Southeast Michigan Talent Development Successes Honored by State Leaders, Workforce Experts

LANSING, MI (March 24, 2022) — Local talent development and employment successes were among those celebrated by state leaders at the Michigan Works! Association Impact Awards this week.

Local lawmakers and statewide talent development officials gathered virtually, and in-person, on Thursday, March 24 to recognize local resident Billy Truong, Homewatch Caregivers of Washtenaw, Washtenaw Community College, as well as Michigan Works! Southeast for creating a community collaboration to find innovative ways to solve the healthcare workforce shortage.

Along with a group of healthcare employers, Michigan Works! Southeast, and Washtenaw Community College (WCC), an idea was born, discussed and a plan to train and employ healthcare providers was set and named, Foundations of Caring.

The push needed at each meeting came from Breanne Stuart from Homewatch Caregivers of Washtenaw. Her hard work and perseverance kept the collaboration of healthcare employers – Homewatch Caregivers (including Vibrant Life Senior Care, Interim of Ann Arbor, and Waltonwood Carriage Park) as well as Washtenaw Community College and Michigan Works! Southeast – on track for the new creative program.

Stuart’s leadership has taken an employer collaboration idea to successful class cohort. The first customized training course is complete and now trainees are participating in an On-the-Job Training (OJT) portion to complete the program.

“The Michigan Works! team, along with Washtenaw Community College and our local employer group, have been tireless in uncovering innovative ways to solve our workforce shortage,” said Stuart. “Over the past year and a half, the relationships we’ve solidified, the strategies we’ve built and the challenges we’ve overcome have all been monumental. While others hunkered down in the wake of the pandemic, our partners at Michigan Works! continued to push our ideas and need to the forefront of their docket! It’s partnerships like this that I envision will change and enhance the workforce of the future!”

Billy Truong went through the first cohort of customized training and is now completing the OJT portion of the program and is doing a great job!

Stuart and the employer collaboration have worked extremely hard to make this program a long-term success and they see this as a way to introduce a career path, not just a job, for individuals to consider healthcare as a pathway to the future. The best part is that trainees will know they have a job at the end of the initial two-week course because they will have already been interviewed and accepted the position before entering training.  This is another one of the benefits of the Foundations of Caring Program.

The industry-led cluster strategy has been championed by four anchor employers – Homewatch Caregivers, Vibrant Life Senior Living, Interim Healthcare, and Waltonwood Carriage Park. In their tireless effort to “grow their own talent” these employers have worked with Washtenaw Community College and Michigan Works! Southeast to create an agile, fast-track classroom to career in just two weeks.

“The Foundations of Caring training initiative is a true example of the positive impact that can occur when employers connect and collaborate with each other, and to work in concert with workforce and talent development partners to produce scalable talent pipeline solutions,” said director of Workforce and Community Development for Washtenaw Community College Jose Reyes. “The shortage of long-term healthcare professionals is well documented. This new program cultivates talent to meet the need of the growing long-term care industry and to provide an expedited on-ramp to opportunity and employment among first-time job seekers, recently unemployed, or those seeking a career change to an in-demand occupation in an accelerated fashion.”

The Impact Awards, hosted by Michigan Works! Association, recognize the economic development success being achieved in communities across Michigan. During the event, local lawmakers present tributes to dozens of honorees from across the state.

“I’m proud of the way these healthcare organizations have partnered with Michigan Works! and Washtenaw Community College to further the education of local residents as well as providing good-paying career opportunities,” said Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor).

Award winners included employers, workers, Michigan Works! organizations, and partners from across the state.

“Healthcare is a field where not only Michigan, but the entire country, is in dire need of workers,” said Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township). “Kudos to this group of partners for creating the Foundations of Caring Program to address this need in our region.”

The Michigan Works! Association is a non-profit membership organization that provides services and support to Michigan’s talent ecosystem. For over 30 years, the Association has been the go-to resource for federal, state, and local workforce initiatives.

“In a year where there were so many extra barriers to overcome, I applaud Mr. Truong for his persistence and dedication to completing the first cohort and wish him success as he completes the On-the-Job Training,” said Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor).

The Association’s work ensures top-quality services and support for Michigan’s talent pipeline. For more information, please visit

“I applaud Michigan Works! Southeast for continuing to help prepare our talented workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Rep. Alex Garza (D-Taylor).

Find the nearest Michigan Works! American Job Center by visiting or by calling (1-800) 285-WORKS (9675).