LONG BEACH, CA – Goodwill Serving the People of Southern Los Angeles County (Goodwill SOLAC) for 84 years has been providing skills training and employment placement services for people who want a second chance. It is fitting that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department will hold its Emerging Leaders Graduation tomorrow, February 28 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the agency’s main facility at 800 W. Pacific Coast Hwy.
The 24 students graduating from this class are men and women ex-offenders and gang members, their friends, family members and community members who are all on a path to work toward a better life. The Emerging Leaders Academy was founded by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and teaches life skills, career development, and job skills.
Sergeant Clyde Terry and a host of volunteers have dedicated themselves to the academy, which is to help the students learn who they are as a person and provide them with the tools to become good employees and employers. One goal of the academy is to break the bond that leads to ex-offenders to jail over and over again.
“I stand before you today as living proof that Emerging Leaders can transform you from the inside out,” said Joanna Perez, one of the graduates. “Since Emerging Leaders I have expanded my mind and let possibilities run wild in my brain. Nothing is impossible and it’s never too late,” she said.
Deputies Kenneth Collins, Gabino Gasataya, Lakeesha Alford and Juan Avila from the Long Beach Police Department have assembled a group of volunteers and supporters. Goodwill SOLAC provides space to hold their classroom session and offers career development. The Urban League donates the classroom in Los Angeles. SCORE (Retired Entrepreneurs) gives advice on how to build a business, and Margaret Pazant, Executive Life Coach, provides life skills training.
Another member of the graduating class, Cindy Espedal said, “After coming to Emerging Leaders I knew that I would only grow. I want to thank everyone who guided me and worked with me through this journey in my life.”
Graduate Laurie Jorgensen said, “When I entered Emerging Leaders, I had some underlying issues that held me back from moving forward. I truly feel I walked through my past and set it aside. I am now empowered and look forward to my future.”
Sergeant Terry said the academy’s commitment is to transform the community by transforming the conversation to one of empowerment. Emerging Leaders motto is: "be impeccable with your word."