Marano Fellows Class of 2009

Name: Lauren O’Brien

Seattle Goodwill Industries

Location: Seattle, Washington
Primary Industry Sector: Retail/Customer Service and a new sector TBD
Type of Organization: CBO

“Sector work excites me because it recognizes that adults learn better when skills are presented in an applied context relevant to their goals, and that if employers help design a program around their hiring needs, they will be more likely to hire people from it.”

Organizational Mission: Seattle Goodwill has been in operation for 86 years. Our mission is to provide quality, effective employment training and basic education to individuals experiencing significant barriers to economic opportunity. Because jobs change lives.

Interest in Sector Work: Seattle Goodwill is a social enterprise organization – the revenue from our thrift stores enables us to provide free basic education and job training services. We serve adults with multiple barriers to employment – un- and under-employed individuals who are, for example, immigrants, ex-offenders, homeless, disabled, and/or in recovery.

The Retail sector is a natural one for us because as a retailer, we are able to not only provide classroom training to our participants, but also on-the-job training and employment opportunities. We aim to increase the system-level impact of our Retail and Customer Service program to more broadly increase access to retail employment and advancement by building on our relationships with employers as well as our own position as an employer.

In the next year, we also plan to research and select an additional sector in which to provide training. We are looking for a sector offering entry-level positions that require only a few months of preparation, but that also put people on the path to living wage jobs.