Growing up in Yelm with a logger father, Cheryl Fambles knows first hand about this region’s job market’s transitions. But she’s full of hope at the prospect of becoming a “matchmaker” between what area businesses need and what a well trained workforce can provide.
As the newly appointed CEO for the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, headquartered at Satsop Business Park, she’ll get an opportunity to do just that. The organization administers and oversees the federal workforce programs throughout Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. (It is one of 12 such Workforce Development Councils in the state.)
“I can see this region offering jobs in all sorts of areas including small manufacturing for the aerospace industry, the emerging green power industry, and using the land here to grow food for the organic food industry. We should also continue to find jobs in the forest products industry. We can’t give up on forest products because we are very rich in that resource and you should always play to your strengths,” she said.
When it comes to the aerospace industry, “people often think that aerospace jobs need to be in Everett or Spokane, near Boeing, but there’s a huge supply chain that Boeing must have. It’s not just the fuselage and installing the rivets, but who is making the seats, the seat covers, the bolts, the lighting panels and all the other parts and pieces that go into the plane? Those businesses could be located in lots of places,” she said.
“I’m also intrigued with all the possibilities available because of the Port of Grays Harbor and those possible international connections.”
But Fambles wants to make it clear she’s not planning to decide on one focus or another for the region. “I’m eager to meet with elected officials, business owners, educational leaders and others to hear more about what they think is needed here and how workforce training and support can help make it happen,” she said.
“One trend we have to acknowledge is how technology is cutting across everything. In order to be more competitive, workers need to have a baseline of technology skills,” she said. Determining what skills are needed and then partnering with educational institutions and labor groups to offer targeted training programs, is part of Fambles’ new job.
Fambles will begin her new post June 1, filling the shoes of Mike Kennedy, who will retire June 30 after 26 years leading the organization
“We are so pleased to welcome Cheryl back to the Park,” said Tami Garrow, CEO of Satsop Business Park and a member of the Pacific Mountain Workforce Board.
“Cheryl and I had the chance to work closely together when she served as director of the WIRED (Workforce Innovations in Regional Economic Development) grant project for Pacific Mountain, here at Satsop. She is a high-energy achiever with a sincere desire to make a difference in our community. We share the same goal, to improve our regional economy by helping businesses grow and thrive, and by providing opportunities for high-skills, high-wage training for our regional workforce. She will be a terrific partner,” Garrow said.
Fambles is currently the executive director of the Washington Workforce Association, which is the professional association of the 12 Workforce Development directors in the state. Fambles’ background also includes senior management positions in local governments, including Thurston County, the City of Issaquah, King County and the Skokomish Tribal Nation. She has also worked in higher education at The Evergreen State College and South Puget Sound Community College.
“Cheryl has an outstanding record of public service,” said Mike Boyle, Sr., chairman of the Council. “She is an excellent communicator, collaborator and facilitator. Cheryl will bring a passion and vision to the evolving work of the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council.”