2021 Aim Hire: Workforce and Education Conference

The third annual Aim Hire Conference took place virtually on October 6, 2021. This year's event brought together the voices of business leaders, educators, and policy makers. The recordings and event details are located below on this webpage. Thank you to all our panelist, attendees, partners, and staff for making this possible. Stay tuned for details regarding next year's conference!

Bridging Ohio's Workforce Gap

Steve Stivers

President & CEO,
Ohio Chamber of Commerce

Having established a distinguished career in the state legislature, Congress and the U.S. military, Steve Stivers was selected in May 2021 to be president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the state’s leading business organization. In addition to his leadership responsibilities with the Chamber in championing free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohioans., he works with legislators, business leaders and government officials on issues affecting member companies. Before joining the Ohio Chamber, Mr. Stivers represented Ohio’s 15th Congressional District from 2011 until May 16, 2021, serving on the House Financial Services Committee where he was ranking member on the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. Prior to his service in Congress, he had been appointed to a seat in the Ohio Senate in 2003, then successfully ran for a full term in 2004 and served until 2008. Among his various Ohio Senate committee assignments, he chaired the Committee on Insurance, Commerce and Labor. A career soldier, Mr. Stivers has served for more than 30 years in the Ohio Army National Guard, presently holding the rank of Major General. He served the United States overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar and Djibouti and was awarded the Bronze Star for his leadership throughout that deployment. Mr. Stivers is a graduate of The Ohio State University with both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA. He has also earned a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College.

Dr. Vicky Wood

Washington State Community College

Dr. Vicky Wood is president of Washington State Community College in Marietta. With more than 20 years of higher education leadership experience, she is a first-generation college graduate who rose through the faculty ranks before moving into academic leadership roles including dean and provost. During her time as president, she has advanced WSCC through innovation and collaboration, demonstrating the institution’s excellence in academic programs and instruction, as well its success with increasing student access and success. These achievements include successful implementation of Guided Pathways, a redesigned Center for Student Success to expand support services and a Student OneStop to enhance the student experience throughout the connection and entry phases of enrollment. Under her direction, the college also implemented new delivery models including HyFlex, accelerated 8-week, and earn and learn. Dr. Wood previously served as provost and vice president of academic affairs and student services at Marion Technical College and was also recipient of an Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, an experience she credits for many of the ideas and strategies used to bring growth and change to WSCC. She holds a doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of Toledo, a master’s degree in education from Bowling Green State University, a bachelor’s degree in education from Ashland University and an associate degree in business from Marion Technical College.

Dan Leffingwell

Noble Local Schools

In 2013, Dan Leffingwell brought his 33 years of experience in education to Noble Local Schools, one of the most rural and widely spread school districts in the state (289 square miles without a stoplight). Addressing the district’s unique challenges, he has since created an atmosphere of continuous improvement, hope, access and opportunities for all students. The district is now a branch campus of Zane State College, offering more than 110 semester hours of college credit to district students, its PreK offerings have been expanded to serve many more students and all students now have access to robust STEM education opportunities to prepare them for careers of their choice. As a result, the Noble Local School District recently received the Ohio Department of Education’s STEM designation – the only school in the region to have earned this recognition. Mr. Leffingwell is also director of the Ohio Small Rural Collaborative and serves on the Ohio High School Athletic Association board of control and the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference board. He is also an active member of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools and the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, JASON Learning STEM consortium and the SOAR collaborative. Mr. Leffingwell graduated from Marietta College with a bachelor’s degree in English and earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Ohio University.

Marsha Mockabee

President and CEO,
Urban League of Greater Cleveland

Marsha A. Mockabee is president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, where she is first female to hold this position at the 103-year-old Cleveland affiliate of the national civil rights and urban advocacy organization. In this role, Ms. Mockabee leads an agenda empowering African Americans to develop and exercise their potential on par with all other Americans through education, research, advocacy and the provision of services. She has more than 33 years of nonprofit leadership experience, as well as educational credentials that include a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University (cum laude) and a master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University. Among her numerous committee and community-outreach efforts, she has served since 2010 on the National Urban League’s Education and Jobs task forces, and in 2013 she was selected to lead an Equity and Excellence in Education initiative for the State of Ohio. Ms. Mockabee is a member of the Ohio ESSA Learning Community and is community chair of Ohio Education Leadership Learning Community, a founding member of Make Racism a Public Health Issue in the City of Cleveland and served at the request of the Ohio Secretary of State to facilitate participation of the state’s seven Urban League affiliates Vote by Mail projects for the Ohio primary and 2020 presidential elections. Most recently, she was requested by Senator Sherrod Brown to serve as co-chair and site host for the Ohio My Brother’s Keeper program.

