News

ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey Appointed to Governor’s Commission on Workforce Equity & Access

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has announced the formation of the Commission on Workforce Equity & Access, appointing Illinois Central College President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey as a member. The appointment recognizes the instrumental contributions Illinois Central College is making to impact workforce equity in Illinois.   

“It is an honor to join this state commission to examine the workforce system to ensure all Illinoisans can become credentialed and successfully enter the workforce, especially those in our community who are disproportionally impacted by the current system,” said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. “Not only does ICC focus on workforce equity and access as the lead Illinois community college of the Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI), but we focus on it in everything we do. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to serving.”  

The Commission is charged with creating a vision for an equitable, accessible, and effective state workforce system grounded in an understanding of user and stakeholder experience, including how racial, social, and geographic inequities inform experience and outcomes across Illinois’ federally and state-funded workforce programs.  

Among its top priorities, the Commission will find ways to strengthen and diversify existing workforce training programs to address shortages, expand access to talent, and promote equity and inclusion across all industries. The membership of the Commission includes a diverse group of workforce ecosystem stakeholders, including state agencies, workforce providers, employers, organized labor and workers’ rights advocates, local workforce innovation areas, and higher education leaders. 

 State Representative Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) said, Our hope for this commission is to alleviate structural barriers to gainful employment and build a stronger support system for workers as they navigate the job-seeking process. Most importantly, this commission is driven by the principle that we must treat all workers with dignity and respect, and that includes the vulnerable communities who so often fall through the cracks of our current economic system.” 

In 2019, working with Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon-Booth and the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), Dr. Quirk-Bailey developed the Illinois Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI), which focuses on improving workforce inclusivity by providing a credential and a living-wage job for adults residing in disproportionately impacted areas (low income, low employment, high crime) with a focus on African Americans. When the program launched in 2019, ICC was the lead college of the $18 million initiative and partnered with 14 additional Illinois community colleges. In 2020, ICCB expanded the initiative to 17 Illinois community colleges, offering over 100 WEI programs and impacting over 4,100 Illinoisians.   

For more information regarding the Commission and a full list of members, visit illinois.gov/news/press-release.23932.html.