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Lincoln students sparking city initiative

Lincoln has already been named a great place to live. But the Lincoln chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) would like to help expand that title to a great place to work, too.

ASTD-Lincoln formed a volunteer Knowledge Management Council to move this lofty dream forward, and among those who share this dream are Doane students, alumni and faculty.

March 20 was a big step in making the dream come alive. Leaders of the ASTD-Lincoln Knowledge Management Council announced the “Make it work for Lincoln” initiative to a room full of area businesses – many represented  by more Doane graduates – during a lunch program at Bryan Health. In its simplest form, the initiative seeks to identify the skills needed by employers and help job seekers fill those needs through training.

The Nebraska Departments of Economic Development and Labor will lead the effort to survey employers and employees in Lincoln and the surrounding area in late summer and early fall. The results will be released at an event on November 20, 2014.

The 14-member Knowledge Management Council was formed in 2013 under the leadership of then Lincoln Chapter ASTD President Jeff Beck '14L. A senior professional development specialist at Duncan Aviation, Beck is an undergraduate student at Doane’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) in Lincoln and is set to graduate in May with a double major.

Beck took the torch for this vision from past ASTD president Kevin Mattran, who continues to actively serve on the council, and is an adjunct faculty member at Doane’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies in Lincoln and the workplace learning and performance specialist at Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation. It was Mattran who recruited Beck from the ASTD membership ranks to a leadership role.

Two other council members also have Doane ties. Julie Panko Haberman, a supervisor of learning and development at Lincoln Electric System, is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Management program. Mike Milbourn '90 is the assistant vice president of sales training and development at Ameritas Life Insurance Corporation, and a graduate from Doane’s School of Arts and Sciences in Crete.

Mayor Chris Beutler was on hand at the event to endorse the initiative.

“The government can do things, but to take a city to the top level takes everybody thinking, the courage to try new ideas, and that is why this is so special to me,” Beutler said. “ASTD brought together the public, private and education sectors in a project that will serve as a model for other communities.”

Beck said a six-week advisory committee evolved into a dedicated team of volunteer professionals.

“Each and every one of us has made a significant contribution to the success of this initiative. All we want is to make a difference. To find a solution to a problem a lot of us have been talking about...and now we are doing something about it,” Beck said.   

Beck, who will graduate from Doane with a double major in organizational communication and graphic design, has been using his education to benefit both Duncan Aviation and the Knowledge Management Council.

“In short, my education has made a major impact on my quality of work. I was able to write a successful business plan for the purchase of a new Learning Management System, bringing on a major culture shift throughout the organization and expanding the company’s abilities to effectively and efficiently deliver quality and meaningful training. I also use my graphic skills daily with developing training programs,” said Beck.

Within ASTD-Lincoln, Beck credits his education for helping him to successfully manage several leadership roles as well as hone communication and networking skills essential to the organization. Skills he also used to sit down across from Janice Hadfield, Doane’s dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, to ask her to sponsor the ASTD luncheon.  

And while the “Make it Work for Lincoln” initiative is just getting off the ground, Beck is already working on another idea: connecting adult students to internships.

Beck has been working with Susan Rocker, director of Career Development for Doane’s  School of Graduate and Professional Studies, on the concept.

“It would connect non-traditional students with internship opportunities from ASTD-Lincoln members in a variety of different fields,” said Beck.

Sometimes great ideas go nowhere. But this time is different. This time, the dream for Lincoln is coming true, and creating a national model in the process.

“ASTD is about bringing the community together and forming partnerships and opportunities to benefit businesses and the workforce,” said Beck.