NORMAN — Oklahoma’s business community continues to struggle with workforce needs, which is hurting the state’s ability to grow economically and attract and retain jobs. In response, a new education foundation called the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative has been formed to help educate and activate the Oklahoma business community on education issues with the goal of improving outcomes for students and preparing them to thrive in the 21st century economy.
“There is no larger consumer of education services than the business community. Right now in Oklahoma we are not giving our students the educational tools they need to be successful and able to compete for jobs in the global economy,” said State Chamber President and CEO Fred Morgan.
The state Chamber is partnering with other nonprofit groups to help launch the new foundation. “It is critical that the business community get engaged on this issue or they will continue to lack the skilled workers needed to grow their company.”
The foundation is run by a board of business leaders, including Steven D. Hendrickson, director of government operations for The Boeing Company and Scott Meacham, president and CEO of i2E and former state treasurer. The board also announced today the hiring of Jennifer Monies in the executive director position.
Monies is currently the press secretary and senior advisor to Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman. She previously served as the senior vice president of communications and marketing for the state chamber, communications director for two Oklahoma Speakers of the House and a former political reporter both for The Oklahoman and Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C. Monies holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas and is near completion on a Master of Public Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“Jennifer’s unique combination of communications, policy and political experience make her an ideal candidate for this position,” said Hendrickson, president of the foundation’s board of directors. “She knows the political challenges we face as a state in the education reform arena, and knows the importance of coalition-building within the business community to demand change. We have to do a better job of preparing our Oklahoma students to work in today’s economy. Jennifer will help activate and mobilize the business community to ensure they have the employees they need for tomorrow’s workforce today.”