Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Free Workshop: Providing Excellent Customer Service

On Wednesday April 29, 2015, Team Business Burbank and Los Angeles Valley College Job Training office (home of LA Fellows) is presenting another free 2-hour workshop: Providing Excellent Customer Service. These free workshops are a great resource to share with your network and are relevant to business professionals across the board, regardless of their current employment status. Instructional workshops like this add value to a resume, give professionals a chance to network and meet new people, and are also a great talking point when an interviewer asks, "So what have you been doing since your last job?"
Everyone is welcome. Share this on your social media sites and be sure to register!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How LA Fellows Made the Difference in My Job Search

After 18 months I received my first paycheck again last week, and it felt pretty good! 

Its Sunday night, and as I take a moment to mentally prepare for my work week ahead, I take a pause to reflect on the last 18 months, and the steps I've taken to get back into --- living.

I won't share my whole story but I assure you, there was plenty of drama and near misses, but with lots of love from family, friends, God, and my own determination and perseverance, I made it through the toughest of times. 

As I began to ponder how I was going to climb back into the job market, I knew I wanted to lend value, and to find a position that was enriching to me in a spiritual sense even more so than financially.  I began chasing job opportunities with no real game plan or defined process in place. I had previously found success and figured I would naturally find it again - a bad approach. I quickly realized it was going to take a lot more hard work and focus in order to be successful. It was a great day in late December when I discovered and was subsequently accepted into the LA Fellows program. 

LA Fellows brought structure, focus and skills to my regimen, and gave me the qualifications required as the CEO of my job search. Classes provided me tangible skills in resume writing, interviewing, and delivering presentations, but it also helped me get mentally jazzed about me, my job search, and a career path. Importantly I regained the confidence that I had value to deliver to my next employer, and the ability to present my value proposition throughout my job search. The program also provided the opportunity to regain my footing while volunteering at a nonprofit, and proved to be an excellent step in preparing me to re-enter the workforce.

When job hunting, I initially sought a possible shift into the nonprofit world, and while I ultimately accepted a job back in private industry, I have not forgotten the spirit of LA Fellows. Get myself back into production, but give something back in return. While I'm still learning my new paying gig, I have every confidence that I'll thrive in the role. The exciting news is that last week I also took on a Corporate Committee member position for JDRF and their largest fundraising event of the year JDRF One Walk at the Rose Bowl. It will be another opportunity to continue paying back dividends on the great experience that was LA Fellows - Cohort 11.

I express a big thank you to my Cohort who shared valuable lessons, our enlightened instructors who reinforced my skills and courage, and the administrators and sponsors who believed in me and put together such a rewarding experience that is LA Fellows .

Stay well.

Frank P. Sulzberger
Cohort 11

Frank completed his 100 hours of nonprofit service for LA Fellows with the Center for Nonprofit Management as a Consulting Program Associate. He is currently working as a Vice President and Senior Control officer in the investment services division of the Bank of New York Mellon.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Graduation Guests - A Community of Partnerships

If no man is an island, the same is true of programs that serve the community - we cannot exist without a network of partners who understand the importance of what we do and put their words and deeds behind supporting its success.

The first time guests join us for an LA Fellows graduation, they are often surprised and impressed by the caliber of the speakers and the amazing people and organizations who show up to support the success of this program. The most recent graduation was no exception.

LAVC President Dr. Erika Endrijonas addresses the graduates and guests.
The president of Los Angeles Valley College, where the program is based, Dr. Erika Endrijonas, took to the podium to open the ceremony on occasion of the 11th Cohort's graduation on March 13th, 2015. Our partnership with the LACCD system is an important one and we are honored that they value the way our missions mesh and compliment each other. Dr. Endrijonas spoke with great inspiration and passion about this synergy.

LAVC's Lennie Ciufo looks on as Mark Brenner with Silhouettes for Vets
 and David Fierro with the  U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs prepare
 to present certificates recognizing the LA Fellows
who served in our country's armed forces.
LA Fellows are very proud of the men and women who serve in our armed forces and especially those who conscientiously strive to bring the skills they learned in the service to their lives and work in the civilian world. We take time every graduation to recognize the veterans in our midst to thank them for their service with the presentation of a very special certificate.

We were pleased to be joined this time by Mark Brenner, President and CEO of Silhouettes for Vets, an organization that educates and coaches veterans and their families for employment transition, and David Fierro, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist with the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs, to honor our LA Fellows vets on graduation day.

