Irene Bustamante Adams serves as the Deputy Director and Chief Strategy Officer for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Local Workforce Development Board. Prior to joining Workforce Connections in 2017, Ms. Bustamante Adams spent 18 years at MGM Resorts International, working her way up from clerk to a corporate position. From 2010 to 2018, she also represented District 42 in the Nevada Assembly, serving as Speaker Pro Tempore in her last leadership role.
Ms. Bustamante Adams was raised in the farming community of Kerman, California and woke before dawn to work the agricultural fields alongside her siblings. She was the first in her family to attend and graduate college, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from California State University, Fresno. In 2007, she became the first Latina in Nevada history to earn an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Ms. Bustamante Adams currently serves on the boards and councils of the Nevada Commission on Service, United Way of Southern Nevada, and Uplift Foundation of Nevada.
Nicole Bossard has 20 years of experience specializing in leadership, organization development, and collaboration capacity building in child welfare, children’s mental health, and education, particularly systems of care. Her areas of expertise include family and community engagement, leading sustainable systems change, and collaborative partnerships between communities and child- and family-serving systems. Her recent research interests include meaningful family engagement in child welfare-driven systems of care, parent leadership in child welfare, and evaluation capacity building, namely technical assistance on building evidence-informed practices within TANF programs. Recognized for her highly engaging methods, Dr. Bossard brings joy and resourcefulness to the work of strengthening communities and employee engagement. She has worked with diverse stakeholders and partners to address the needs of children and families in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Western regions of the United States as well as Tribal communities throughout the country. Dr. Bossard currently provides training and technical assistance for several national projects, turning attention away from compliance-driven practice and towards measurable improvements in the lives and communities of those served.
Janae Bradford is Assistant Director of Family Advancement at CAP Tulsa. She has worked at the agency since 2006, where she has been primarily responsible for project design and management as well as external partnerships relating to programs which strive to improve the economic stability of parents with young children through a two-generation approach. During her career, Ms. Bradford has been involved with a number of innovative projects from improving access to public benefits, to tax time asset-building and sector-based workforce development, all aimed at improving conditions for low-income families and children. A few of these programs include the Social Innovation Fund’s SaveUSA replication pilot and the Office of Family Assistance’s Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) workforce development demonstration program. Ms. Bradford also participates in several committees focused on building collective impact in Tulsa’s workforce development arena.
Ms. Bradford received her B.S. in Business Administration and MBA from Oklahoma State University.
Tim Burch is a two-time alumnus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a Master of Public Administration. He has invested over 25 years of human services programming, systemic thinking, and community building into the Las Vegas community he calls home along with his wife, two children, and grandson. Eighteen of those years have been with Clark County, where he has worked in a variety of capacities, including the Director of the Department of Social Service and the Director of the Department of Family Services. He currently serves as the Administrator of Human Services over both departments.
Richard Carranza is Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest school system in the nation. He is responsible for educating 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools. During Chancellor Carranza’s nearly 30 years in education, he has served in virtually every role. Prior to New York City, he was the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas, the seventh largest in the United States. Before that, he served the San Francisco Unified School District, first as deputy superintendent and then as superintendent. He began his career as a high school, bilingual social studies and music teacher, and then as a principal, both in Tucson, Arizona.
Clarence H. Carter is the Director of the Office of Family Assistance at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, coming from the Institute for the Improvement of the Human Condition, which he founded. At that organization, he worked with state and local safety net agencies to meet the emergency needs of socially and economically vulnerable citizens. Mr. Carter previously served as Director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, in addition to other state, federal and local human services management positions. He also managed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and served as Director of the Office of Community Services. As Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services, his program was instrumental in growing the capacity of its citizens. In his first 5 years, more than 25,000 public assistance recipients obtained gainful employment, earning in excess of $200 million. During his tenure, Virginia’s public assistance rolls were reduced by more than half, from an all-time high of 74,000 families to a 30-year low of 31,000. While serving as Director of the Washington, D.C. Department of Human Services, Mr. Carter led the design and operation of an initiative to house more than 1,000 homeless residents. It was this effort that transformed the District’s shelter-based homeless system to one based in permanent supportive housing as the primary mechanism to reduce homelessness.
