Linda Puppolo, Executive Director of Maui County’s Workforce Development Board in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, has been honored as the Workforce Professional of the Year by the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals. She will be recognized at NAWDP’s 38th Annual Conference on May 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Linda truly deserves this national honor,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino. “She is one of those rare individuals who can turn compassion for others into practical action. We are very proud of her and grateful for her persistent commitment to excellence.”
According to Melissa Robbins, CEO OF NAWDP, the Workforce Professional of the Year award recognizes an influential thought leader and innovator who transforms workforce systems to improve employment opportunities in their communities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda Puppolo created the Keiki & Kupuna Program to improve digital literacy skills that became essential during the pandemic as services went virtual. The program paired youth with seniors so that na ʻōpio (young people) could teach na kūpuna (elders) how to use their smartphones to file unemployment claims and participate in virtual meetings.
Linda Puppolo also improved resident services by deciding to co-locate all partners of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act into a central location at the Maui American Job Center. She also grew Maui County’s Eligible Training Provider (ETP) list from three to 60 and then connected job seekers with employers so residents could develop the skills needed to get back to work. Last month, Maui County’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, substantially down from the pandemic high of 35 percent in April of 2020.