Skip to Content

AMBITION NEVER RESTS: Virtual Series Hosted by WGU Are we ready for a skill-based economy?

Across the nation, there are a growing number of jobs that are going unfilled because our current hiring practices are costly, time intensive, and ineffective: employers struggle to identify qualified candidates, and individuals struggle to identify pathways to opportunity. WGU is building the technological infrastructure to support more seamless connectivity for the workforce. At the table are pivotal partners to support the transformation of the nation’s workforce and talent pipeline by leading a transition to skill-based labor market that connects higher education to the workforce.  

Join the conversation by attending this webinar with global employers Walmart, Salesforce, and IBM to learn about the open-skill network, the learner employment record, and the roadmap forward. 

Western Governors University is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. Each session is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®.

SHRM Recertification Provider 2020 Seal


Alex Kaplan Alex Kaplan, Global Leader, Blockchain for Industry and Academic Credentials; Talent and Transformation IBM
Phil Komarny Phil Komarny, Vice President, Innovation Salesforce
Kacey Thorne Kacey Thorne, Director of Skills Architecture, WGU
Rick Torres Rick Torres, President and CEO, National Student Clearinghouse
Andy Trainor Andy Trainor, VP, US Learning Walmart

Panelist bios.

Alex leads IBM’s global work on the application of emerging technologies as an enabler of lifelong learning pathways and talent transformation. This work encompasses leading IBM’s learning credentials blockchain initiative. Previously, Alex worked closely with the IBM teams that created Personalized Learning on Cloud, Watson Classroom, and Watson Tutor. Alex has closely collaborated with leading organizations in education, including Apple, Pearson, and Sesame Workshop. He speaks frequently on the topic of the transformational potential of advanced technologies on learning and talent. Alex has spoken at; both the Harvard and Columbia Graduate Schools of Education, the IMS Global Learning Consortium, the Getty Foundation, IBM Research, Blockchain Revolution conference and many others. 

Alex is the Global Leader, Blockchain and AI for credentials in IBM’s Talent & Transformation practice. He is also a Member of the IBM Industry Academy and served on the board of directors of the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

Phil is a highly social, entrepreneurial, award-winning senior executive with a 25-year track record of delivering innovative, high-value solutions by aligning existing problems with emerging technologies. Experienced as a c-level executive within higher education that has leveraged entrepreneurial instincts, a broad technical skillset, he has a very strong reputation for developing and motivating teams at all levels to integrate new technologies that create value for the organization. Phil is currently deep in the blockchain and self-sovereign identity spaces investigating how these emergent technologies build trust in our digital world.

In the role of Director of Skills Architecture, Kacey operates at the intersection of higher education and the future of work, where she is responsible for establishing a comprehensive network of competencies and skills that are aligned to workforce needs. This network serves as the foundation for the development of WGU programs and facilitates the ability to offer personalized, workforce-relevant learning pathways. To accomplish this transformative work at scale, Kacey has established an emergent ecosystem of partnerships, processes, tools, and technologies that continues to grow and evolve. Kacey is passionate about the urgent call to action for higher education to better meet the needs of students and employers. She is deeply invested in student success and creating higher education systems that support access, equity, and upward mobility.

During her time with Western Governors University, Kacey has served in multiple roles including the Director of Assessment Design and Development and Curriculum Director for Teachers College. Prior to coming to WGU, Kacey served as a high school teacher in health sciences with Canyons School District. She holds a Master of Education, Instructional Design from Western Governors University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.

Rick joined the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) as its President and CEO in 2008. Under his leadership, the Clearinghouse has continued to successfully extend its mission delivery of access-driven service to education, which today comprises over 3,700 higher education institutions and nearly 14,000 high schools, school districts, and 43 states and thousands of outreach organizations, executing over 2.4 billion transactions annually, saving the education community over $850 million a year. Through his leadership, the Clearinghouse has grown its education serving transactions by a factor of 8X over the past decade, with a 12% revenue CAGR to support the nationwide services that the Clearinghouse offers the K-20W community and life-long learners.

