Building a 21st Century Workforce and Market – What’s the Solution? (KPCC Forum Series)

November 10, 2015

7:00pm - 8:30pm

Santa Monica


Moderated by Ben Bergman, Senior Reporter on the Southern California Economy, KPCC
Jessica Goodheart, Director, RePower LA Project, LAANE
Kevin Klowden, Managing Director, California Center, and Managing Economist, the Milken Institute
Russell Ragsdale, Strategic Planning Principal Manager for Grid Modernization, Electric System Planning Department, Southern California Edison.
Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor, Workforce and Economic Development, California Community Colleges



Video of “Building a 21st century workforce and market – what’s the solution?” event courtesy of Southern California Public Radio / KPCC. (p) 2015, Southern California Public Radio. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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As California emerges from recession, the state’s unemployment rate, more than 6 percent, continues to track higher than the national rate of 5.1 percent*. Over the past few decades, California’s economic success has increasingly depended on the ability of small business to grow and hire workers. The recession was especially hard on small businesses, and their recovery has been slower than in previous recessions. At the same time, the state has struggled to retain skilled workers and train workers to fill vacancies . These dilemmas stem in part from the high cost of housing, which forces many workers to leave the state, and inadequate opportunities for education and training. How do state leaders reconcile the growing skills gap with key regulatory and structural barriers that are inhibiting our ability to attract, retain and expand businesses?

*The Labor Market Information Division (LMID) is the official source for California Labor Market Information.

Moderated by 


Ben Bergman is a senior reporter on the Southern California economy for KPCC. He’s also a frequent contributor to NPR and “Marketplace” and is a regular fill-in host on Southern California Public Radio’s daily two-hour newsmagazine “Take Two.” Bergman has reported extensively on L.A.’s housing affordability problem, the city’s consideration of a higher minimum wage, the NFL’s possible return to the area, and the cable dispute that has kept most of Southern California unable to see games on TV.



Kevin Klowden is a managing economist at the Milken Institute and managing director of its California Center, which focuses on economic issues connected to job creation, technology-based development and California's role in the global economy. He is the lead author of multiple key works on the economics of the entertainment industry, including "A Hollywood Exit: What California Must Do to Remain Competitive in Entertainment--and Keep Jobs" as well as "Strategies for Expanding California's Exports" and the "State Technology and Science Index." Klowden has written, spoken and testified about the importance of a skilled and educated workforce in maintaining California's competitiveness. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and London School of Economics.

Ton Quinlivan2

Van Ton-Quinlivan is vice chancellor of workforce and economic development for California Community Colleges, the nation's largest system of higher education. Appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011, Ton-Quinlivan's leadership focus is "doing what matters for jobs and the economy." She is a recognized thought leader and agent of change in workforce development. Ton-Quinlivan has spent more than 15 years in corporate leadership roles, most recently as director of workforce development at Pacific Gas & Electric.


Russell Ragsdale is a Strategic Planning Principal Manager of Grid Modernization in the Electric System Planning department at Southern California Edison. In his current role, he is working to develop strategy for and implement distribution grid modernization. This effort includes enhanced distribution and substation automation, advanced communications networks, IT system architecture and cybersecurity, as well as a suite of planning and operations tools to enable integration of DERs into planning and operations. Ragsdale has over 10 years of experience in distribution system planning, distribution operations engineering, system planning software development, and strategic planning.

Jessica Goodheart

Jessica Goodheart is the director of the RePower LA Project at LAANE. Before assuming leadership of LAANE’s Repower L.A. Project, Goodheart served as the organization’s Research Director, authoring numerous studies, including evaluations of L.A.’s Living Wage Ordinance, analyses of city subsidy programs and reports on local economic development and the L.A. economy. Before joining LAANE in 1997, she managed a U.S. EPA-funded project that evaluated a non-toxic alternative to professional dry cleaning. Goodheart worked as a reporter in the early 1990s, writing stories for the L.A. Times, the LA Reader and the Village View. She received a B.A. in history from Columbia College in 1989 and, in 1995, an M.A. in urban planning from UCLA, where she helped to organize a union for teaching assistants and other academic student employees. She is the author of a forthcoming book of poems entitled Earthquake Season.


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This program was the third in our series, “Rescuing the California Dream: Policies for an Affordable Future.” The series was co-presented by KPCC/Southern California Public Radio and the Milken Institute.

Thousands of Californians face the very real possibility of being priced out of their communities. These public forums will explore the rising cost of education and housing and the dwindling opportunity to reach, or remain within, the middle class. In the first three programs, leaders in government, business, academia, community and philanthropy will dissect the problems and search for solutions to California’s affordability challenge. A fourth installment will be part of the 2015 Milken Institute California Summit and will serve as a platform to provide expert analysis and inform potential policy recommendations.