Tell us about yourself.
My name is Monica Callahan I am the Director of Workforce Programs at ChamberRVA. I have been in this role since September 2017. Prior to moving over to the Chamber, I most recently served as the Director of Outreach and Development for Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond an LLC of ChamberRVA that focuses on the earliest end of the workforce pipeline, children 0-5. Prior to that, I was the Community Engagement Director for Richmond 2015, the organization responsible for the 2015 UCI Road World Cycling Championships.
What is the focus of your work?
Workforce Development is essential to economic prosperity and growth of the community and is of great interest to businesses in the region and to businesses looking to move into the region. Workforce Development is also the pathway to economic vitality and sustainability.
ChamberRVA has taken the initiative to look at the workforce supply in the region vs. the demand that will be needed over the next 10 years. The Chamber is uniquely situated to lead this effort to improve the talent pipeline and advocacy because we are the only local business membership organization devoted to the success of the entire region.
FutureRVA is a dedicated fund managed by ChamberRVA that will 1) lead to a more robust local talent pipeline, 2) enhance our ability to attract talent, 3) foster regional sustainability, and 4) improve our quality of life.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I am extremely excited to be at the helm of this very important work in our region. I am researching future workforce demands and using that data and information to create a case that we can use to help drive education to ensure that all children are workforce ready.
I have learned so much in such a short period of time from our FutureRVA investors about where they see their future workforce needs and more specifically, the shortages in skills and qualifications that will be needed in order for them to compete in the global marketplace.
As a native Richmonder, I know that RVA is a great place to live, work and play. I am excited to be a part of this initiative that will help to ensure that all students in this region will have a quality education that will give them the tools to be workplace ready which will ultimately lead to a rich quality of life for us all.
What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?
ChamberRVA is not just a membership organization that hosts local networking events. We partner with companies to understand their needs when it comes to growth and development then build out robust programming to act as an extension of their HR department. We focus on developing the future leaders of Richmond through self-awareness, leadership and influence at all stages of their careers. As a small, but mighty, team of 12 full-time employees, we manage over 20 development programs and 4 signature events that bring public and private sectors together to build a thriving regional community.
Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?
The work of FutureRVA is off to a great start. The skills gap analysis is well underway. I am looking at data and meeting with industry cluster groups comprised of our FutureRVA investors. I am looking at supply versus demand, future growth in industries and occupation groups and the skills and credentialing that will be needed to fill those demand occupations.
ChamberRVA is pleased to be taking a delegation of supporters to Nashville this spring to learn more about the Academies of Nashville and how their chamber has worked with education and business to change their approach to high school to prepare their students for the workforce. In addition, we will publish our inaugural bi-annual FutureRVA report this spring that will show our findings so far and set the stage for what’s next in our 3-year process.
Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?
ChamberRVA is all about collaborations and partnerships; we could not do what we do to support one city, one town and seven counties without collaborations. The work of FutureRVA will have me working very closely with business leaders, superintendents and school boards, community colleges, local and state government, and economic development professionals to assess the workforce needs in the region.
How are you leveraging the Community Foundation to achieve your mission?
The Community Foundation is a supporter of FutureRVA. Their support of ChamberRVA is helping to further the organization’s over-all mission of building a thriving regional community. We appreciate the Community Foundation’s support of this work.
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