The Champions of Workforce Development award honors Michigan Works! Directors and other workforce professionals who exemplify the highest standards of leadership and who have made significant contributions to workforce development in Michigan.

We celebrate and honor these long-serving pioneers for their outstanding service and dedication to making a difference in Michigan.

2015 Inductee

Gwen Worley
Eastern Upper Penninsula Michigan Works!
35 Years of Service
1979 - 2014

2014 Inductee

Marv Pichla
Thumbworks!, A Michigan Works Agency
36 Years of Service
1978 - 2014

2013 Inductees
Doug Stites
Capital Area Michigan Works!
38 Years of Service
1975 - 2013

Robert Straits
Kalamazoo-St. JosephMichigan Works!
39 Years of Service
1974 - 2013                 

2012 Inductee

Kurt Ries
Northeast Michigan Consortium
38 Years of Service
1974 - 2012

2011 Inductees

Beverly Drake
Area Community Services
Employment & Training Council 
Michigan Works!
40 Years of Service
1971 - 2011

James Sarri                                       
Western Upper Penninsula
Michigan Works!
37 Years of Service
1972 - 2009


Bud Shipstead
Northwest Michigan
Council of Governments
35 Years of Servce
1973 - 2008

Paul Roy, Jr.
34 Years of Service
1975 - 2009

Craig Schreuder
Kalamazoo-St. Joseph
Michigan Works!
38 Years of Service
1972 - 2010

Ralph Loeschner
Central Area Michigan Works!
31 Years of Service
1973 - 2004

Dennis Brieske
Saginaw Midland Bay
Michigan Works!
30 Years of Service
1974 - 2004

Robert Pendleton
Michigan Department of
Career Development
30 Years of Service
1970 - 2000

Elaine Furu-Baker
Michigan Works!
30 Years of Service
1978 - 2008

Thomas Husband
Thomas Husband &
25 Years of Service
1983 - 2008

Jack O'Reilly, Jr.
Southeast Michigan
Community Alliance (SEMCA)
Michigan Works!
19 Years of Service
1987 - 2006

Trenda Rusher
Washtenaw County
Michigan Works! / ETCS
30 Years of Service
1980 - 2010


Vicki Enright
Department of Labor &
Economic Growth
34 Years of Service
1974 - 2008

The Association

The Michigan Works! Association was established in 1987 to provide services and support to Michigan’s workforce development system. Through the association, members can access timely, relevant professional development opportunities and ensure high-quality programs for all customers.

Read More

The System

The Michigan Works! System is the first unified workforce development system in the U.S. and is an integral partner in developing Michigan’s economic future. The system is demand driven, locally responsive, and ready to meet the needs of each community. Every year, the Michigan Works! System serves nearly four million customers.

Read More

History Of Innovation

A visionary process that spanned several decades, covering both Democratic and Republican administrations, culminated in 1996 with the creation of the Michigan Works! System— the first statewide, unified workforce development system in the country. Today, the Michigan Works! System serves as a model to other states and countries and has been emulated based on its widespread and long-standing success.