Mountain Area Workforce 2019 Recognition Luncheon honors outstanding employers, job seekers and youth

The Mountain Area Workforce Development Board held our annual recognition luncheon on Thursday, December 12 at Blue Ridge Community College. The luncheon recognized the region’s outstanding employers, job seekers and youth from the past year.

West Henderson High School Wind Ensemble, directed by Band Director Allen Klaes, performed prior to the program.

West Henderson High School Wind Ensemble


Griffin Godwin

NCWorks NextGen Career Counseling Program

Henderson County Public Schools

Meg Decker, Career Coach

During his junior year, Griffin left high school for personal reasons. Ms. Decker contacted Griffin and explained the WIOA program. She encouraged Griffin to enroll at the Career Academy to complete his high school education, and Griffin agreed. He enrolled in August of 2018. 

At the Career Academy, Griffin soared. He served as the President of the Career Association and as the Chairman of the Leadership Committee. He served on the Student Council and there, he was the student with the most volunteer hours. He received the Jobs for America’s Outstanding Student award for the west district at the state convention in April of last year.

Along with his school responsibilities, Griffin also participated in the WIOA work experience program. Ms. Decker set Griffin up in a job at Camp Talisman, a camp for kids who have Autism, Asperger’s and ADHD. Griffin learned everything—from grounds keeping to kitchen prep—and was offered a full time job at the camp after he graduated from high school. Doug Smathers, the owner of Camp Talisman, had this to say about Griffin: 

“Griffin has been such a bright addition to our small camp team. He came aboard eager to learn and ready to work. His skills were rough at first but with some direction and patience, Griffin has progressed into a trustworthy worker. His work ethic continued after his time in school to earn him a spot in our summer camp program. Since then, we still utilize his skills, smile, and positive attitude to help change our camper’s lives.” 

Griffin is a perfect example of how the WIO program is changing lives! 

Sharan Fortune-Tucker

NCWorks NextGen Career Readiness Program

Buncombe County Schools

Cynthia Cox, Career Coach

Sharan is always smiling. Her laughter is contagious, and her positive attitude is even more so. You would never guess that she does not have contact with her mother, father, or most of her six siblings. Sharan has a great relationship with her grandmother, whom she lives with. Since she has been in high school, she has helped her grandmother with household chores and paying bills. During her time in the WIOA Youth program, Sharan participated in a year-long childcare internship with Buncombe County Schools. She has always loved working with children and did a fantastic job taking care of them. Through WIOA, and because of her interest in Healthcare, she was also able to obtain her industry recognized OSHA Certification.

Sharan currently juggles working a part-time job and attending classes at A-B Tech as a first-generation college student. Her plan is to major in Allied Health and specialize in Sonography. She is working towards her goal of graduation every day and doing very well in her classes. Sharan has overcome a lot of struggles and adversity to get where she is today.

It is Sharan’s relentless positivity, caring demeanor, and strong work ethic that make her an extraordinary person and very deserving of this award and recognition. I strongly believe that she will fulfil all her goals in life. Her patience and kindness will make a world of difference for those she cares for in and out of work.

Sharon Fortune-Tucker

Nashia Wright

NCWorks NextGen Youth Corps

Green Opportunities, Inc.

Alexandra Sloss, Career Coach

When she originally joined Youth Corps, Nashia’s primary goal was to receive her HSE. She attended GO! Academic’s GED course regularly, but when her health prevented her from coming to class she constantly reached out to receive extra work or resources to help her study on her own. Nashia also came into the Youth Corps office multiple times for math tutoring after she did not pass her first assessment.

As soon as she received her GED, Nashia hurtled towards her newfound goals. She received guidance and counseling to help her apply to AB Tech’s Cosmetology program, and then independently filed for financial aid. She is currently in the process of finishing her placement tests and registering for courses for the Spring 2020 Semester. She has balanced a family, jobs, and school to pursue her passion and is a shining example of what youth can do when they have WIOA to partner with them.

Shai Broe

NCWorks NextGen Program

Goodwill Industries of NWNC, Inc.-Transylvania Co.

Rachel Olson, Career Coach

Shai Broe just turned 21. The day before her 21st birthday she received the news that she had passed all 5 HiSET tests and will receive her high school equivalency degree. This was huge news. Shai has battled many barriers in life, including aging out of foster care. She says one of the defining moments in her education happened when she was 18. Her high school principal told her that she would not be successful. She says this comment made it really hard for her to go to school and believe in herself. As an adult, Shai is strong and successful. She is a hard worker, fiercely independent, and is committed to accomplishing her dreams.

