JOIN’s goal: Put itself out of business
A rack of sports jackets, neckties and other business apparel stands just inside the front door of the offices of JOIN Inc., ready for folks who don’t have the right clothes for a job interview.
It’s one of a multitude of tools large and small that the nonprofit uses in its mission to get people into jobs.
The new director of the cornerstone job-training program in northern Nevada wants to align her agency’s work more closely with the needs of growing and new employers in the region.
“Ultimately, our goal is to put ourselves out of business,” says Ann Silver, who took the helm of JOIN Inc. at the start of June. She succeeds longtime executive director Caroline Wilson, who retired.
JOIN’s job-training programs cut across a wide swath.
ProNet Reno, for instance, helps unemployed professionals re-enter the workforce. It burnishes their skills in resume-writing and interviewing, provides networking opportunities with potential employers and keeps their confidence strong.
JOIN’s one-on-one services, meanwhile, identify the needs of individual workers to get ready for work. Maybe it’s completion of a high-school diploma. Training in basic workplace skills. Vocational assessments to find a job that fits.
The nonprofit has about a 75 percent success rate getting people it serves — approximately 1,000 a year — into jobs. It works with an annual budget of $3.5 million in funds from the federal government.
Silver looks to boost that success rate through closer ties with the economic development agencies that are bringing new employment to the region. As those agencies identify employment sectors are likely to grow, Silver says JOIN can prepare workers to meet those needs.
The organization has a long history of working with employers, providing no-cost placement.
“We have hundreds of skilled, enthusiastic future employees,” Silver says. “We pay attention to employers’ needs. We’ll send only people who meet their qualifications.”
Along with training in technical skills — much of it delivered under contract with private institutions in the region — JOIN also works with job-seekers on soft skills.
“We’re helping to re-establish that old-fashioned work ethic,” says Silver.
JOIN works with job-seekers and employers across northern Nevada from its offices in Reno, Carson City, Fernley, Fallon, Winnemucca, Elko and Ely.
For Silver, who worked as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Northern Nevada and as a consultant to nonprofits before she took the job with JOIN, her new position reflects a return to her professional roots.
After graduation from Cornell University and the law school at the University of Notre Dame, Silver came to Nevada and became director of what was then the State Employment & Training Office under Governors Bob List and Richard Bryan.
She spent 20 years in the private sector — including a stint as senior vice president and general manager of Radio City Music Hall in New York City — before returning to Nevada in 2003.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.