The IWSI America team is highly experienced in all facets of skills development, having honed and developed their expertise across various industry sectors throughout the world.
Nicholas Wyman is a workforce development and apprenticeship expert, speaker, and author who has fostered a workforce development model that uses mentoring to shape the thinking, attitude, abilities, and skills of people as they make the transition from school to work. Nicholas applies real-world solutions to the challenges companies face in finding skilled employees. A Winston-Churchill Memorial Fellow, Nicholas has completed in-depth research into school-to-work transitions and skilled careers. Nicholas is on the Advisory Board of the American Institute of Innovative Apprenticeship.
Deborah Williamson is Vice President of Special Projects and Operations at the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation America. Prior to joining the Institute, Williamson served as Director of Labor Relations at the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, overseeing the Bureaus of Wage & Hour, Human Rights, Public Works, and Child Labor. She possesses a Ph.D. in sociology with an emphasis in crime and deviance, and a secondary area in education policy from the University of Kentucky. Author of numerous publications and grants, she is co-editor of Skilling Up: The Scope of Modern Apprenticeship released by the Urban Institute in November 2019 and co-author of Wage Theft in New Mexico released by the New Mexico Bar Association in July 2020. Recent grants authored and awarded include the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship USA Expansion Grants (2 cycles) and the National Apprenticeship Act Consolidated Appropriations Grant, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Pathways to STEM Apprenticeship for High School CTE Students, which was one of six proposals awarded nationally.
Sara Hart Weir is the former President & C.E.O. of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). Weir’s life has been about leading differently. Weir’s passion for giving a voice to the voiceless was inspired by her best friend of twenty years, Kasey, who has Down syndrome. Throughout her career, Sara has built unique coalitions, mobilized new networks of engaged citizens and impacted the lives of countless Americans as she worked to provide public sector solutions to public sector problems. Weir has been at the forefront of several public-private collaborations throughout her career – the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, a CDC Foundation and CDC-led public health collaboration; fighting for taxpayer access to federally-funded scientific research; and establishing the Future of Work CEO Commission with Voya Financial, SHRM and NDSS. Weir also led the bipartisan advocacy effort behind the passage of the landmark, historical Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014. The tax legislation garnered the support of 381 of 435 US Reps. and 78 of 100 US Sens and became known as one of the most bipartisan laws of all time.
Cynthia Walker joined the Missouri Apprenticeship Team in 2018 through the launching of the Missouri Registered Apprenticeship Program grant. Since then, she has coordinated Registered Youth Apprenticeship (RYA) start-up programs for Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), high school Career Technical Programs. DESE recently contracted with her as their first Apprenticeship Specialist, where she researches the RYA needs of high school programs through the Skilled Technical Sciences team. In 2021, Cynthia launched her company, Cynthia Walker Coaching, LLC, with the mission to “Equipping Tomorrow’s Workforce – Today”. She is the creator and host of “Ready. Aim. Launch” that highlights apprentice success stories and answers questions about apprenticeship programs in Missouri each month. Cynthia holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from William Jewell College and a Master of Business Administration from Trinity Theological Seminary.
Lana currently serves as a consultant specializing in Apprenticeship and Workforce Development. She is involved with a Youth Apprenticeship Intermediary Project with the goal of expanding apprenticeship opportunities throughout 50 states for people ages 16-2, focusing on the state of Kansas. Previous experiences includes serving as Human Resources Director for the North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging, as Workforce Investment Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Secretary for the Kansas Department of Labor, and as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives. During her Legislative service, Lana was Chair of Economic Development, the Joint Committee on Commerce and Labor, the Education Budget and membership on Education, Health and Human Services among other committees. Lana has also been a small business owner and a teacher. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education.
Alexandra Mendoza is the Workforce Industry Liaison for the Ready, Willing and ABLE Apprenticeship Program in Orange County. Prior to joining the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation team, Ms. Mendoza worked in the Healthcare Industry as an Activities Director, providing care to children with TBI injuries, individuals with disabilities and or suffering from a chronic illness. From there she moved to the Business Sector Industry helping employers find qualified candidates for their company and assisting foster care youth students, disabled veterans, returning citizens and individuals with disabilities or experiencing homelessness, find long-term employment, providing case management, mentorship and job coaching. Some of her accomplishments are the success of The Home To Employment Program, a program meant to help individuals experiencing homelessness, provide housing and find long term employment. As the Business Engagement Specialist and Case Manager for this program she was able to succeed and meet the metric goals. Through all the combined efforts this program became a pilot, and it has been engrained all over L.A County. Throughout her career Ms. Mendoza’s goal has been to become an advocate for individuals facing different kind of barriers, she has a strong passion to provide equal opportunities and integration for everyone in this society.
Andrew is an education into employment specialist, with over two decades experience designing and implementing dynamic vocational training and workforce development programs for all ages – youth, young adults and transitioning mature workers. He has been an expert advisor and lead consultant on numerous projects involving leading Australian corporates, Fortune 500 companies, as well as Governments in the USA and Australia. Andrew has studied at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and is a regular conference presenter. He was a keynote presenter at the International Network on Innovative Apprenticeship in the US. Andrew is passionate about skilling up the next generation of young people and promoting the value and viability of vocational training pathways.
Simon Whatmore is an experienced policy and management consultant with broad project and functional management expertise. He has extensive experience consulting to government departments and agencies across strategic analysis, change management, organizational design, program management, and evaluation projects. Simon’s strong conceptual and analytical skills, public policy knowledge, understanding of governmental process, and ability to build rapport and collaborate with a diverse array of stakeholders enables him to bring the best out of private and public sector relationships.
Reuben Armstrong executes key insight-driven content by creating and building engagement with stakeholders. As a leader in the design and communication field, Reuben believes that a collaborative, proactive and inclusive studio environment is paramount in achieving long-term success and that language and engagement data are the most useful tools to transform an idea into a multi-faceted, concept-wealthy campaign. A University of Canterbury Fine Arts graduate in the disciplines of Art Theory and Art History, his communications awareness sets the pace for the unique needs of a global audience. He draws on a practical working knowledge of modern art and design, 20 years of experience in professional art and design environments and senior teaching appointments across the Asia-Pacific region. Reuben is grateful to work with innovative leaders who care about the work and lives of the next generation.