Jill Thornton

Jill Thornton

Project Director, TechHire MechaWA Grant

Jill has worked in higher education for almost 10 years with a focus on workforce development and student services. Her passion is removing systematic barriers and creating pathways for students to complete an education that will lead to employment. She has managed Department of Labor and Department of Education grants. She also oversaw the Student Job Center at Everett Community College and helped streamline the internship process for students, faculty, and employers.

Jill’s role is to serve as the point-of-contact for all partner colleges involved in the MechaWA – TechHire grant. She manages the program and fiscal reporting and supports Advisory Board activities. This position is responsible for and managing the processes necessary to accomplish the MechaWA TechHire grant deliverables by a Washington statewide consortium. The Project Director maintains collaborative partnerships with consortium colleges, related industry partners, organized labor, education, workforce and economic development, and other government agencies to create sector and cluster based strategic workforce planning initiatives.

Kelsey Sanderson

Kelsey Sanderson

Executive Assistant

Kelsey Sanderson is the Executive Assistant for Executive Director Mary Kaye Bredeson and has worked at the Center of Excellence since November 2013.

Kelsey provides administrative support to the Executive Director.

Prior to coming to the COE, Kelsey worked for several years at Integrated Technologies as a technical aide, a position which piqued her interest in the aerospace field.

Kelsey assists with the Center’s travel plans, event coordination, and budget management and is key in communication between college staff, external partners, and other COE staff.

Reach out to Kelsey first for media inquires, scheduling or working with the two Centers of Excellence.

Dr. Richard Strand

Dr. Richard Strand

Industry Analyst & Educational Consultant

Dr. Richard Strand is the current owner and chief executive of Richard & Associates, a company dedicated to developing leadership talent in organizations globally and enhancing the climate of employee engagement. Richard has had two highly successful careers as a leadership practitioner. First, as a commissioned officer in the United States Army. More recently, Richard served as the Dean for Business and Technology at Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington where he had oversight for some 130 staff and faculty and 14 highly diverse academic programs.

Richard started facilitating discussions on leadership and management back in 1973. Since then it is estimated he has been featured as a facilitator/key note speaker on a broad range of leadership topics involving over 10,000 participants/attendees in nine different countries.

Richard has received numerous awards and decorations throughout his career.

Richard has a passion for developing relevant and reliable training and education programs that are focused on facilitating student success while at the same time serving industry needs. For the past two years Richard has had a lead role in facilitating program cluster workshops designed to bring key stakeholders together in an effort to identify critical job specific skills and abilities required by industry for entry level positions and match them against various educational program options and opportunities.