We first met Shai when she was working as a Personal Care Aide at Cedar Mountain House in Brevard. She applied to do a Nurse Aide course through Blue Ridge Community College. WIOA provided the funds for Shai to complete the course. She has successfully done this and will test for her registry in December.

After completing the course Shai was interested in becoming an EMT. We contacted the Transylvania Rescue Squad about a paid work experience while Shai took EMT courses. Shai looked into the EMT national test and knew she would need a high school diploma to eventually receive a national certification. She signed up for the HiSET after finding it hard to complete the prep courses with her busy schedule. She passed all five tests and will receive her High School Equivalency Diploma this year.

The world has opened up for Shai. She has applied to Blue Ridge Community College for the emergency medical services degree and will soon start a paid work experience with the rescue squad. She currently is working as a Nurse Aide. Shai’s ultimate goal is to become a flight medic.

Angela Shelton

NCWorks NextGen Youth Intervention Program

Madison County Schools

Vicki Kelley, Career Coach

Angela (Angel) was enrolled in the WIOA program at the beginning of her senior year of high school.  At that time, she was staying with her aunt temporarily, due to her father’s imprisonment and her mother’s absence in the home.

Through the WIOA program, Angel was given the opportunity to gain work experience at Madison High School, assisting the Athletic Director and the front office with clerical and other miscellaneous duties as the need arose.  During the second semester of school, Angel decided she would like to pursue a CNA license.  Because her schedule would not allow her to take the class at the high school, she would have to enroll at the Madison AB Tech campus.

Angel was awarded a Golden Leaf scholarship to help pay for tuition and books, and through the WIOA program she was able to purchase the supplies needed for the class. With hard work and determination, she attended her regular high school classes and her CNA class during the last two months of the school year.

Angela earned her high school diploma in June 2019 and her CNA license in August 2019. She is now working full time and I have no doubt she will accomplish anything she sets her mind to. It is an honor to present Angel as Madison County School’s Outstanding Participant.

Brie Clawges

NCWorks NextGen Career Readiness Program

Buncombe County Schools

Jeanine Phillips, Career Coach

I met Brie Clawges while she was in school at Buncombe County’s Alternative School, Community High. In my first interaction with Brie we were discussing her disappointments with an outside program that did not deliver on the promises they had made. I have learned that with anyone who has been through adversity, you need to be real and true to your word. Trust is a big part of the Career Counseling Program.

I saw such a spark in Brie’s eyes. All this bright young lady needed was a tiny push and a focus on direction.  Brie is the first in her family to attend college. I am so proud of this girl and the drive that she has for success. Brie has overcome family members’ addictions, inconsistent home placement, and other personal barriers. I have had the pleasure to meet her father and boyfriend and they are as proud of her as I am.

Brie has basically lived on her own for several years. She finished school and I immediately enrolled her into a CNA class for a summer session. As I expected she excelled in this class and realized that she had more to gain in life. She is always so appreciative and gives her all. Brie met with advisors and has taken psychology and English, in order to engage in further training.

Currently, Brie is attending classes to pursue Phlebotomy. Through all of this, Brie has always worked a fulltime job. She has so much on her plate, but she is strong. She has let me know she is not through with her learning. I have no idea how far this special young lady will go. However, one of the greatest statements I have ever received from a participant was from Brie. She sent me a message that read “Thank you so much. I couldn’t have gotten where I am now without you and your help. I couldn’t be more thankful for you. (Here is the part that brought me to tears) You helped me break my bad family cycle” I only helped HER. She did it. That is what WIOA support is all about.


Vannoy Construction

Mountain Area Regional Business Services

Christy Cheek, Work-Based Learning Coordinator

Honor, Humility Hospitality, Hustle:  These are the time-tested characters that direct the work of Vannoy Construction. Founded in 1952, Jim Vannoy started Vannoy Roofing with the support of his wife Wilma in Jefferson, NC.  They focused on doing good work, being service minded, and treating people well.  Due to these guiding principles and the company’s good work and commitment to service, the company became a licensed General Contractor and continued to experience growth.  In the 1970’s, after the sons graduated college and joined the family business, they formed alliances and business partners to expand their scope of work and Vannoy Construction became one of Ashe County’s largest employer. Always committed to the 4- key principles, today Vannoy now has six offices in North and South Carolina and is recognized as a leader in the Commercial, Healthcare, Retail, Education, Industrial, and Civil/Highway Markets. Vannoy is one of the 30 largest private companies in North Carolina have been voted one of the “Best/Top Work Places” from 2013 to 2019. Still today though, each member of the Vannoy team is focused on building lasting relationships and demonstrating the 4- H’s: Honor, Humility, Hospitality, and Hustle.

