workstream 05

How can we foster stronger connections between working learners, colleges, universities and workplaces?

Working learners have distinct needs and assets as students and employees, yet many schools and workplaces are not designed to best serve working learners and take advantage of their experiences and wisdom. The task of this workstream is to consider past, present and potential future ways of organizing and better integrating schools and workplaces in ways that give the needs and assets of working learners top priority.


Geleana Alston


Hiring Working Learners

Northwestern University sociologist Lauren Rivera offers a concise brief on the importance of attending to the the assumptions, beliefs and behaviors of employers as they consider working learners at the point of hire.


University Extension as a Strategy to Serve Working Learners

UC-San Diego’s John Skrentny and Mary Walshok summarize the rich legacy of university extensions and suggest how they remain powerful tools for opportunity creation in the US today.



Geleana Alston
Associate Professor, North Carolina A&T State University
My research focuses on the sociocultural intricacies of women, minorities, and disenfranchised groups as adult learners and adult educators, and in particular the context of higher education. I describe my approach to engaging adult learners as learner-center with an emphasis on problem-based strategies to stimulate critical thinking for collective change.
Amy Ahearn
Vice President, Career Services, Pathstream
I graduated from Stanford's Learning, Design and Technology program in 2013 and now work at Pathstream, a provider of digital skills training for working adult learners. Specifically, I lead our career services team which strives to help working adults transition to careers in the knowledge economy where they can earn at least $50k. I am interested in learning more about models to coach and support adults through online learning experiences and help them find ways to apply their learning in the real world.
Erica Barreiro
Future of Work Strategist, Central New Mexico Community College
At our community college I am leading our partnership/work with building/scaling, a skills-to-jobs marketplace designed for working learners. Additionally, I serve as the lead for the Unmudl Champions, a collective of the leads for each of the founding partner colleges. In my current role at my college, as well as my previous role as the Dean for Communication, Humanities & Social Sciences, I am also involved in several other initiatives related to serving working learners. Because of this body of work I try to stay current on research, initiatives, programs, and policies related to supporting working learners.
Tara Behrend
Program Director, Science of Organizations, National Science Foundation
Meg Benke
Professor and Coordinator of Graduate Programs in Adult Learning, SUNY Empire State College
Anthony Britt
Director of Sector Strategies, Commonwealth Corporation
I'm most interested in the following big questions (although all three are of great interest to me!): *How can we improve job search and employer evaluation, hiring and promotion practices to better and more equitably serve working learners? *How can we best support the academic engagement and persistence of working learners? *What systems should we build to observe, measure, and compare the learning, occupational, and other gains from educational opportunities for working learners? I oversee the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) which is a sector-based initiative that funds education and training programs for unemployed and underemployed individuals to gain the skills, credentials, and experiences needed to access in-demand jobs across Massachusetts. I also work with the Career Technical Initiative, which is similar but leverages vocational schools for adult training in construction trades and manufacturing ( I hope I can contribute learning from these initiatives and others I manage that involve hybrid training models for working learners and those receiving public assistance. I'm also curious to discuss in more detail how we equip working learners with the tools they need to have workforce success while being mindful of the dynamics of job quality issues and credentialism.
Isabel Cardenas-Navia
Senior Director of Research, Workcred, INC
I'm interested in working learners and how they can access quality pathways and credentials. I am also interested in quality pathways and credentials and how they impact equity. I'm also very interested in experimental design to understand early indicators and outcomes to examine impact of interventions to support adult learners. I would like to recommend my colleague Dr. Kyle Albert to George Washington University to participate. His email is .
Justice CastaƱeda
Executive Director, Common Wealth Development
Joellen Coryell
Asst. Dean for Educational Partnerships and Enrollment and Professor of Adult, Professional, and Community Education, Texas State University
focus on adult learners and working adults. The academic discipline of adult education, present across the countries with graduate programs (master's and doctoral) in many universities, is primed to work to address the 'six big questions' identified in the invitation, as well as others as regards lifelong learning, cosmopolitan adult education, social equity through education, and others. I look forward to the conversations and recommend (if they haven't already been invited) the following professors: Lisa Baumgartner (Baumgartner, Lisa M ), Jeremy Bohonos (Bohonos, Jeremy W ), Jin Lee (Lee, Jin ), and Clarena Larrotta (Larrotta, Clarena ).
Geoffrey Cox
Senior Vice Dean, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University
Stephen Crawford
, George Washington University
Eric Fotheringham
Director of Community College Partnerships & Adult Learner Initiatives, University of North Carolina System
All of my work for the UNC System focuses on improving outcomes for transfer students and supporting adult and working learners. Changing the conversation around the needs of working learners and what the institutional realities are for the future of higher education is one key to success--I look forward to being a part of the necessary innovation and transformation to support working learners.
Rosanne Foust
President & CEO, San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA)
