What are you leading?
Manny Lamarre serves as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation (OWINN) and an appointed member of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board. Manny oversees OWINN and was appointed by Governor Sandoval to this role in June 2016.
OWINN has the mission of creating a skilled, diverse, and aligned workforce by engaging with K-12 and postsecondary educational institutions, employers, and workforce entities to design career pathways, expand apprenticeships, and develop statewide strategies and policies that strengthen the workforce system using labor-market data.
During the 2010 Great Recession, Nevada was one of the states hit the hardest. The state was highest in the U.S. for foreclosures, bankruptcies, uninsured citizens and unemployment. A major reason was because Nevada lacked a diversified economy as the state historically relied on consumption-based industries. Additionally, Nevada has one the lowest high school graduation rates in the country and ranks 49th in graduation. In order to build Nevada’s workforce, increased coordination was needed between the K-12, higher education and employer community in order to ensure students graduated with 21st century skills and attain postsecondary credentials.
OWINN’s mission is to ensure alignment of Nevada’s workforce system and ensures students graduate with the skills, knowledge and experiences needed to succeed in the new labor market.
How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?
My experience as a Teach For America corps member provided me with both optimism and the urgency to lead the work I’m currently engaged in. As a corps member in Miami-Dade, I taught first and second grade for three years. While teaching at one of the lowest performing schools in Miami, I was able to transform classrooms of students who came in behind grade level, with no knowledge of their potential, into students at or above grade level, ahead of their peers at Holmes elementary. I worked alongside corps members that worked tirelessly to change student lives every day. This experience gave me personal and professional energy about what is possible for students regardless of their zip codes.
Most importantly, serving in the classroom and interacting with my students’ families showed me that success in the classroom required reducing barriers parents face to attain great careers with strong salaries to support their children. Without addressing the issues and barriers adults face to attaining quality employment, schools would be stretched even more thin to support children with a host of issues such as hunger that minimize their ability to focus on teaching and learning. Thus, those experiences broaden my perspective of the educational challenges students face and serving in this role at OWINN allows me to support students by designing career pathways that makes them ready for college and careers while also working with the public workforce system to prepare adults increase their skills, attain credentials, and find meaningful training and employment that leads to improved outcomes.
Being an education leader has always meant doing whatever it takes to remove the barriers students face in living productive and meaningful lives. In the classroom, I leveraged student achievement data to deliver better instruction for my students; similarly, at OWINN, I leverage labor market data and research to inform workforce policies with the goal of increasing families’ household incomes.
During the recent legislative session, I supported the Governor’s Office on the passing of a handful of legislative bills around workforce development that intersects with the education, economic, and broader workforce community. One of those bills was establishing the Office of Workforce Innovation as a permanent office within the Governor’s Office. Thus, I am hiring staff for the office. Additionally, our office is working to expand apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities throughout the state of Nevada in high-demand industries.
We are focused on three outcomes: 1) prepare all K-12 students for college and career success; 2) increase Nevadans with postsecondary degrees and credentials; and 3) increase employment outcomes in training and credentialing programs.
My vision for the future is one where all students have access to a quality education regardless of their zip codes. However, it also includes a future where young adults and adults have the right skills, knowledge, and experiences to be successful in today’s changing labor market. It means ensuring that families have access to quality training and employment that reduces their dependency on social services. I hope to continue to serve in a systems level role that intersects between education, workforce and economic development and ensure that all students are ready for college and careers.