Community College, Colorado

Lynn Vosler is Director of Workforce Solutions for Front Range Community College in Colorado.  FRCC has 30,000 students at three campus locations in Westminster, Longmont and Fort Collins. In her position, she manages the Corporate Solutions team and works with Rapid Response teams at each campus to respond to business needs for new programming, apprenticeship/internships and placement opportunities.   Lynn is a member of two different convener teams that have started industry sector partnerships in Manufacturing, Health Care and Energy for two regions in Colorado.

Katie Weaver, Park County Economic & Community Development Extension Agent, Montana State University, Montana

Katie Weaver believes that strong individuals and communities are the foundation of a healthy, resilient economy that benefits all residents. With over ten years of community and economic development experience in rural communities throughout the West, she has led efforts in agriculture, food systems, business development, tourism, downtown redevelopment, housing, workforce, and leadership development. Katie’s deep understanding of capacity building and her expertise in bringing communities together is integral to the sustainability of these efforts. Katie is the co-convener of the Gallatin Valley Manufacturing Partnership in the greater Bozeman region.

Industry Champions

Business champions who are leading top performing next generation sector partnerships across the country are active participants in the Academy.

Nikki Dixon-Foley, Customer Service Manager, West Paw Design

As the customer service manager for West Paw Design, a world-class manufacture of eco-friendly pet toys and beds, Nikki Dixon-Foley has not only lead the charge for creating exceptional customer experiences but has also become the principal creator of a 10-day manufacturing curriculum designed for high school students.

Nikki hold’s a master’s degree from Colorado State University – Global in Organizational Leadership with a specialization in training and instructional design. Nikki has 10 years of teaching experience in both formal and informal settings and is currently a member of the Gallatin Valley Manufacturing Partnership Talent Pipeline Committee.  Nikki’s curriculum has been accepted as a pilot program in two high school classrooms since January and early results indicate very positive gains in introducing young students to career possibilities within manufacturing. Originally from Helena, Montana, Nikki currently lives in Bozeman with her husband, Rich and daughter, Millie.

John Hansen, Chief Operating Officer, Laron

23 years in the US Navy as a Submarine Nuclear Power Plant Operator/Instructor and Submarine Repair Officer.  Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University in Workforce Education and Development.  Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Systems Renewal from Antioch University Seattle.  Manager and Mill Manager Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation United States and Ghana, West Africa.   Laron Incorporated, Chief Operating Officer.  Architect of the Laron Incorporated Apprenticeship Programs.   Founding/Current Chairman of Kingman and Mohave Manufacturing Association (KAMMA). John enjoys writing and exploring the Arizona outdoors with his lovely wife Victoria and staying connected with the families of his three sons and five grandchildren.


Yvonne Myers, Health Systems Director, Columbine Health Systems

Since 1983, Yvonne has worked with older adults in various settings including, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, in-home care, and adult day programs.  She has been employed in various roles at Columbine Health Systems over the past 26 years, since 1998, as the Health Systems Director.   In that time Columbine grew from 5 businesses to 22. They currently employ 1,500 people.

Over the past 33 years, Yvonne has been involved in numerous boards and committees regarding workforce development.  These include – the Larimer County Workforce Investment Board, Workforce Committee of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Northern Colorado Health Sector Partnership. As a key leader in the sector partnerships she has found it to be the single table that she has been able to come together with her competitors to take collective action for their industry and community. Columbine Health Systems has led innovative community and workforce issues under her leadership. They were the pilot business working with Bohemian Foundation and the Larimer County Workforce Center, to bring a work/life navigator program to their community.  Moving from pilot to a sustainable model, they were the first to partner with the WorkLife Partnership in Larimer County. Columbine is the first business in Colorado to partner with Project Search to provide internships and work skills learning and internships to students in the Poudre School District with intellectual and/or learning disabilities.  In some cases, students are hired for various roles within Columbine.

Paul Harter, Owner and Chief Executive Officer, Aqua-Hot Heating Systems

Paul Harter is the owner and CEO of Aqua-Hot Heating Systems, chairperson for the NoCo Manufacturing Partnership, chairperson for the Enander Family Foundation, and former board member of the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance. After serving in the US Army, Paul took a job as an entry-level machinist in a manufacturing plant.  Discovering his passion for making things, Paul completed his BA in Business at Eastern Illinois University and began a manufacturing career that has included leadership positions in several companies in the computer and automotive industries.  Prior to joining Aqua-Hot, Paul served as General Manager for the powertrain and cockpit assembly operations for Chrysler’s auto assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois.

Throughout his career, he has been a student of leadership and systems thinking.  Through his community engagement activities, Paul has become a regular speaker for topics including manufacturing, leadership, workforce, quality, and corporate culture. Paul currently resides in Johnstown, Colorado with his wife, Laura.


Academy staff are national leaders on Next Generation Sector Partnerships, community and industry engagement.


Agnes Balassa , Owner, Agnes Balassa Solutions (ABSLLC)

Over the last 25 years, Agnes has led dozens of local, state and national projects focused on improving the efficacy and impact of workforce development organizations, programs and systems. She has worked in more than nine states to evaluate workforce and training programs, interpret and develop policy, facilitate effective partnerships and use economic data and industry input to drive regional decision-making. Key areas of expertise include sector partnership development and facilitation, public policy development, strategic planning, and program design and implementation.  Previously, Agnes served as a senior workforce policy advisor to Oregon’s Governor, managed a local workforce development board, worked for state and national organizations workforce, staffed a statewide workforce association, worked in secondary and post-secondary education, and created community coalitions. Most recently, Agnes helped Washington State implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Integrated Services Delivery. Agnes has been featured as a speaker at state- and national-level conferences.


Garrett Groves, Director, Economic Opportunity Program, Center for Public Policy Priorities

Garrett Directs the Economic Opportunity Program at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an independent public policy organization based in Austin, Texas. In addition to leading projects on educational attainment, workforce alignment and job quality standards at the Center, Garrett is also a scholar in residence at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas where he is studying promising workforce practices in Texas. Before joining the Center in 2014, Garrett served as a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Governors Association working with state and local entities on workforce, postsecondary education and economic development policy.  He also previously served in the Office of Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Labor, where he oversaw the rigorous evaluation of federal education and training programs.