The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that Robert L. Cherry Jr., Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, has been named Chief Executive Officer of Pittsburgh-based Partner4Work.
He assumes the role on July 26. He succeeds Earl Buford, who was named president of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning in February.
Partner4Work is a workforce development organization that connects funding, expertise, and opportunities for employers, job seekers, agencies, and policymakers to develop a thriving workforce in the Pittsburgh area. As stewards of more than $25 million in public and private workforce funds, Partner4Work oversees and funds workforce programs for adults, dislocated workers, and youth; educates the community through labor market analytics; and implements innovative solutions to the region’s systemic workforce challenges.
“With his deep knowledge of workforce development priorities, commitment to greater system alignment, and experience in leading strategic business engagement, Mr. Cherry is the workforce development professional to lead Partner4Work during this critical time,” said David J. Malone, Partner4Work board chair and chair man and CEO of Gateway Financial Group, in a statement. “Additionally, Robert’s policy and urban planning skills will help strengthen Partner4Work’s industry partnerships, job seeker initiatives and strategic alliances with community organizations. We believe his impressive leadership experience will elevate P4W’s long-term organizational strategies and reaffirm P4W as the go-to organization for workforce development in the region and beyond.”
Partner4Work Board member Debra L. Caplan led the organization as interim CEO while a national search was conducted.
“Mr. Cherry has proven to be an influential figure in the world of workforce development and a true leader when it comes to evoking positive change in the lives of employers, workers, job seekers, and youth,” Caplan said in a statement. “We excitedly look forward to seeing his exceptional skillset translate into meaningful impact here in our region and throughout the organization.”
“Joining a workforce development agency with such an already strong and robust reputation and trajectory could not be more exciting,” Cherry said in a statement provided to the Courier. “I am eager to expand Partner4Work’s footprint across the region, build valuable new relationships with employers, and implement strategies with partners to make Pittsburgh a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable place to live and work. With my experience, passion, and dedication, I firmly believe that together with Partner4Work’s committed partners, board and providers, we will be able to achieve high-level results that impact the lives of individuals and families for the foreseeable future.”
Cherry’s resume boasts more than 10 years of workforce development leadership experience which includes senior roles at Employ Milwaukee, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, and the Center for Urban Population Health, in addition to his current position at the Wisconsin DWD. During his time at Employ Milwaukee, Cherry led the development and implementation of the Career Plus program that consisted of year-round combined workforce training, subsidized improvement, and social-emotional development delivered to Milwaukee citizens ages 15-24.
Since April 2020, Cherry has managed six bureaus that include the Division of Administration, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Unemployment Insurance, Division of Employment and Training, Division of Equal Rights, and Division of Workers Compensation as the Appointed Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin DWD. During the last 15 months, Cherry led 2,500 employees and partnered with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, Wisconsin Department of Disabled American Veterans, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and the Veterans Chamber of Commerce for a Vets Ready initiative, an employer recognition program highlighting employers committed to the veteran workforce. In addition, under Cherry’s guidance and expertise, last year he also spearheaded a complex program that provided additional unemployment insurance dollars into the hands of out-of-work Wisconsinites.
Cherry received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.