Mark Brenner presents a certificate of appreciation to Navy veteran and LA Fellows
graduate Regina Shelton, as David Fierro, right, holds a certificate for
Mark Manculich, a Marine veteran from LA Fellows Cohort 11.
Kenn Phillips has been a valued guest at almost every LA Fellows graduation ceremony. He represents not one but THREE very important partnerships: he is a member of the advisory board that conceived and founded this program and continues on as a resource for information and growth; as CEO and President of the Valley Economic Alliance, he represents the business community that needs the types of talent that LA Fellows attracts and fosters; his organization, in its capacity as a nonprofit, is hosting an LA Fellow for her 100 hours of volunteer service. Our LA Fellows have come to know him as a valued mentor and advisor, and we were honored once again that he was able to join us to share words of wisdom with the graduates. 

Perhaps our most important partners are those who make the program financially possible: the WorkSource centers of the LA area. After the initial grant that funded our early Cohorts, we have relied on WIA funding to pay for the training - the unemployed job seekers who are chosen for the LA Fellows program don't pay a dime. Our WorkSource partners commit a portion of their budget based on their experience and confidence that the LA Fellows model works and that the Job Training staff at Los Angeles Valley College is committed to finding individuals ready to say "Yes" to instruction and passionate about succeeding in their job search.
Our WorkSource partners for Cohort 11 were Community Career Development, El Proyecto del Barrio, JVS West Hollywood, Rescare Workforce Services, the Santa Clarita WorkSource Center, and Youth Policy Institute.

Candis Noel, Case Manager for JVS
West Hollywood, which sponsored some
of the Fellows in Cohort 11.
Carlene Gepner of Community Career
Development. CCD sponsored
some LA Fellows of Cohort 11
The LA Fellows program thanks and appreciates all its partners and looks forward to building new partnerships and strengthening existing ones in the months and years ahead. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Career Fair & Health and Disability Expo Return to Los Angeles Valley College

Los Angeles Valley College, home of the LA Fellows program, is hosting a Career Fair and Health Expo on April 15th in conjunction with the Valley Economic Alliance. This event is a great opportunity for job seekers to network and meet employers with a wide range of career positions and is open to all. Additionally there will be free health screenings and activities:
As has been our tradition in years past, LA Fellows will be on hand to assist exhibitors and guests. Look for them - they'll be the "bright shiny pennies" who are smiling, being helpful, and wearing the nifty lapel pin with our logo. (Sorry, those pins are not for sale - you have to earn them!) If you're considering joining our next cohort in July, take the time to meet them and learn about their experience first-hand.

Also, if you're doubting the value of job fairs and need some inspiration, read our previous post from LA Fellow Ara Easley, who got her position after attending this event a few years ago: You never know which networking connection can lead to that next step in your career, so take a page from the LA Fellows philosophy and "Say Yes" to this opportunity!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cohort 11 Graduates

Lennie Ciufo addresses a capacity crowd for the Graduation ceremony of LA Fellows Cohort 11.
The LA Fellows program graduated its most recent cohort on March 13th. The occasion was celebrated in a ceremony in the Fireside Room of Monarch Hall on the campus of Los Angeles Valley College. The room was filled with family, friends, job training staff, college officials, business leaders, WorkSource representatives and representatives from our elected officials.

LA Fellow Ruth Ford laughs along with one of
the many witty speakers.
As part of their training, every LA Fellow agrees to do 100 hours of project-based volunteerism with a nonprofit organization of their choice. The LA Fellows who were volunteering at an organization who had representatives in attendance each stood up and told the crowd about the organization's mission and a description of the project that they are working on. The nonprofits who are matched with Fellows volunteers from Cohort 11 include:

  • American Red Cross Los Angeles Region 
  • Center for Nonprofit Management
  • Children’s Burn Foundation
  • Community Career Development
  • Foundation for Pierce College
  • JVS – Marina Del Rey WorkSource Center
  • Office of LA City Councilman Paul Krekorian
  • Los Angles Ronald McDonald House
  • ONEgeneration
  • Silhouettes for Vets
  • Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind
  • The Trust for Public Land
  • Universal City North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
  • Valley Community Healthcare
  • The Valley Economic Alliance
  • A World Fit for Kids
Michelle Gilstrap of the Universal City North
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which is
hosting LA Fellow Erica Dozier as a volunteer
Social Media Event Coordinator.

Alan Percy explains the mission of nonprofit
organization A World Fit for Kids, where he is
donating his time as a volunteer Grant Writer.

Alex Bryman introduces Site Supervisor and Veterans
representative Anthony Rodriguez with JVS Marina Del Rey,
where she is volunteering 100 hours of service as a Career Counselor.

