Leadership Spotlight: Abby Snay

October 30, 2013

Abby Snay began her two-year term as chair of National Skills Coalition’s Board of Directors in September. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise, both with her ten years of involvement with NSC and nearly 30 years leading Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) in San Francisco as executive director.

In the interview below, Abby discusses how her involvement has advanced both her work at JVS and NSC’s advocacy, NSC’s impact on state and federal workforce development policy, and why others should join her efforts and become more involved with NSC.

How has your involvement with National Skills Coalition (NSC) advanced your work as executive director of Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) in San Francisco and likewise how does your experience leading JVS help advance NSC’s mission?

Being involved with National Skills Coalition over these past few years has deepened my work by providing me exposure to other practitioners, both locally and in other regions of the country. It has allowed me to gain knowledge of best practices others are deploying, access to a broader professional network, and the ability to build a local workforce coalition.

My involvement has deepened my understanding of the needs of JVS clients and their outcomes through a broader policy context. Gaining knowledge of new concepts and strategies, as well as developing connections nationally and locally through my involvement, has been instrumental in building local partnerships in new ways.

I believe NSC has benefited from my involvement by including me in meetings with lawmakers. Because of my experience working at JVS, I am usually one of the few people in the room that can convey how policies directly affect the lives of the people we’re trying to help.

Now that you have been involved with NSC for several years, what is your view of NSC’s strategy for shaping federal and state workforce development policy?

NSC’s policy strategy is really exciting and very solid. The organization is keeping its eye on the prize, the ultimate goal of directing policy and funding to build programs that help people enter the workforce and build careers. Through sector partnerships, career pathways and the new Workforce Data Quality Campaign, NSC has become the voice of workforce on a national policy level. I am excited about deepening that work at the state level where so much activity is taking place.

In the states there is a growing commitment to everything NSC believes in. In California, the emphasis on and commitment to sector partnerships and career pathways have helped build that national strategy by showing, as the largest state in the union, these strategies work.

What would you like to accomplish over the next two years as the chair of NSC’s Board of Directors?

In my role as board chair I would like to support the staff and work closely with them to continue to build leadership at the federal level as a group of advocates and as a convener. The work NSC recently did with Business Leaders United, by bringing employers together in DC, is truly exciting and something I want to support. In addition, there’s more work to be done in the states. Taking this work in a deeper way to the state level is important.

What was your path to leadership at NSC? Why should others consider following a similar path? How will it benefit their own work and NSC’s mission?

I learned about National Skills Coalition about ten years ago through a colleague of mine in California, Terri Feeley. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me to increase my understanding of the interrelationship between federal, state and local policy work and funding. I’ve enjoyed meeting smart, committed people who are engaged in this work around the country. It’s been exciting and stimulating professionally and personally as well.

And to spend the day on Capitol Hill during NSC’s annual Skills Summit with other workforce development professionals, meeting with California lawmakers, has helped build and deepen the relationships, friendships and connections that I have at the state and local level.