GREENVILLE — Saying she is “ready for new challenges,” Career Pathway Coordinator Lisa Wendel will be leaving Darke County Economic Development (DCED) effective Friday, August 4.
Wendel has had the position with DCED for four years. Prior to this, she served as superintendent at Mississinawa Valley Schools. Her new challenge will take her to Franklin Monroe Elementary School, where she will serve as the elementary’s guidance counselor.
“I was an elementary guidance counselor early in my career, prior to starting at Mississinawa Valley in administration, and just kind of made a full circle,” she said.
In her position with DCED, Wendel was responsible for creating collaborations between local businesses and education, marketing career opportunities to Darke County students, and creating a “seamless pipeline” of workers from school to business.
Programs developed under Wendel’s tenure have been the student and teacher manufacturing tours, the Junior Job Shadow program, the Senior Straight to Work job fair, internships, and the 20 Under 20 awards.
“The things that I find the most pride in were when individual students made a huge success,” she said. “There are several programs I’m proud of, but when you impact on a personal level, that’s where I find the most pride.”
Wendel pointed out a Greenville student who is training to be a chef at Michael Anthony’s at the Inn at Versailles. She also talked of two students who served internships at Midmark Corporation whose career directions were significantly impacted.
“I don’t want to take complete credit for it, because I had a minor role in it,” she said. “We want to keep the best and brightest here to live and raise their families. We’re not discouraging them from leaving — we’re encouraging them to get all the training they can no matter what that is.
For the successes, Wendel said the cooperation of both schools and businesses was vital.
“The businesses and schools were very committed to anything that moved this effort forward,” she said. “I felt like I had tremendous support from both. I think I will miss that support.”
“This is important stuff,” she added. “When kids see the connection between their education and their career, that gives them hope. This connection between businesses and school is a bigger umbrella that absorbs many of our social problems.”
“Lisa was a rock star,” said Darke County Economic Development Director Mike Bowers. “She took the position in its infancy and it has grown into what it is now. Other counties look to see what Darke County is doing with the emerging workforce and Lisa does a great job.”
Bowers said the DCED Board will examine prospective candidates for the position and hopes to fill the role quickly.
“Workforce is a huge issue for our manufacturers and we want to get somebody back in that position and continue to move the programming that Lisa has started,” he said.
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