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Jeran Culina & MJ Ryan   ·  

Business Leaders United Welcomes New Executive Committee Member: An Interview with MJ Ryan

To round up Women's History Month, Business Leaders United Manager Jeran Culina introduces a new Executive Committee Member, MJ Ryan , VP of workforce development at Mass General Brigham. This insightful interview dives deep into workforce development and skills training in healthcare as we explore MGB's innovative initiatives. MJ and Jeran highlight the importance of fostering a diverse talent pipeline, the impact of partnerships with organizations like National Skills Coalition and BLU, and the crucial role of racial equity in shaping the future of healthcare.


Jeran: Why is skills training important to your company? What has your company done to work on developing a talent pipeline?  

MJ: In health care, lifetime learning is an expectation and skills training as well as advanced educational options are a given. The Mass General Brigham (MGB) Workforce Development team focuses on ensuring that residents of the communities we serve, (youth and adult), are aware of and have access training and education that builds the skills required to enter our workforce, and then, along with our other employees, continue to advance once they arrive. We work with multiple partners and stakeholders, including Community-Based Orgs, Community Colleges, Non-profit training organizations and public and private funders and entities to support this work. A sample of programs currently offered at MGB: 

Collaborations with JVS: 

  • English for Speaker of Other Languages, CNA training, Better writing classes, computer fundamentals 

Collaborations through an EDA grant with the City of Boston, UMass Global and WeLearn: 

  • Medical Assistant Training, Patient Care Technician Training, Practice Assistant/Administrative Clerical Training 

Collaborations with various colleges: 

  • College internships, clinical training, Transition to College (Foundational course and prerequisites to enter Allied Health roles)  

  • Hospital Mental Health Specialist training (collab with MassHires and No. Shore CC) 

MGB offerings: 

  • Management and Leadership training, Academic and Career Coaching, College Tuition Reduction program, Tuition Assistance, Mill2Med (supporting the transition from Military Medics to Medical careers within the hospital) 

Partnerships to build up diverse talent pipeline: 

  • High School Pathway programs, STEM programs, College support, coaching and jobs (Collaboration with Community Health, Mayor’s Office and Bloomberg Philanthropies) 

  • African Bridge Network partnership, offering fellowships to Foreign-Trained Professionals to gain experience in the US workforce  

  • Coaching and employment assistance for Returning Citizens (Collaboration with Boston STRIVE) 

  • Clinical Leadership Collaboration for Diversity in Nursing (Partnership with UMass Boston to recruit, provide financial support, mentoring, leadership development and employment support for students from diverse backgrounds)  

Migrant job readiness, coaching, training, English for Work (collab with MassHires, MGB Community Health, HR, Hiring Managers, JVS, Centerboard and other CBOs, as well as the Lt. Gov. of MA and Executive Office of Labor and WFD). 


Jeran: What do you value about being connected to the work of BLU and NSC? 

MJ: Working with BLU and NSC gives MGB a seat at the table. The BLU DC “fly ins” and NSC convenings have been an amazing experience to learn how government works while allowing us to be “heard” by our state legislators and by federal policy makers….and the results of these conversations have been impactful investments in our work! I am now very excited to join the BLU Exec. Committee as I have learned so much from BLU’s leaders as well as from co-participants in various convenings that I am sure that a m0ore regular cadence will benefit us all. 


Jeran: Why should other employers get involved in advocating for employer led workforce development initiatives and skills training?     

MJ: Employers can best inform what is needed and help to design meaningful and workable initiatives, resulting in creating economic opportunities in an equitable manner while also addressing the skills gaps keeping us from filling vital roles. 


Jeran: BLU and NSC have championed efforts around skills training policies that have an eye to a diverse talent pipeline. In your experience how have you seen racial equity play a role in the work you are doing in skills training or workforce development? 

MJ: Racial and Economic Equity is at the heart of our work. We need to build diverse talent pipelines to properly serve our diverse patients and families; we need to build cultural competency to ensure a better and more positive patient experience with healthier outcomes and we also need to build healthier communities by ensuring a pathway to economic self/family sufficiency for ALL of the residents and their families in the areas we serve. We need to address the barriers to success through informed supports/resources while building accessible skill development programs that meet people where they are and help them to reach their full potential and their own personal and professional goals. When we do that, we will much more easily address our current labor shortages while also building a trusting relationship with future and current career starters who will want to stay and grow within our organization over the long term. 


Jeran: What additional thoughts would you like to share with your employer peers? 

MJ: I am grateful to work with BLU and NSC as the power of passionate, committed and informed people sharing a common goal is the strength needed to move the proverbial needle towards a more equitable economy that supports individuals, families AND employers. I am grateful for our community of thought leaders in this space who are willing to take their voices as far as they need to go to create change.