Indiana Workforce Recovery Making Progress

The opioid epidemic impacting many parts of Indiana and our country did not happen overnight. The solutions won’t be immediate, either, but the Indiana Workforce Recovery effort of the Indiana Chamber and the Wellness Council of Indiana is moving forward.

The initiative, announced earlier this year in partnership with the state, is in place to help address the effects of drug use in the workplace. Among the recent and ongoing steps for Indiana Workforce Recovery:

  • Allyson Blandford

    Allyson Blandford

    Project manager Allyson Blandford is on board to guide the day-to-day activities

  • More than 30 key stakeholder meetings have taken place to identify potential partners and align Indiana Workforce Recovery programs with other initiatives
  • Funding discussions continue with a variety of local, state and national organizations
  • Initial actions that employers can take today have been released

Indiana Workforce Recovery is focused on the workplace, disseminating best practices that support prevention, early identification, treatment and recovery. The goals include helping to educate employers and reduce the stigma around substance abuse disorder.

Among the upcoming actions:

  • Convening sessions for employers in conjunction with the state’s Family and Social Services Administration. Bloomington, Greenwood, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute and Lafayette will be the initial locations. Look for details soon
  • Establishment of a peer review panel to evaluate effectiveness of toolkits and other support initiatives
  • Addition of a Mental Health First Aid training pre-conference to the 2018 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit, which will also have a session on substance use disorder in the workplace

The Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine will feature an Indiana Workforce Recovery update in its September-October issue.

Learn more from Blandford at (317) 264-2166 or ablandford@indianachamber.com.

Chamber Staff Comings and Goings

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is just a few years away from celebrating 100 years (the organization was founded in 1922). Over nearly a century, there have been countless staff changes and evolutions to help move the organization forward.

Janet Boston

Today, we say “thank you and farewell” to Janet Boston, who is retiring as executive director of the Indiana INTERNnet program, which is managed by the Indiana Chamber. Boston has been in the role for seven years and caps off an outstanding career in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Read more about Boston’s impact with the organization here. The Indiana Chamber and Indiana INTERNnet Board sent Boston out in style – with a luncheon and office celebration, and presented her with a custom necklace in appreciation of her taking the program to new heights.

Mark Lawrance, who has most recently been advocating in the economic development and technology areas, will replace Boston as interim executive director of Indiana INTERNnet, starting June 1. Lawrance will be retiring later this year and is expected to stay in the interim role until the fall.

Additionally, as previously announced, the Indiana Chamber has partnered with the Wellness Council of Indiana and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration to help combat the state’s opioid epidemic. The new Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative is a joint effort among the groups and is led by Jennifer Pferrer, executive director of the Wellness Council. The initiative provides employers with resources and guidance on how to help their employees who are impacted by the opioid epidemic. Allyson Blandford has come on board at the Wellness Council to support the initiative as project manager.

Also at the Wellness Council, Madie Newman has joined as program coordinator for the Indiana Healthy Communities initiative. The role has been created to support the organization in helping communities coordinate wellness efforts, ensuring healthier citizens and acting as a draw for economic development opportunities.

Abbi Espe rounds out our membership team. She was hired this spring as the manager of member services for northeastern Indiana and will focus on bringing new companies into the fold.

On the education front, the grant-funded college and career readiness position, held by Shelley Huffman, ends today. Lobbyist Caryl Auslander, who handled education and workforce matters, has left for new endeavors.

Greg Ellis, vice president of energy and environmental policy, is now responsible for federal lobbying. Members of the Indiana Chamber’s advocacy team are assuming Auslander and Lawrance’s other policy committee duties on a temporary basis until new staff is hired later this summer.

We wish everyone well and good luck in their future activities and look forward to the contributions of our new team members to continue the important work and mission of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity for the people of Indiana and their enterprises.”

For our complete staff listing, visit the web site at: https://www.indianachamber.com/about/staff-listing/