LBJ School and Federal Reserve Convene Workforce, Economic Experts at National Conference | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

(Above) Heath Prince, director of the Ray Marshall Center at the LBJ School, moderated a panel on investing in research. 

A stronger workforce supports a stronger economy. The Oct. 4-6 conference at UT Austin, “Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers and Employers,” featured all 12 of the Federal Reserve System’s regional banks and the Board of Governors, and generated national conversation about how to leverage community resources, policy and social investments to build connections between businesses and workers.

The capstone conference was hosted by the Federal Reserve System in collaboration with the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Ray Marshall Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Angela Evans, dean of the LBJ School; Heath Prince, director of the Ray Marshall Center at LBJ; Ray Marshall, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and LBJ professor emeritus; Christopher King, senior research scientist at the Ray Marshall Center; and Julián Castro, LBJ visiting professor, led multiple conference sessions and facilitated policy discussions.

(Above) Dean Angela Evans, left, moderates the panel, “Making the Connection to Work,” including panelists Julián Castro (center) of the LBJ School and Carol Naughton (right), president of Purpose Built Communities. Other panelists included Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International, Michael Harreld, special advisor to the chairman at PNC, and Ryan Haygood, president and CEO of the NJ Institute for Social Justice.

Several LBJ students had an opportunity to attend the conference as well. They covered the event extensively through social media. Anna Crockett (MPAff ’18) is interested in economic policy, so she was interested in attending to get a nationwide perspective on job creation.

“My best experience was seeing Dean Evans and Julian Castro on a great panel on Friday morning. I felt a lot of LBJ pride at that moment! It was also great to see the focus on policy. I think the policy element really pushed people to speak in terms of benchmarks and tangible outcomes,” Crockett said.

"It was great to see the focus on policy. I think the policy element really pushed people to speak in terms of benchmarks and tangible outcomes." —Anna Crockett, MPAff '18

Fellow student Natasha Bylenok (MPAff ’18), whose interest in labor policy aligned closely with the conference mission, said, “Panelist Brendan Martin [Executive Director of Working World] made the point, ‘We’ve organized people to serve the economy instead of organizing the economy to serve people.’ I think he and the other panelists gave a powerful reminder of the human element of economics and labor policy.”

The event opened with a reception hosted by the LBJ School and the Ray Marshall Center on Wednesday evening at UT’s Blanton Museum of Art. Dean Evans was joined by UT Austin President Gregory Fenves and Austin Mayor Steve Adler to welcome over 300 guests to the campus and the city.

(Above) UT Austin President Gregory Fenves speaks at the reception for attendees, held the first evening of the conference.

Rooted in the idea that our country can only reach its economic potential through strong alignment between employer needs and a skilled workforce, the mission of this cross-sector collaboration was to:

  • Reframe workforce development efforts as investments, not just social services
  • Attract new resources and leverage existing funding sources
  • Improve economic mobility and impact for workers

Featured speakers included:

  • Raphael W. Bostic, president & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
  • Esther L. George, president & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
  • Patrick T. Harker, president & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
  • Robert S. Kaplan, president & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
  • Juan Garcia, Global Leader for Career Advancement, Amazon
  • Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark, NJ
  • Jim Gibbons, president and CEO, Goodwill Industries International
  • Jen Crozier, Vice President of IBM Corporate Citizenship, President of the IBM International Foundation
  • Lisa Schumacher, Director of Education Strategies, McDonalds’s Corp.