CareerWork$ New Program Manager Dion Willis Brings Perspective As Former Career Navigator and Commitment to Help “Pay It Forward” for Students, Career Navigators, and Communities

Dion Willis has spent years working with communities to help create economic opportunity, and to open up access to financial literacy and job trainings. 

“I want you to get a job, but I want you to get the job you want – in the right way.” 

Now, as a new Program Manager for the national nonprofit organization CareerWork$, Dion serves as a key support liaison to new and existing CareerWork$ community-based training partners, providing curriculum and instructional support, as well as representing the program across the country to constituents while supporting the team in achieving its national expansion. 

“This opportunity with CareerWork$ gives me a chance to bring my energy every day to pay it forward to other Instructors, Career Navigators, our students and their communities.” 

In his new role with CareerWork$, Dion – a native Chicagoan and longtime resident of Seattle – brings a unique perspective: He has served as a Career Navigator for all three CareerWork$ – BankWork$®, CareerWork$ Medical® and CareerWork$® Ready programs with our partners YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. Over his seven years at the YWCA, Dion taught various job readiness workshops, life skills curricula and has assisted numerous participants in starting their career journey while providing motivation to become the best version of themselves. 

Dion first joined YWCA as an intern, but quickly joined the organization full-time. Before long, he became a job training instructor with the YWCA Community Jobs program, mainly focusing on assisting participants receiving benefits from DSHS. When CareerWork$ Medical launched with YWCA as a training partner, Dion was its first Career Navigator. Later, he was asked to become YWCA’s Career Navigator for the BankWork$ program. 

And then came the COVID pandemic. When CareerWork$ launched Work$Ready, a free, online job readiness training to support those displaced by the pandemic in seeking new employment, Dion helped extend its impact as a navigator and back-up training instructor. 

In the early days of the pandemic, Dion spearheaded virtual job search workshops and computer skills training. Soon, he developed the concept for a virtual job fair, which grew steadily in Fall 2020 into a series of successful events. 

Now, Dion is drawing on that perspective as a Career Navigator for all three programs to grow their impact. 

“This role gives me the chance to help our Instructors and Career Navigators be successful in leading classes, to pick their brain on what works, and how we can grow our impact. Being able to do that every day? That’s absolutely awesome.” 

In his spare time, Dion enjoys listening to and creating music. He is an avid Seattle Seahawks fan and takes pride in giving back to his culture. 

CareerWork$® Welcomes Kiana Scott As Its First-Ever Director of Development to Support Organization’s Continued National Growth and Impact

The national nonprofit organization CareerWork$®, a signature program of the The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, announced today that Kiana Scott has joined as its first-ever Director of Development to help support the organization’s continued expansion and growing impact of its free career training programs across the country. 

CareerWork$ connects young adults from low-income communities to employers in banking and healthcare through its BankWork$® and CareerWork$ Medical® programs to create access to lasting, meaningful careers. Working with local community-based training organizations and employer partners, CareerWork$ provides free, eight-week comprehensive trainings that cover the hard skills for on-the-job success and the soft skills needed to succeed anywhere, and includes placement assistance and ongoing coaching.  

Since starting in her newly-created role in May, Kiana works with philanthropies, corporate foundations, and other funders to generate support for CareerWork$’s programs and training partners. She is also building out a fundraising strategy to support CareerWork$’s expansion. 

“This is such an exciting time to join CareerWork$,” said Kiana. “The organization has demonstrated national impact, the ability to scale, and the nimbleness of a startup. It’s an impressive team of brilliant people doing work they love and with a shared commitment to serving others. Sheri and Les Biller founded this program with an incredible vision, and since launching as an independent national non-profit, Sherry Cromett has brought the smart, proven leadership necessary to grow this ambitious endeavor. The pandemic amplified a long-standing problem—the huge barrier faced by people who have all the ability and motivations to build careers, but don’t have access to those career opportunities yet. CareerWork$ is that essential bridge. I am excited to help CareerWork$ reach the next phase of our growth and spread our impact even further, and ultimately help more communities thrive.” 

Kiana joins CareerWork$ as it continues to expands its presence and impact across the country. Today, it operates its 16 training programs in 13 markets across the country and has helped launch nearly 4,000 careers nationwide. Earlier this year, CareerWork$ announced that it was partnering with the Texas Bankers Association to expand its BankWork$ program across the state. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CareerWork$ also launched CareerWork$ Ready, a free, online job readiness training, to help job seekers build their confidence and develop their professional skills to support their job search process.   

Before joining CareerWork$, Kiana spent a decade working in nonprofit development and strategic communications, most recently advancing higher education at the University of Washington and economic mobility at Raise Wages Now, where she saw first-hand how a steady paycheck can shape a family’s future.  

Along with her current work at CareerWork$, Kiana serves as Vice President of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and is an active civic volunteer. She earned her BA from Williams College, her MPA from the Evans School at the University of Washington, and her MA and PhD in political communication at the University of Washington. While in graduate school, she was appointed the sole student member of the University of Washington Board of Regents.  

Outside of work, Kiana loves exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and rescue dog, and spending as much time as possible near the ocean. 


Spotlight: In Milwaukee, Instructor Adriene Wright and Career Navigator Dominique Webb Help Deliver “Life-Changing” Opportunity

Though Black History Month is coming to end, we continue to celebrate the rich heritage and impact of the African American community on our nation, and honor and highlight our partners across the country. 

For both Adriene Wright and Dominique Webb, the drive to become involved in BankWork$ with our partners Employ Milwaukee came from the chance to make a difference. 

Continue reading “Spotlight: In Milwaukee, Instructor Adriene Wright and Career Navigator Dominique Webb Help Deliver “Life-Changing” Opportunity”