Bismark Romero and Brian Sullivan, two of the three LA Fellows of Cohort 11
 who are doing volunteer projects at the Center for Nonprofit Management,
stand and listen with pride as fellow Fellow Frank Sulzberger introduces the
organization and its representatives. Brian and Bismark volunteer their time as
Fund Development Associates at CNM.

Frank Sulzberger introduces Gigi
Nang and Linnie Riboli of the
Center for Nonprofit Management.
He completed his hours with
the organization as a
Consulting Program Associate.

LA Fellow Carol Blakeslee rings a bell. In many organizations, including
the Valley Economic Alliance, - where she is volunteering as an Economic
Development Consultant - and LAVC Job Training, home of the LA Fellows
program, a bell is rung to announce a  job seeker landing a position.

Like most graduation ceremonies, there was no shortage of speeches. The Fellows heard parting advice from instructors, words of encouragement from local leaders and reflections on the experience from two of their own.

Lennie Ciufo introduces Kenn Phillips, President of the Valley Economic Alliance, board member
 for the LA Fellows program, and supporter of the program since its founding almost five years ago. 
Mark Brenner with nonprofit veterans' group Silhouettes for Vets and
LA Fellows instructor Roberto Gutierrez strike a pose for the camera.
Silhouettes for Vets is hosting LA Fellow Reina Shelton, who is
volunteering as an Administrative and Coaching Intern.

All 28 Fellows were awarded certificates of completion from the program, a lapel pin, and several certificates of recognition provided by the elected officials who represent the Valley and LA areas. As expressed by the Fellows themselves, however, the most important thing they took away was a renewed confidence in their worth in the job market and optimism in the future of their careers. The LA Fellows program shares that outlook and is proud to welcome Cohort 11 to the ranks of the over 300 LA Fellows graduates to date.

Sydney Kamlager offers LA Fellow Ruth Ford
congratulations and a certificate on behalf
of Senator Holly Mitchell.
Instructor Lynnette Ward presents graduate Bismark
Romero with a framed certificate of accomplishment
provided by Congressman Tony Cardenas.

Josh Kurpies prepares to present a certificate from Assemblymember Richard Bloom as
Talene Dermenjian with Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian's office congratulates LA Fellow
Fred Jackson on his graduation and his articulate and heartfelt commencement speech.

LA Fellow Nancy Sisson hugs instructor Sam Borelli, in appreciation of the difference
the training she received has made in her job search. Fellow graduate Paul Stevens
looks on, sharing the joy of the day.
Proud LA Fellows Program Director
Allison Silver and instructor Larry Braman
wait in line to congratulate the Fellows
as they receive their certificates.

LA Fellows graduate Mark Manuculich landed a job prior to the end
of classes but was able to join his Cohort for the ceremony. He was
also honored for his service, as a veteran of the US Marine Corps.

Instructor Sam Borelli and LAVC Job Training's Lennie Ciufo look on as instructor
Lynnette Ward presents LA Fellows graduate and veteran Regina Shelton with one
of several impressive certificates provided by elected officials who support
the work the program does.
LA Fellow Justin Storrs, graduate of Cohort 11,
admires the certificate of recognition provided by Senator Holly Mitchell commemorating
the completion of the program
Talene Dermenjian congratulates Jen Johnson on
her graduation from the LA Fellows program.
Instructor Sam Borelli presents graduating LA Fellow Gus Hulander with the iconic
LA Fellows lapel pin. Every Fellow dating back to the first Cohort
has received a pin to signify their place in the Fellowship.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Parting Words of Wisdom at Graduation

LA Fellows instructor and expert job coach Larry Braman used
humor to convey some final words of advice about the
 one topic he forgot to go over during his instruction time.
LA Fellows' newest instructor, Sam Borelli, shared his renewed love of
teaching and some last-minute encouragement for the Fellows. 
Doug Card, LAVC Job Training staff instructor of the Microsoft classes for
the LA Fellows program, kept the audience laughing with his quick wit. 
One of the greatest strengths of the LA Fellows program has been, and continues to be, its outstanding staff of instructors. The Fellows benefit from the wisdom of professionals who understand the issues job seekers face from a unique range of perspectives: Los Angeles Valley College Job Training staff, professional job coaches and trainers, nonprofit experts, and hiring managers.

The instructors are passionately dedicated to providing the highest level of guidance in order to position the professionals in the program to re-enter the workforce in a thoughtful, directed way.

