Twenty-one State Employees and their Family Members Awarded Art Honors

Stephanie Berry, Migration, Best in Show
Best in Show: Migration, Stephanie Berry, Dover, Department: Capital School District, Art Teacher

Twenty-one talented state employees and their family members will be recognized for their works of art featured in the National Arts Program®: Delaware State Employee Exhibition and Contest IV. In addition, one People’s Choice Award winner will be selected through a Facebook contest. The Awards Show and Closing Reception will be held at Delaware State University’s Arts Center/Gallery on March 14, 2015, 1-3 p.m. Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock and Division of the Arts Deputy Director Kristin Pleasanton will preside at the Awards Ceremony.

“This program provides state employees and their family members with an opportunity to show a side that we don’t normally see in the workplace. It clearly demonstrates the range of talented individuals who are working for the state of Delaware,” said Secretary Bullock. “We’re proud to be able to support and recognize the artistic accomplishments of these employees and their families.”

Twenty-one awards will be given out in five categories – Professional, Intermediate, Amateur, Teen (13-18 years old), and Youth (12 years and under), culminating in one Best in Show. Sixteen cash prizes totaling $2,400 will be awarded by the National Arts Program®. Five Honorable Mention ribbons will also be awarded. Below is a list of all award winners who will be recognized at the Awards Ceremony and Closing Reception.

Two hundred thirty-five employees of Delaware state agencies and their immediate family members submitted artwork for the 2015 exhibition and contest. The participating artists came from across the state and region. Judges for the contest were Rosemary Connelly, artist and educator; Jennifer Gunther, Director of DSU Arts Center/Gallery; and James Ulry, artist and educator.

The Delaware Division of the Arts is proud to be the local sponsor of The National Arts Program®, an organization established in 1982 to identify, showcase, and reward the visual artistic talent in America. The National Arts Program® currently sponsors 82 annual programs, encompassing more than 450 cities and counties within 38 states.

The exhibition will be on view in the Arts Center/Gallery at Delaware State University through March 14. The Gallery is open Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., and Saturday, March 7, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Vote for your favorites! To view a complete set of all 235 art works, visit the Division’s Facebook page or view the artwork on Flickr. The image with the most likes on Facebook will be named the “People’s Choice” and recognized at the Awards Show and Closing Reception.

View all juried winner images here.

Best in Show:
Stephanie Berry, Dover
Department: Capital School District, Art Teacher

1st Place:
Adam Ledford, Philadelphia, PA
Department: Special Education, Teacher (Immediate Family Member)

2nd Place:
Gregory Thompson, Wilmington
Department: Red Clay School District, Teacher

3rd Place:
Jennifer Boland, Harrington
Department: Education, Art Educator

Honorable Mention:
William Cox, Wyoming
Department: Health and Social Services (Immediate Family Member)

1st Place:
Mark Blome, West Grove, PA
Department: Labor, Office of Anti-Discrimination (Immediate Family Member)

2nd Place:
Suzanne Oliver, Wilmington
Department: Technology and Information, Project Management Team

3rd Place:
John Fitzgerald, Claymont
Department: New Castle County Vocational Technical School District

Honorable Mention:
William Montgomery, Wilmington
Department: Delaware Supreme Court, Court Administrator

1st Place:
Sandi Carney, Dover
Department: Health and Social Services

2nd Place:
Jennifer Jurczak, Dover
Department: Labor, Business Services Representative

3rd Place:
Elizabeth Lucas, Middletown
Department: Education, Speech Language Therapist

Honorable Mention:
Gary Piel, Oceanview
Department: Corrections, Correctional Officer

1st Place:
Leah Martin, age 17, Dover
Department: Education, Star Hill School Nurse (Immediate Family Member)

2nd Place:
Samantha Greim, age 17, Smyrna
Department: North Star Elementary Library (Immediate Family Member)

3rd Place:
Hayley Schuster, age 18, Dover
Department: Caesar Rodney School District (Immediate Family Member)

Honorable Mention:
Willow Quillen, age 18, Lewes
Department: Education, Automotive Instructor (Immediate Family Member)

1st Place:
Caroline Dooley, age 8, Wilmington
Department: Delaware Transit Corporation (Immediate Family Member)

2nd Place:
Skyler Ditizio, age11, Smyrna
Department: Labor Unemployment, Claims Interviewer (Immediate Family Member)

3rd Place:
Max Kichline, age 12, Georgetown
Department: Public Health, Trainer/Educator (Immediate Family Member)

Honorable Mention:
Alex Krumrine, age 6, Magnolia
Department: Natural Resources and Environmental Control (Immediate Family Member)

Governor Markell Proposes New Program to Boost Manufacturing Workforce

Initiative would give high school students opportunity to earn professional certificates before graduation

Wilmington, DE – Proposing an opportunity to grow a vital part of our economy while giving more young people the best chance to reach their potential, Governor Markell today outlined an Accelerated fIMG_2724Career Paths program that would allow high school juniors and seniors to obtain professional manufacturing certificates when they graduate. The Governor previewed the initiative in his State of the State address as part of his plans to give students a roadmap from the classroom to employment.

