RI Governor Gathers Local Professionals for Long Term Change

By Sara Porcaro | Dec 22, 2020
Governor's Workforce Board, Governor's Coaching Corps, Disabilities, Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, Equity, Equality, Employment
Career Developer Brittany Dorrance

"When you're through learning, you're through."
So said vaudeville actor and Cherokee citizen Will Rogers--and when it comes to not only ourselves, but our communities, it's that learning--that dedication to knowledge, backed by a sense of justice--that pushes us towards progress for all. In our state of Rhode Island, that learning and justice has manifested through the Rhode Island Governor's Coaching Corps (GCC), a new initiative facilitated by the Governor's Workforce Board, Skillful, and HR&A Advisors.
This coaching corps takes information from the Economic Progress Institute and a variety of agencies, schools, and businesses to identify areas where Rhode Islanders need support to live successful, fulfilling lives--especially after the disruption brought on by COVID-19. Among those present is none other than Perspectives Corporation, representing individuals with disabilities as a core demographic in Rhode Island, with Career Developer Brittany Dorrance there to achieve important goals: bringing new ideas to the table while raising awareness for individuals with disabilities, and bringing valuable tools, resources, and connections back to Perspectives' Employment Department.
"Oftentimes, [the I/DD population] can be overlooked, and it's important that they're supported in becoming a part of the workforce and their local communities," says Brittany. "Besides making money to live our lives, work is where we meet so many of our friends and get a sense of purpose, and that's huge for individuals we support."
"Oftentimes, [the I/DD population] can be overlooked, and it's important that they're supported in becoming a part of the workforce and their local communities."
Brittany, who has been working with Perspectives since 2017, first as a Direct Support Professional and later with the Employment Department, has long been focused on individuals' success in their careers. Since her beginnings with Perspectives at the Adeline LaPlante Memorial Center, she's been supporting individuals on the job to become more confident and independent at work, and the transition to the Employment Department was a natural next step as she discovered She's a professional who follows the principles of Customized Employment, helping individuals not just find, but create their dream jobs--and she attended the first GCC retreat with individuals we support in mind, ready to help find more career opportunities in the community.
"It wasn't at all what I expected at first," Brittany says as she thinks about her first retreat with the Governor's Coaching Corps. "Surrounded by so many different professionals, with surveys on our emotional intelligence, equity trainings, and so on, I found it was a lot about finding out who we are as professionals. It helped make sure we were all on the same page."
By being on the same page, the various entities there--including Skills for Rhode Island's Future, the University of Rhode Island, Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center, Progreso Latino, and more--are able to tackle the problems that stand in the way of Rhode Islanders' economic security and employment efforts. After the first retreat, where professionals from all participating entities got to know each other and identify their core values and priorities, they formed smaller workgroups dedicated to researching and identifying areas of improvement that the Rhode Island leadership can act on. Brittany's group, where she works with four other women from other agencies, meet bi-weekly to research, discuss, and present ideas to the Governor's Workforce Board.
"It's really great to be able to work with these professionals, because I'm discovering so many different agencies and community resources that I never knew about; I'm making great connections," Brittany notes.
Beyond that, Brittany can also achieve her professional goal as one of Perspectives' Career Developers, as the resources and trainings have provided new tools and viewpoints to approach her work from. For her, the trainings in emotional intelligence have been especially eye opening, as it's given her new ways to approach working with individuals and making sure they're comfortable with the process of finding a job, allowing for smoother and more specific conversation that lets them move forward more efficiently.
With the second retreat also behind them, the GCC participants are looking forward to tackling the issues Rhode Island communities face in achieving financial security. It's all information, and work, that professionals like Brittany value for their own industries and Rhode Island communities as a whole--and when the GCC takes extra steps to ensure a comfortable working environment, like binders of slideshow notes, Microsoft Teams access, and even snack boxes delivered to participants' doors to refuel while they learn and collaborate, the morale to continue is high. As they push on, we're wishing them all the best as they work with the Governor's Workforce Board to create a more equitable Rhode Island for all!


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