In addition, the Clearinghouse has evolved its nonprofit mission execution to the education community by providing accessible innovative technology-based services and data exchange solutions that enable education institutions and organizations to focus on being engines that maximize human potential development. NSC's mission’s intent is to democratize data and information, enabling all learners to benefit, including an intentional emphasis on enabling research-based vulnerable population trajectory change. The Clearinghouse is a leader in advocating privacy, security, transparency, and responsible use of data to provide better understanding of student educational pathway performance to the benefit of students, institutions, and policymakers.

Andy is currently the VP of Walmart US Learning. In this role, Andy and his team are focused on the strategy, innovation, content development, and delivery of the training for all of Walmart US.  This includes all training for the home office, supply chain, and the store academies, which he led in his prior role.

Previously, Andy spent four years as the Senior Director for China Implementation for International Business Processes responsible for sharing and implementing Walmart global best practices within the China business. In this role, Andy and his team manage a locally based implementation team to work with the business in expanding the capabilities of the business functions within China through leverage and execution.  

Prior to this, Andy was responsible for the International Logistics Engineering team where he was responsible for establishing, developing, and working with the logistics engineers in 28 countries to improve productivity and processes within the logistics and transportation businesses. Prior to his international roles, Andy worked in the U.S. logistics division where he worked on the Grocery Industrial Engineering team designing mechanized grocery distribution centers, developing process improvement projects, and managing a team of field industrial engineers. Before Walmart, Andy worked as the Industrial Engineering Manager for Fred’s Inc., a retail store chain based in Memphis, Tennessee.

Andy has 19 years with Walmart and holds a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Memphis and a master's degree in business from Webster University.

Register now!

We hope you join us for this presentation. Register for the webinar by completing the form below:

Previous webinars in this series.

State of workforce development across industries.

During the COVID-19 crisis, safety and well-being of employees is the priority. As we’ve come to recognize that this crisis will be here for a while, companies are now defining their approach for the long haul.  

Learn how businesses across the nation are navigating employee resizing; developing and implementing workforce continuity plans; upskilling employees and strategizing for fiscal year 21 and beyond.   

This candid conversation will include a better understanding of how companies are considering the full breadth of their employees’ needs, for many, in phases including stability, self-esteem, mental health, community, growth and meaning in the context of crisis. Leaders will share plans, experiences, successes and pivots as well as what the journey forward may look like. Hearing these first-hand stories will inspire you and your company as we maneuver this new landscape.

Welcome remarks: Dr. Angie Besendorfer, WGU Regional Vice President, WGU Missouri Chancellor 

Moderator: Spencer Stewart, WGU Vice President, Strategic Partnership 


Natalie Guzman has over 20 years of experience in communications, public relations, and marketing. Eighteen of those years have been spent at the 13th largest bank in the U.S., Fifth Third Bank. As a senior-level director with Fifth Third, Natalie oversees internal communications where she leads a team responsible for creating and distributing communications that inform, inspire, and motivate 21,000 employees.

Tamera Maresh-Carver began her career with FedEx in 1998 as a courier in Irving, Texas, and advanced into management in 2003. She has held numerous leadership positions in operations including Senior Manager Positions in Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma and since 2017 has been in HR leading Global QDM and Learning Technology in the Global Learning and Development Organization. 

Cynthia Williams joined Mercy in the role of senior vice president of human resources in January 2011.  In 2013, she was asked to expand her role as chief administrative officer to include government relations, community relations, and other staff responsibilities supporting the executive office. In 2014, Mercy Health Foundation was added to Cynthia’s areas of service; assuming the role of president, Mercy Health Foundation. Today, Cynthia serves as executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Mercy, and president of Mercy Health Foundation. 

