Education and Public Service Industry Summit

Education and Public Service Industry Summit Inspires Educators and Engages Industry Professionals

The Oakland Workforce Investment Board (WIB), and the College and Career Readiness Office (CCRO) of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in partnership with the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA) hosted the Education and Public Service Industry Summit on Thursday, March 15, 2012.  In the spirit of Linked Learning, the objective of this summit was to connect educators, industry professionals, parents and students with each other in order to begin a dialogue on how OUSD’s Education and Public Service pathways align with the workforce needs of local businesses. 

Seventy people attended the event at City Hall, in the majestic Council Chambers. Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell, an Oakland native and graduate of Skyline High School, commenced the evening with some life lessons learned from his growing up in Oakland. As a young man, Mr. Blackwell was exposed to social justice issues and its effects left a lasting impression on him. “It is very important to connect with the industry professionals you’re interested in,” Blackwell advised the student ambassadors in the audience. “These are the people who will help you reach your goals.”

Following Mr. Blackwell’s commencement, Susan Benz, Coordinator of Career Readiness at the College and Career Readiness Office (CCRO) of OUSD, Tim Oshima, Regional Chair for the NCHRA- East Bay Chapter and John Bailey of the Oakland  (WIB) spoke briefly about their respective commitments to education and employment, creating an air of anticipation for what was to follow. People arrived at the summit to learn and collaborate and connect classroom-learning with the broader Oakland community. Mr. Bailey shared that the first summit (Arts, Media and Entertainment Summit, February 16, 2012) had been an unbelievable evening, and the first panel began with high expectations.

Comprised of educators from OUSD’s Education Academy (Anya Gurholt), Mandela Law and Public Service Academy (Patricia Arabia and John Nepomuceno), and Public Health Academy (Susan Yee), the first panel elaborated on the career-technical education courses they teach, what they do to make classroom-learning relevant, and what they view as the most urgent needs for their students.  All the educators spoke of the challenges of motivating students to become their own advocates in order to absorb and engage with what is taught in the classroom. The educators also mentioned the need for more work-based learning experiences. Ms. Gurholt said that the more partnerships with community-based organizations she could develop for her Education Academy students, the more options her students would have to choose from. Another pressing need was for industry professionals to come to campus to talk to students about the different career paths available within each industry sector. Mr. Nepomuceno of the Mandela Law and Public Service Academy said the OUSD academies need more people coming to talk about themselves, to help youth “understand the nature of work­­­ means going beyond just showing up.”

The second panel was comprised of accomplished industry professionals.  The panel included Nell Curran, the School Outreach Director of the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program; Heather MacDonald Fine, Program Manager of the Model Neighborhood Program at the Alameda County Medical Center; Joe Haraburda, President and CEO of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; Jacqueline Minor, General Counsel for the Oakland Board of Education; and Mary Parenti, Human Resources Manager at Wendel Rosen Black & Dean. They discussed emerging trends in Education and Public Service, the necessary skills that young people need to get jobs in their industry, and what motivates them to hire local talent.  Ms. Parenti stated that “basic skills such as grammar and spelling are extremely important when applying to a law firm.” Joe Haraburda mentioned the Junior CEO Program, a collaboration between the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and CCRO, that teaches high school juniors how to become successful entrepreneurs, a trend that has generated from the dismal economy. The panelists emphasized the importance of 21st Century Skills such as attitude, motivation, energy, communication, customer service and bilingualism. Several of the panelists offered advice for the youth about what they should be looking for in an employer. Mr. Haraburda spoke about the commitment that the Oakland Chamber has to encourage creativity and autonomy in his office, which is comprised of a small multi-generational staff. Ms. Minor advised for students to always look for an employer who’s willing to invest in their training, future, and career.

After both the educator and industry panels, the attendees were divided into three smaller groups based on their specialties and engaged in an extensive review of the curriculum. They did this to better understand what skills are being taught in the classroom and to provide feedback on how it can be better coordinated with the needs of the workplace.  This exercise not only produced significant feedback on the curriculum, but also provoked ideas for work-based learning opportunities to apply their 21st century skills.

The curriculum review was also an opportunity for industry professionals to volunteer for projects and activities such as coaching students in writing for the Model UN Project, conducting tours of offices, hosting job shadows and/or summer internships, providing feedback to students on final presentations, and hosting teacher externships.

 In recognition of the City of Oakland’s commitment to providing opportunities for Oakland youth such as the summer jobs program and internships at various city departments, OUSD Board President Jody London concluded the summit by presenting a Certificate of Recognition to John Bailey on behalf of the City of Oakland.  These opportunities are integral to the success of Linked Learning and making classroom-learning more relevant for our students.  Likewise, these summits will mobilize educators and industry professionals to collaborate and broaden the opportunities available for Oakland youth.

The next industry summit will occur on April 19th and will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Please contact Jennielyn Dino Rossi ( for more details. 

Written by: Katie Wheeler-Dubin

CTE Specialist

Oakland Unified

College and Career Readiness Office (CCRO)