Today, we recognize Vannoy Construction and Mr. Brian Walker for their commitment to the WNC community as they were instrumental in the success of our 2019 WNC Construction Career Days event, which was held at the Haywood County Fairgrounds. The two-day event saw over 1200 students, educators, community members, industry experts and elected officials come together and showcase construction careers.  Brian not only served as a key planning team member but also led the sponsorship campaign as the Gold level sponsor providing $5000.00 for the event.  Brian was the “Business Champion” and catalyst for the industry sector during the planning stage.  We could not have pulled this event off without him.

Brian graduated from Virginia Tech with an Engineering degree and he has been with Vannoy for nine years. After college he worked his way up through the industry before going to work at Vannoy. When I first started working with Brian to plan the event, I saw his passion and drive to ensure students knew about careers in the industry. It was very evident to me that Brian exemplified:

Honor- the code by which we live and work by- and going the extra mile.

Humility-  being humble and knowing how to say I need help- but I believe and care

Hospitality- genuine concern for people- care and compassion- treat people like family

Hustle- Drive to get things done-

The four key principles are fundamental to Vannoy and Brian Walker. Thank you, Brian Walker, for your support of Construction Careers and work-based learning in WNC.

Made in Henderson County Manufacturing Apprenticeship

Blue Ridge Community College

NCWorks Career Center- Henderson County

Shanda Bedoian, Director of Corporate and Customized Training

Workforce Pipeline Development in Henderson County realized an exciting and significant “WIN-WIN” in 2019 when four forward-thinking manufacturers led by The Partnership launched the “Made in Henderson County (MIHC) Manufacturing Apprenticeship” Program.  The collaborative partnership between Elkamet Inc., GF Linamar LLC, Meritor Inc., Westrock, The Partnership, Henderson County Public Schools and Blue Ridge Community College established a registered apprenticeship program in Mechatronics for graduating high school students and adults.  This creative workforce solution provided a tuition-free education for the graduates through Blue Ridge Community College.  Over the course of three semesters, the students “Earn While They Learn”. Upon completion, the apprentices who receive a Journeyman’s Certificate are guaranteed a job with a competitive salary.  

An engaged group of players from each organization worked tirelessly from January through May to: market the program in the Henderson County high schools, at the Boys and Girls Club, at other specific meetings; hosted open houses/ tours for interested students and parents/ guardians at their facilities and at the college; interviewed over 60 candidates; participated in draft day for the competitive 22 slots; and, so on.  All culminating in “Signing Day” at each of the area high schools.  Classes at Blue Ridge and employment at the respective companies began in August.  

The apprentices are already making a difference in their work, in their lives and in our community!

These game changing organizations embody the innovative leadership needed today in workforce development.  On behalf of Blue Ridge Community College and the Henderson County NCWorks Career Center, I am proud to

nominate:  Elkamet, Inc., GF Linamar LLC, Meritor, Inc., Westrock,  Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development and Henderson County Public Schools collectively as the “2019 Outstanding Partner of the Year Champions for Henderson County”

New Excelsior of Sigma Plastics

Blue Ridge Community College

NCWorks Career Center- Transylvania County

Jason Chappell, NCWorks Director

NCWorks Career Center in Transylvania County recognizes New Excelsior of Sigma Plastics, a Certified Minority Owned Business that manufactures in the United States, as our 2019 Outstanding WIOA Business Partner.

Their commitment to engage with the community, job seekers, and workforce partners yields achievements through a shared vision of workforce and economic development.

New Excelsior embodies NCWorks mission to promote and support a workforce system that creates value and offers employers, individuals, and communities the opportunity to achieve and sustain economic prosperity.

Our partnership began in 2015 and, in tandem, has recruited, screened, and assessed employees effectively.  We have worked together to successfully reach workforce goals.

On behalf of the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board, we congratulate you on your receiving the 2019 Outstanding WIOA Business Partner Award for your service and commitment to your community.

Advanced Superabrasives, Inc.

AB Tech Community College/Madison Campus

NCWorks Career Center- Madison County

Stacy Peek, NCWorks Coordinator

Advanced Superabrasives Inc. (ASI), located in Mars Hill, was awarded the 2019 Small Business Exporter of the Year for the State of North Carolina in May. ASI is a manufacturer of premium high performance Diamond and CBN grinding wheels and related equipment. The award is one of several award categories that the Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes each year during National Small Business Week. Advanced Superabrasives Inc. was nominated by the Small Business and Technology Development Center, which is a resource partner of the SBA. 

