EAST PALO ALTO, Calif., Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Sharon Williams, JobTrain‘s long-time executive director, will step away from her position in late spring or early summer.  A reception and dinner will be held at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley in East Palo Altoon March 9 to celebrate Sharon’s leadership and to raise funds for her “Life Skills” legacy to JobTrain.  
Sharon joined JobTrain as a GED teacher in 1973 and became Director of Development in 1978.  She took the helm as Executive Director in 1979.  During her thirty plus years in JobTrain’s top spot, Sharon and her team transformed a beleaguered nonprofit into a premier job training and placement institution. Major accomplishments include the purchase and renovation of a 31,000 square foot training facility; accreditation through Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC); creation of cutting edge training; and a diverse funding base that includes support from prestigious Silicon Valley leaders and corporations.
Sharon’s most valuable contribution to JobTrain is perhaps the most difficult to define. Often referred to as JobTrain’s “secret sauce”, it is the upbeat and energetic spirit that permeates the organization. “We believe in the potential of every person who comes to us,” says Sharon, “and that helps them believe in themselves. Once they know they can succeed, the challenge is nearly won.” JobTrain currently helps 8,000 people each year, 500-600 of them through full-time vocational training. At least 85% of those who enroll complete their training; 75% are placed in jobs; and 12 months after placement, 84% are still working.
Vocational training skills constitute one important aspect of a multi-faceted approach to success. “Vocational skills prepare our graduates for employment. These skills get them hired and help them launch careers,” says Sharon. ” But their life skills, their attitudes and habits, will determine long-term life success and deeper happiness.” Life skills are modeled by JobTrain staff and are incorporated into every trainee’s daily experience at JobTrain.  Life skills are also taught as a stand-alone course.
“Ironically,” says Sharon, “this vital aspect of training is often perceived as an ‘extra’ and is at risk when funding limitations dictate cutbacks. Life skills are an essential ingredient in our formula for success. My legacy will be to assure the long-term continuation of life skills training.”   
Sharon Williams has been an active community change agent for many years, always looking out for those who most need help.  She currently serves on the boards of Center for Excellence in Nonprofits (CEN) and the East Palo Alto Digital Village. She previously served on the boards of the East Palo Alto Senior Center, Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, Leadership Mid-Peninsula, and the Workforce Investment Board of San Mateo County. 
Sharon Williams has been honored with many awards, including the Career Action Center’s Woman of Vision Award, the Palo Alto Chamber’s Athena Award, induction into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame, the University of the Pacific’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the Silicon Valley Women of Influence Award. Sharon is an ALF (American Leadership Forum) Senior Fellow. 

For information about Sharon’s Legacy Dinner, scheduled for March 9 at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley, please contact Susan Boiko at 650-330-6521 or sboiko@jobtrainworks.org.                 

Sharon Williams Legacy Established to Fund Ongoing Life Skills Training
Life Skills training is central to achieving long-term success. This is where trainees learn the values, behaviors and habits that will propel them forward in life. Life Skills training instills the ethic of hard work, dependability, initiative and integrity. It inspires trainees to achieve balance and perspective, and to become enthusiastic participants in life.    

About JobTrain:
JobTrain transforms lives and communities in Silicon Valley.  Since 1965, we’ve helped more than 160,000 men and women in the Valley reclaim their lives from welfare, incarceration and unemployment by preparing them for successful careers in high-demand and emerging fields.  JobTrain, formerly OICW, transforms personal motivation into real skills that are the foundation self-sufficiency and self-esteem. In addition to “vocational training,” we understand that fundamental and sustainable transformations require a high school diploma, computer literacy, one-on-one counseling, as well as access to basics like housing, transportation and childcare – and we assist our clients with all of these needs.  In a rough economy, JobTrain places 75% of its graduates in quality jobs.  Each individual success story proves that – with time, commitment and resources – powerful transformations do happen.