Lateefah Durant Interviews Yvette Diamond, Executive Director at Maryland Apprenticeship Connector

With 35+ years of experience as a leader, executive, consultant, and entrepreneur, Yvette Diamond is committed to equipping and empowering leaders to drive change and impact in the workforce. She is the executive director and co-founder of the Maryland Apprenticeship Connector (MAC), an organization that exists to illuminate the undeniable value of apprenticeships, championing them as an essential pathway across all industries to achieve immediate operational benefits and future-proof the workforce.

In 2021, she began directing and facilitating the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Preparing for the Future workforce development initiative as a consultant. During this project, she built a network of over 350 members spanning the region, across all stakeholders, and inclusive of all levels of decision-makers and impactors. This experience uniquely positions her to shepherd MAC’s efforts to unite the apprenticeship ecosystem across the state, developing more sustainable and effective hiring and training strategies for employers in critical growth industries, including healthcare, technology, and construction.

Prior to her workforce development consulting, Yvette held leadership positions, including chief operations officer of a $24MM+ logistics firm in Howard County, vice president of an international publishing company in Rockville, and founder and CEO of her own company in the health and beauty industry in Frederick, MD. This combination of leadership and entrepreneurial endeavors has given her perspective on the challenges employers face and inspired her to bring solutions and connect key stakeholders in education and workforce development to meet those challenges.

Yvette currently serves as a U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Ambassador and is on the Baltimore Workforce Hub Apprenticeship Subcommittee by the White House Office of Infrastructure Implementation. She was honored as a Daily Record Top 100 Women in Maryland in 2016 and 2022. Additionally, she was named Frederick County Entrepreneur of the Year by Frederick Economic Development in 2005 and a Person to Watch by Frederick Magazine in the same year.

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Lateefah Durant is an innovative and strategic leader with over 20 years in the education, workforce and government sectors with extensive experience leading systems change, designing and implementing new initiatives focused on career and workforce development, and strengthening community and stakeholder relationships.

Lateefah serves as the Vice President of Innovation at CityWorks DC, ensuring that young people have the work experience, social capital, and credentials needed to compete for family-sustaining jobs in the region. Their programs provide young adults with apprenticeship opportunities in high-demand, high-wage industries such as IT and finance and transformative career coaching. Lateefah previously held several leadership roles in College and Career Readiness for Prince George’s County Public Schools, including the management of over 30 Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs serving 8,000 students and launching its Registered Apprenticeship Program.

Lateefah holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. Lateefah was appointed by the Governor in Maryland to serve on the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council. She also serves as Board President for Legacy Company, a workforce development nonprofit, and as an Executive Advisory Board member for the District of Columbia’s CTE Programs. All of Lateefah’s endeavors reflect her commitment to helping youth and young adults discover their purpose and provide them with access to educational and employment opportunities.

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Interview Questions:

Q1: Tell us about MAC and how it aims to revolutionize workforce development in Maryland

Q2: During the recent launch of MAC, you mentioned the organization’s focus on demystifying and elevating the apprenticeship experience. How does MAC plan to achieve this, and what specific strategies are in place to support employers in adopting a modern approach to talent development challenges?

Q3: MAC is a collaborative effort with founding partners MCCEI (Maryland Center for Construction Education and Innovation), HTA (Health Tech Alley), and CTIC (Carroll Technology and Innovation Council). How do these partnerships enhance MAC’s ability to address workforce challenges, and what unique contributions does each partner bring to the initiative?

Q4: Jennifer Dewees, Co-founder and Construction Lead at MAC emphasized the need for an industry-wide paradigm shift regarding apprenticeships. Can you elaborate on the evolving role of apprenticeships in various sectors beyond construction and how MAC plans to guide employers through this transformative journey?

Q5: MAC aims to support Maryland’s Blueprint Pillar III Goals, specifically focusing on preparing high school seniors for their next steps by 2030. How does MAC plan to collaborate with industry-leading organizations and employers to establish youth apprenticeships and create pathways for participation in the tech, construction, and healthcare sectors?

Q6: In your recent panel discussion at the 2023 Baltimore Together Summit, you mentioned apprenticeships as a fundamental necessity for sustainable growth. Could you provide examples of how apprenticeships have already proven to be valuable for employers, and what impact do you foresee on the workforce in the coming years?

Q7: Considering the significant skills gap, an aging workforce, and rapid technological changes, how does MAC address these challenges through its apprenticeship model, and what specific measures are in place to future-proof Maryland’s workforce?

Q8: MAC offers free support to employers and school systems interested in partnering to tackle workforce challenges. Can you provide examples of the types of support MAC offers, and how can employers benefit from engaging with MAC in their workforce development initiatives?

Q9: Finally, as the Executive Director of MAC, what key message would you like to convey to Maryland employers who might be considering apprenticeships, and how do you see MAC contributing to the overall success and growth of businesses in the region?

The Maryland Apprenticeship Connector (MAC) is a collaborative effort of its founding partners, the Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation (MCCEI), Health Tech Alley (HTA), and Carroll Technology & Innovation Council (CTIC), to build an apprenticeship ecosystem for Maryland. MAC exists to illuminate the undeniable value of apprenticeships, championing them as an essential pathway across all industries to achieve immediate operational benefits while also future-proofing employers’ workforces.

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