2021 Aim Hire Breakout Session Recordings:

Breakout 1: A Clear Way Forward - Helping Students Create their Path to Career Success

This session will show how career pathways can help prepare students for in-demand jobs and help employers meet their workforce needs. 

Steve Dackin

Superintendent of School and Community Partnerships – Columbus State Community College

Steve Dackin joined Columbus State Community College in August 2014 as superintendent of school and community partnerships. In this position he oversees the college’s growing number of partnerships and initiatives, including efforts focused on increasing the number of Central Ohio adults who attain a postsecondary degree or credential. He has also been a member of Ohio’s State Board of Education since 2019 and is active with a number of other educational boards, civic initiatives and professional affiliations in the region. Prior to joining Columbus State, Mr. Dackin served as superintendent of the Reynoldsburg City School District, which under his leadership reduced spending while also markedly improving academic performance, including among minority and economically disadvantaged students. During that time, Reynoldsburg schools also developed one of the nation’s largest STEM education pipelines and transformed its large, comprehensive high school into four 9-14 college/career academies, each aligned to clusters of in-demand careers. Earlier in his career, Mr. Dackin held key positions with the Ohio Department of Education and Westerville City Schools. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Ohio Northern University and a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Dayton.

Sarah Collins

Assistant Principal – Lancaster High School

Sarah Collins, a past president of the Ohio School Counselor Association, is assistant principial at Lancaster High School. Prior to her present position, Sarah served as a school counselor at Lancaster High for 15 years and was chair of the school counseling department for the last five of those years. She has served on several committees and groups with the Ohio Department of Education, including the School Counselors Standards and Evaluation Writing Team, and was a consultant for Career Connections during development of the Ohio Means Jobs website. Ms. Collins has presented at conferences at the local, state and national levels on a wide range of counseling and career topics. She is also known as an advocate for the 3 Es of post-high school possibilities for students:  Enrollment, Enlistment and Employment. She earned a bachelor’s degree in hearing, speech and language sciences from Ohio University a master’s degree in school counseling from Ohio University.

Harry Snyder

President and CEO – Great Oaks Career Campuses

Since 2014, Harry Snyder has been president and CEO of Great Oaks Career Campuses, one of the largest career and technical education districts in the United States providing career technical training and job-readiness programs to more than 20,000 youth and 15,000 adults from 36 partnering school districts on its four Southwest Ohio campuses. Great Oaks has been named a Cincinnati Enquirer “Top Workplace” for more than eight years and has been acknowledged multiple times as a Cincy Magazine “Power 100” recipient. Throughout his career, Mr. Snyder has held numerous leadership roles in both professional and community organizations, and he presently serves on the boards of Learn 21, High Aims, Christian Benevolent Association, Ohio Association of Career Tech Superintendents, Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, Clermont UC Advisory Board, and the FFA Agriculture Education Foundation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in vocational education from Wright State University.

Breakout Session 2: The Ultimate Power Partnership - When Educators and Employers Team Up for Student Success, Everyone Wins

This session will dive into the value that Business Advisory Councils can offer students, employers, educators, and communities and provide advice on how to engage new partners.

Roger Geiger

Vice President and Ohio Executive Director – National Federation of Independent Business

Roger R. Geiger is a vice president and the Ohio executive director for the National Federation of Independent Business, a nationwide small-business advocacy association with more than 25,000 members in Ohio – its largest state chapter. In this position, he manages public policy, political, member activism and communication programs throughout the state. He also represents the federation with national policy organizations. Mr. Geiger joined NFIB in 1989 and has held a variety of leadership positions during his tenure. In recognition of his efforts to build the federation’s influence and clout, he has been consistently ranked by Smart Business Magazine among the “Power 100 Most Influential Leaders” in Columbus and is regularly a source for the media on issues of importance to small businesses. In the course of his career, Mr. Geiger has been appointed by three Ohio governors to several state boards and commissions, among the most recent:  the Ohio Commission to Reform Medicaid, the Ohio Sunset Review Committee and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Nominating Council. Before coming to NFIB, Mr. Geiger served as manager of governmental affairs for Browning-Ferris Industries of Ohio and was a legislative assistant in the Ohio House of Repre­sentative. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from the Francis­can University of Steuben­ville and has a master’s degree in public administration from The Ohio State University.

