Benchmarks of Success Issue 15, November/December 2019

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Monthly Newsletter  -  Issue 15, November/December 2019

Frederick Entrepreneur Achieves Greater Success After Completing the Maryland Department of Human Services’ Public Assistance to Entrepreneurship (PA2E) Program



(From left to right: Martha Sprow, Former Director of the Frederick County Department of Social Services; Steve Benden, Director of the Office of Strategy and Performance at the Maryland Department of Human Services; and Alice Mbuyi, honoree and entrepreneur).

The Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Frederick County Department of Social Services honored a Frederick entrepreneur for her remarkable business achievements nine months after completing the agency’s Public Assistance to Entrepreneurship Program (PA2E).

PA2E is a workforce development program aimed at providing public assistance customers with the resources and training they need to channel their inner creativity and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams of owning a small business. Alice Mbuyi, the owner of Passion Events Design, participated in the PA2E program in Frederick County last October, after struggling to establish a clientele and sustain her event planning business since 2012.

“I felt discouraged because of my lack of resources to run the business, but I always wanted to pursue my happiness,” said Mbuyi. “I had forgotten the fundamental skills. From the classes that I attended during PA2E with the great (small business administration) counselors and consultants, I was able to gather all the missing pieces that I needed for the business to take off, and I am so grateful today.”

The program offers participants eight business courses over a six-week period, ongoing consulting, and other support by DHS in partnership with the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Courses include topics ranging from the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, creating a business plan, marketing research, social media engagement, and applying for a business loan.

“We are incredibly proud of Alice and all that she has accomplished,” said Steve Benden, director of the Office of Strategy and Performance at DHS. “The PA2E program is truly an innovative grassroots effort to help vulnerable Marylander’s who have dreams of owning a business. We are proud to partner with Maryland’s SBDC to provide participants with the skills and professional development necessary to achieve greater self-sufficiency. To hear Alice refer to the program as a life-changing experience is what PA2E is all about.”

Marylanders who are receiving assistance from their local Department of Social Services can learn more and apply for the PA2E program by visiting DHS invites the public to view video footage of the event by visiting Additional pictures of the event can be viewed on the DHS FlickrFacebook, and Twitter pages.


Quick Resources

Benchmarks of Success Resource Page

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Resource Page

Maryland’s State Workforce Plan


Benchmarks of Success New Collateral

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Maryland's Workforce System Welcomes John Feaster as the New Chief Learning Officer

John Feaster

The main purpose of this brand new position, which resides in our Office of the Assistant Secretary, is to create and maintain a comprehensive, statewide professional development and technical assistance portfolio that supports the strategic goals set forth in the WIOA State Workforce Plan and reflects the vision of the Benchmarks of Success for Maryland’s Workforce System. As defined in the State Workforce Plan, the position supports DWDAL and Maryland’s Workforce partners in delivering high quality, integrated services to workforce system customers and excellent customer service to internal staff as well as staff from partner agencies. John will be responsible for coordinating statewide professional development activities.

John served as the interim Manager of Organizational Development at the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) during a critical period in which the introduction of the much anticipated MDOT MVA system modernization project was being launched. This project required the training and development of new systems to run concurrent with existing legacy training, all while serving record numbers of Maryland Residents attaining their first “Real ID.” 

Since 2001, John has participated in the professional development arena. John’s professional development experience ranges from curriculum assessment and development to program execution and accountability. John’s leadership experience from multiple Fortune 500 companies (including CarMax, a Forbes top 100 training company) and a background in information technology, has given John the tools necessary to succeed in the ever-evolving world of professional development. 

John has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Systems and Technology Management from the University of Baltimore.

Workforce Partners

Maryland Department of Labor                                                                  Maryland Department of Human Services

Maryland State Department of Education                                                Governor's Workforce Development Board

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development                            Maryland Workforce Association

Did You Know...?


Maryland's Latest Workforce Development Updates 

  • Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development - the HELP Veterans village was recently named the Special Needs Housing Project of the Year by Affordable Housing Finance Magazine. 

    Developed through a partnership between the VA Maryland Health Care System, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, HELP USA, Cecil County, and the Town of Perryville, HELP Veterans Village provides housing for at-risk and formerly homeless veterans in the village area of the Perry Point VA Medical Center. The department provided nearly $19 million in financing for this vital project that has contributed to the reduction of veterans homelessness in Maryland. Read more…

  • Maryland State Department of Education's Division of Rehabilitative Services (DORS)

    • The 2019 Maryland Rehabilitation Conference was held on November 7 and 8 in Towson. The Conference included keynote speakers and 26 breakout sessionson disability, employment, vocational rehabilitation, assistive technology, accessibility, and personal development.
    • DORS held a celebration to recognize the organization’s 90th anniversary and an outstanding group of graduates who successfully completed a workforce training program earned their Maryland High School diplomas or completed a Registered Apprenticeship program.
  • Maryland approved three new apprenticeship programs and adds 11 youth apprenticeship employers - The Maryland Department of Labor (Labor) announced that the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council has approved three new registered apprenticeship programs and 11 new youth apprenticeship employers.These additions to Maryland's apprenticeship programs are expanding opportunities for students and workers in high-wage skilled trade jobs and non-traditional industries while supporting the workforce needs of local businesses. Read more...
  • Maryland doubles maximum funding amount for proposals to invest in registered apprenticeships - 

    Labor announced that it is increasing the maximum funding request amount for its nationally-recognized Apprenticeship Innovation Fund (AIF) grants from $50,000 to $100,000. The AIF is designed to provide seed money to businesses committed to creating new and innovative apprenticeship opportunities to meet their workforce talent pipeline needs. Read more...

