City of Detroit workforce agency Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) has bolstered its leadership team with the addition of two new C-Suite team members.

New hires Michelle Rafferty and Terri Weems join as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer respectively, reporting to President and CEO Nicole Sherard-Freeman.

“Securing experienced talent is critical to the future of workforce development in the city” said Sherard-Freeman. “The level of opportunity for Detroiters to find career paths with living wages is greater than it has been for generations.  Michelle and Terri will help us to be significantly more proactive in the way in which we manage both existing and new programs and opportunities.”

Rafferty returns to Detroit after four years at the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership where she was Director of Strategic Initiatives and Policy, and joined DESC in August. Weems took up her role in early September after spending nearly 20 years with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, most recently as Senior Manager at their National Audit Transformation Office.

Rafferty will oversee external-facing initiatives and operations, and will also work with key partners across Detroit’s workforce system to improve service delivery to job seekers, and business services to employers.

“I am thrilled to return to Detroit, which has always been home to so many talented workforce development professionals who are dedicated to helping Detroiters achieve economic success” said Rafferty. “It is incredibly exciting to rejoin at a time where there is deep engagement, leadership and innovative vision being provided by the Mayor’s Workforce Development Board.  When service providers, public agencies and the business community work together, great progress can be made.”

Weems will oversee all fiscal activities, expanding the capacity of the Finance Division to include Internal Operations, while also focusing on project management, and process improvement structure and approach within DESC.

“The challenge for the future in Detroit is to ensure that Detroiters are able to participate economically in the city’s resurgence” said Weems. “Our responsibility as the city’s workforce agency is to make certain that workforce programs are managed effectively, generating the maximum opportunity for every Detroiter who wants a job, and the maximum value from every dollar spent.”

Rafferty and Weems join DESC at a key time, with the Mayor’s Workforce Development Board having recently established a target of finding jobs for 40,000 Detroiters by 2021.

“While we’ve made tremendous progress in helping Detroiters connect with new and better jobs over the last few years, huge challenges still remain” said Jeff Donofrio, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. “The experience Michelle and Terri bring is critical to helping us increase training opportunities, knock down employment barriers, and ensure that Detroiters are able to benefit from development happening throughout the City.”

As the city’s workforce agency, DESC is the primary partner working with the City of Detroit to drive the new ‘Detroit at Work’ employment and training initiative announced by Mayor Mike Duggan during his State of the City Speech in February.  The agency is also the lead partner in the ‘Grow Detroit’s Young Talent’ program that has seen over 8,000 Detroit youth secure summer jobs in each of the last two years.

“On behalf of the DESC Board, I’m delighted to welcome Michele and Terri to the Leadership Team” said DESC Board Chair, Laura Hughes. “There is a completely new sense of momentum in workforce development right across the city, and adding these new roles will be central to sustaining and building on that momentum.”

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