The Wyoming Council for Women's Issues honors Central Wyoming College's Dean of Workforce and Community Education Lynne McAuliffe of Riverton as its 2013 Woman of Distinction on Aug. 24.
The annual award luncheon at CWC is coordinated by WCWI's home and community committee and will follow the Council's quarterly meeting.
McAuliffe, who said she was "surprised and honored" by the award, is being recognized for a number of initiatives related to her position. She develops and implements education programs for low-income and low-skilled women. She works closely with business and industry to help program participants transition into higher level degree programs or careers offering self-sufficient wages, often in high demand fields. McAuliffe's recent achievements include securing grant support for her Employment Training for Self Sufficiency Program allowing her to provide more than 350 needy parents with customer training and life skills and leading to college credential and certificate programs in construction trades, facilities maintenance technology, information technology, bookkeeping, certified nursing assistant, clinical medical assistant, Building Performance Institute (BPI) Weatherization, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate and dental assisting. She also developed an entrepreneurship program and an Innovation Institute to assist regional entrepreneurs.
According to Lori Ridgway of Riverton, who nominated McAuliffe for the award, McAuliffe obtained $5.4 million in grants in the past year, including one to provide vocational and life skills to young adults who had been juvenile offenders and another to educate low-income single mothers, Native Americans, veterans and low-skilled workers in health care professions. Ridgway added that CWC expects to prepare at least 1200 students for healthcare professions in the next four years to address Wyoming's critical shortage and that McAuliffe's department has trained employees from 309 area companies and placed students as employees at 174 companies. She described McAuliffe's approach as proactive, seeking out employers in need of workforce development rather than waiting for clients to request customized training and routinely meeting with business advisory groups and employers, scanning date from the Departments of Employment and Workforce Services and the Wyoming Business Council, studying classified ads, participating in local chambers of commerce and economic development associations and maintaining strong partnerships with those organizations as well as the Wind River Reservation.
Included among McAuliffe's efforts are seeking funds for scholarships and financial aid and developing courses to give economically and socially disadvantaged women a step up to success. Her work led to CWC offering instruction technology and construction trade programs aimed specifically at women and providing an opportunity to elevate their wages in fields traditionally held by men. Her observation of ads by area dentists indicating a need for trained dental assistants and her subsequent partnerships with local practitioners led to a dental assisting program at CWC. Other new programs launched in response to area needs include a "rapid response" program, through a contract with the Department of Workforce Services Workplace Preparedness Training, to assist job seekers with preparing resumes, interviewing and applying online.
In the past year, CWC's Workforce Department served 2248 participants, trained employees from 275 companies from Fremont, Teton and Hot Springs counties and placed students as employees at 174 companies. In recognition of McAuliffe's work and her department's expertise, she received the Outstanding Individual Performance Award at the 2011 Governor's Summit on Workforce Solutions.
To supplement Ridgway's nomination of McAuliffe, CWC President Jo Anne McFarland. Ph.D., Department of Workforce Services Vocational Rehabilitation Deputy Director Jeff White and Riverton and Lander Workforce Centers Manager Burl Gies wrote letters of support. McFarland described McAuliffe as a Riverton native who moved away to serve as vice president for an $80 million corporation and consult for numerous Fortune 500 companies before returning to teach business part-time and facilitate CWC's visioning process. "The CWC mission that resulted from her leadership...has continued to inspire the college to embrace innovation and excellence in all we do," McFarland wrote.
Included in McFarland's letter is a reference to a major health issue that could have derailed McAuliffe. "On a personal level, Lynne has enormous personal courage and is known as a fighter. Struck down several years ago with West Nile Virus and told that she would probably never walk again did notdeter her in the least," McFarland said. "She simply would not give up. After grueling physical therapy, Lynne defied her medical prognosis and is now able to walk with the aid of a leg brace. Lynne is a model of inspiration to us all."
Despite having to overcome her own obstacle, McAuliffe has great compassion and concern for the welfare of others, White wrote. "She is actively involved in finding solutions to the difficult challenges some of our most vulnerable citizens face...Lynne is a tireless advocate for them and their children and has made it her personal mission to, as Robert Kennedy said, 'help make gentle the light of the world' for people who have seen very little light in their lives," he said."Lynne has done more than help people, she has created a legacy of learning, generosity and success."
Other nominees for WCWI's 2013 Woman of Distinction Award are Dr. Maryanne A. Hannaney, also of Riverton, Kathy Coleman of Sheridan, Polly Erickson of Smoot and Ann Redman and Dr. Michelle Aldrich, both of Cheyenne. The Council will continue to consider their nominations for the next three years . WCWI's Home and Community Committee, which selects the recipient and coordinates the award luncheon, includes committee chair Sherrill Helzer of Torrington, Donna Thompson of Riverton, Susan Peck of Lovell and Chava Case of Cheyenne.
WCWI is a 13-member council with representation from each of the nine judicial districts and four at-large members plus an ex-officio member from the Wyoming Business Council. Members are volunteers appointed by the Governor; activities in the areas of employment practices, educational opportunities, home and community and legal rights and responsibilities are funded by the State Legislature. For information about the Woman of Distinction Luncheon or WCWI's quarterly meeting, contact Chava Case at 307-777-2823 or email@example.com or visit WCWI's Facebook page or its website at www.wyomingwomenscouncil.org.