For much of CWEE’s 40-year history, we have honored individuals and partners for their exceptional contributions to our mission with the Silver Flame award. This year we are pleased to honor Katherine Keegan, CWEE’s 2021 Volunteer of the Year and the Director for Office of the Future of Work (OFOW) at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Katherine is a member of CWEE’s Ambassador Council, which is responsible for helping CWEE connect to many invaluable opportunities and partnerships. CWEE has also benefited tremendously from Katherine’s expertise, and we are grateful to her for sharing some of her time and knowledge with our team.
Prior to taking over the leadership role at OFOW, Katherine led career coaching initiatives for Skillful, an initiative that works to build a skills-based labor market where individuals are valued for the skills they bring from a variety of life experiences — not just formal education.
“The labor market is more equitable when employers hire based on skills, rather than proxies like a four-year degree,” Katherine says. “CWEE advances a skill-based framework by helping career seekers recognize and value the skills they already have and connect to opportunities to build on those skills.”
Being a parent, serving customers at a fast-food restaurant, or answering phones and taking messages are examples of skills that are often undervalued. Yet these skills and experiences align with what’s needed for jobs in project management, customer service, and more.
Part of the challenge, Katherine says, is making sure employers understand what skills are needed to get hired — and what can be effectively trained on the job. It turns out that what workers need to get hired are the foundational skills — the “uniquely human skills” as Katherine calls them — and that is precisely where CWEE is focused.
Learning how to collaborate, communicate, connect with others, and use technology to accomplish goals are examples of fundamental human skills.
“CWEE offers participants a transformative experience that helps build on the skills they already have, understand the opportunities available to them, and chart a new path.”
Katherine has been instrumental in connecting CWEE to new collaboration opportunities within OFOW and the Colorado Workforce Development Council, including a design series to test strategies to accelerate digital skill development and the Talent Equity Agenda, which supports shared strategies to close racial economic disparities.
For her tremendous commitment to CWEE, we are proud to recognize Katherine Keegan as this year’s Silver Flame Volunteer award winner.
Collaboration between nonprofits like CWEE that offer coaching, training, and employment support and government agencies that oversee workforce development and education programs is the cornerstone of impact for disadvantaged career seekers.
“CWEE does a good job in some of the places where the government systems can fall short: reaching historically excluded Coloradans,” Katherine says. “Organizations like CWEE make the workforce system and government programs more accessible and actually help to extend the opportunities and resources to the workers and job seekers that could most benefit. That’s an extremely important role.”
For much of CWEE’s 40-year history, we have honored individuals and partners for their exceptional contributions to our mission with the annual Silver Flame award. Silver Flame winners embrace CWEE’s mission and go above and beyond to support our career seekers and activities.
In 2021, we are pleased to recognize these additional winners:
- Employer Partner of the Year: CWEE’s Employer Advisory Council
- Program Partner of the Year: PC’s for People
- Corporate Partner of the Year: Comcast
- Alumni of the Year: In 2021, CWEE recognizes the incredible efforts and accomplishments of all of our current career seekers and alumni