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Jeff Connor-Naylor   ·  

Business Leaders United Says Farewell to Founding Members of the Executive Committee

Business Leaders United would like to express our gratitude for the dedication of Michael Tamasi, CEO of AccuRounds; Mike Mandina, Chairman of Optimax Systems, Inc.; and Mike Kenig, Retired Vice Chairman at Holder Construction and Senior Consultant at Construction Ready for their decade of leadership. All three have been involved with BLU since the initiative’s founding and helped to grow BLU into a recognized national business network advocating for high-quality skills training. They stepped down from their roles as members of the BLU Executive Committee at the start of 2023.  

BLU is an initiative of National Skills Coalition (a non-partisan 501c3), and is a free, private network of more than 1,000 business leaders promoting public investments in high-quality skills training. The Executive Committee serves an important advisory role for BLU and National Skills Coalition. Members of the committee meet quarterly and provide on-the-ground perspectives and expertise that inform our policy priorities and activities. They are outstanding leaders in their communities and champions for skills training, workforce partnerships, and racial equity.  

Since the Executive Committee was formed in 2014, Michael Tamasi, CEO of AccuRounds, served as it’s chair until 2022, although he started engaging with BLU in the early 2010s. He has long been a vocal leader for skills training in the Massachusetts business community and has been very active in industry and educational organizations serving as the Co-Chairman of the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, the Chairman of GBMP, and Advisory Board Chair of CareerSpring. He was previously appointed to the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and the New England Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on BLU’s Executive Committee as Chair the past eight years," Tamasi said.The voice of small and medium-sized enterprises needs to be heard by policy makers and Congress people in DC. Our stories matter, and thanks to BLU we have a highly respected position within government to help shape policy for skills training, meeting the needs of business. I have grown both personally and professionally from my involvement with BLU and am extremely grateful for the platform BLU provides to make a positive impact in workforce development.” 

Likewise, Mike Mandina, Chairman of Optimax Systems, Inc., joined BLU in 2011, bringing with him his experiences building local workforce partnerships. Recognizing the need for skills training in Upstate New York, he helped found the Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers’ Enterprise, a nationally recognized sector partnership that has served as a model for many other communities across the country. Mike currently serves as the President of the American Precision Optics Manufacturer’s Association (APOMA) and has served on the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association, the New York State Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, and the High Tech of Rochester's Manufacturers Extension Partnership. He has also been involved in steering the MCC Optics Department Advisory Board Hiring Committee, the WIRED: Finger Lakes Partnership Governing Board, and the Rochester Regional Economic Council’s Photonics Work Group. 

"From day one I have been impressed with BLU’s federal policy impacting effectiveness. The change in attitude and funding for addressing the skills mismatch is tangible.  The dusting off of apprenticeships in a more functional way and the recognition that a four-year college degree is not the only path to a rewarding career.  Enhancing support for community colleges technician training micro-credentialing are but a few outcomes during my tenure. A bonus has been the engagement with businesspeople and politicians of like mind, all working for the greater good," Mandina said.

Mike Kenig, recently retired as Vice Chairman at Holder Construction and Senior Consultant at Construction Ready, joined the Executive Committee in 2014, after having partnered with BLU for several years. Mike is a leader for skills training in the Georgia business community and the national construction industry. He has served on several advisory committees including Go Build Georgia and Workforce Development Through CTE Coalition. He has helped advance apprenticeships, workforce partnerships, and CTE programs that prepare individuals for quality construction jobs. He is especially passionate about programs focused on helping young people get the skills training needed to be successful.  

“Being part of Business Leaders United has been an invaluable experience," Kenig said. Working with the National Skills Coalition Team helping to lift up the voice of small and medium sized businesses in Washington helped complete my understanding of how the work I was part of at the local level was connected to policy at the federal level. So often the work we do is within the bubbles of our own industries. Working with the cross-section of industries that Business Leaders United brought together was incredibly beneficial to being able to appreciate how potential solutions, such as sector partnerships, were so important.Individually we had a small voice advocating for policies that provided support for workforce development, but thanks to the great work of the NSC leadership and staff, our collective Business Leaders United voice was much louder and well respected. 

During their time on the Executive Committee, the insight and experience of Michael Tamasi, Mike Mandina, and Mike Kenig have helped to shape federal policy that strengthen skills training across the country. In 2015, they were invited by the White House to speak with President Barak Obama about assisting workers who are considered long-term unemployed and participated in a White House Summit on upskilling hosted by then Vice President Joe Biden. They have also met with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez along with many leaders in Congress over the years.  

We appreciate their years of support for skills training and their work on behalf of Business Leaders United. We will miss their insight as members of the Executive Committee.