Speaker Biographies - Increasing Credential Completion: Adult Learners, PLA, and the Public Workforce System

Amy Sherman is associate vice president for policy and strategic alliances at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Amy promotes policy that will strengthen America's workforce through research, coalition-building, advocacy, and technical assistance to state and federal policy leaders. Her diverse areas of expertise range from increasing degree completion through Prior Learning Assessments to building capacity at colleges and the workplace to better serve adult learners. Amy also leads CAEL’s work to expand educational opportunities for veterans and military-affiliated students. Prior to joining CAEL, Amy was executive director of the Manufacturing Workforce Development Project (MWDP), a project funded by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. The MWDP built a consortium of influential business and labor leaders, educational providers, and public officials. The MWDP helped to set the stage for the establishment of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council.

Robyn Minton currently serves as vice president of workforce initiatives at the Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI) where she manages the company’s workforce investment services and regional adult education services. She also shares her expertise as a School of Business faculty member at the University of Phoenix. Before moving to the Midwest, Robyn was the program director at the Nashville YWCA where she managed day-to-day operations of the state’s largest domestic violence services program, including program development and expansion, personnel management, capacity building, community awareness, grants management, volunteer management and quality improvement initiatives. Prior to the YWCA, Robyn’s social services work in Tennessee included her position as associate director at Omni Residential Treatment Service where she managed operations, personnel issues, and the design and oversight of therapeutic protocols. She also served as the program coordinator within the children and youth division of Centerstone, Inc., involved with program development, managing grants, volunteer coordination, and fiscal oversight. Robyn credits the Nashville Salvation Army, as the stepping stone of her career path after college, as their coordinator of social services. Robyn has a Masters degree from Vanderbilt University-Nashville, Tennessee. She earned her M.A. in Counseling from Trevecca Nazarene University, and a B.A. in Sociology from Kentucky Wesleyen College. She is a member of Leadership Northwest Indiana (LNI, 27).She was a recipient of the Non-Profit Management Scholarship from CNM & Vanderbilt University and was recognized with the Golden Rule Award for Volunteer Management.

Dennis Wimer is the deputy commissioner of field operations for the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) in Indiana. In this capacity he oversees the operations for all WorkOne career centers located throughout the state. His department also insures effective rapid deployment services for dislocated workers. Prior to joining DWD, Dennis held multiple executive level positions in profit and non-profit organizations. Most recently he was the executive director of Lutheran Child & Family Services, a local non-profit serving children and families dealing with neglect and abuse. Dennis has his undergraduate degree from Purdue University and holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. He is also a veteran of the United States Air Force, serving as a navigator on the C-141B Starlifter for 9 years.

Derek M. Dabrowiak is the director of admissions for Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and North Central. In this role, Derek manages the recruitment and admissions activities across seven campuses and 11 counties in northern Indiana. Ivy Tech serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities. Ivy Tech Community College is the nation’s largest singly accredited community college, serving over 200,000 students statewide. Derek has over 10 years experience in higher education and has worked for Indiana Institute of Technology, and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in addition to his five years at Ivy Tech. Derek obtained a B.S. from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, IN and a M.S. in Leadership Development from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Jessica Gibson is the assistant executive director of policy, planning and research for postsecondary completion initiatives for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). In this capacity, Jessica follows the implementation of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010, a comprehensive reform agenda that seeks to transform public higher education through changes in academic, fiscal and administrative policies at the state and institutional level. She also contributes to strategic planning on the postsecondary efforts around the Drive to 55, Governor Haslam's educational attainment initiative to have 55 percent of Tennesseans with a certificate or degree by 2025. At the center of these reforms is the need for more Tennesseans to be better educated and trained. She also administers several grant projects focused on college productivity and completion focused on adult students, business and higher education engagement, student advising, and prior learning assessment initiatives. Prior to joining THEC, Jessica served six years as a policy analyst for the Offices of Research and Education Accountability, a division within the Tennessee State Comptroller's office, before serving as a policy advisor for former Governor Bredesen.  Jessica holds a B.A. from Centre College and an M.A. in International Development Studies from The George Washington University.