Workforce Partnership Team Q&A

The Workforce Partnership Team brings together workforce professionals and those providing wrap-around services from across the Greater Richmond region. The goals of the team include streamlining services by building a network with strong referral mechanisms, sharing curriculum and best practices and providing professional development opportunities for team members.

Anna Danese
Director of Workforce Partnerships

What brought you to United Way?

I have been involved in non-profit work for more than 15 years in the cities of Memphis, New Orleans and Richmond. I have a desire to use my experience and knowledge to further systemic change and break down barriers to success. My career to date has been focused on empowering individuals and families. This experience and my future goals align with the work of United Way. One of the things I love about United Way is being able to impact a variety of social issues that are all interconnected. I am a connector and a problem solver and I get to use both of these skills on a daily basis in my new role.

What’s been your favorite part of your new job?

Relationship building has been my favorite part but it is something that takes time, patience, intentionality and being a good listener. I really enjoy getting out into the community and getting to know the work of organizations involved in workforce development and wrap-around service providers. It is through fortifying these relationships that the team continues to collectively tackle the barriers to success that exist within the workforce development system. Relationship building has allowed me to experience passion, perseverance, creativity and knowledge. This gives me energy and ideas for the work ahead.

Describe a day in the life of a Workforce Partnership Director.

My days are focused on relationship building, planning for general meetings and committee work and exploring avenues for solutions to the challenges that exist within the workforce ecosystem. My relationship building work includes fortifying existing connections with team members and reaching out to potential new team members. Supporting the work of the committees including the executive committee takes the form of planning agendas, creating tools for measuring progress and visuals that aid in communicating our work and the common agenda. Through building relationships I have gained a better understanding of the landscape which aids in my ability to identify gaps in communication and connect resources to needs. It also helps me identify challenges and potential solutions within the ecosystem.

While the focus of the group is on the unemployed and underemployed population, employment is not sustainable without a holistic approach.

How does the Workforce Partnership fit into United Way’s work?

The work of the team touches several of the steps including Basic Needs Met, Financial Well-being and College-or Career-ready. Because the populations served by the team are broad, the teams work overlaps with a variety of age groups, industries and needs. While the focus of the group is on the unemployed and underemployed population, employment is not sustainable without a holistic approach. Barriers to success are removed when connections are be provided to a network of wrap-around services. This is where both meeting basic needs and providing resources to support financial stability are an integral part of workforce development and retention.

What are your big goals for 2020?

I aim to support the work of the team by making sure that the foundation for growth is strong. I am focused on reinforcing the goals of the working committees and providing parameters to add structure, strategy for measuring progress and direction. Each committee was created to further the four goals of the team.

  • The person centered planning committee is working towards facilitating coordinated employment, training and wrap-around service support to the unemployed and underemployed. This committee, as well as the new partners committee, is also building a network of workforce professionals and developing referral mechanisms to address the needs of job seekers in the region.
  • The job readiness committee works to share and implement curriculum and best practices that holistically prepare job candidates to fulfill the workforce needs of the emerging economy.
  • The professional development committee’s focus is to equip members to provide high quality workforce services by providing professional development opportunities.

How can professionals and providers get involved?

Our general group meeting is the 2nd Tuesday of the month at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. The meeting is held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and includes a time for networking, sharing updates about committee work and a speaker that supports the professional development objectives of the group. We encourage team members to join a working committee group. Committees usually meet both at the end of the group meeting and at a separate time once during the month.