National Skills Coalition Announces Bishara Addison as Recipient of Alma Salazar Bridge Builder Award

May 01, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC- (May 2, 2023) – National Skills Coalition (NSC) announced today that its board of directors has named Bishara Addison, Director of Job Preparation at the Fund For Our Economic Future, as the recipient of the Dr. Alma Salazar Bridge Builder Award. 

This award is given to a member of NSC’s network who exemplifies Dr. Salazar’s commitment to bringing together uncommon allies in support of inclusive skills policy. 

The Fund for Our Economic Future is a nonprofit alliance of funders and civic leaders advancing equitable economic growth for Northeast Ohio. In her role, Bishara leads talent development initiatives, convening and aligning regional and national partners to support innovative solutions related to labor market participation and job quality. Her initiative portfolio spans numerous sectors and workforce entry points, including a hospitality recovery effort in Cuyahoga County, shaping a regional blueprint for increasing opportunities for Black and Brown workers in tech jobs, and testing interventions to strengthen workplaces. Collectively, these efforts aim to dismantle systemic racial exclusion from family-sustaining work, produce actionable data to drive decision-making and ultimately contribute to a body of evidence in the field of workforce for systems change. Prior to joining the Fund, Bishara worked for Towards Employment, a local workforce organization in Cleveland, supporting their policy agenda to improve employment outcomes for those with criminal records and was an active member of the Ohio Workforce Coalition. She also serves on NSC advisory groups and participates as a speaker in the organizations’ events, such as the Skills in the States Forum. 

​​During 2022, Bishara exemplified the spirit of the Dr. Alma Salazar award, by bringing together a diverse group of partners, including economic developers, employers, education and training providers, and researchers to drive forward an equitable workforce. 

“Dr. Alma Salazar demonstrated the value of relationships in driving systems change,” Addison said. “What an incredible honor it is to receive an award from an organization that brings together the brightest minds and fiercest advocates across sectors to ensue policies at the federal and state level that promote pathways for economic and social mobility for all.  Dr. Alma Salazar was known for being a warrior for those that don’t always have a voice, a collaborator, an ecosystem translator, and as the name of this award states – a bridge builder. As I continue in my career as an advocate for systems change — so that individual outcomes are no longer determined by race or place — I hope that I’m held accountable for embodying the beautiful spirit of Dr. Alma Salazar and inspire others to continue her work.” 

About the Award:  

The Dr. Alma Salazar Bridge Builder Award was established by National Skills Coalition’s board of directors in 2021 in memory of their beloved fellow board member and one of the most important leaders in the organization’s history. The award is given annually to a member of NSC’s network who exemplifies Alma’s commitment to bringing together uncommon allies in support of inclusive skills policy. Alma spent her career fighting for high-quality education and training for students and workers. In that fight, she was a bridge builder: A steady and resolute connector of people with different perspectives who didn’t know they could find common cause. As Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce Development for UNITE-LA, she demonstrated the sustaining power of finding common cause between advocates for working people and the business community in support of inclusive education and skills policy. This extended to her early role in developing state affiliates of NSC’s Business Leaders United network, and her role in helping to create the Skills for California coalition in her home state. Alma was resolute in addressing the impact of structural racism and anti-immigrant policy on economic opportunity and outcomes, with a faith in the power of bringing new allies and new perspectives to that work. Alma served on NSC’s board from 2015 to 2020, holding the office of vice chair. 

About NSC: 

National Skills Coalition fights for inclusive, high-quality skills training so that people have access to a better life, and local businesses see sustained growth. We engage in analysis and technical assistance, organizing, advocacy, and communications to improve state and federal skills policies.