Marlena Sessions, who managed the largest public workforce system in Washington state for more than eight years, has been appointed Director of the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Department following a rigorous nationwide recruitment effort.
One of the most respected workforce development professionals in the United States, Sessions served as Chief Executive Officer for the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County from 2009-2017, and prior to that served as the Council’s Chief Operations Officer for nearly nine years. Most recently, Sessions had served as Senior Vice President for Grant Associates, a privately held company that provides workforce development and human resources support to business and agencies across the country.
“Marlena has dedicated her career to ensuring that all individuals attain a path toward self-sufficiency and, in the process, provide businesses with the talent they need to succeed. We’re thrilled to have someone of her experience and passion lead our workforce and business-services teams during this critical time in our economy and our region,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman.
Sessions arrives as San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire are poised to help lead Southern California’s post-pandemic recovery. In recent years, the region has emerged as one of the fastest-growing population and employment centers in California and across the U.S.
“We see tremendous opportunities ahead for businesses and workers as we quickly move toward recovery. Workforce Development will play a critical role in maximizing those opportunities, and we look forward to the leadership Marlena will bring to the role,” said County Chief Executive Officer Gary McBride.
“Our workforce is one of our greatest assets as a county and as a region. Marlena was the ideal choice to lead our team into the future,” said Workforce Development Board Chairman Phil Cothran.
Sessions serves on the National Association of Workforce Boards and the John J. Heldrich School of Workforce Development Board at Rutgers University. She previously served as President of the United States Conference of Mayors.
Sessions holds a bachelor’s degree from Whitworth University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.
“San Bernardino County represents an exciting opportunity to connect a young, vibrant employment base with growing businesses in key industries. The future of work is happening right here, and our workforce development team is at the center of it,” Sessions said. “I look forward to meeting with our businesses, stakeholders, educational institutions and community leaders to help provide the most effective and prosperous pathway forward for workers and employers.”
She began her new role on August 3.
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