Whitney Cole is a 2018 University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduate conferring her Master’s Degree in Communications. She was named Student of the Year by Communities In Schools of Nevada and is finishing up her capstone project. As a teenager, Ms. Cole had aspirations of becoming a lawyer. However, due to life’s circumstances, she was heavily credit-deficient with 66 absences. She always knew she would have a good future, but did not know when to start planning for it. Although she fell off track, she always had the ability and desire to achieve the goals she wanted to achieve. Therefore, Ms. Cole soon made a choice and discovered her newfound dedication to academics and her future goals. Before she knew it, she was graduating Cimarron-Memorial High School in 2015 with an Advanced Diploma, invited to be a Law & Trial Conference student at Stanford University, and pursuing her master’s degree alongside her hobbies of basketball and writing. She says she would not be the person that she is today without the assistance of those who truly believed in her, including her supportive mentors, Communities in Schools (CIS) of Nevada, and CIS site coordinator – all who have had a hand in her success.
Ms. Cole lives by the mantra of whatever you do in life, stand tall. She says she never wanted a simple life and wants to help kids of the future have everything she did not have.
Jaime Cruz serves as Executive Director for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Local Workforce Development Board. Before his appointment as Executive Director in October 2017, Mr. Cruz served as Chief Strategy Officer for eight years and was instrumental in partnering with local libraries to expand the public workforce development system.
Prior to his career at Workforce Connections, Mr. Cruz oversaw the planning and implementation of the energy management and building automation systems at MGM Resorts International’s CityCenter complex. At the time, CityCenter was the largest LEED Gold Certified complex in the world.
Mr. Cruz holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Escuela Nacional De Marina Mercante in Lima, Peru. He also is a Certified Energy Manager and Certified Sustainable Development Professional by the Association of Energy Engineers, as well as a Certified Public Manager by the State of Nevada.
Tami Hance-Lehr is the Chief Executive Officer and State Director of Communities In Schools (CIS) of Nevada, a dropout prevention and intervention organization. Founded in 1992, CIS of Nevada is a single non-profit with three dependent affiliates serving 69,100 students at 68 sites across the state. The CIS mission is to surround students in poverty with a community of support, empowering them to succeed in school and achieve in life. Prior to joining CIS, Ms. Hance-Lehr was vice president and shareholder of Destinations by Design, a special event company in Las Vegas.
At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she aligned herself early on with empowering women, serving as president of the Theta ETA chapter of Sigma Kappa in 1991 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in Communication Studies.
Ronald R. Heezen is Executive Director of the award-winning Las Vegas Clark County Library District – a $79 million independent taxing entity which serves a diverse community covering over 8,000 square miles through its 25 branches. Prior to his position in Las Vegas, Dr. Heezen was the Executive Director of Shreve Memorial Library System in Shreveport, Louisiana and the Director of the Green Gold Library System consisting of 12 parishes in northwest Louisiana. A seasoned library professional, he is known for his innovation, customer service, and employee empowerment. He believes in community action/interaction and supporting worthwhile causes.
Dr. Heezen holds a B.A. in history from the University of Utah, an M.L.S. from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in Library Science from Texas Woman’s University.
Tameka Henry is a mother of four whose experience with Head Start began as a parent at the Acelero Learning – Clark County program in 2007. Ms. Henry quickly became one of Acelero’s most vocal advocates on the importance of Head Start, continued funding, and closing the achievement gap. She is the board chair at Acelero and is a former Policy Committee chair as well. She has also organized and led several advocacy events, including sending over 1,000 letters to Congress on behalf of Head Start families and speaking to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his staff on the benefits of the program. Her work in ECE advocacy earned her the Martin Luther King Diversity Award in Education presented by the College of Southern Nevada. Ms. Henry is also an Ascend Ambassador with The Aspen Institute whose nationwide focus is on working with dual generations to move families beyond poverty. She is a proud board member of the Region IX and National Head Start Associations, the Southern Nevada Association for the Education of the Young Child, and the Children's Advocacy Alliances Strong Start Committee.