In evaluating the nomination packages for the Exporter of the Year award, the judges used the following criteria:

  • Increased sales, profits and/or growth of employment because of exporting.
  • Creative overseas marketing strategies, exporting history, and current export markets;
  • Effective solutions to export-related problems, including trade financing, payment, and currency issues; market-entry and logistical challenges; cultural differences, etc.;
  • Demonstrated encouragement of other small businesses to export and/or volunteer assistance to other small businesses entering the export market; and
  • Effective use of Federal and/or State government trade promotion or financing programs.

When asked where their exports go, Jonathan Szucs, President of ASI, said “we export to over 27 countries around the world with Canada being the largest export market. We export to China, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, England, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Hong Kong, and many others.  We export to Europe from England all the way to Poland.  We export all over southeast Asia including China.  We export all over the America’s from Canada in the north to Brazil in the south.  And then we have our intergalactic exports which NASA took the first wheel but we are working on others with other agencies.  One of our customers is Space X and while I can’t disclose the details, their export will be farther than Mars.” (One interesting fact about ASI is that they hold the distance record for any export from a NC company – Mars Hill to the planet Mars.) With 25% of ASI sales coming from exports, Szucs says there is huge potential for growth in this area.

ASI consistently participates in local, regional and statewide workforce initiatives such as: internships, apprenticeships, manufacturing week activities and hosts facility tours for students and educators. ASI actively promotes Advanced Manufacturing in our region and supports outreach efforts to increase career awareness in the field. They have effectively implemented a youth apprenticeship program with Madison High School which creates a pathway to fulltime employment for student interns after graduation.

Metropolitan Medical

Mountain Area Regional Business Services

Business Accelerator Grant Program

Derrick Edwards, Business Services Representative

Metropolitan Medical (The Company) is a locally owned company that specializes in anesthesia machines, patient monitors, and anesthesia service, providing new and refurbished anesthesia machines from major manufacturers. For more information see:  .

The Company had a goal of training a technician to service anesthesia machines manufactured by General Electric Healthcare. The Certification that accompanies the training would allow Metropolitan Medical to offer repair and refurbishing services for a new line of equipment, and grow their business. The training for this certification is very expensive ($10K +) and is not offered locally. The technician would have to fly to the training location and stay for multiple days while training. This would represent a significant investment for Metropolitan Medical. In many cases this becomes a pain point for small business. Luckily, the MAWDB was around to offer help with the Incumbent Worker Training Grant.

The Company applied for a Business Accelerator Grant in the February 2019 round. They requested the maximum amount of $10,000.00. The review committee approved their request.

The Company sent Mr. Stan Reese to Pittsburgh, PA for training during July, 2019. He successfully completed the training and received a Certificate from GE. The Company and Mr. Reese both expressed thanks to MAWDB for the opportunity this training provided. I am recognizing Metropolitan Medical as my outstanding business participant of the year for 2019. I cannot imagine a more perfect illustration of how the Board is able to strengthen the local economy by helping locally grown businesses increase the skill-levels of their workforce.

Mind Your Business, Inc.

Mountain Area Regional Business Services

Business Accelerator Grant Program

Barbara Darby, Business Services Coordinator

Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) is located in Hendersonville, NC and was founded in 1996 by current CEO, Karen Caruso, as a small nanny screening service.  Today, MYB services over 3,500 clients in the commercial, non-profit, and government sectors.  The company employs 38 fulltime employees that operate in three locations.  Their primary services include background investigations and equal opportunity (EEO) investigations.

MYB is a Woman-Owned Small Business with SBA 8(a) certification and SBA HUBZone certification.  These certifications enable MYB to grow within the Federal Government sector. The business is accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) and has been active in this organization for over fifteen years.  In 2018 and 2019, MYB was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing private businesses in the US.  Currently MYB continues to grow and their client base is expanding.

Karen Caruso believes in investing in her employees.  Every staff person has completed the PSBA’s Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Basic Certification and many have completed the Advanced Certification.  MYB is living wage certified, provides full benefits and matches 401(k) contribution for all employees. MYB has participated in both the workforce board’s OJT and Business Accelerator Grant Programs.  In 2018, MYB was awarded a Business Accelerator Grant to train five incumbent workers in EEO Investigation at a cost of $5,150.  To reduce costs and utilize an expert EEO trainer, the training was delivered virtually, live via webcast in MYB’s state-of-the-art training room.  The training resulted in five employees becoming certified as EEO investigators, which will increase their business capacity and help the employees progress within the company.

Giving back to the community is important to Karen.  She is founding a local non-profit that will begin operating at the beginning of 2020. A Step Ahead Project (ASAP) will be a youth development non-profit that provides high school juniors and seniors with mentorships and workshops that will help to develop their professional skills, preparing them for their future careers. 