Four of the instructors, Larry Braman, Sam Borelli, Doug Card and Lynnette Ward, were able to attend the graduation ceremonies and speak on behalf of the teaching staff. They eloquently expressed encouragement and pride in the accomplishments of this cohort, injected their own brand of levity, and provided a few last nuggets of wisdom to keep the LA Fellows on track for the next job and all the jobs after that.
Lynnette Ward, an instructor who's taught with the LA Fellows program from
the very beginning, shared insight and heartfelt appreciation of Cohort 11's
enthusiasm and dedication to the training and the job search process.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

LA Fellows Recognized by Elected Officials at Graduation

The LA Fellows program has gained recognition and appreciation throughout the community for reaching a vital and often overlooked part of the workforce as it relates to job search training and employment skills. We proudly give back to the community through our partnership with the nonprofit sector. We are honored that our elected officials are among those who value and recognize the work we do, and pleased that many of them were represented at the recent graduation of Cohort 11.
Glyn Milburn, representing the City of Los Angeles Office of Economic Development Business Team, on behalf of Mayor Eric Garcetti, gave an inspiring speech about the impact LA Fellows have on the community, both in business and the nonprofit sector. It is his second time joining us for the ceremony.
Nikki Ezhari spoke on behalf of long-time program supporter Councilmember Paul Krekorian, in whose district, District 2, Los Angeles Valley College, home of LA Fellows and the LAVC Job Training Office is located. She congratulated the Cohort on the work that each of them has done to improve themselves while giving back and making positive changes. As in previous years, Councilmember Krekorian provided impressive certificates for each graduating Fellow.
Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who represents the 50th Assembly District, was represented by Josh Kurpies, who spoke with great encouragement and support on the accomplishments that the Fellows just achieved and their readiness to achieve their next goals. LA Fellows partnered with the JVS West Hollywood WorkSource Center, which is located in Assemblymember Bloom's district, to recruit and sponsor half of Cohort 11. The assemblymember provided handsome certificates for each of the Fellows.


Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian also recognized the powerful benefit of this program in the part of the San Fernando Valley where it, and his District, Assembly District 46, is located and sent Talene Dermenjian to speak on his behalf. Her warm words of appreciation for the work the Fellows put into their training and nonprofit volunteerism were as treasured as the distinctive certificates she presented on behalf of Assemblymember Nazarian.


Sydney Kamlager, recently elected to the LACCD Board of Trustees, came to speak in her capacity as District Director for Senator Holly J. Mitchell of District 30. Senator Mitchell's office hosted an LA Fellow from Cohort 9 as a volunteer and has been a valued friend and supporter of the program ever since. The Fellows each received a beautiful certificate from the Senator, and Sydney spoke with pride and passion about the hard work the Fellows put in to make themselves more marketable as job seekers and ready to embrace the challenges of their next jobs.


The Fellows were especially surprised to get the striking framed certificates from Congressman Tony Cรกrdenas, who represents California's 29th Congressional District, which includes Los Angeles Valley College. Brian Gavidia spoke eloquently on behalf of the congressman during the ceremony, congratulating the graduates and encouraging them in their future efforts.


The LA Fellows program appreciates the value that these elected officials place on the workforce of this community and the support they give to programs like LA Fellows that work to curb long-term unemployment and get skilled professionals back to work.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sodexo Visits LA Fellows

On Wednesday, March 25, The LA Fellows were invited to a meeting with a senior recruiter from Sodexo, a major employer that provides quality of life services to a range of companies and organizations around the world.

Having heard about the LA Fellows program from contacts at the Department of Labor, company representatives realized that the experience and management skills of the individuals who are drawn to a program like LA Fellows, which also supports the efforts of nonprofits in the community, could be a good match for their needs and corporate philosophy. Sodexo's vision is about improving the Quality of Life of all those they serve while contributing to the economic, social and environmental development of the cities, regions and countries where they operate.

Adriana Gonzalez, Senior Recruiter - Talent Acquisition for Sodexo, met with a select group of interested Fellows in the Library of the LAVC campus. The Fellows went around the room and introduced themselves, giving her an idea of their backgrounds and the types of positions they were targeting, which ranged from IT to Hospitality Management to Training and Development to Public Relations and Marketing. When they finished, Adriana confirmed that Sodexo employs people to cover all the skillsets they described.

Sodexo is a company built around Quality of Life services. Many people are familiar with their janitorial or food services for large institutions but they are so much broader than that: they do corporate concierge services, senior living management, security, IT, wellness, training, event management – too many services to list here. Adriana explained that Sodexo is the kind of company where people transition to new roles internally and stay on for many years, it emphasizes work-life balance, encourages community involvement (even pays employees for their time on some volunteer projects!) and has many opportunities to work from home. The Fellows were very impressed with the presentation and the company.

The LA Fellows program welcomes partnerships with employers who would like to target a range of prospective employees who are skilled professionals that are trained and ready to get to work. For more information about Sodexo, you can go to their website: