Springfield, Ohio - During his four years as a student at Wittenberg University, Manny Lamarre '09 set some lofty goals for himself. Now, less than eight years after receiving his diploma, Lamarre is meeting many of those goals while helping others to achieve theirs.
Lamarre has been named executive director of the state of Nevada's Office of Workplace Innovation (OWINN), which was launched in 2016 to "promote a skilled, diverse and aligned workforce in the state by building cooperation and collaboration among all entities focused on workforce development." OWINN was created by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who issued an executive order using federal funds reserved for statewide workforce investment activities from the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA).
"This role is about promoting cross-sector and cross-agency collaboration," said Lamarre, who studied political science at Wittenberg and also earned all-conference awards as a four-year letterwinner with the Tiger track and field program. "I rely heavily on K-12, higher education, employers, economic development organizations, and state agencies, such as those focused on employment, training and rehabilitation.
"My goals are to create career pathways in high-demand industries, such as advanced manufacturing, education, technology, and healthcare; support the implementation of the 2014 federally reauthorized Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act reauthorized under President Obama's administration; and support the governor's workforce development board and industry sector councils.
"Essentially, we want to see more students graduate ready for college and careers and increase employment outcomes."
Lamarre is a native of Haiti who grew up in Miami, Fla., before matriculating to Wittenberg for a college education that he says "played a tremendous role in preparing me for this opportunity."
"I gained foundational skills and became a stronger writer and critical thinker," Lamarre said. "Overseeing OWINN and supporting the implementation of policy could not occur without a strong grasp of those foundational skills. I was the first participant of the Wittenberg and B&D Consulting internship program, launched by fellow Witt alumnus David Gogol '73 to prepare students for roles in public policy. I worked with the firm's education, energy and climate team."
Lamarre credits Wittenberg faculty members and fellow students with developing professional interests and personal passions, which led him to his first job after graduation with Teach for America in his hometown of Miami. It was the start of a career that Lamarre describes as "working at the intersection of education policy and practice."
"As a teacher, I saw an opportunity to make a difference in students living in challenging neighborhoods and with a lot of potential," Lamarre said. "I began and eventually led a mentoring program for at-risk boys, and I chaired my school's advisory council supporting the implementation of school-wide policies.
"After three years of teaching, I pursued a master's degree in education policy and management at Harvard to better understand the policy landscape and how I could affect change more broadly."
After earning his graduate degree, Lamarre was accepted as an Education Pioneers Fellow, which recruits high-achieving graduate school students and professionals into education leadership careers to solve problems outside the classroom. He was later accepted as a Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) Fellow and placed in the Nevada Governor's Office to work with senior leaders of the governor's staff and the state education department supporting the implementation of education policy, which served as a stepping stone to his newest assignment.
Lamarre said his office has spearheaded three initiatives in its first six months. OWINN provided technical, strategic and editing support to a successful $2 million New Skills for Youth grant application by the Nevada Department of Education to enhance career readiness. The office authored the largest statewide survey and subsequent report on barriers youth and young adults face to training and employment. OWINN has also been assigned to manage a $799,765 ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion grant, which was awarded to Nevada by the United States Department of Labor.