Congratulations to Mind Your Business as an Outstanding Business Accelerator Grant Recipient for Work-Based Learning.

Barbara Darby and Karen Caruso, CEO, Mind Your Business
Mind Your Business
Metropolitan Medical


William “Bill” Perry

UpSkill WNC

AB Tech Community College/HRD Intensive Case Management

Ronnie Copeland, NCWorks Skills Development Coach

I met Bill Perry as a dislocated worker, figuring out the available resources to assist him here in Asheville. The Justice Resource Center provided him with my information. In my first interaction with Bill, we were discussing his disappointments with an outside program that did not treat him kindly. I have learned that with anyone who has been through adversity, you need to be real and true to your word. Trust is a big part of the Career Counseling Program. I saw load of weight relieved from Bill when he realized I could help him. All this gentleman needed was for someone to treat him with respect and to understand his current barriers. Bill relocated to Asheville for a fresh start in life. I am so proud of this man and the drive that he possesses for success. Bill has overcome incarceration, relocation, and employment displacement.

Bill is a licensed barber as well as a licensed barbering instructor in Philadelphia. The process to become licensed in North Carolina is quite stringent. He wanted to obtain a career that would help provide more than a living wage for his family. He was successfully enrolled in commercial driver license (CDL) training.

On July 3, Bill completed the program and attained a class A driver’s license. The employment process was difficult due to restrictions he had to adhere to. He was unable to drive out of state, which limited opportunities to make more money. His search continued, and he obtained a job with the City of Asheville working in the sanitation department.

The training he received enabled him to drive and operate the big sanitation trucks. Bill has repeatedly, thanked me for working with him so he could start a new career. It is a real pleasure working with a participant, helping them to be successful despite their background, and being part of their new chapter in life.

Amanda Miller

Blue Ridge Community College

NCWorks Career Center- Henderson County

Evan Smith, Skills Development Coach

Amanda obtained CNA certification through West Hendersonville High School in 2002 and worked in the Health Care field until she decided she would like to become a Registered Nurse. She attempted the program two times but ran into some life and family issues that prevented her from moving forward.  Someone then gave a presentation in a class Amanda was taking and mentioned WIOA. As a single mother, she immediately saw an opportunity to go back to school with an option that would take away much of the anxiety she was having on how to care for her two children while she completed her program.

Amanda followed up and enrolled in WIOA at the NCWorks Career Center- Henderson County /Blue Ridge Community College. WIOA paid for her tuition, books, and testing fees while her case managers and other NCWorks Career Center staff provided the moral support to encourage her. With this assistance, Amanda graduated in May of 2019, passed her NCLEX exam, and is now working for Haywood Regional Medical Center as a nurse in the ICU.

To celebrate her graduation, she composed a collage of graduation photographs including pictures of her in her nursing uniform complete with a stethoscope professionally draped around her neck. One particularly telling photo shows the top of her graduation cap where she wrote a quote attributed to poet Kaci Diane, “I love the person I have become because I have fought to become her.”

Michelle Nelms

AB Tech Community College/Madison Campus

NCWorks Career Center- Madison County

Stacy Peek, NCWorks Coordinator

Michelle Nelms came to the NCWorks Career Center in August 2019 seeking marketable skills in a career field that would allow her to provide stability for her family. Michelle is originally from the Philippines and has lived in the United States since 2005. She and her husband have 3 children and have struggled financially since her husband was determined unable to work due to a chronic work related illness. Michelle wanted a career that would provide opportunities to grow and become more financially secure as she advanced in the field. She was specifically interested in becoming a Nursing Assistant.

After discussing the Nurse Aide 1 class and her interest in Healthcare, we determined this training would be an ideal match for her long term goals. We discussed how this training would immediately provide her with skills that were in demand and also provide many employment opportunities that could accommodate her need to balance family requirements and earning an income. We also discussed how this training is one of the entry points into the Healthcare Career Pathway and how this would increase her awareness of other Healthcare disciplines if she decides to pursue additional training in the future. Michelle applied for and received Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding to assist with the tuition cost for the Nurse Aide 1 training.

She began the Nurse Aide 1 class at AB Tech Madison in September 2019 and successfully completed the course October 30, 2019. While in the course Michelle began working as a Health Aide at a retirement community in Mars Hill. This position validated her interest in healthcare and gave her confidence in knowing this career path was the correct choice for her.

While in training, Michelle also participated in the Naturalization Oath Ceremony which completed the process for her to become a U.S. Citizen. She has recently completed her Nurse Aide 1 Registry exam and is now eligible to apply for NA-1 positions. With these new skills Michelle will have a variety of opportunities available to her as she begins her healthcare career as Nursing Assistant.

