Raising the Floor: Strategies that Make Jobs Work for All Speakers
Joan Abbot is the Assistant Director of BEST (Boston Education, Skills & Training) Hospitality Training, where she works closely with the Executive Director on strategic initiatives and oversees data management, development, and the incumbent worker education program. BEST Hospitality Training is a 501 c(3) nonprofit workforce development program focused on the well-paid sector of the hospitality industry. The program combines pre-employment and incumbent worker training designed to meet the labor needs of its hotel partners and the professional and personal goals of its students.
Joan has experience as an ESOL teacher, teacher trainer, and supervisor both in the U.S. and abroad (Sudan and Thailand). Before moving to BEST 12 years ago, she worked at the International Institute of Boston. She holds an M.Ed. from Harvard University, a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Boston University, and she completed LeadBoston’s experiential executive program. Joan is a member of the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Advisory Board.
Eli Allen is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Careers (CSC) at Civic Works. CSC expands access to family-sustaining careers for Baltimore residents from historically marginalized communities. It supports residents in building the skills needed to secure quality employment, and employers around investing in their workers and advancing equity across their practices.
Eli created CSC’s Good Business Works initiative, which provides consumer marketing support and generates procurement opportunities for companies that meet job-quality standards, incentivizing employers to strengthen their workplace practices. The program also supports companies in meeting their job-quality goals by providing technical assistance, coaching, and linking employers with workforce development programs to facilitate hiring partnerships.
Committed to creating a more equitable and inclusive economy, Eli leads CSC’s sector-based career training programs in brownfields remediation, residential energy efficiency, storm water management, and solar energy installation, as well as its transitional employment social enterprise that creates on-the-job training opportunities for program participants.
Betsy Biemann serves as Chief Executive Officer of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a mission-driven investor growing good jobs, green businesses, and more broadly shared prosperity in Maine—and through its subsidiaries—in rural regions nationally. Prior to joining CEI, Betsy led Growing Maine’s Food Industry, Growing Maine, a project of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard University. From 2005-2012 she was President of the Maine Technology Institute, investing in Maine companies and initiatives seeking to grow high-potential sectors of Maine’s economy.
Prior to her move to Maine, Betsy was an Associate Director at The Rockefeller Foundation, where she managed a national grant and investment portfolio aiming to increase employment in low-income communities. She joined Rockefeller’s staff in 1996 after working in international development, principally in Africa. Betsy earned her BA at Harvard University and her MPA at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
Sol Carbonell, Assistant Vice President of Regional and Community Outreach (R&CO), is part of the leadership team that oversees the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's community development efforts. R&CO promotes economic growth in lower-income communities by conducting research, engaging stakeholders, and investigating approaches that have the potential to produce substantial impact on the lives of low- and moderate-income residents.
Prior to joining the Bank, Sol served as Associate, National Priorities, for a national consumer education organization. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and has been a Fellow of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, The Partnership Inc., and the Center for Creative Leadership. She has served as board member and advisor to a number of nonprofits and is now an Overseer at the Boston Museum of Science. Sol has received numerous awards for her community and research contributions, including recognitions by Congress, "Top 40 under 40" by In Business Magazine, and "Emerging Leader" by the Boston Business Journal.
Karen Colberg is Co-CEO/Chief Brand Officer at King Arthur Flour, America’s oldest flour company, based in Norwich, VT. She joined the employee-owned company in 2005 as Director of Merchandising. Karen serves as part of King Arthur Flour’s three-person leadership team and oversees brand marketing, innovation, and the company’s Direct-to-Consumer businesses, including the café, baking school, and store at its flagship campus—a Vermont destination. Prior to being named Co-CEO, she held the roles of CMO and Vice President/General Manager, Direct Division.
Karen has a Bachelor’s degree from Colgate University (1986) and an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College (1991). She worked in merchandising for The Gap for eight years prior to coming to King Arthur Flour. Her love of baking began in high school and college when she worked in both production and customer service at a bakery in Utica, NY. Today she bakes several times a week, with Belgian chocolate oatmeal cookies and banana bread being her go-to favorites!
