NSC Board Names Robert Espinoza as Next CEO

November 01, 2023

National Expert in Workforce Development, Equity, and Job Quality Brings to NSC a Commitment to Multi-Stakeholder Organizing and Bi-Partisan Policy Solutions

Washington, DC (Nov 1, 2023) — Following a national search led by Kittleman and Associates, National Skills Coalition’s Board of Directors has named Robert Espinoza as the organization’s next CEO, effective January 1, 2024. He previously served for nearly a decade as Executive Vice President of Policy for PHI, the nation’s leading organization on the direct care workforce.

“For over two decades, National Skills Coalition has tirelessly championed economic opportunities for each and every worker, business, and industry, and I’m thrilled to carry forward this crucial work,” said Espinoza. “Throughout my career, I have prioritized equity within organizations and across our society, and I firmly believe that now is the time to integrate inclusive skills training in workforce, education, and antipoverty policies nationwide, improving the livelihood of workers and sustaining the growth of local businesses.”

The Board identified deep federal and state policy experience as an essential asset for NSC’s next leader. Espinoza has testified before congressional committees, served on federal agency advisory groups, authored numerous policy reports across a range of workforce and equity-centered issues, and built trusted relationships with congressional leaders and senior staff on both sides of the aisle. As a member of NSC’s Healthcare Industry Recovery Panel in 2021, he helped lead conversations with the Biden administration and Congressional leaders. Espinoza also has led multi-state advocacy campaigns and is a talented communicator and thought leader who has successfully made the case for complicated policy solutions to broad audiences.

“Robert brings to NSC a multi-decade, executive level track record of impact in research, state and federal government relations, advocacy, communications, fundraising, and organizational development,” said Dr. Girard Melancon, Director of the National Green Jobs Advisory Council at the National Council for Workforce Education and NSC Board Chair. “It’s a track record that has been centered in equity, which was a priority for the Board.”

“As a nationally recognized expert at the intersection of equity, workforce development, and job quality, Robert is uniquely positioned to lead NSC in its next phase,” said Daniel Bustillo, Deputy Executive Director for 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds and NSC Board Vice-Chair.

Espinoza’s commitment to working across stakeholders to find shared policy solutions contributed to the Board’s unanimous support for his candidacy.

“Robert has a track record working directly with small businesses to leverage effective workforce strategies as a way to stabilize and improve operations and achieve greater productivity,” said Allison Dembeck, Vice President of Education and Labor Advocacy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and NSC Board Secretary. “Add to that his commitment to working across the aisle toward shared solutions, and he is an ideal selection to be NSC’s next CEO.”

Members of the philanthropic community have also expressed support for Espinoza’s appointment.

“During his time at PHI, Robert has helped essential workers in the long-term care sector achieve better-paying careers and has shifted how the industry engages, invests in, and values its frontline workers,” said Lauren N. King, Ph.D., Program Officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Workforce Matters steering committee co-chair. “I am so excited to see how he applies these lessons and his relentless commitment to equity to the broad range of workers and industries that NSC seeks to impact through public policy. The timing couldn’t be better with NSC’s leadership in growing an inclusive infrastructure workforce.”

Outgoing, founding CEO Andy Van Kleunen expressed strong support for Espinoza’s appointment: “National Skills Coalition’s strength, wisdom, and impact starts with its networks. I am thrilled that the Board has selected a leader who not only comes out of those networks, but who fundamentally values the expertise of the people who are working on the ground to create better careers for working people within real industries, such as the caregiving sector. His past efforts to get such real-world experts into policy conversations aligns perfectly with NSC’s approach to developing and advocating for more effective, inclusive skills policies.”

“NSC’s partners across the country understand that robust public investment, cross-industry collaboration, and bipartisan policy solutions are at the core of the future of work, and we’ll continue to prioritize their leadership,” said Espinoza.

Espinoza joins NSC at a time of high impact when the organization is leading the way on concrete policy changes in D.C. and the states that will grow an inclusive infrastructure workforce, close the digital skill divide, make college work for working people, and build an inclusive, resilient workforce system.

“NSC has never been in a stronger position for this kind of transition,” said Board Chair Melancon. “NSC has a seasoned board of directors, a highly skilled executive team with a collective 28 years of tenure, and a strong financial position. The recent $6 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott underscores this reputation and could not have been better timed to spark the next phase of organizational impact under a new leader.”

More information about Espinoza can be found here.


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.