Ms. Henry completed her associate’s degree at the College of Southern Nevada with the majority of her coursework in early childhood education.
As Superintendent of the Clark County School District (CCSD), Jesus Jara has a unique perspective after moving to Miami from Venezuela as an English language learner. Dr. Jara has set a priority of ensuring equity and access for historically underserved and under-resourced students. Dr. Jara’s first year on the job focused heavily on equity and access, initiating plans to expand access to Advanced Placement classes at all schools. CCSD has one of the highest transiency rates in the nation, and Dr. Jara’s team chose a standard K-9 assessment plan to ensure the district is consistently tracking student success, including for students who move frequently. Dr. Jara has also advocated for various school safety improvements, including putting more officers on campuses and developing one of the nation’s largest K-9 officer teams dedicated to sniffing out firearms.
Dr. Jara brings with him more than 20 years of experience serving public school students, including serving as the deputy superintendent for Orange County Public Schools in Florida and the superintendent and chief operations officer in Monroe County Public Schools (Florida).
He received his Doctorate in Education, Educational Policy, Leadership, and Administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick was elected to a four-year term on the County Commission that began January 2017. Ms. Kirkpatrick authored a program she calls Pathway from Poverty to assist children and families, making sure every possible opportunity is afforded them. She is currently chair for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Clark County Debt Management, and Southern Nevada Health Department. Ms. Kirkpatrick is also a member of the Nellis Air Force Base Civilian Military Council, as well as both the Nevada and National Association of Counties.
Ms. Kirkpatrick attended Krolack Business School and the Community College of Southern Nevada.
Manny Lamarre serves as a Senior Program Associate in the Innovation Studies department at WestEd where he leads and supports initiatives that strengthen the improvement of workforce and education for youth and adults. He also represents WestEd externally and serves as a workforce subject-matter expert. Mr. Lamarre previously served as the Founding Executive Director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation and the Governor’s Designee on the Governor’s Workforce Development Board where he led the implementation of the state’s workforce vision and policies. In his decade-long career at the intersection of workforce and education, he has also worked in several states as a teacher and an administrator at a foundation. He has authored several reports and studied and presented on workforce topics nationally and internationally. Mr. Lamarre holds a B.A. in Political Science with honors from Wittenberg University, and a Master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he was the recipient of the Class Marshal Award for leadership and service to the Harvard community.
Jack Martin, Director of the Clark County Department of Juvenile Justice Services, has served over three decades in law enforcement, both in the adult and juvenile arenas. Mr. Martin began his career in California before transitioning to both Arizona and Hawaii as a subject matter expert to assist those states successfully rebuild their troubled correctional systems. Mr. Martin moved to Nevada in 2009 as the Chief of the Youth Parole Bureau and transferred to Clark County in 2011, where he accepted the position of Assistant Director and then was promoted in 2013 to the position of Director.
Mr. Martin is a national speaker for operational issues surrounding cultural change and leadership coaching and development within law enforcement and government agencies. He is an expert in designing and teaching evidence-based curriculum, and turning around troubled departments.
Mr. Martin earned his degrees in Criminal Justice Administration and Communications and his Master’s in Public Policy.
Larry Pasti joined the Forum for Youth Investment in October 2008. He is a connector of ideas, leaders and places; he provides support to communities and states interested in bringing Ready by 21® strategies, solutions, and standards into their local work. Through strategic coaching, technical assistance, and tools, he guides leader groups to understand the "nuts and bolts" of important systems-level work. He joined the Forum after more than 20 years at the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. As bureau director, he supported strategic planning and applied research for the agency. Much of his work revolved around collaboration of government and community – including the Integrated County Planning Project – and on developing evaluations of evidence-based programs, with an emphasis in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Mr. Pasti holds a B.S. in Secondary Education from Plattsburgh State University and an M.A. in Criminal Justice from Albany State University. His early job as a Probation Officer has influenced his focus on families throughout his career.