Maureen Conway is Vice President for Policy Programs and Executive Director of the Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) at the Aspen Institute. She leads a team of researchers and consultants in a variety of initiatives to identify and advance strategies that help low-income Americans gain ground in today’s labor market. She is a nationally recognized expert in sectoral or industry-specific workforce development and has been quoted in a variety of news media.
Under her leadership, EOP’s Workforce Strategies Initiative investigated the outcomes of sectoral workforce development, provided innovation seed grants to leading programs in order to illuminate promising practices, and explored key operating features of programs in specific industry sectors. EOP has also hosted a number of leadership development and fellowship programs that connect innovators from across the country to peers engaged in helping low- and moderate-income Americans to access opportunity. Current work includes multi-year evaluations of promising innovations in workforce development and a new project exploring an emerging practice of work that strives to create economic stability as a platform for economic mobility by engaging in strategies that seek to improve job quality while also helping workers improve their job skills.
Maureen is the author of numerous publications including research reports, case studies, and policy briefs. Her past experience includes consulting for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and working for the U.S. Peace Corps, where she advised on the design, management, and evaluation of the organization’s economic development programs in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Maureen holds an MBA from Columbia University, where she was a Samuel Bronfman Scholar, a Master’s in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, and a BA in economics and mathematics from Holy Cross College.
Mary Jo Cook
Mary Jo Cook is President and CEO of Pacific Community Ventures (PCV), a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that envisions a world of thriving communities where everyone has a fair shake. PCV’s mission is to invest in small businesses, create good jobs for working people, and make markets work for social good.
Mary Jo believes that as a society, we simply must do more to create jobs that are good for workers, good for businesses, and good for communities. Under her leadership, PCV has created an integrated model to help small businesses grow and create higher-quality jobs by combining affordable loans, pro-bono mentoring, and quality jobs tools and incentives paired with impact measurement and management. As part of this model, PCV has developed and is piloting Good Jobs, Good Business: A practical toolkit to help small business owners create jobs that boost the bottom line. Prior to joining PCV, Mary Jo was Chief Impact Officer at Fair Trade USA, where she engaged businesses and consumers to improve the livelihoods of farmers and workers. While Vice President at the Clorox Company, she held senior management roles in Innovation, Sustainability, Strategy and Marketing.
As an Aspen Institute Job Quality Fellow, Mary Jo is collaborating with others to improve job quality across the country. In addition, she currently serves as Board Chair for Ganaz, a social enterprise connecting farmers who need good workers with workers who need good jobs, and serves on the advisory board of Sustainable Brands, an organization that helps companies integrate social and environmental sustainability into their business models. Throughout her career, Mary Jo has been passionate about using business as a force for good.
Steven L. Dawson
Steven L. Dawson has worked for over 40 years with low-income workers to create better jobs. During the 1980s, he was the founding director of the ICA Group in Boston, which consults to social enterprises creating jobs in low-income communities. For more than 20 years, he was founding president of PHI, the affiliate of the 2200-employee, Bronx-based Cooperative Home Care Associates—the largest worker cooperative in the United States.
In the 1990s, Steven co-authored the first publications introducing the concept of sectoral employment strategies with Peggy Clark of the Aspen Institute. He is currently a Senior Advisor on job-quality issues to the National Fund for Workforce Solutions as well as the Workforce Professional Training Instituteof NYC andCoastal Enterprises, Inc. of Maine. In addition, Steven has written on job-quality issues as a Visiting Fellow at The Pinkerton Foundation.
The Honorable Jorge O. Elorza
As Providence’s 38th Mayor, Jorge O. Elorza has strived to build a Providence that works for all of its residents. Since taking office in January 2015, Elorza has prioritized education, ensuring transparency in city government, improving city services and providing a sound financial future for the capital city.
Driven by the belief that all children should have the opportunity to thrive in a supportive environment, Elorza is confident there is no better investment Providence can make than investing in the future of its youth.
Born and raised in Providence, Elorza is a graduate of Classical High school, the University of Rhode Island, and Harvard Law School.
