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  • Permission to Speak – Leadership Blog – Kelly Vandever Interviews Per Scholas Leaders Ken Walker, Jerome Dazzell, and Emalee Rodriguez on Building a Cohesive Culture with Disbursed Teams

Permission to Speak – Leadership Blog – Kelly Vandever Interviews Per Scholas Leaders Ken Walker, Jerome Dazzell, and Emalee Rodriguez on Building a Cohesive Culture with Disbursed Teams


Podcast Logo Episode 16

Permission to Speak

Video Blog & Podcast

Hosted by Leadership Communications Expert Kelly Vandever

Permission to Speak is the video blog and podcast that loiters at the intersections of leaders who want their people to speak up, technology that facilitates connections, and results that serve an organization’s higher purpose.

Our guest for this episode:  Per Scholas Leaders

Ken Walker, VP of National Site Operations; Jerome Dazzell, Director of Information Systems; and Emalee Rodriguez, Talent and Internal Communications Manager

About Per Scholas:  Per Scholas is a national nonprofit that drives positive and proven social change in communities across the country. Through rigorous and tuition-free technology training and professional development, the organization prepares motivated and curious adults who are un- or underemployed for successful careers as IT professionals, and it creates onramps to businesses in need of their talents. Today, Per Scholas provides its solutions in six cities across the country: Atlanta, GA; Cincinnati and Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; the National Capital Region, and New York, NY. To date, Per Scholas has trained over 5,000 individuals, helping them build lasting, life-changing skills and careers in technology.  For more information and to get involved, go to http://PerScholas.org.

Topics discussed:

  • Technology training for unemployed and under-employed
  • Engagement in organization with multiple locations,
  • Communications in the workplace
  • Top-down determining goals versus staffers being heard and suggesting initiatives.
  • Importance of senior leadership buy-in
  • Organization cultural change
  • Culture is a living, breathing thing
  • Innovation, transparency, technology
  • Jostle was the tool chosen to meet needs to enhance culture and connect offices in different locations
  • Communications across six different locations
  • High levels of engagement. One of the major contribution to that was the pre-work and workshops held before the roll out.
  • Introduced features to the platform in short, 30-minute sessions
  • Introduced a feature a week and upped the ante each week with food, give aways, etc. which stimulated some excitement around the sessions.
  • By launch day, they were familiar with the platform & how to use it
  • Have to repeat yourself, when you have 75 people spread across location
  • Had site leads at the different locations
  • Communications came from the top down
  • Selected a group of change champions
  • They were selected because they had influence on others around them
  • Asked them to be leaders within their spheres of influence
  • They had access to the platform before the rest of the organization, they basically served as beta testers
  • Selected change champions because they are excited about Per Scholas, tech savvy, have positive personalities and have great influence to help drive others toward adoption
  • They’ve found in past, not good to try and get nay-sayers on board first. Using positive, influential people has been a lot more successful.
  • Importance of having a new employee see that they can have a voice and have influence early on after joining the organization
  • The tool eliminates clogging up email inboxes and eliminates the barriers to communications that long email chains cause
  • Site leader provide updates to the entire through the tool, adding photos and infusing their personality into the posts
  • Being known
  • Sharing “shout outs” – business and personal
  • Feedback and discussion from everyone in the organization, not just confined to one geographic location
  • Creating connectedness by getting to know more about the individuals in the organization
  • Investing the time to identify important keywords and skills so you can find people within the organization with the skills that can help you.
  • The friendliness of Canadians!
  • CEO & C-Suite are engaging on the platform!
  • Discussions have really taken off on the platform
  • Hearing the unique stories from individuals within the organization makes us stronger
  • Take your time and do the research before rolling out initiatives
  • Focus on the positive rather than giving attention to the naysayers
  • Look at your needs first. Look at technology last to find what meets your needs.
  • Jostle was a great partner
  • If you’re looking for information technology professionals, contact Per Scholas to see how they can help meet your need for trained, proactive IT pros
  • If you know someone who is under or unemployed but is curious about technology, have them contact Per Scholas
  • Per Scholas is hiring right now so check their website for jobs too!