Tonia Saunders

Assistant Director, Employment Services – Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

Tonia Saunders has been assistant director of employment services for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services since July 2020. In this role, she administers the department’s Unemployment Insurance Operations and the Office of Workforce Development, which administers federal programs that create a comprehensive statewide workforce system and support Ohio’s Workforce Development Boards. These responsibilities include 88 county Ohio Means Jobs centers and the OhioMeansJobs.com website. Prior to her service with state government, Ms. Saunders held leadership positions in workforce development roles, including serving simultaneously as executive director for both the Lucas County Workforce Development Board and the Lucas County Department of Planning and Development. She also served as Lucas County’s Workforce Innovation Manager and began her career in public service with Experience Works Inc.as an employment training coordinator. She later served as that organization’s assistant director, overseeing East Coast operations serving 12 states, including Puerto Rico. Ms. Saunders earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix and is a Certified Workforce Development Professional, a credentialed designation from the National Association of Workforce Professionals.

Michelle Washington

Business and Education Program Specialist – Ohio Department of Education

Michelle Washington is a business and education program specialist in the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Graduate Success, where her work strengthens business/education partnerships through efforts with business advisory councils to leverage experiential learning opportunities for students while strengthening Ohio’s economy. Prior to joining state government, Ms. Washington worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a lead talent acquisition specialist and staffing coordinator in the Emergency Medicine Department for eleven years. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the City University of New York and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in educational psychology from Purdue University Global.

Breakout Session 3: The Workplace as a Classroom - How Work-Based Learning Optimizes Results for Students and Employers

This session will describe the value that work-based learning can offer students and employers and highlight some real examples of successful models in Ohio.

Walt Davis

Member – State Board of Education

An at-large member of Ohio’s State Board of Education with a long history of service on boards of numerous educational, workforce development and community service initiatives at the national, statewide and local levels, Walt Davis has brought to each of those responsibilities an impressive variety of leadership experiences in education, engineering, private industry, international commerce and the military. From a long career too wide-ranging for a brief overview, highlights include Mr. Davis’s past service as:  chairman and assistant professor of aviation technology at Sinclair University; dean of the aerospace Academy at the Warren County Career Center, where he had earlier been the business and industry liaison; vice president of a Japanese-American manufacturer of steel roller coasters; entrepreneur and consultant in the international amusement park industry; executive management positions at The Beach Water Park and Kings Island amusement parks in southwest Ohio; and more than a decade as a United States Air Force officer, structural engineer and planning specialist, culminating with service as a member of the Pentagon Battle Staff. Mr. Davis holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from The Ohio State University and an MBA from the University of Southern California

William Gary

Executive Vice President – Cuyahoga Community College

William Gary, executive vice president of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) since 2014, brings to his position more than 40 years of experience in private- and public-sector management roles. His leadership responsibilities at Tri-C include managing and coordinating college policy and programming pertaining to workforce training, education, and community and economic development. Prior to joining Tri-C, Mr. Gary served for 14 years as vice president for workforce development at Northern Virginia Community College where he was a founding member of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board. In prior roles, he held a number of executive-level positions in aviation, telecommunications, manufacturing and health care. Mr. Gary is active in the Northeast Ohio community, serving on the boards of Ohio Means Jobs Workforce Development; the Fund for Our Economic Future (where he is chair-elect); Global Cleveland; and University Hospitals/Southwest General Hospital. He also serves as the inaugural chair of the new statewide Workforce League, which has been formed to advise state leaders on workforce development policies, programs and agenda priorities. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in industrial relations from Rutgers University.

Barbara Dunlap

Manager, Co-op and Internship Program – American Electric Power

As manager of American Electric Power Company’s Co-op and Internship Program since 2017, Barbara Dunlap is responsible for building a pipeline of talent focused on the newest generation of engineers. Through on-campus engagements with professional engineering organizations, Ms. Dunlap is tasked with strengthening strategic relationships, developing retention strategies and expanding engagement programs for K-12 schools that will assist with building talent for the future of energy. In addition to her corporate responsibilities, she serves on several executive boards with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), where she directs a special interest group focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, and hosts a podcast geared toward encouraging early adoption of digital literacy skills for K-12 students and educators. She is an active volunteer with the Girl Scouts of Central Ohio, local and national STEM initiatives, programs focused on children and adult victims of human trafficking, and her home church. Prior to assuming her present responsibilities with AEP, Ms. Dunlap was a transmission line engineer with the company for 11 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering technology from the University of Toledo, an MBA with a focus on leadership from Franklin University and is a spring 2022 doctoral candidate at Ashland University.