Kristen Camp

Blue Ridge Community College

NCWorks Career Center- Transylvania County

Jason Chappell, NCWorks Director

Kristen was attending Blue Ridge Community College, Transylvania, in general studies when she decided to make a change. She decided that pursuing her NA1 certification would be her first step to her bigger goal of becoming a Registered Nurse. She faced financial hardships and needed help to achieve her goals.

She was referred to and visited the NCWorks Career Center in Brevard where she completed her UpSkill WNC and WIOA applications. Her classes for the NA1 certification were supported with WIOA funding Kristen was on her way to her first step toward her career intentions.

Why did she choose this path? In her words, “I have always enjoyed taking care of others. Nurturing is a part of my character. I thought the medical field was a perfect fit. I will be working as a CNA as I continue my studies…it will be challenging, yet rewarding.”

Wishing you nothing but success in your future endeavors, we applaud you and congratulate you on your hard work and achievement as a recipient of the 2019 WIOA Outstanding Participant Award.

Celeste Davis

UpSkill WNC

Blue Ridge Community College

NCWorks Career Center- Transylvania County

Carson Griffin, UpSkill WNC Case Manager

Celeste moved to Transylvania County from Greenville in October 2017. Moving from a fairly large city to a small town in Western North Carolina was very different and presented some challenges. She quickly found herself needing to find work.

As she was trying to figure out what she needed to do she enrolled in a class with Transylvania Christian Ministries called “Getting Ahead”. As part of the class the participants are introduced to NCWorks and UpSkills. After the class, Celeste made her way to the NCWorks Career Center – Transylvania County for help in locating work. She was enrolled in the UpSkills program. With the assistance of the staff in in the NCWorks office and UpSkills coach she completed her resume, cover letter and job applications. She was quickly hired at a local brewery and worked there until she had an injury.

This did not slow Celeste down. Although she loved this job, she was forced into looking for something else. She immediately came to NCWorks again and began exploring other options. She is very self- motivated. She began the Peer Support certification process, completed it and is working for a Behavioral Health Agency.

At this time she is balancing her job with raising her son, and going back to school at BRCC pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Science. She feels very strongly that she should give back to the community that has been supportive to her. She leads a program called “foodies on a budget” which teaches low income families how to shop and cook on small amount of money. She will also be serving on the board of Transylvania Christian Ministries in the New Year.

Shannon Perry

UpSkill WNC

Blue Ridge Community College

NCWorks Career Center- Henderson County

Stacy Hill, UpSkills WNC Case Manager

SHANNON PERRY epitomizes this statement. The NCWorks Career Center staff met Shannon in the summer of 2019 when she made a visit with her peer support counselor.  After having the opportunity to listen to what brought her in, she made it clear that she was at the end of her rope.  She felt as if she wanted to end it all…but the thought of her being separated from her pets, who thoroughly depend on her, made her muster up the energy to go on another second, minute, hour and day.

Shannon needed to find employment and find it quick. Her independent contractor status was not stable and forced her into the threat of eviction that would lead to homelessness and further depression. In addition, she has suffered with Fibromyalgia for more than fifteen years, which adds to the list of accommodations she requires to be successful in the workforce. Her talent as a freelance content writer continued to be the passion she would pursue since it seemed to be the perfect fit for her and less liability for an on-site employer to consider.

Shannon not only accepted the advice, strategies and assistance offered in employability counseling through the center, she began to apply the skills the very day she left the center. After many return visits, phone calls and emails, Shannon is the proud employee of four new clients and up-to-date on all of her living expenses.  Her better circumstances are also allowing her to search for a newer and more reliable vehicle. She is with us today to briefly share her journey.


Ryan Wanless

Mountain Area Regional Business Services

On-the-Job Training Program

Barbara Darby, Business Services Coordinator

Ryan moved to Asheville from Miami, Florida seeking a better environment for his family.   He had worked as a multimedia specialist with the State Attorney’s office.  Ryan had difficulty finding employment and enrolled in the STEP Program.  After being long-term unemployed, Cynthia Conboy referred Ryan to Barbara for assistance.

Ryan had researched high growth jobs in skilled trades and decided he wanted to explore opportunities in HVAC.   He and Barbara discussed a career move into HVAC.   In addition to his multimedia skills, Ryan had experience in various aspects of home improvement that would support this career transition.  To improve his marketability, he studied for a Ready to Work Certificate through the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and passed the exam with a high score.  The exam consisted of domains in tools, measurement, electrical safety, heat transfer and general safety.  Ryan also scored very high on the Bennett Mechanical test.  

