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Some thanks for being able to tackle The Bridge mission

The Bridge

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Before we rush into the frenzy of the holiday season, which may be even more frustrating this year thanks to global supply chain issues, it’s important we not just see Thanksgiving as a speed bump between now and Black Friday.

Taking the time and intention to be grateful during the Thanksgiving season is good for our health – emotionally and physically. Medical studies have shown gratitude reduces stress and depression, makes for better relationship health, improves sleep and blood pressure and builds self-esteem, among numerous other benefits.

In that vein, I have been reflecting a lot on the work that I feel so fortunate to be a part of and how grateful I am for the amazing people who pour their hearts into the wellbeing of this community.

It was almost six years ago that I called Wanda Mattiace, former chair of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico’s Board of Directors, to ask for her participation on a project the W.K. Kellogg Foundation was working on with New Mexico employers.

That call led to another call, which led to an invitation to a retreat in Spring 2016 at which the Board of Directors of The Bridge would determine the course of the organization’s future, after having lost their leader a few days before. What was clear that day was that The Bridge wasn’t done with its mission. Rather, there were critical areas that still needed to be addressed. After the meeting, I was offered the opportunity to come back to The Bridge and take on the leadership role and the work yet to be done. What a joy it’s been it implement their vision!

Fast forward to today, the Bridge’s board is almost completely changed from that meeting six years ago, but its commitment to achieving our goals is not. These new leaders in business, education, economic development and government know we are stronger and better when we work together.

Across The Bridge’s work, and especially in the Workforce Talent Collaborative, there are literally scores of people working on what we now call our “PK-14/16-career” continuum – more connected and seamless pathways that lead students, youth and young adults from education to employment and earning power.

Together, we’ve scored tons of firsts:

  • First comprehensive plan for workforce development aligned to industries targeted to economic development
  • First career pathways to all skill levels needed in those industries
  • First industry-informed workforce surveys and reports (a la the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Talent Pipeline Management approach)
  • First one-stop website to connect students, parents, teachers and businesses with information on education, preparation and employment (NewMexicoTrueTalent.org)
  • First teacher externships with employers
  • First students who completed a Blended Senior Year
  • First students in the county participating in virtual internships right now
  • First return-on-investment information on the impact of Dual Credit courses for both families and the state

There’s actually a lot more, but you get the idea.

To the Bridge’s board, I want to say thank you – for the privilege of working alongside you in your work and for being so committed to our community that you’ll do whatever it takes to make sure our students and families have what they need to succeed. Each of you is a hero to me!

To members of the Workforce Talent Collaborative, the Blended Senior Year Team, the CTE leaders and teachers in our districts and at Doña Ana Community College, the Arrowhead Center, Ngage NM’s Leaders Circle and Steering Committee, and our employers who gave their time and wisdom to the Industry Roundtables, I want to tell you how amazing I think you are and what a joy it is to roll up our sleeves together and get to work doing good things for this community. Your passion, wisdom, and commitment inspires me every day!

I wish you and all of our neighbors in this county a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tracey Bryan is president/CEO of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico. She can be reached at TraceyBryan@thebridgeofsnm.org.