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Nicole Sherard-Freeman joined the City of Detroit as Executive Director of Workforce Development in August 2019. Nicole is responsible for building a world-class staffing organization that supplies ready talent to local employers, and solving for the often complex job and career readiness needs of local residents by leveraging Detroit’s network of service providers. Nicole’s team measures its success by Detroit’s residential employment level, the increase in average wages for Detroit at Work customers, and growth in the number and quality of employers served through the system.
Prior to joining the City, Sherard-Freeman was President and CEO of the city’s workforce agency, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. In her 2½ years with DESC she was responsible for leading the strategy and day-to-day operations of the agency, supporting the city’s vision for talent readiness and employment demand for Detroit residents.
Under her leadership, DESC grew from $37MM to $67MM, and significantly increased the number and scope of partnerships with philanthropic investors and employers. In addition, the agency substantially improved its capacity to capture and report data through the implementation of a world-class data system, introduced LEAN process improvements to all major operations, developed an executive-level talent bench, and commenced a strategy to increase the number of Detroit at Work Career Centers from 3 to 8 locations, providing improved access to jobseekers across the city. She also helped lead the transformation of Detroit at Work into a full-service employment agency for major job generators.
Nicole brings 20+ years of combined experience in corporate, non-profit, and entrepreneurial sectors, and the proven ability to develop and manage complex, cross-sector partnerships. From external relationships with community-based organizations and philanthropic investors to direct, daily management of initiatives for government partners, Nicole’s unique skill set integrates significant experience managing relationships with employers and the close examination and analysis of those who provide direct service to Detroit jobseekers.
As the former Director of Corporation for a Skilled Workforce’s Detroit Portfolio, Nicole was a lead researcher and co-author of two significant reports about Detroit’s talent pool and job market: Detroit’s Untapped Talent – Jobs and On-ramps Needed; and, Detroit’s Untapped Talent – Pathways and Partnerships for Success. She is also a local guest lecturer on topics involving workforce and talent pipeline development.
Born and raised in Detroit, Nicole is a graduate of Renaissance High School. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and has completed graduate studies in Organizational Management and Development at Fielding Graduate University. She holds a credential in Global Human Capital Trends from Columbia University School of Professional Studies. Nicole serves on the boards of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Board of Governors for Schoolcraft College Foundation, and is co-chair of the Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan.