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Rebooting “Convergence” June 4, 2011

Posted by Tom in Housekeeping.

After over four years away from the blog, I think it’s time to rev up the engine once again.

What have I been up to?  There’s quite a story in the answer.  I left my employment in the world of quasi-public workforce (It was Indiana, and Governor Daniels has been privatizing a lot) to follow a family move to Columbus, Ohio.  After looking around and talking to more than a few people in my new town town, I found a place as an appointee of then-Governor Strickland to run one of his campaign platform’s workforce initiatives – one linking economic development goals and workforce development goals!  (Go figure!)  Managing a program of this size and prestige was the height of professional exhilaration and challenge, offering me countless lessons.  In rare down-times, I could only sit back and reflect on how humbling it was to be in a position to try to help so many Ohioans as the economy went into a tailspin around November 2008.

“Real life” took hold, however, when I learned that my wife was expecting a child – our first after roughly 15 years of marriage.  We had long discussed the possibility that one of us would give our theoretical children the benefit that both of us had as children, that of a stay-at-home parent.   After our son was born in May, we determined that (with some tough choices) I would be the one to stay home.  So I did, returning from paternal leave to work long enough to see my initial round of project contracts through to their completion on July 1, 2009 and then leaving with their expirations.

Of course, it wouldn’t be enough to just stay home and raise our son.  My wife and I also have had a running dialogue over the need for me to return to school since my undergraduate commencement in 1993, and it was clear that this interregnum in my professional life was literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to devote the time necessary to get my Masters degree in Public Administration.  For those who do not know, Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (about 90+ minutes southeast of Columbus) has an “executive” MPA program where live, in-class time is limited to one intensive weekend a month (the balance being self-study and online) over two years.  As I type this, I’m less than one week from graduation.

Simply put, I’m a very different person than the one you last read four years ago.  Age alone changes perspective, but the combination of relocation, job changes, life changes and now education achievement has both broadened and sharpened my outlook.  I have so much to share!

The outside world has changed, too.  The Bush administration and WIRED is gone, replaced by the Obama administration and green jobs (never mind the stimulus and its effect on the Workforce Investment Act!).  Our national economy – as well as the state economies in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan where I am most familiar – has gone through wrenching change.

There’s so much catching up to do, but I think that this post is the wisest place to start.  Over the days and perhaps weeks ahead, I hope to share some of what I’ve learned while I was away.  As time passes, I hope that Convergence will once again become a meaningful clearinghouse for useful information and insights regarding the fascinating world at the intersection of workforce development and economic development.

It’s been too long, but it’s good to be back.

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