Memphis Workforce Development Activities Recognized at White House

Partnership focused on customer-centered services chosen as successful national model

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, February 22, 2016 – Memphis’ leadership in workforce development activities was recognized at the White House last week.

The Memphis Bioworks Foundation Workforce Development team, along with the Workforce Investment Network, led a collaborative project of community organizations as part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Customer Centered Design Challenge over the last few months. The Challenge focused on innovation, enhanced customer experience, cross-government collaboration, and design thinking methods to transform the delivery of services for youth, job-seekers, and employers.

The Memphis team, in recognition of its demonstrated success with the project, was selected as one of 11 teams out of 80 nationwide to participate in a Customer Centered Design (CCD) White House Learning Exchange & Celebration on Tuesday, February 16. Bioworks’ Director of Workforce Development, Sondra Howell, was invited to participate on a panel of only three teams to talk about their successful projects. The other two presenting teams were from California and Colorado.

“The Human Centered Design Process provided our team the structure to not only assess the gaps in services available to our joint workforce customers in the Memphis region, but to also gauge the effectiveness of the services we provide individually, as well as collectively,” said Howell.

In the congratulatory note to Sondra Howell and the Delta Force-Memphis team, Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training for the U.S. Department of Labor wrote, “I am writing to congratulate and thank you and your team for your participation in the Customer Centered Design (CCD) Project. The innovative ideas outlined in your proposal to improve and provide excellent customer service at One-Stop Centers contribute to the successful implementation of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA).”

Memphis project team members are:

  • Sondra Howell, Director of Workforce Development, Memphis Bioworks
  • Kevin Woods, Executive Director, Workforce Investment Network
  • Jessica Croslow, H-1B Coordinator, Southwest Tennessee Community College
  • Beth Erb, Vice President of Community Services, Memphis Goodwill, Inc.
  • Eva Mosby, Project Manager Human Services North America, Maximus
  • Gwen White, Foundation and Public Relations Coordinator, Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Memphis
  • Travis Wilson, Business Service Manager, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce
  • Renee McCreight, Director, Memphis Talent Dividend

The U.S. Department of Labor initiated this challenge as part of their implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to encourage innovation in designing services with jobseeker and employer needs as the primary focus. Additional information about the Customer Centered Design Challenge is available at

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About Memphis Bioworks Foundation

Memphis Bioworks is the Mid-South’s go-to organization for creating companies, jobs and investments in bioscience and sustainability.  A visionary community leader, Memphis Bioworks has a well-established record of sparking new levels of economic vitality by investing in entrepreneurs, building state-of-the-art labs and facilities, and training the next generation of workers.  For more information, visit, Facebook at or follow @MemphisBioworks on Twitter.