In this series, we’ll be shining a light on the people who make WorkSource work. Today, we have Project Director Michelle McClanahan!

At WorkSource, it takes a lot of people to be able to do all that we do for job seekers in our community. And as you could imagine, it takes a team to lead our centers. Michelle McClanahan is an experienced professional in the WorkSource system, having worked at our offices for fifteen years now. As Project Director, Michelle’s job is complex and important. She oversees contracts we obtain from our local workforce board, Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW), and guides her team to meet performance objectives.

Or, as Michelle says, “Our program is designed to help people get back to work!” Fittingly, the contracts that Michelle oversees directly aid eligible job seekers with support services to remove barriers from returning to work and provide opportunities for training in an in-demand career.

But Michelle’s position does more than provide for job seekers—it also provides for businesses.

“Our most popular service with businesses is our on-the-job (OJT) training program. Hiring and training new staff can be an expensive cost to businesses, so with the OJT program, we can reimburse an employer for the training costs of employees up to $5,000.”

These contracts are incredibly important to the success of both local job seekers and businesses as they provide opportunities for economic growth in our region on multiple fronts.

So, what’s Michelle’s favorite part of the job?

“Being able to change someone’s life for the better. We often get customers that are in their lowest moments, and we strive to help them see hope, or the light at the end of the tunnel.”

There’s one customer that Michelle served in 2010 that she still remembers today. A customer had come in after losing his glazier business of twenty-five years due to the recession. Now needing to support his family of five, he came to WorkSource every day looking for work. Michelle and her team were able to help him get his resume updated and gave him gas assistance so that he could go out to look for work.

After two months of job searching, they noticed a lot of job openings for drivers and discussed the possibility of the customer earning a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The customer was unsure at first, but ultimately agreed and WorkSource was able to pay for the entirety of his CDL training!

On the last week of his training, the Fort Vancouver Regional Library was hosting a hiring event. The customer arrived after training to apply for a Maintenance Supervisor position, which required a CDL.

But because Michelle and her team works with both businesses and job seekers, they were in a unique position to advocate for the customer directly to the library. Because of this, along with his previous work experience and CDL training, the customer was hired!

Michelle went on to say:

“Several months later I went out to eat with my family and saw the gentleman there with his family. I didn’t want to bother him and say hi, so I let it be. As we were finishing up our dinner and were going to pay for the bill, the waiter told me that our meal was taken care of.

I was in shock, then the gentleman and his family walked over to our table and thanked me for helping them.

They also gave me a gift card for the restaurant so we could come back again. I told the gentleman that I was so happy for him and his family, but that I could not accept this gift, as I was just doing my job. His wife pushed him aside and said, “Please! You saved our family; this is the least we can do.” I got so emotional at the restaurant in front of everyone, I didn’t know what to do. It just melted my heart that I was able to help make a difference in that family’s life, and I will never forget that moment.”

Stories like this are what have kept Michelle working diligently in employment development to this day.

But what about Michelle, the person?

If you were to ask Michelle for an interesting fact about herself, you might be surprised by what you find. “I love to drive fast!” she says. “I have a pretty heavy lead foot and a long driving record to prove it!”

When not making I-5 her own private speedway, Michelle enjoys watching soccer, football, UFC, going to concerts, and caring for her plants.

I asked Michelle to leave our job seekers with her most valuable tip. “My number one job seeker tip is always be prepared,” says Michelle. “Always have extra copies of that targeted resume, always have a pen handy, and always come dressed to impress when job searching, because you never know who you will end up running into.”

If you’re looking for work and ready to take your next step, contact your local center to find out what support services and training options are available to you. Our Employment and Training Orientation is the first step for job seekers looking to access training and support services. In-person and virtual orientations are available here.




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