Message From IAWP President, Amber Drake

Amber Drake

Click Here for video of Amber’s presentation.

To the Members of the International Association of Workforce Professionals,

Incredible.  Extraordinary.  Remarkable.  These words encapsulate my emotions and feelings over what has transpired throughout my time within this association, my involvement on the Board, and especially, my experiences throughout the last 12-months.

When I joined IAWP, serving in an elected capacity wasn’t within my scope.  It was through the encouragement and support of others that made my time on the Board a reality.  It is for this reason; I’d like to publicly thank both Grant Axtell (OR) and Ron Sohnrey (OR) for encouraging me to get involved on the Oregon board.  Almost 10-years have passed since our lunch conversation and it was the first time I saw my IAWP membership as something more than a passive experience vs. something that needed cultivating because its impact could be both significant and everlasting!  Thank you both for starting me on this incredible journey!

Speaking of significant and everlasting, over the course of this past year, we had the distinct opportunity to experience two separate but equally extraordinary workforce related conferences.  The first one was Workforce360, which occurred in January 2022.  This virtual event focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice.  Then in June 2022, we met in Salem, Oregon for the Workforce Summit, focusing on workforce, economic, professional, and personal development topics.  This event was our first in-person gathering since San Antonio in 2019.  The Conference Planning Committee, led by Grant Axtell, worked tremendously hard to ensure these events rival that of others, serving to further our belief that IAWP is the premier association for workforce professionals.  A big thank you to all to attended, volunteered, or otherwise supported these events!

In addition to the hard work of your Conference Planning Committee, your International Board also worked hard this year to continue the great works set in motion by the boards that went before us.  In addition to our bi-weekly board meetings, some of our other efforts included the addition of inclusive terminology to our association’s Standing Rules, replacing gender-specific references; as well as, an update and enhancement to the Workforce Professional Development Program (WPDP) to ensure its relevancy in today’s world, an effort that will continue into the upcoming year.  Additionally, to increase awareness and continuity, Executive Director Steve Bent, President-Elect Nancy Fink, and I met weekly to discuss and address association-related topics.  These are just a sampling of what the 2021-2022 International Board accomplished!  None of this would have been possible without each one of them offering their talents and gifts.  At this time, I’d like to publicly thank each board member for their time, effort, and energy!

  • Nancy Fink, President-Elect
  • Wally Roper, Vice President
  • Lynda Demore, Immediate Past President
  • Stephanie Stevens, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Jaide Ni Dufaigh, Director at Large
  • Rebekah Wilkes, Director at Large
  • Denise Carey, Director at Large
  • Ryan Chegwin, Director at Large
  • Steve Bent, Executive Director

Serving on the board is not a passive experience and your dedication and hard work is commendable!

Before I finish this report, there is one other person I need to thank and that’s our Executive Director Steve Bent.  Steve, there are no words that can actually describe my deepest appreciation and respect for all you do!  You work tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring that IAWP maintains a strong presence within the workforce system.  Your guidance, thought partnership, and mentorship are unsurpassed!  Not only was I a better President, but IAWP continues to be the association for workforce professionals because of you!  Words cannot fully expressed my admiration so all I can say is “thank you from the bottom of a very grateful heart!”

Now that my term as your President comes a close, all I can think is that it’s been a remarkable journey!  If you know me, you know that I absolutely believe in the workforce system.  Whether we’re working with business and industry, under or unemployed individuals, providing economic data, processing unemployment insurance claims, or any of the other countless things we do…each customer we serve gifts us with something, whether it’s their time, their hopes, their fears, their dreams, or something else, their gift is precious beyond words!  What we do matters and for those we serve, it matters in ways we can only imagine!

Thank you for this past year!  I’m so incredibly honored that my workforce journey has included this incredible, extraordinary, and remarkable association!


Amber Drake
President, 2021 – 2022
International Association of Workforce Professionals