Gerardine Ferlins has over 40 years of manufacturing experience and currently serves as President and CEO of Cirtronics Corporation, a contract manufacturing business she started in 1979. The company’s focus is in building complex technical products, and it proudly serves 35 high-tech companies and employs over 200 people. All relationships—both within Cirtronics and with external partners—are based on mutual respect, collaboration, and honesty. In 2002, Gerardine transitioned Cirtronics to an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) to share the company’s success directly with employees.
Gerardine has served on the boards of NH Catholic Charities, the Business Industry Association (BIA) of NH, Vested for Growth, and NH Community Loan Fund.
Jeff Fuhrer is Executive Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. He serves as an advisor to the Bank's Regional and Community Outreach department and is responsible for the Bank's diversity and inclusion functions. He has been an Associate Economist of the Federal Open Market Committee and regularly attends this key U.S. policymaking meeting with the Bank's president. In June 1992 Jeff joined the Bank's Research department as an Assistant Vice President and Economist. From 1995–2001, he headed the department’s Open Economy Macro/International section, and in 2000, he was named Senior Vice President and Monetary Policy Advisor. He then became Director of Research in 2001 and was named Executive Vice President in 2006.
Jeff began his career at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, first as a research assistant, and then in 1985 returned as a senior economist after earning his doctorate. He has been active in economic research for more than three decades and has served as an associate editor for the American Economic Review. Jeff has published numerous scholarly papers on the interactions among monetary policy, inflation, consumer spending, and asset prices. He earned an AB in economics with highest honors from Princeton University and received his MA and PhD in economics from Harvard University.
Karin Gregory is a Co-Founder and General Partner of Blue Highway Capital, a growth equity fund focused on small business in rural areas, as part of the USDA’s RBIC Program. She spent five years as Vice President at Mass Ventures, an early-stage socially responsible venture capital fund focused on urban and rural areas of Massachusetts. Prior to co-founding Blue Highway, Karin served on the board of Maine Venture Fund and as the Chair of CEI Ventures, a socially-responsible-impact private equity firm which manages funds totaling $35 million, and she continues to serve on the board of its parent company, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), as Chair of its Investment Committee. In addition to her private equity experience, Karin co-founded Furman Gregory LLC, a small business-oriented firm that helps small business startup and scale.
Karin earned a BA degree from Wells College, an MPH in Health Services from Boston University, and a JD degree from UNH School of Law. She also holds a certificate in Advanced Licensing and is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and Maine.
Sarah Day Kalloch
Sarah Day Kalloch serves as Executive Director of the Good Jobs Institute (GJI), whose mission is to help companies thrive by creating good jobs. Sarah has dedicated her career to connecting public- and private-sector leaders with front line workers to build better businesses, create good jobs, and define stronger social policy. GJI conducts assessments, holds workshops, and provides longer-term support to inspire and guide organizations that want to improve their operational performance and customer and employee experience.
Sarah previously spent over a decade in international development. At Oxfam, she spearheaded global partnerships that encouraged companies to adopt more sustainable sourcing policies. As an executive at Physicians for Human Rights, she co-founded two health and human rights organization in Uganda and Kenya and secured billions in HIV/AIDS and global health funding.
Sarah graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and also holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. She was recently named a 2018-2019 Aspen Institute Job Quality Fellow.
Todd Miner is a Meat Manager at Costco Wholesale, where he is regarded as one of the best in that position in the company’s East Coast operation. He has been in the meat industry for the past 32 years and has done every job there is in the business during that time. Todd previously owned and operated his own butcher shop, and his passion and knowledge for the business are unmatched.
John S. Pepper
I am the co-founder and CEO of Worthee, an early stage software platform focused on helping hourly workers to thrive. I am also the owner and Chairman of Boloco (a Certified B Corporation, 9-unit restaurant chain which I co-founded in 1997 and ran as CEO until earlier this year) as well as a co-founder of B.Good (70+ unit restaurant chain). I advise and have made early investments in 15 start-ups in both consumer and consumer tech, including current investments Kigo Kitchen, Dunwello, Spindrift, Botanica Seattle, Dos Toros, Clover Food Lab, Botkeeper, OpenCity, HigherMe, and College Pulse. I speak at universities and business conferences on entrepreneurship, technology in consumer-facing businesses, and company culture. I was honored to be asked to do a TEDx talk on the business case for paying higher wages in 2014.
