The Institute for Workforce Innovation is a nonprofit organization located in north central Florida for over 30 years. Our mission is to improve our communities’ quality of life through education, employment and advocacy.
For more than 30 years our primary focus has been helping people secure employment. We have a long history of collaborating with local, state, and federal partners to provide unique services to meet the growing needs of our community. Whether creating opportunity for people by building affordable housing, providing hunger relief, developing a career ladder, or through grassroots advocacy, we are dedicated to improving the lives of our neighbors.
Jonathan Leslie is our fearless leader. Hailing from the Hoosier state he earned his BA in Psychology from Indiana University. Jonathan is a cycling enthusiast, enjoys sports, playing organic farmer, and spending time with his family. He is inspired through helping others and one of his heroes is Martin Luther King Jr. Most people are surprised to learn that Jonathan views life as a musical and sings constantly while at home and is known to compose his own rap lyrics.
Chief Operating Officer, Carrie Tam, manages the overall operations of IWI. A native Floridian and Gator alumni, Carrie earned her BA in Environmental Policy with a minor in Theology from the University of Florida. She is an obsessive reader and also enjoys cooking, pilates, yoga, the outdoors and taxiing her ever expanding army of children to sporting events. Carrie is inspired by youthfulness… “my children have such curiosity about the world—it inspires me to explore with them. Students challenge and question the norms—it inspires me to seek knowledge alongside them. In my opinion, youthfulness embodies hope and transcends age, and to me optimism is always inspiring.” Her biggest heroes are those that close to her that have modeled character and grace in the face of overwhelming adversity. We bet you didn’t know this about Carrie…she chain sneezes all the time…like 8 times in a row.
Jamie is our financial assistant (czar) and keeps track of every penny in accordance with Generally Acceptable Accounting Practices. A New Yorker by birth, Jamie earned his BA in Music Education at Pacific University and is 6 credit hours shy of earning his Master’s degree in Accounting from Florida Atlanic University. Jamie is a food and movie critic in his spare time. He is stroke survivor and inspired by members of his Aphasia book club. Jamie’s hero is his Grandma. A little piece of trivia on Jamie–he hates going to the beach! Who lives in Florida and hates the beach??? Maybe it’s the sand…
As Director of Youth Services, Rachel manages the day to day activities of Project YouthBuild. Originally from Princeton, MN, she holds an AA degree from Nova Southeastern. When not at work you’ll find Rachel spending time with her family and friends, at the beach, traveling or racing her 4 wheeler. She draws inspiration from her two children and strives to be better every day. Rachel’s hero is her Grandfather. Little known fact (for those who don’t work with her), Rachel is very sarcastic.
As Director of Youth Development, Keira works on all things leadership. She was born in Queens, NY, but grew up in Jamaica, West Indies and considers that to be home. Keira earned her BA in Psychology from York College, City of University of New York and her MA in Management and Leadership from Webster University. In her down time, Keira enjoys spending time with her family. Keira is inspired by her mom, children and husband daily. Her hero is Jesus (with her mom being a close second) and she aspires each and every day to be a little more like him. Staying true to her roots, Keira seems to have a different thermostat than everyone else and is known to wear a jacket in all kinds of weather because she is always freezing!
As Youth Advocate, Gwen works side by side with students to help them reach their goals. Gwen was born and raised in Gainesville and bleeds orange and blue—she is a die-hard University of Florida Gator fan. She has attended Santa Fe College and is working towards a degree in Criminal Justice. Gwen enjoys the opportunity to travel and read when she has the chance. Gwen’s mom is someone that inspires her and her hero is her oldest son. Something most of you don’t know about Gwen is that she loves to eat fettuccine alfredo for breakfast almost every morning.
Joel is our Construction Instructor and he can be found each day helping our students construct or renovate affordable housing. He is from the Buckeye state and earned his BA from the Columbus College of Art and Design. Joel is big Sci-Fi book and movie fan. One of Joel’s hero’s is Andy Warhol and he is inspired by all of the artists who challenge the expectations and acceptance of societies past, present, and future. A little known tidbit about Joel is that when he was a kid he wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer.
Lynn Janoski, Board President
Pure Energy Solar
Jonathan Rowe, Vice President
Kim Tesch-Vaught, Secretary
Duncan Kabinu, Treasurer
Gainesville Dev Academy
Marilyn Sommerhoff, Director
Patience Accounting & Tax Service
Will Halvosa, Director
Gainesville Police Department