Barbara enrolled Ryan into WIOA and referred him to Gentry Heating, Inc. in January 2019 for OJT consideration.   He was hired and began six months of training in February as a commercial maintenance technician.  Ryan worked with the lead maintenance technician observing and adding skills for four months, then was given a company van.   He managed  basic service calls for tune-ups with experienced technicians available if needed.  Ryan says, “My supervisor and co-workers never treated me like a trainee but as a fellow technician and they were always willing to share their knowledge and tips.  I like the company because they promote learning and offer training classes two times a month.  On-the-Job Training has been a great experience for me.”

Alan Austin, supervisor says, “Ryan has proven to be a fast learner and a dependable employee.  He learns new tasks quickly, has a great attitude, and is a team player.  Ryan obtained his EPA certification earlier this year.   Our company is very pleased with him and is appreciative of the On-the-Job Training Program.”  Ryan continues to expand his skills and as a bonus to the company, he has been able to assist the company with computer related issues related to HVAC systems. 

Congratulations to Ryan as an Outstanding OJT Participant.

Greg Bopp

Mountain Area Regional Business Services

On-the-Job Training Program

Barbara Darby, Business Services Coordinator

Greg Bopp was a reverse referral from Stone Mountain Cabinetry & Millwork (SMCM) in January 2019.  He had been working in a stop-gap job in a mail distribution center after being laid off from AT&T Mobility Services as a retail account executive.  Greg was looking for an opportunity to use his business experience, computer skills, and BA in Architecture.

In February 2019, Greg was offered an opportunity through the On-the-Job Training Program to train as a junior level front-end developer with SMCM, a custom cabinet company located in Arden.   Over the course of six months, Greg received training in several programming languages including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, SQL, along with GIT/Version Control and Cabinet Vision software.  These languages are used in front-end webpage development and back-end catalog and pricing functions.  Since completing his training, Greg has moved into the engineering department when he is using his CAD skills in cabinet design.

Robert Grieves, owner and CEO, says, “Greg is a rare find.   He brings skill and logic, excels and crushes the learning curve, all while having a kind considerate heart and great attitude.”  Greg is a valuable asset to SMCM.”

Greg enjoys his job as he is able to contribute on many different levels, whether it be home/space design, cabinet engineering or web development.  His workday is very dynamic and every day is different.  Greg states, “I get to see the impact of my efforts on the bottom line and this provides a great deal of satisfaction.”

Congratulations to Greg as an Outstanding OJT Participant.


Kim England

Finish Line Grant Program

AB Tech Community College/

NCWorks Career Center- Asheville

Ellie Waters, Skills Development Coach

The Finish Line Grant, or FLG, is a grant initiative started in Governor Cooper’s office using the WIOA State Set-Aside Funds to help college students who are more than 50% done with their program finish their degree. The grant helps with emergent need supportive services like rent, utilities, car repair, and others, that may be hindering a student’s ability to finish their program of study.

From the very beginning, FLG posed challenges to implement in our area, and Kim England took these challenges head on. She is the first point of contact for students at Asheville-Buncombe Community College who may need FLG, which includes meeting, answering questions, and gathering the application and W9 for students requesting assistance. Kim also determines if the student is 50% completed, in good standing with the college, their GPA, and sends out the targeted marketing emails to students.

In the first year of the Finish Line Grant, A-B Tech approved 86 applications, helped 50 individual students, and paid close to $49,000 in funds. Our last report, from September 1st to November 20th 2019, showed that A-B Tech has approved 59 applications for 32 students, paying close to $20,000. To date we’ve had 14 students complete their programs and started working in their fields, ranging from RN to Hospitality, Human Services, Medical Assistant, Cosmetology, Phlebotomy, Software and Web Design, and CAD Design. This trend will continue to increase since FLG funding in NC is plentiful.

Because of this rapid increase in FLG applications, our NC Works Case Manager’s caseloads have almost doubled, and Kim has become an essential part our team as the welcoming front door. Though the FLG applications have been divided amongst several case managers, Kim touches every single one of these students.

We would like to recognize Kim for her hard work, dedication, and wiliness to help every student who is interested in the Finish Line Grant, plus some. She has taken on this role with grace, and infectious positive attitude, and we would not be having the success we are without her.


(MAWDB Administration recognizes our WIOA Frontline Staff for their contributions to the region’s Workforce Development System. In memory of Deb Holebrooks, Career Coach, NCWorks Career Center-Asheville.)

Ronnie Copeland, HRD Career Coach

AB Tech Community College/

HRD Intensive Case Management Program

Nathan Ramsey, MAWDB Director

Ronnie Copeland, is a WIOA Case Manager for the Workforce Development and Continuing Education Department. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Natural and Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Sports Management. She is a certified peer support specialist which aids in relatability for individual who have suffered trauma of some type. Lastly, she holds a certification in therapeutic behavioral interventions.

Ronnie was solely responsible for overseeing  human resources as well as other business affairs of a thriving small business in New York. She was able to hone her managerial and planning skills. A great sense of humor and positive nature enable Ronnie to easily relate to individuals of all ages and to work with people from diverse backgrounds. These qualities allowed her to effectively increase recruitment efforts in our surrounding communities. Additionally, creating new partnerships with other organizations with better opportunities for students.

Meeting students where they are in their lives has created more successful short-term students. Some of the continuing education students sponsored by Ronnie have become curriculum students due to first class customer service. Once training is over some students need assistance with job placement. Building relationships with various companies, provides unique opportunities in filling a needed position. At this time on 2 students successfully completed CDL training and have employment, two students completed clinical massage successfully, the others 25 under WIOA completed nursing assistant 1. Currently, 31 have successfully completed classes sponsored by SECU, under the continuing education scholarship approximately 25 recipients have successfully finished courses and are working somewhere.

Ronnie is an invitational, kind, sweet-spirited individual who relates to her clients and deeply cares about their success. She works tirelessly to reach out to as many students as possible to make their educational dreams a reality.

For outstanding customer service, it is our pleasure to recognize Ronnie with the Deb Holebrooks Outstanding Customer Service Award!

Evan Smith, NCWorks Skills Development Coach and Ronnie Copeland, HRD Career Coach, AB Tech, NCWorks

Joel “Evan” Smith, NCWorks Skills Development Coach

Blue Ridge Community College/

NCWorks Career Center- Henderson County

Jason Chappell, NCWorks Director

Joel “Evan” Smith is a vital member of the Henderson County NCWorks Career team. Evan is known for going the extra mile to make sure that all of our customers and partners receive the service that they need.

This has been even truer with all the new grants such as Finish Line and the Early Childhood Education grants that have become a priority in our centers along with our normal WIOA enrollments and Career Readiness Certificate Testing that Evan has responsibility for.

One of our partners Kim Guice with the Children and Family Resource Center summed it up best when she sent the following unsolicited account of Evan.  “I wanted to take time out to brag on Evan. He has been very accommodating for all Henderson County Early Childhood Education Workforce Development participants. He goes out of his way to meet them where they are. He is involved and attends our local cohort trainings at the beginning to collect information needed. This helps set them up for success. In addition to the participants, Evan has also been very easy to work with. He responds promptly to any questions that arise. It has all around been a positive experience. Evan is an asset to Henderson County.” 

This is just one of many accounts of the amazing job Evan does on a daily basis.

For ongoing outstanding customer service, it is our pleasure to recognize Evan Smith for the Deb Holebrooks Outstanding Customer Service Award.


Resolution to Honor William R. Elingburg

WHEREAS, William R. (Rick) Elingburg has faithfully served the State of North Carolina for 44 years; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Elingburg began his career in 1975 with the State of North Carolina Employment Security Commission working as a Career Advisor, assisting job seeker and business customers in locating, preparing for and securing employment; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Elingburg’s excellent performance led him to steadily rise in the ranks and he has served in the capacity of Career Center Manager for the Buncombe County Career Center for the past 25 years; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Elingburg has committed himself to his community and his profession and is viewed by all as a subject matter expert, sage adviser, and information resource; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Elingburg has tirelessly given of his time to promote and advocate for his community by serving on the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board, Buncombe County Health & Human Services Board, Asheville Chamber of Commerce Advocates for Business and Industry Council, Asheville and Buncombe County Parks and Recreation Advisory Boards, and serves as President of the South Buncombe Youth Sports Association Board of Directors; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Elingburg believes that communication, collaboration, and sharing information of the NCWorks Career Center with our business customers is the key to developing long-lasting workforce relationships that best meet the needs of our jobseeker customers; and 

WHEREAS, Mr. Elingburg’s ability to develop relationships and to truly communicate with his team and all stakeholders has been vital to the continued success of the Asheville NC Works Career Center; and

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE Mountain Area Workforce Development Board as follows:

1. That the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board honors William R. Elingburg for his 44 years of exemplary service to the State of North Carolina.

2. That this Board expresses our gratitude to William R. Elingburg for his leadership for workforce development and hereby names him “Board Member Emeritus” of Mountain Area Workforce Development Board.

3. That this resolution shall be effective upon its adoption.

Adopted this the 5th day of November, 2019.


Dr. Abraham Pallas, Chairman

Mountain Area Workforce Development Board