In 2015, I created Worthee., a simple technology platform built to dramatically improve the futures and elevate the voices of hourly and low income workers in their place of employment. Worthee has been beta tested by hundreds of employees at restaurants in NYC and Boston and is currently in its second stage of development to be able to handle a much larger user base.
I graduated from Dartmouth College in 1991 and received my MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in 1997.
I live in Norwich, VT (where I am Chair of our Selectboard) and have offices in Hanover, NH and Boston, MA. My wife Maggie and 3 children eat at Boloco multiple times each week, as do I.
Alex Pratt is the Area Director of Human Resources for Omni Hotels & Resorts Corporation, based in the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, MA. Alex has over 35 years of operations and human resources experience in the hotel industry spanning several states, as well as stints in Toronto and Shanghai. In his current role, he supervises the HR team at the Omni Parker House Hotel and provides support to HR teams across seven other Omni sites.
Alex has extensive experience participating in labor negotiations for contracts in Boston; New Haven, CT; and Providence, RI. Since joining Omni Parker House Hotel in 2012, he has worked closely with BEST Hospitality Training Corp. and Local 26, the Boston-area hospitality workers union.
Kelly Ramirez is the CEO of Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG). She teaches/has taught Social Entrepreneurship at RISD, Salve Regina, Providence College, and in the Brown University Leadership Institute. Previously, she directed the Social Enterprise Initiative at the William Davidson Institute and was an adjunct lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Kelly has consulting and project management experience with organizations including Aid to Artisans, the Ford Foundation, the European Commission, USAID, the State Department, and Roche. She also worked as a political analyst for the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service, an election monitor for the OSCE, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Slovakia.
Kelly received MA degrees in Public Policy and Urban Planning and a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan, completed a leadership certificate program at the Ross School of Business, and received a scholarship to attend Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Program. She was named a “Woman to Watch” by the Providence Business News and was a BALLE Fellow.
Mike Ritz has served as the Executive Director of Leadership Rhode Island (LRI) for the past eight years. Under his direction, LRI has received numerous accolades, including the Excellence in Public Service Award by Common Cause RI, two National Innovation Awards from the Association of Leadership Programs, and two Community Outreach Awards from the RI Press Association for public forums in partnership with the Providence Journal and Rhode Island College. LRI’s innovative Make RI Stronger social enterprise is recognized by Gallup as an inspiration for the global strengths movement.
Over the past 25 years, Mike served as a tri-lingual interrogator in the U.S. Army, established his first company by the age of 25, motivated people to excel at his fitness Boot Camps, and served as a Regional Manager for an international healthcare company based in the United Arab Emirates. A former on-call interrogation analyst for CNN, Mike has been interviewed hundreds of times for TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. He participated in nine documentaries in the past 15 years, one of which, "Songs of War," won an International Emmy.
In 2012, Mike was appointed by the Department of Defense to serve as Rhode Island Chairman for the Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve. Accepting the additional role of national Chair of the Executive Advisory Subcommittee in 2015, he transformed the subcommittee into the first national Board of Directors. He was initially appointed Strategic Vice Chair of the newly formed board by Ret. MG Paul Mock and re-appointed by Ret. General Craig McKinley. Recently, Mike was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.
Jerry Rubin is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Vocational Service (JVS). He is responsible for the overall direction and management of the organization and its leadership team. His responsibilities include setting and leading the strategic direction of the organization, developing senior staff, and leading organizational innovations, development efforts, financial growth, outreach to external constituencies and strategic partnerships, innovations in branding and marketing, and Board relations.
Prior to joining JVS, Jerry was Vice President of Building Economic Opportunities at Jobs for the Future, a national workforce development and education policy, research, and consulting organization. Jerry founded and was Executive Director of two nonprofit organizations: the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership, a training and consulting organization, and the Coalition for a Better Acre, a community development corporation based in Lowell, Massachusetts. Jerry also spent ten years in the administration of Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, leading several housing, economic development, and workforce development initiatives.
Jerry holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government from Clark University and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of numerous book chapters, articles, and monographs on housing, economic development, and workforce development issues, serves on the board of the Economic Empowerment Trust Fund of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was recently named a member of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank’s Community Development Advisory Council (CDAC).
