Linda Woloshansky’s dedication to nonprofit raised bar on employee training
Linda Woloshansky knows Northwest Indiana is a region of strong work ethics and hard workers, because she has years of first-hand experience.
“We have evidence that, when competing for jobs in other parts of the country, our Northwest Indiana folks often have a leg up on other candidates due to our work reputation,” said Woloshansky, president and CEO for the Center of Workforce Innovations in Valparaiso. “This has also been echoed by site selectors when sharing reasons about how this attribute is an important feature of why companies want to locate here.
“It is also fascinating that so many family businesses stay in the family for generations.”
Woloshansky pointed to the Schrage family, which has owned Merrillville-based Centier Bank for 125 years.
“While we don’t have large national corporate headquarters located in Northwest Indiana, our advantage is the strong family businesses, which are not likely to move to another part of the country, and they feel very committed to their employees,” she said.
Woloshansky’s own career commitment for two decades has been to lead the team at CWI. In 2020, she announced her retirement. She will help with the transition and selection of a successor.
Launched in 2000 as the Workforce Investment Board for Jasper, La Porte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke counties, the organization was created to bring private-sector leaders together with policy makers. Community leaders from business, government, education, economic development, labor and community-based organizations came together to analyze regional labor market trends, needs and issues to develop strategic workforce solutions.
Today, that mission has expanded to include empowering regional workforce through high-quality career advising, skill building and efforts to increase post-secondary credential attainment. The staff has found success developing strategic action plans grounded in both quantitative and qualitative data.
“CWI has grown significantly the last 20 years,” said Glenn Todd, board chair of CWI.
“Linda led the charge on growth that now includes providing support to the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board, operating and oversight of nine WorkOne Centers and 15 adult community learning centers across our seven-county Region,” he said. “It was also her vision and leadership acumen that helped launch READY NWI, a talent-alignment coalition of K-12 education systems, CTE programs and post-secondary schools in Northwest Indiana. Her expertise and overwhelming passion for workforce and education issues was evident.”
The CWI board is working with a national search firm to find Woloshansky’s successor. She will stay on with the organization during the transition and introduce the next leader to the community, colleagues and contacts throughout the country.
Born in East Chicago, Woloshansky lived in Gary and later Merrillville and is a graduate of Indiana University. She continued her education at Purdue University, Valparaiso University, as well as Harvard, where she received a certification in negotiations. She credits her parents with instilling in her a strong work ethic. They led by example. Her mother was “a devoted homemaker,” and her father was a welder in the steel industry “who never missed a day of work.”
In the last 20 years, Woloshansky has witnessed multiple generations impact an ever-evolving workforce.
“I find our younger employees are more direct about their expectations, which can be a benefit to an employer who both listens and values input on how the workplace can be improved,” Woloshansky said.
“They also value their personal time more than their older counterparts and have a clear sense of their work/life balance.”
When her role ends at CWI, Woloshansky expects to do consulting work, as well as travel with her husband to visit friends around the country, as well as fine-tuning culinary skills and spending time with their three grandchildren.
“My time at CWI has been a pure joy because of the incredible staff I work with who are dedicated to improving the lives of others,” Woloshansky said. “CWI has helped thousands of people develop skills, which has allowed them to take advantage of opportunities leading to their successful careers and provided equity to those who otherwise would be forgotten and left behind.
“I am also proud of the talent alignment pipeline, which we spearheaded 10 years ago, that is also resulting in improved graduation rates, attainment of credentials and better jobs for young adults in the (Region) economy.”