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Goodbye & Thank You to a Workforce Giant

Successful industry sector partnership work hinges on a strong relationship with the local workforce development. Together, you can execute successful initiatives, and maybe, if the chemistry is right, offer each other an innovative visionary partnership. The latter part being a force multiplier.

For at least the past two years, the Manufacturing Sector Partnership and entire Northeast Ohio workforce development ecosystem have benefited from the innovative and collaborative leadership of Frank Brickner at Ohio Means Jobs | Cleveland-Cuyahoga County (OMJ|CC). As Brickner nears his retirement, we highlight some of his successes to remind us of the benefit of collaborative partnership.

Brickner has served as both CFO and Interim CEO of OMJ|CC since fall of 2019. Since then, he and his team have been integral to the launch and growth of all three Workforce Connect industry sector partnerships: manufacturing, healthcare and IT. Additionally, when Cleveland was selected as the pilot market by JobsOhio for the OhioToWork Initiative in fall of 2020, Brickner’s efforts in coalescing employers and training providers provided a template for success for the state.

Brickner is held in high regard locally and statewide. “Frank is a true partner, all the way around.  He leads with grace and has a collaborative spirit, and he looks for creative ways to solve challenges,” commented Kristina Clouse, JobsOhio’s Senior Managing Director for Talent. “We wish him nothing but the best and know he will continue to do great things in his next steps.”

OhioToWork also brought to the fore Brickner’s willingness to collaborate with other workforce agencies and share resources for the success of all. From key partnerships to the individuals who comprise the organization, all of Brickner’s work and relationships exude his cooperative spirit. For example, the Enhanced Skills for Success program was developed in conjunction with the Urban League of Greater Cleveland. Another: the Community Development Specialists from OMJ|CC have been willing to share their expertise with both coaches in the local ecosystem and with other career coaching groups throughout the state.

Many assume this level of partnership is a given from a public workforce development agency, but those in the workforce system know this is not always the case. Brickner has continually encouraged and supported OMJ|CC staff in their efforts to be such effective partners.

While plenty of Brickner’s CEO work illustrates qualities that partners can emulate, his steady, crucial efforts as CFO are equally worth noting. His detailed knowledge and command of different funding sources for training and reskilling programs has been invaluable to both potential enrollees and to training providers, and specifically the development of the ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers program.

Brickner set a new standard of what it means to be a public agency, ranking customer service as a top priority. When building the ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers program, we asked him for guidance in designing the program so it would be eligible for state funding. Not only did he offer that guidance, Brickner introduced us to state administrators and helped us find flexible discretionary funds to launch the program. He took a chance on us and ACCESS, that we would be able to help improve people’s lives by jumpstarting their careers in manufacturing. Finally, he enabled our successful start by sharing his experience in navigating barriers to access funds, helping us analyze and re-evaluate policies as necessary, and thinking creatively to flex and push things forward to benefit so many ACCESS students.

As Brickner approaches retirement next month to move on to a new stage in his career and life, we want to take this opportunity to salute him and his impactful career. The workforce development system, local employers and jobseekers throughout Cuyahoga County are better off thanks to his efforts.

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