Anjali Sakaria serves as a Deputy Director in the Regional and Community Outreach department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Anjali's efforts at the Bank focus on increasing the quality of jobs for low-income individuals by engaging businesses, financial intermediaries, community groups, policymakers, and researchers. During the past year, she participated in the Aspen Institute Job Quality Fellowship, which provided her with the opportunity to work with leaders from a variety of sectors across the country committed to improving the quality of jobs in their communities.
Prior to joining the Boston Fed in 2017, Anjali was the policy director and counsel for the Massachusetts Senate Chair of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. In this capacity, she worked on legislation relating to the minimum wage, unemployment insurance benefits, domestic workers' rights, earned sick time, worker safety, wage theft, pay equity, non-compete clauses, and paid family and medical leave. Earlier in her career, she represented Fortune 500 companies and small businesses in complex commercial litigation and defended individuals in criminal proceedings. Anjali received a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor's degree from Stanford University.
Cheryl Scott is the Executive Director of the MassHire State Workforce Board, which serves as an advisory board to the Governor on building a strong workforce development system that is aligned with economic development goals and education policies. Ms. Scott has been engaged in workforce development policy and program implementation efforts in Massachusetts since 2009, serving as Director of the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, a business-funded incumbent worker training program, and managing federally funded workforce development grants.
Ms. Scott holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and received a BA from Wellesley College.
Michelle Volpe became President of BlueHub Capital Loan Fund (BCLF) in 2012, where she has overall responsibility for the $600 million fund composed of more than 200 affordable housing and community and economic development loans. She is responsible for BCLF’s impact, strategic direction, and financial self-sufficiency and sustainability. Before joining BCLF in 1995, she served as an Assistant Vice President at Bay Bank Boston, NA, and at Management Sciences for Health, a Boston nonprofit.
Michelle leads BCLF’s capital-raising activities from public and private sources and has 25 years of expertise in structuring financial transactions that allow borrowers to create healthier communities where low-income people live and work. She oversees loan origination, credit and portfolio quality, and initiates new strategic directions and relationships for BCLF, working closely with borrowers, community groups, the Governing Board, Loan Committee, and Advisory Board to design flexible and adaptive financial products.
Michelle serves on the Loan Committee for Nonprofit Finance Fund, as well as on advisory committees to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge efforts in MA, CT, and RI and to Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation’s Business Equity Initiative. She was Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned her BA with honors, and holds a Master’s degree from Yale's School of Management.
David Weil became Dean and Professor of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in August 2017. Prior to that, he was the Peter and Deborah Wexler Professor of Management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor and was the first Senate-confirmed head of that agency in a decade. He led the Wage and Hour Division from 2014 to January 2017.
Weil is an internationally recognized expert in employment and labor market policy regulation, transparency policy and digital empowerment, and the impacts of supply-chain and industry restructuring on employment and work outcomes and business performance.
Dr. Weil has written five books, most recently The Fissured Workplace (Harvard University Press). Dr. Weil received his BS at Cornell University and Master and PhD degrees in Public Policy at Harvard University.
Jenny Weissbourd is a Senior Project Manager in the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. She manages the Reimagine Retail program, which explores ways to enhance job quality and improve mobility for retail workers. Jenny recently completed a Master’s in Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Master’s in Business Administration at MIT Sloan School of Management, where she worked with faculty at the Institute for Work and Employment Research to study labor policy, business operations to improve job quality, and worker voice in the 21st century economy. As a graduate student, Jenny served as a Dukakis Policy Fellow for Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and an intern in Amazon’s Retail Leadership Development Program.
From 2011 to 2015, Jenny managed strategy and development at The Food Trust, a national leader in increasing healthy food access in underserved communities. Jenny engaged cross-sector partners and guided the development of new programs focused on improving public health and spurring inclusive economic growth, including a small business training program. Previously, Jenny built the capacity of nonprofit and government clients as a consultant at Fairmount Ventures.
Jenny has commented on strategies to improve job quality in several outlets including the Boston Globe and Invested, a publication of The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston