Equipping education, workforce and HR professionals to unlock access to better jobs

Shelly Beckford

HR Associate - Compliance, Goodwill Industries of Houston
joined over 3 years ago.


Recent Activity:

Posted in Career Pathway Systems Challenges and Successes

In your experience supporting the development of career pathway systems, what have been the biggest challenges and successes?

Photo credit: Vectorstock - Artist - rudall30

Biggest Challenges
1.  Socio-Economic Barriers to Success – Sometimes they don’t have the gas or bus fare to get to the training
2.  Interest – For some, it sounds too good to be true
3.  Focus – Staying focused on the goal until graduation
4.  Engagement – Completing Activities and studying 
5.  Trust – Trusting the staff with sensitive information

Photo credit: TaskQue – Sarmad Hasan 2018

Biggest Successes
1.  The Graduates and The Employed – Completing the Program and becoming employed
2.  The 2nd Chancers – Those who tried, fell down, got back up, and finished
3.  The Sankofa – Sankofa means to “take from the past what is good and bring it into the present to make progress in the future.” When people succeed and then come back to volunteer, it is amazing! They take what they learned as a student/client, go out into the world and thrive, and then become an example to those in the programs.

Photo credit: Sankofa.cafe 2008

Posted in Strategies for Addressing Communication Challenges

Think of a time when you were faced with a communication challenge. What happened? How did you handle it? How was the issue resolved? Or, was it resolved at all? Would you have handled it differently in hindsight? What advice might you give a peer facing a similar challenge?

Photo Source: Amanda Guzman via PowToon.com 2016

What happened?
At a former company, a former coworker communicated to me that the other employees didn’t care for my presence in the workplace anymore. 

How did you handle it?
I handled it by asking, ”Why?” I asked if I had wronged them in some way. They stated that I did “too much work”* and thus made my coworkers look bad. I told them that it was not my intention to make them look bad. I just had a clear vision of what I thought that the outcomes of our assignments should be. I didn’t want to delay, so I did my assignments with haste. 

*This has been a constant complaint of coworkers from nearly every job that I have ever had. I get called “Extra” a lot. I feel lucky that it isn’t a problem at my current company. Both of my managers have been amazing to me and praised my desire to do more.

How was the issue resolved? Or, was it resolved at all?
I attempted to assist coworkers on their assignments once mine were complete. The management asked me to not help them with their assignments once they found out. It created a very hostile work environment for me. Colleagues started making up situations and abusing me, so I left.

Would you have handled it differently in hindsight?
I think that I did the right thing by offering to help. I wish that the management would have let me help. I can’t dictate how people will view my work ethic or feel about me. Envy is one of the 6 universal human emotions. You never know when it will appear, and it doesn’t mean that I have done anything wrong.
What advice might you give a peer facing a similar challenge?
  • Never stop doing and giving your best. 
  • It’s okay to stand up for yourself in a professional way.
  • Don’t let how others feel about you dictate your sense of worth or work ethic.

Posted in Best Practices in Critical Thinking


Think of a situation in which you utilized some aspect of critical thinking. Briefly describe the situation and what element of critical thinking you used. Staying focused on critical thinking, what could you have done better?

Photo Source: Trauma Psychology News - Teresa Ann Grenawalt & Emre Umucu 2021

Like many of my contemporaries have stated before me, COVID-19 (Pandemic) .
I engaged so many aspects of critical thinking to get through it.

Here is what I experienced in reference to the wheel:

To reach my clients via the computer or their cellphone by continuing as many of the services (orientation, training, job placement, etc.) that I offered before the pandemic 
How do I reach them all?    How do I conduct training?  How do I help them find jobs?

Talked to my Veterans about access to computers or cellphones and needs (social, Employment, etc).

Interpretation and Inference
The data from surveys in the community are my guide.
However, I should be considerate if the job seeker has a sick family member or another barrier to success.

Digital services was/is a great idea! Tuesday, March 17th was my last workday in the office. It was closed and I was teaching via Zoom by Monday, March 23rd. As I quickly moved forward with plans, it was clear that the “Digital Divide” was much greater that I knew it to be before the pandemic.

I assumed that people still wanted to work during the pandemic.
I assumed businesses were still hiring.
By helping the Veteran, I assumed that I helped their entire family.

Implications and Consequences
By only offering online services, what happens to the clients without digital access? How do I connect to them if they don’t own a phone and may have housing insecurities? The implications of their lack of access directly affected their ability to get to resources or employment. The consequences of them not having basic communication access led to missed opportunities.

Point of View
I looked at this issue with extreme urgency. People were losing their family, friends, homes, cars, etc. I pressured myself to do beyond my best to make sure that every need was met for the people that I could reach.

Posted in Strategies for Facilitating Difficult Meeting Conversations

Photo Source: Ihor Reshetniak/iStockphoto

What happened?
I attempted to start a forklift program at a local community college.
They were totally onboard but because of my lack of preparation, I was unable to get the program up and running.
Would you have handled it differently in hindsight?
In hindsight, I should have created a better plan with clear objectives for all    stakeholders. I only made the objectives clear to the school. 
What advice would you give someone in this position?
Make sure that your objective is understood by ALL stakeholders.

What new strategies have you learned in this module that you plan to apply to future meetings with multiple stakeholders?
1.    I would have shared the information before hand in a clear and concise plan and agenda
2.    I would be cognizant that some stakeholders may have little to no experience in the subject matter. I assumed that everyone had a working understanding of what I was trying to achieve. 

Posted in Inspiring Leader Attributes

Without naming names, a retired Airforce Woman Veteran comes to mind. She needed to get local community organizations to join her, and simultaneously motivate her team. She was so spectacular at this.

1.    She was excellent at the 3 C’s: Clear, Confident, and Concise
       She thought of potential questions that we may have and she 
       was able to answer everything. She was even great with Step-by-Step instructions.

2.    Rather than put the responsibility on one person/team, she was great at delegation.