Alison Pershing is a manufacturing technology professional based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is a Certified Manufacturing Technician and holds a Platinum-Level ACT National Career Readiness Certification. As a successful participant in a local employment and training program, she is currently invested in educating community partners and policymakers in the transformative outcomes of collaborative, holistic, and multi-generational approaches to case management and social services.
Babette (Babs) Roberts has served as the Director for the Community Services Division (CSD) within the Economic Services Administration (ESA) of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) since December 2009. She has worked for the state of Washington for over 26 years and more than 25 of those years with DSHS. She has worked for several administrations, including Development Disabilities and Children’s Administration, in various administrative functions, before finally coming to ESA in 2001 as the administration’s Budget Coordinator. She later served as the Administration’s Chief of Fiscal Services, before being asked to step into her current role. "This is the most rewarding, challenging, and satisfying position I’ve ever held" says Ms. Roberts.
Ms. Roberts grew up in and around the Boston, Massachusetts area. Having lived many of those formative years in a low-income household, she has a passion for DSHS’ programs and knows their importance to the clients that use them.
Mary Beth Sewald is the President and CEO of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. As the chief executive of the largest and broadest-based business association in Nevada, she sets the vision for the Metro Chamber and leads its strategy of supporting local businesses and pursuing initiatives to boost job growth, a healthy economy, and a vibrant community. Ms. Sewald has successfully served as a strategic and visionary executive in both the private sector and non-profit association sectors. She is the former President and CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association (NVBA), where she led the efforts of the NVBA to collaborate with government officials, represented Nevada’s broadcast industry to all constituencies, and assured the financial health of the Association.
Ms. Sewald was recognized as the first woman to be named Television General Manager in 2003, and was inducted into the Nevada Broadcaster’s Association Hall of Fame in 2009. She was recently appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval to the new Southern Nevada Sporting Events Committee, and currently serves on the board of directors for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the Nevada Military Support Alliance, City National Bank, The Congressional Award of Nevada, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Lee Business School Dean’s Advisory Board, and she is Vice Chair of the National Championship Reno Air Races.
Marjorie Sims has more than 20 years of experience in advancing the status of women and families at local, state, national, and international levels. She formerly served as program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with a specific focus on family economic security programs and managed a $65M grant portfolio. Prior to joining the Kellogg Foundation, Ms. Sims held the positions of chief operating officer, interim president, and vice president of programs and operations at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. During her tenure in Washington, Sims helped launch Stepping Stones, a $5 million, multi-year, regional initiative to increase the income and assets of women-headed families. Stepping Stones received national recognition as a model public-private partnership. In addition, Ms. Sims served as the executive director of the California Women’s Law Center and as a policy analyst with the International Center for Research on Women. She is a co-founder of Women’s Policy, Inc., an organization that emerged from the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues to provide unbiased analyses and educational briefings about federal legislation affecting women and families. Ms. Sims has additional expertise in expanding women’s philanthropy and managing leadership transitions.
Tiffany Tyler-Garner was appointed as Director of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR) by Governor Steve Sisolak in early 2019. In this capacity, she serves as a member of the Governor’s cabinet overseeing the daily operations of DETR which includes more than 1,000 staff members in several offices throughout the state. Prior to becoming DETR Director, Dr. Tyler-Garner served as the Chief Executive Officer of Communities In Schools (CIS) of Nevada since August 2016. In her capacity at CIS, she oversaw services provided to 68,000 students in 63 schools statewide including programs highlighting workforce development, youth development, reentry, and diversion. Prior to her service at CIS of Nevada, she was a chief operating officer at Nevada Partners, where she was tasked with overseeing the administration of programs and services addressing Southern Nevada’s at-risk-adults and youth populations.
Dr. Tyler-Garner holds a Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a Master of Science degree in Counseling from California State University, and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Southern California. Dr. Tyler-Garner’s research interests include dropout prevention, district and school reform, youth development, and program evaluation.