Herman Bulls is Vice Chairman, Americas, as well as an International Director and the founder of JLL’s highly acclaimed Public Institutions which specializes in delivering comprehensive real estate solutions to federal, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions. Herman works with the firm’s largest public and corporate clients to devise and implement integrated real estate strategies to lower occupancy costs and increase productivity. During over 30 years at JLL, Herman has worked in the areas of development, investment management, asset management, facilities operations and business development/retention. He provides thought leadership and strategic guidance to senior level executives. Herman has served as an expert witness on real estate matters in court and testified before Congressional committees on real estate issues.

Natalie Guzman
SVP, Internal Communications Director
Fifth Third Bank

Tamera Maresh-Carver
Managing Director, Development, Innovation, and Organizational Strategy
FedEx Express

Cynthia Williams
EVP and CAO, Mercy
President, Mercy Health Foundation

Herman Bulls
Vice Chairman, Americas
International Director, JLL

Control your destiny: career advancement via online learning.

Careers aren’t always made of lockstep, paint-by-numbers kinds of moves. That said, it is still important for your career decisions to be grounded in a larger goal, plan, or purpose. Knowing what you are working toward can help you figure out what your intention should be. Knowing your intention will help you develop the filter for your career-related decisions. Hear from a panel of WGU grads as they share their intentions and career-related decisions and successes and how they are navigating in our unprecedented times. 

Moderator: Mitsu Frazier, Vice President, Academic Operations, WGU College of Business



Chris Abbey is a two-time WGU graduate, first earning a bachelor’s degree in IT Network Design and Management in 2013, and then later a master’s degree in Information Security and Assurance. He’s held various leadership positions in cybersecurity and is currently the Incident Handler Manager at Red Canary, in Denver, Colorado.

Chris’ greatest accomplishment is his marriage to Gina Abbey, who is also a WGU alum (bachelor’s degree in marketing, 2014), and their two little girls. When he’s not working or enjoying time with his family, Chris volunteers through Catchafire, an organization that makes skill-based connections between professional volunteers and other nonprofits. He also consults on technology projects; serves as a board member of a local Cybersecurity Education Professional Organization; and volunteers as a programs/marketing and sponsorship chair at a nearby cybersecurity conference.   

Dustin Beasley is a Global Business Manager with T-Mobile, where he spends time remotely supporting call centers in the Philippines. Dustin has worked for T-Mobile for 13 years, starting as a call center customer service representative in 2007. He began his academic journey with WGU in 2016 and completed the program with his Bachelor of Business Management in 2018. Dustin is currently working on completing his Master of Business Administration with a projected graduation date of November 2020.

Dustin lives in Springfield, Missouri, with his partner of three years Sean, and in his free time enjoys entertaining with friends and family at home, learning new recipes to cook (and shopping for new kitchen gadgets!) and spending time with friends at Table Rock Lake.

Gussie Hopkins started her career in IT over 13 years ago as a cable technician specializing in aerial and underground cable splicing. Gussie is a recent graduate of WGU with a bachelor's degree in Business IT Management.  

Gussie is a PMP certified project manager at Stratix, a large mobility solutions provider headquartered Norcross, Georgia. She learned to utilize her high-energy and inquisitive nature to craft solutions for her clients. She strives to understand the “why” so the company/team can benefit by making better decisions for future implementations.  

Gussie enjoys spending time with family, traveling, karaoke, and camping (as long as nature does not touch her). She has been a Boy Scout leader in various capacities over the past nine years. Gussie and her husband have active schedules as they support their two teenaged young men. Both young men are Boy Scouts and band geeks. 

