DSM Youth Employment Program Panel
With the ever-increasing demand for states to find talent for their current and future workforce needs, empowering youth when are they are eligible to work is critical for the 21st century. With low unemployment rates in Iowa, the need to cultivate and retain local talent will be vital for our local employers. Join us we talk with state officials, local employers and non-profit leaders who are leading the way in the efforts to create a diverse and inclusive future workforce in Central Iowa.
Janice Lane Schroeder – CEO, Children & Families of Iowa
Janice Lane Schroeder, LMSW, is the CEO of Children & Families of Iowa (CFI) a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families throughout the state of Iowa. Janice has over 20 years of experience in the human services and the behavioral health field. She is an advocate for families, mental health and domestic violence services. She is an active community member and serves on several local and regional committees throughout the state of Iowa.
Vernon Johnson- Vice President Youth Education and Engagement, Oakridge Neighborhood
For nearly 50 years Vernon C. Johnson has been an advocate for disadvantaged children and youth. His commitment and dedication have made a positive impact on our community and state. During his distinguished career, Vernon earned a reputation for being wise, courageous and compassionate as he worked to identify the needs of young people and endeavored to address their challenges through program development and systems change.
A native of Corsicana, Texas, Vernon is a graduate of Wiley College where he earned a B.S. in Biology and Physical Education. Following graduation from Wiley, Vernon signed with the Minnesota Vikings where he played professional football until his move to Des Moines in 1967.
Armed with a college degree and a passion to serve, Vernon began his long and distinguished human service career with Iowa Children’s and Family Services, now Children and Families of Iowa (CFI). During his time with CFI Vernon rose from the ranks of a foster care caseworker to become the organization’s 1st Director of Residential Treatment. Under Vernon’s leadership residential treatment facilities were built throughout the state of Iowa which included Iowa’s first and only group homes for African-American boys and girls.
Following a 20 year career at CFI, Vernon was recruited to Orchard Place where he was challenged to build a program for delinquent youth. That small program, known as PACE, become a continuum of programs and initiatives that would eventually be housed at the PACE Juvenile Center located at Eighth and High Streets in downtown Des Moines. Under Vernon’s leadership, PACE grew to serve over 2,000 youth and young adults annually with a continuum of services focused on delinquency, truancy, substance abuse, alternatives to detention, credit recovery and GED/HiSET.
In 2008 Vernon retired from PACE leaving a legacy of service and a record of impact. Since his retirement, Vernon has served as Director of Youth programs for Oakridge Neighborhood Services where he continues to utilize his expertise and passion to address the academic and developmental needs of youth and young adults.
Kathy Leggett - Future Ready Iowa Policy Advisor
Kathy Leggett began her role as Future Ready Iowa policy adviser in January 2018 bringing 20 years of experience in statewide leadership, project management, collaboration and advocacy work. She coordinates leaders from business, education, government, workforce and the community to align with a vision for an Iowa where every job is filled, and every worker is fulfilled.
Dr. Ahmed Agyeman - Director, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, DMACC
Dr. Agyeman, of Polk City, has served in multiple roles at DMACC since April 2004. In his most recent role, he led the College's effort to strengthen its commitment to DMACC's underserved communities, as well as improving as an inclusive college and community.
Previously, he also served as the Associate Director for DMACC Career Advantage, where he led the operations at the DMACC Southridge Center. Other roles Dr. Agyeman has held at DMACC include Advisor and Lead Advisor for the district. Before coming to DMACC, Dr. Agyeman served as Assistant Director of Admissions at Drake University, Financial Aid Advisor at Iowa State University and Family Services Worker with Olmsted County, Rochester, Minn., where he provided case management services for refugees from Southeast Asia and North Central Africa. Dr. Agyeman started his post-secondary education at DMACC after arriving in the United States from his native Ghana before transferring to Iowa State University (ISU), where he received a bachelor's degree in Sociology with minors in Political Science, Criminal Justice and Family Resource Management. He also hold a Master's degree ('00) and Ph.D. ('17) in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, with a Higher Education/Community College Emphasis, from ISU. In the community, Dr. Agyeman serves on the boards of The Iowa International Center, Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa, Urban Dreams (Secretary), Polk County Early Childhood Iowa (Vice Chair), Advisory Group for the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
Megan Wetrich - Recruiting Specialist - Central Region, Hy-Vee