Workforce and how we address the challenges and opportunities facing us in Silicon Valley will define our generation and set the tone for the future. I serve on multiple boards, committees and commissions and workforce is top of mind at all the tables. I serve on NOVA, the workforce board for San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County and also the recovery steering committee for San Mateo County. We are having discussions on what the future of work will look like, how to we plan for it and train for it. This work is exciting and challenging and I look forward to diving in.
Yakut Gazi
Associate Dean of Learning Systems, Georgia Institute of Technology
I am interested in broadening the impact of lifelong learning initiatives for diverse groups of learners/citizens. I also think the future of work and education is a problem of scale and the solutions should come from a perspective of scale. Scale has close ties to affordability and accessibility - as well as quality. I have a lot of experience in the design, delivery, and financial aspects of at-scale educational solutions that I can bring to the table. As far as the specific questions that this activity asks, I am most interested in the following: - *What systems should we build to observe, measure, and compare the learning, occupational, and other gains from educational opportunities for working learners? -*How can we foster stronger connections between working learners, colleges, universities and workplaces?
Anthony Graham
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Winston-Salem State University
Pamela Howze
Executive Director of Apprenticeship, Customized Training and Work Based Learning, Wake Technical Community College
My research in the past has been in this topic area, specifically high school youth to apprenticeship programs.
Amy Kerwin
VP-Education Philanthropy, Ascendium
Michael W. Kirst
Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University
Martin Kurzweil
Director, Ithaka S+R
I am interested in all aspects of the convening, but I believe I have the most to contribute to two of the big questions: *How can we improve job search and employer evaluation, hiring and promotion practices to better and more equitably serve working learners? *How can we foster stronger connections between working learners, colleges, universities and workplaces?
Chauncy Lennon
Vice President for Learning and Work, Lumina Foundation
Mark Lester
Chief Partnerships Officer, FourthRev
FourthRev is operating at the intersection of employers, universities and global tech companies to address the digital skills gap and support people in their transition to, or advancement within, digital careers. Working in close partnership with universities, we are developing experiences for working learners that re-skill them for digital economy jobs and support them into new employment across our industry and employer networks. We are, therefore, greatly interested in this cross-cutting research in an area where we are deeply involved and would be considering ways to support research through our programs. We will contribute our collective experience of developing MOOCs and short online programs for working learners within the HE sector, as well as our insights internationally from our employer networks.
Steven Mintz
Professor, UT Austin
Previously the Executive Director of the University of Texas System's Institute for Transformational Learning and Senior Advisor to the President of the City University of New York's Hunter College, I regularly write about educational innovation for Inside Higher Ed.
Briana Mullen
Graduate Student, Stanford University
Sara Murdock
Dr., Silicon Valley Leadership Group
My expertise is People & Culture transformation in orgs and companies with a focus on DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) -- which is connected to inclusive economies, employee lifecycles, and the future of work. Reimagining the connection between learning and work is one of the pathways toward social sustainability and robust impact. I work with regional and global orgs/companies from startups to Fortune 500s on strategy, training, and advising. My MA is in Organizational Design and my PhD is in Social Impact in Intercultural Programs. I write, give talks, teach, etc around the world.
Kelly Otter
Dean, School of Continuing Education, Georgetown University
Scott Ralls
President, Wake Technical Community College
Learning of opportunities to create more ladders of opportunity to economic mobility for our working students
Seth Reichlin
Senior Strategic Advisor, CollegeAPP
From a practical standpoint, I'm most interested in how to help education and training providers find working learners who are most likely to enroll in and successfully complete programs leading to marketable job skills. I'm happy to discuss how we use person-level modeling to identify those learners and measure local and regional demand for education and training. From a policy standpoint, I'm interested in learning about best practices for regulating the delivery of instruction to adults, both by traditional academic institutions, and by non-traditional education and training institutions.
Victoria Rocha
SLAC, Hope Center
I am interested in other experience's with being a working learner and I am interested in discovering ways to manage my own life as a working learner.
Robert Sanders
Dean, Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College
The Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College serves adult undergraduate and graduate students in the Central Florida region. It is critical for our success as a school and to the success of the students we serve that we are hyper-focused on the unique needs, demands, and expectations of adult learners seeking to earn a degree. The six big questions listed in the invitation capture the salient questions and issues we grapple with each and every day in the Holt School. I look forward to the opportunity to talk with others how we've tried to answer those questions (particularly in terms of our research on market trends and student demand, program expansion, and policy updates) and to hear how our colleagues at other schools have attempted to do so.
Gina Rosen
Social Science Researcher, Opportunity@Work
Mary Walshok
Assoc VC Public Programs, UC San Diego
Cat Ward
Managing Director, Jobs For the Future (JFF)