Berkshire Workforce Board President Eva Sheridan, Joshua Mendel, and Heather Williams. (Photo courtesy Berkshire Workforce Board)
The MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board (BWB) honored Dr. Josh Mendel, director of corporate engagement and strategic partnerships at MCLA, with its “Workforce Professional of the Year” Award at its board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. The award recognizes employers, organizations, and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the workforce system.
“It’s been a true honor to be able to work with Josh Mendel throughout the years,” said Heather Williams, BWB youth director. “He serves as the lead for the Berkshire Compact’s Aspirations and Access Committee that has developed an array of college and career readiness events and programming for our region’s youth in grades K-12. Josh continues to lead the charge with MCLA’s annual eighth grade career fairs, the 10th grade career expo, third and sixth grade college visits, the Dual Enrollment Summer Academy, and the development of certificate programs within our critical industry sectors.”
“Josh truly cares about the readiness of our youth, their lifelong success, and the sustainable vitality of our Berkshire community,” continued Williamson. “You can see this care and passion in every program and event that Josh is leading and it is for this reason that the BWB is honored to recognize [him] as our Workforce Professional of the Year.”
For the past 15 yeas at MCLA, Mendel has worked to build partnerships for college access and awareness in his job as director of recruitment and outreach for the division of graduate and continuing education. In conjunction with the Berkshire Compact, he has worked with third and sixth graders, and an eighth grade career experience program. “It’s such a critical time in their academic lives, as they’re transitioning to high school, figuring out who their peer groups are, and who they are,” said Mendel about the eighth grade program. “We’re hoping it will lead to them continuing their education.”
Mendel has also been working with Kris Bona, vice president of government banking advancement at Adams Community Bank, for the past six years, holding events throughout the county in order to better educate students and their parents about college, including the application process, financial aid, being a college athlete, and other important topics. Their newest program is a transition-to-college series where high school seniors, who have decided which college they will attend, learn the skills needed to navigate having a roommate, managing their money, and interacting with professors.
“A lot of what I take pride in is working with the community,” said Mendel, “showing how college can help enhance their lives,” as well as working with businesses in a push to help the Berkshires grow.
The BWB’s respect for Mendel and his work is reciprocated. “Heather Boulger [BWB executive director] and Heather Williams are an amazing team,” said Mendel. “They wear their hearts on their sleeves for the students and the community.”
Mendel also credits MCLA President James F. Birge with understanding the important mission of college access, which allows students and their families an opportunity to expand their horizons. “I’ve been fortunate to stand on the shoulders of amazing leaders in the community,” said Mendel.
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