Technical Assistance Program Associate
Vera Moore is a Technical Assistance Program Associate at the Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation (Seedco), a role she has held since graduating from Wagner less than a year ago in May, 2008. She describes herself as "a consultant who works closely with government agencies, foundations and community organizations on improving program outcomes" in areas that specifically focus on economic, workforce, and community development. She has a diverse array of assignments at Seedco, including support document development, through which she contributes to the fields of workforce development and asset building by developing customized products based on client needs, such as templates, toolkits and curricula, training manuals and publications. Additionally, she consults on community-based organization partnership and network management, helping organizations interested in implementing or improving services through the development of new partnerships or network models to implement large-scale initiatives.
Moore is particularly proud of a publication her team is currently working on that will provide recommendations to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's "Making Connections" sites on how to integrate core workforce development, work supports, and asset building services into local programs. The Making Connections initiative's core strategy is based on the belief that the best way to improve outcomes for vulnerable children living in tough neighborhoods is to strengthen their families' connections to economic opportunity, positive social networks, and effective services and supports. The guide Moore and her colleagues are developing will offer a foundation for programs to translate ideas into action in these areas.
Moore is passionate about asset building and workforce development - two areas which she believes are "very intertwined." She appreciates that her job at Seedco allows her to pursue both of these passions at once and feels that taking this position was a natural progression in her fledgling career. Hailing from California, Moore took a ‘leap of faith' when she moved to New York to attend Wagner, having never visited the city before. But she claims, "it didn't take long for me to find my groove here." While at Wagner, she interned at the NYC Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development and later at the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS). She also participated in a fellowship program with the Manhattan Borough President's Office in which she identified areas where Community Board 2 could ‘reclaim' or create open space in the district. Moore was introduced to Seedco while evaluating it during her internship at SBS and she was so impressed with the organization's performance, she applied for her position upon graduating from Wagner.
Although Moore is based in Seedco's New York City office, most of the projects she works on are located in other parts of the country. "I'm able to network and develop relationships with workforce and asset building professionals nationwide," she says. "This exposure to so many projects allows me to witness different economic development models - both ones that work and ones that don't, which gives me a unique lens for understanding programmatic challenges and organizational development."
Also satisfying to Moore is the fact that her role allows her to "directly contribute to Obama's ‘American Recovery' efforts." She points out that like all workforce service providers, "Seedco's services are needed now more than any other time in recent history." She goes on to explain that the "labor market in the United States is reeling from the loss of 3.6 million jobs since the start of a recession in December 2007." And while Seedco itself is not immune to the impact of the economic downturn and has had to create more internal efficiencies, Moore asserts that because "this economic climate is really the perfect storm, we need to gain more momentum and advocate for workforce reform." There has been an increased demand for Seedco's services - both from typical clients and new populations. "This," says, Moore, "requires us to practice a great deal of flexibility."
While Moore enjoys her work at Seedco, she doesn't intend to stay there forever. She hopes to pursue additional education in the near future and would like to eventually transition into the realm of social entrepreneurship, pairing wealth building services with real estate development. "My mission," she explains, "is to expose low income communities to innovative resources pertaining to investment instruments, with the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency." She would also like to leverage her career to "continue to challenge the traditional ‘top down' planning process," she says. "Traditionally," Moore explains, "urban planners fail to incorporate the people most affected by their choices into the decision making process. I would like to break that paradigm down."