  • On November 7, the Governor's Workforce Development Board Executive Director Mike DiGiacomo spoke on a panel at the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Neurodiversity in the Workplace conference. Joining Mike on the panel was Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz and Maryland Department of Disabilities Secretary Carol Beatty, with moderator Dr. Nancy Grasmick, a former Maryland State Superintendent of Schools. Panelists discussed the state of employment in Maryland and building a neurodiverse talent pipeline and workforce. Mike highlighted the success of the Benchmarks of Success interagency collaboration as a holistic approach to deliver customized services to support Maryland jobseekers.
  • Assistant Secretary for Labor's Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning Jim Rzepkowski joined numerous elected officials and WorkSource Montgomery staff  for a grand re-opening ceremony of the Wheaton American Job Center.
  • Labor's Division of Unemployment Insurance (DUI) has completed approximately 70% of staff training to prepare for the rollout of the new BEACON (Benefits, Appeals, Contributions) system in 2020. The BEACON system will replace DUI's legacy system to allow UI claimants to file for and manage their Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, and allow employers to file wages and pay their UI taxes. BEACON will modernize the UI process, enabling real time data sharing on a more interactive, web based system.


Benchmarks of Success Newsletters


Benchmarks of Success Committee Updates

  • Local and state representatives from multiple partner program participate on a group of committees established to help Maryland’s workforce system become the integrated, high-performing system envisioned in Maryland’s state workforce plan. This expanded section of the Benchmarks of Success monthly newsletter will provide readers with regular updates on the important work happening in these committees.  Check in every month to see what’s new! 

    • Executive Steering - provides strategic leadership for the rollout and implementation of the Benchmarks initiative - meets quarterly
    • WIOA Alignment - oversees and coordinates the activities of the Benchmarks committees - meets monthly
    • Data and Dashboard 

      The Data and Dashboard Committee has spent countless hours over the last two years establishing shared definitions for workforce system terminology, exploring the differences in data collection and performance tracking across different partner programs, and finding new ways to combine data from multiple sources to analyze the performance of Maryland’s workforce system more holistically. All that hard work is paying off. In November, the Committee set benchmark baselines for the Benchmarks of Success metrics based on PY 17 and PY 18 data. The WIOA Alignment Group will be working closely with the Committee in 2020 to determine how the workforce system can use this data to continuously improve Maryland’s outcomes for job seekers and employers. You can learn more about what the Data and Dashboard Committee has been up to in 2019 here.

    • Communications

      In addition to producing the monthly newsletter for the Benchmarks of Success initiative, November marked the month in 2019 when the Communications Committee launched distribution of three important collateral documents designed to promote Benchmarks of Success across the state. Check out the new poster, rack card and flier! Printed versions of these materials will soon be distributed statewide to service sites operated by the Maryland Department of Labor, the Maryland Department of Human Services, the Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Rehabilitation Services, and the Maryland Department of Community Housing and Development. You can learn more about what the Communications Committee has been up to in 2019 here.

    • Policy

      Each year, the Policy Committee submits a report to the WIOA Alignment Group that includes recommendations on selected workforce issues. The Committee’s recommendations help to guide system priorities and activities. As this newsletter goes to press, the Committee is finishing up its Policy Recommendations Report for 2019. A final version will be presented to the WIOA Alignment Group for review in early 2020. Stay tuned for more about this important report! You can learn more about what the Policy Committee has been up to in 2019 here.

    • Professional Development and Technical Assistance 

      The Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee has been in hiatus for several months in anticipation of hiring a new Chief Learning Officer (CLO) to advance a unified professional development program for the state’s workforce system. As featured above, we are pleased to announce that John Feaster is now onboard as Maryland’s new CLO! The WIOA Alignment Group expects to re-activate the Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee in early 2020 to work with John. Stay tuned for more on this exciting development!


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Benchmarks of Success Video Series

July 2018

Introductory Video

Featured Guests: Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Kelly M. Schulz; Maryland State Department of Education Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D.; Department of Human Services Secretary Lourdes R. Padilla; and Governor's Workforce Development Board Executive Director Michael R. DiGiacomo.

August 2018

Targeted Audience: Management/Frontline Staff/Partners - Parts One, Two and Three

Featured Guest: Secretary Lourdes R. Padilla, Maryland Department of Human Services

September 2018

Targeted Audience: CEOs/Boards/Privates/Non-Profits - Parts One and Two

Featured Guest: Board Chair Louis M. Dubin, Governor's Workforce Development Board

October 2018

Targeted Audience: Jobseekers/General Public

Featured Guest: State Superintendent Karen B. Salmon, Maryland State Department of Education

November 2018

Targeted Audience: Employers

Featured Guest: Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

December 2018

Targeted Audience: Elected Officials - Federal, State and Local - Parts One, Two and Three

Featured Guest: Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation