Jobs and Freedom: Workforce Development and Social Determinants of Health

Prior research suggests that health inequities are caused by the unequal distribution of power, income, goods, and services (Marmot, 2008).  In 2016, 80% of the uninsured population of the United States was comprised of families with incomes below 400% of the average poverty level (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2017). Employment status and working conditions are important social determinants of health inequities within and across generations and primarily affect health through two mechanisms: financial and psychological.  Work provides financial security, social status, personal development, social relations and self-esteem (Marmot & Wilkinson, 2006).  Temporary work is associated with higher mortality rates and poorer mental health than permanent work (Kivimäki et al., 2003; Artazcoz et al., 2005; Kim et al., 2006).  Strategies to address health inequities cannot remain siloed in the health sector and must involve government, civil society, local communities and international agencies.  In January 2017, Innovate Birmingham’s coalition of 15 community partners and 30+ employers secured nearly $6 million to develop a system to train 925 of Birmingham’s 26,000 disconnected youth for high-tech high-wage jobs. The program’s evaluation process involves quantitative and qualitative methods that seek to understand how targeted skill development and job attainment influences not only employment outcomes in the short-term but a modicum of social factors such as health and quality of life, levels of self-efficacy and political engagement.  The proposed panel seeks to convey the importance of workforce development in elimination of health disparities in the community and provides a forum for conversation on current community initiatives.

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Josh Carpenter (Director of External Affairs at University of Alabama at Birmingham)

Josh Carpenter, PhD, is the City Director of the Innovate Birmingham Workforce Program and the Director of External Affairs in the President's Office at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).  In 2016, Josh assembled a network of 15 community partners and 30+ local employers all united in single belief: talent is distributed equally, but opportunity is not.  In January 2017, Josh led the unique coalition to obtain the America's Promise Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to equip disconnected youth (ages 17-29) in the Greater Birmingham region with the skills and training necessary to obtain or advance into middle-to-high skilled, high paying information technology (IT) jobs.  Currently, the Innovate Birmingham workforce program is underway and has already graduated two bootcamp cohorts, with an 85% graduation rate and a near 80% employment rate. Prior to launching the workforce program, Josh served as a White House Intern and a Teach for America corps member in Perry County Alabama, where he was named the state's "Golden Apple Teacher of the Year" in 2012.  A Rhodes Scholar, Josh earned his M.Sc. in Comparative Social Policy and a D.Phil. in Politics at the University of Oxford.  Josh was the co-founder and president of Bama Covered, a non-profit public health education initiative that trained and mobilized nearly 700 college students to engage in 100,000 conversations in the communities that surrounded their campuses. His research analyzes the intersection of health access and economic circumstances.

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Kerri Pruitt (Executive Director at The Dannon Project)

As the founder and Executive Director of the Dannon Project, Kerri is often described as a visionary leader. The Dannon Project serves as the "Point of Contact" within the community to provide supportive services, case management and referrals to several at-risk populations. Kerri has been recognized nationally for her commitment to community service as evidenced by the General Mills Feeding Dreams Award and video telling the agency's story. She has created an organizational culture and climate of excellence for all stakeholders to succeed. Kerri obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and has an MBA.

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Lisa Cooper (Economic Director at Mayor's Office)

Lisa Cooper serves as the City of Birmingham's Director of Economic Development. Lisa is known for her business acumen, sense of humor and dedication to business development. She leads the team that comprises the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, which is responsible for efforts to facilitate growth and diversification of Birmingham's economic platform through business recruitment, retention and expansion. A graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Lisa earned her B.S. in Marketing. Her many accolades include being designated as part of the Birmingham Business Journal's Top Birmingham Women and being a graduate of the 2008 Class of Leadership Birmingham.

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Antiqua Clegett (Executive Director at Central 6 Workforce Development Council/Central Six Alabama Works)

Antiqua Cleggett serves as the Executive Director of Central Six Development Council, Central Six Alabama Works- Alabama Workforce Council Region 4. Antiqua is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama with a Master of Arts degree in Advertising and Public Relations. She has over eight years of experience serving the non-profit and workforce development sectors. Prior to her role with Central Six, Antiqua worked with Atlanta Technical College and secured over $15 million for programs and services to build industry sector partnerships and create workforce pipelines to support high wage high demand industries. Central Six Alabama Works is a member of the Alabama Workforce Councils and operates as a regional collaborative to support workforce initiatives across the Birmingham Metropolitan region.

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