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Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation spearheads Connect to Work AZ initiative

Connect to Work AZ initiative is result of purposeful corporate collaboration
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Phoenix industry leaders gathered this morning at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce found along Camelback Road where locals call the ‘Biltmore District’ to deliver news of a Connect to Work AZ collaboration meant to move the proverbial needle toward equitable access to employment throughout the Valley of the Sun.

Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Sanders provided opening remarks about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 3 at 2575 E. Camelback Road. But then for the following 60 minutes business executives representing major industry brands in both health care and financial services took to the podium.

Each of those executives lauded the efforts of Skills For America’s Future — who was represented by Daniel Cervantes, senior vice president of national expansion & strategic initiatives at the May 3 event — in the city of Chicago where the workforce enterprise is transforming the ideas around corporate community responsibility.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Dignity Health and Northern Trust are the first business partners involved in the Connect to Work AZ initiative.

Connect to Work AZ is poised to help Phoenix metropolitan businesses improve workforce diversity and connect with candidates who might otherwise not apply, officials outlined earlier today.

Community partners include Arizona Public Service and Valley of the Sun United Way. Delivering news of the what proponents believe could be a watershed moment for hiring practices in the Valley of the Sun were:

  • Daniel Cervantes, SVP at Skills for America’s Future
  • Matt Johanson, social impact & chief ESG officer at Discover Financial Services
  • Kent Thomas, SVP at Northern Trust Financial
  • De Anne Russell, system VP of talent acquisition at Dignity Health
  • Jennifer Mellor, chief innovation officer at the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation
  • Todd Sanders, CEO at the Greater Phoenix Chamber

Connect to Work AZ initiative is result of purposeful corporate collaboration

“Across Arizona, people look for quality jobs and employers look for qualified people,” Mr. Sanders said. “Often, they struggle to connect. This program aims to eliminate those barriers and get more Arizonans connected to quality, high demand jobs with opportunities for advancement. It’s the first of its kind in Arizona and we’re very excited to be involved.”

The model is based on the Skills for America’s Future program, which has helped place thousands of diverse candidates in Illinois and Rhode Island over the last 10 years, according to Mr. Cervantes, who delivered remarks during the May 3 event.

Above is Chief Innovation Officer Jennifer Mellor at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Foundation delivering closing remarks Wednesday, May 3. (Photo: Terrance Thornton/
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