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Milwaukee workforce leader named Partner4Work Chief Executive Officer


 Earl Buford, President and Chief Executive Officer of Employ Milwaukee, has been named Chief Executive Officer of Partner4Work (P4W). He will assume the role on June 4, 2018.

“With an impressive and substantial track record of innovation and success in his home state of Wisconsin, we are pleased to bring Earl Buford to Pittsburgh to continue Partner4Work’s strong momentum to drive workforce development activities, a key component of the region’s overall economic vitality,” said Mark Latterner, Partner4Work Chair and Market President Western PA at Citizens Bank. “With Earl at the helm, we will continue to build successful partnerships, innovate new ideas, pilot strategic solutions, and ensure the community and the workforce continues to thrive.”   

The Partner4Work CEO Search Committee named Mr. Buford to the role following a national search that began in October 2017 when former CEO Stefani Pashman stepped down to become the chief executive officer of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and its affiliates. Longtime P4W Board member Debra L. Caplan has led the organization as Interim CEO since Ms. Pashman’s departure.

“Earl is a well-respected leader within workforce development circles and brings a wealth of knowledge, ideas, and commitment to the Pittsburgh region,” Ms. Pashman said. “I look forward to collaborating and bringing together the strengths of our respective organizations to address our region’s workforce challenges in a way that connects all to opportunity and improves economic competitiveness.”                                                                                                                                                 

Similar to Partner4Work in Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, Employ Milwaukee leads the public workforce system for a portion of Milwaukee County. Employ Milwaukee achieves its mission with a portfolio of programs and services for job seekers; solutions and resources for businesses; and sector strategies.

In addition, under Buford’s leadership, Employ Milwaukee led efforts to develop an unprecedented and nationally celebrated consortium of 12 workforce development boards, united to build an innovative supply-demand model to cultivate talent development and employer engagement. Called the Midwest Urban Strategies, cities including Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis, and St. Louis, as well as the U.S. Department of Labor, agreed to a shared mission, and will individually benefit from sharing best practices in building responsive relationships and meeting labor market demand, while acting locally in the best interest of job seekers and businesses alike.

“I applaud Earl Buford’s appointment to lead Partner4Work,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “With his considerable experience and expertise, his collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit, I am confident that Partner4work will continue to deliver strategic solutions to continue our growth and connect our workforce with the jobs of today and in the future.”

“Building on our recent successes and by tapping into the wealth of resources in the community, we’re building a bold vision for Pittsburgh that includes a city of engaged, empowered, and coordinated neighbors,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “A strong workforce is a critical piece in bringing that vision to life, and we are pleased to bring a smart, strategic leader to the equation and move the needle on workforce issues.”

Prior to taking the lead at Employ Milwaukee in 2014, Mr. Buford was the longtime leader of WRTP/Big-Step, a Milwaukee-based non-profit intermediary aimed at recruiting and building a diverse workforce in construction, manufacturing and emerging sectors, and previously planned and executed workforce development programs aimed at youth.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Mr. Buford is or has been a board member of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the National Network of Sector Partners, the National Skills Coalition Advisory Board, and former member of Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on effective workforce strategies, and the Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Minority Unemployment. His published works include “Connecting People to Work: Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Strategies,” and “The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership: The Evolution of an Intermediary, the Shifting Target of Twenty-First Century Manufacturing, and the Continuing Relevance of Unions in Labor Markets.”

“I am incredibly proud to be coming to Pittsburgh, to join the region’s passionate and committed leaders and be part of Pittsburgh’s continued renaissance,” Buford said. “I look forward to answering the call to develop innovative and inclusive workforce solutions and building a stronger community for generations to come.”

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