Next Generation Sector Partnership Community of Practice

Who We Are

Founding Staff Team

A team of 4 independent consultants with a similar approach to aligning workforce, education, and economic development with industry have teamed up to make the Next Gen Academy and national Community of Practice possible. They bring a unique mix of experiences and skills with a variety of state and local teams focused on building long-lasting partnerships with industry. 


Lindsey Woolsey

President and principal, The Woolsey Group, LLC

Lindsey Woolsey is President and principal consultant of The Woolsey Group, LLC., a research, technical assistance and facilitation firm that works with CEOs and industry leadership to connect their needs to education, training and economic development programs. The Woolsey Group's mission is two-fold: to ensure industries thrive and grow in their regional economies, and to get people the right education and training at the right time for the jobs that exist now in their local labor market. This work involves high-levels of industry engagement; understanding industry trends and opportunities; community partnership building; and knowledge about student and worker advancement policy and practice.

Ms. Woolsey is a national expert in the field of industry sector and cluster strategies. For over a decade she has studied the policy and program elements of successful industry strategies, including engaging industry; the role of intermediaries; coordination of programs to support employers and workers; career pathways; work-based learning; rural economies; and evaluation and benchmarking models. She is published in each of these areas. Ms. Woolsey has worked at the state policy level in some capacity in half of the states in the U.S., and intensively with over a dozen. She is known for her unique capacity to engage CEOs directly, harness their passions, and sustain their co-investment in shared solutions to pressing workforce and other issues. She is relied upon by national organizations for her industry partnership knowledge, including the U.S. Department of Labor, Pew Charitable Trusts and National Governors Association. For more information, visit Lindsey earned a Masters in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University where she studied labor economics and workforce development, and her BA in International Relations from American University. She resides with her family on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. 


Francie Genz

Principal, Genz Consulting, LLC

Francie Genz is Principal at Genz Consulting where she advises practitioners and policymakers on strategies for building sustainable, industry-led sector partnerships that strengthen regional economies and align education, workforce development, and economic development efforts with the needs of key industry sectors. These partnerships mobilize business leaders to work in partnership with government to advance a shared agenda for improving economic competitiveness and strengthening education and training systems.

Francie has worked in over a dozen states around the country including Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Hawaii and Oregon to advise state and regional leaders on launching and sustaining regional sector partnerships that act as as vehicles for aligning education, workforce and economic development programs. She has designed and facilitated trainings and provided coaching to regional teams, directly assisting in the development of regional sector partnerships in manufacturing, health care, advanced business services, IT, biosciences and others. She has also advised state system leaders from education, economic development, and workforce development on policies and practices that deepen industry engagement and ensure that education and training systems stay deeply attuned to the needs of the economy. Francie holds a Bachelor’s degree from McGill University and a Master of Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.


John Melville

Co-ceo, collaborative economics 

John Melville is Co-CEO of Collaborative Economics, and an advisor to civic leaders nationwide. Over the past thirty years, he has worked with public and private leaders in over fifty communities across the U.S. and abroad, helping them launch concrete partnerships to improve workforce development, economic development, regional innovation, and quality of life. John co-founded Collaborative Economics in July 1993 after a decade as a senior policy analyst with SRI International’s Center for Economic Competitiveness. He holds a B.A. with honors in Political Science from Stanford University, and has co-authored two books on civic entrepreneurship.

He is a national leader in the design and practice of “next generation” industry engagement. He works directly with business leaders, supporting them as they chair industry-led partnerships. He also supports partners from workforce development, economic development, education, and other community institutions, helping them work productively with business leaders to achieve shared outcomes. He has helped design, launch, and support over a hundred regional industry-led partnerships in diverse industries focused on talent development and other economic development and regional innovation priorities.  

He has also helped design, launch, and manage more than ten learning networks of regional partnerships, ranging from state-level networks involving ten to twenty regional partnerships to national networks for regional economic and community development leaders. He specializes in the design of learning experiences, curriculum, how to guides, best practice assessments, tool kits, action clinics, academies, summits and other modes of customized technical assistance to ensure effective launch and implementation of transformative processes at the local and regional levels.


Emily Lesh

PRINCIPAL, Lesh advisors, LLC

Emily Lesh is principal at Lesh Advisors, an independent consulting firm focused on aligning public education and workforce systems with the demands of the economy. Emily works closely with state and local business, policy, and program leaders to facilitate and guide the development of industry-driven partnerships and career pathways.   

As the Assistant Director of the Colorado Workforce Development Council, Emily’s leadership helped Colorado become a national leader in regional sector partnerships and sector partnership-based career pathways. Today, Colorado is home to over 2 dozen, sustainable, industry-led, sector partnerships that are realizing measurable success for students, jobseekers, and regional economies. Emily played a key role convening and aligning state agency partners and policymakers to develop and implement Colorado’s statewide sector strategies framework. She also worked closely with business and regional leaders and provided day-to-day technical assistance to Colorado’s regional sector partnerships.

Emily holds a Bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College and a Master's of Public Administration from the University of Washington's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs. Before working for the Colorado Workforce Development Council she worked for the National Conference of State Legislators and other community-based, non-profit organizations. She lives in Richmond, Vermont with her family.