Timothy Mulcahey is a graduate of Western Governors University having completed his undergraduate degree in education, and, in 2014, his Master's in Business Administration. His background is highly colorful, having originally entered the professional world as a network architect in the 1990s, and then making the transition to a business analyst in the early-2000s. Currently, he is a senior business analyst at a consulting firm in Chicago, Illinois, and working at O’Hare International Airport as the primary point of contact for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Timothy resides in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife of 20 years and their three children. When he has downtime, he tends to his hobbies of coin collecting, gardening, and raising a small flock of backyard chickens. He also enjoys traveling and has been to over 25 countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Chris Abbey

Christopher Abbey
Incident Handler, Manager
Red Canary 

Dustin Beasley

Dustin Beasley
Global Business Manager

Gussie Hopkins

Gussie Hopkins
Certified Project Manager  
Stratix Corporation

Timothy Mulcahey

Timothy Mulcahey
Senior Business Analyst
The William Everett Group

How to advance and retain your workforce of the future.

To address the waves attached to the unemployment crisis, collaboration across employers standing on opposite sides of the growing labor market riptide is necessary now more than ever. While many segments of our economy are imploding others are growing. Employers on both sides of the hiring spectrum must be engaged in the process that connects laid-off workers with new opportunities.

Join us for a lively roundtable conversation with top employers across the nation. Together, we'll discuss how closing skills and equity gaps is challenging employers to think differently about credentials and experience, and how these top employers are searching for talent in unconventional places.

Moderator: Natalie Murray, Vice President, Student Experience, Western Governors University


J’ai Brown serves as the HR Director for HUB International, leading the HR function for the Midwest-West division. In her role, J’ai is a member of the executive management team providing strategic insight and support across the Midwest-West division on all aspects of HR including employee relations, diversity and inclusion, talent acquisition, compensation, performance management, organizational design, and career development. Additionally, she is the executive sponsor for the Midwest-West Diversity & Inclusion Council and a member of the organizing team for the HUB Women Network ERG. Prior to joining HUB, J’ai worked in roles of increasing responsibility in claims administration and human resources at Allstate Insurance Company before continuing her career in human resources at BMO Financial Group.

J’ai received an MBA and B.S. degrees in HR Management and General Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and has her PHR and SHRM-CP designations. She is the Education Chair for Chicago SHRM and mentor's youth with Posse Chicago and Chicago Scholars. She is a 2020 Chicago Urban League IMPACT Leadership Development Fellow, 2019 Black Queens of Chicago, 2018 Wall Street in the Black Future Leader and 2016 Chicago Scholars 35 under 35 honoree.

Dennis Rossow is a director of Human Resources for Comcast in the Greater Chicago Region, which encompasses over 5,000 employees in three states delivering residential and business-class video, voice Internet, mobile, and security products and services. His HR career spans 28 years.

With a staff of four HR professionals, Dennis supports over 800 employees in a wide range of technical and professional functions across all three states. He is a certified Professional in Human Resources, a certified change practitioner, and a Myers-Briggs practitioner.

He has a passion for volunteer and nonprofit work, having served two terms as a trustee for the Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich, Illinois, as president of the board for The Center for Changing Lives in Chicago, and is currently serving as vice president for the Board of Artists Breaking Limits and Expectations, a theatre company showcasing the work of people with disabilities.

Clayton Pryor serves as the director of Workforce Development at Advocate Aurora Health where he is able to carry out his passion for job creation, neighborhood revitalization, and building sustainable communities. In this role, he manages a multi-million-dollar portfolio dedicated to creating a pipeline of prepared candidates into the healthcare industry by offering job skills and training in underserved communities. In addition, he provides oversight to college and university partnerships, internships, education assistance and an internal frontline workforce development program, NAVIGATE. 

Clayton has been instrumental in connecting Advocate Aurora to CareerSTAT, a national initiative to validate and spread the investment in frontline, low-wage earners to move into sustainable wage positions through training and education programs initiated and/or supported by employers. In addition, he is an inaugural member of the Employer Academy offered to healthcare employers and advisory board member. 

Clayton received his B.S. in Business Management from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and an M.A. in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Public Policy Administration from Lewis University.

J’ai Brown
Human Resource Director 
Hub International

Dennis Rossow
Director of Human Resources
Comcast – Chicago Region 

Clayton Pryor 
Director, Workforce Development
Advocate Aurora Health

Explore WGU programs.