In highlighting the importance of the manufacturing sector, the Governor noted that manufacturing is responsible for about 40 percent of total U.S. output and employment, and for two-thirds of our private-sector research and development. In addition, the average wages in manufacturing are more than 16% higher than the average wages in the economy.

“To keep our economy growing, we must meet the needs of our manufacturing employers,” said Markell during an address at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce Legislative Brunch and Manufacturing Conference. “We often talk about our global competition for talent as though it’s mainly a competition for individuals who have pursued a college education. We assume “good jobs” require a traditional degree, but nothing could be further from the truth. Just as we provide specialized coursework for students transitioning to college, this program provides similar opportunities for those choosing an accelerated career path.”

Delaware’s Accelerated Career Paths program ensures high school graduates are ready to start a career on day one.

Delaware’s manufacturers embraced the idea of working with the State, Del Tech, and school districts on developing this innovative approach to career readiness for the youngest members of our workforce – thereby ensuring a pipeline of talent for their long-term workforce needs.

With partnership from Del Tech and the Delaware Manufacturing Association, the initiative will involve developing a two-year, comprehensive program in manufacturing technologies for Delaware high school juniors and seniors.  The program – which results in nationally recognized advanced manufacturing certificates, in addition to a high school diploma and even some college credits – allows students to attend classes at their home school part of the week, while spending the remainder at the community college getting hands-on training.

Students will attend classes in their homes schools and receive training on manufacturing equipment at Del Tech so they can get the hands-on training necessary to land that first job.

“So many of the best jobs available now are in technical fields requiring electrical, mechanical, and maintenance skills,” said Mitch Magee, chair of the Delaware Manufacturing Association. “These are jobs that pay very well, often better than entry-level jobs attainable with a college degree, and we must offer the opportunities to become certified for these positions.”

The Delaware Manufacturing Association and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership are working to help identify members willing to offer real world opportunities during the summer between junior and senior year. This effort recognizes that, whether it takes the form of hands-on work or job shadowing, direct exposure to the workplace is crucial. Students will spend about 200 hours over the summer practicing their skills in the workplace.fIMG_2716

The manufacturing association has agreed to assist on three other fronts:

  • Vetting the curriculum, both up front, and on an annual basis to ensure it keeps pace with the industry’s evolving needs in light of changing technologies and improved methodologies.
  • Improving the image of manufacturing with the students, parents and educators through a variety of in-school activities and on-site events at the manufacturers’ facilities.
  • Ensuring students who commit to this path will be rewarded for doing so by developing ways to better predict their hiring needs 2-3 years down the road, so that the current pipeline matches the future demand for skilled employees.

The effort is modeled after a partnership between Delaware Technical Community College and Red Clay Consolidated School District. That program brought in high school juniors in the fall of 2012 for more than 300 hours of training in carpentry, plumbing, electricity, and OSHA Construction Safety.

Enthusiasm around the manufacturing partnership idea resulted in two schools – William Penn and Del Castle – piloting a shorter version of the initiative this semester at Del Tech, where 16 seniors are taking an intensive course covering math, blueprint reading, electrical and mechanical fabrication, and other key skill areas.

“Accelerated career pathways allow high school graduates to start a career on day one, without the time and financial investment required to pursue higher education,” said Markell. “They are the right choice for many of our students, including some of our best and brightest, and we need to make sure that we provide the training and workplace opportunities these young people need to excel.”


Governor Launches Delaware Cyber Aces Program

Competition trains job seekers in field of cybersecurity

Wilmington, DE – Addressing the increased demand for IT and cyber security professionals in Delaware and across the country, Governor Jack Markell today launched the Delaware Cyber Aces program, an online, cyber security education and training program. Delaware is one of 6 states hosting Cyber Aces, with over 6500 people having participated in the program nationwide.

“With every aspect of our society increasingly connected to the internet, cyber threats are one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face,” said Governor Markell. “As more and more companies join governments in realizing the importance of quality cybersecurity professionals, it’s critical we provide an environment in which the next generation of IT experts can learn and gain job opportunities in this rapidly growing field.”

fDSCF1728Designed to provide education and job skills training through a series of free, online tutorials and competitive assessments, the program is organized by the nonprofit group Cyber Aces.

“Similar to our shortage of fighter pilots at the start of World War II, now we have a critical shortage of skilled cyber defenders,” said Cyber Aces Founder Alan Paller. “And like the pilot training programs of that era, Cyber Aces initiatives are how we will identify or develop the specialists we need.”

The program is supported by a steering committee consisting of representatives several state agencies, including: Department of Technology and Information, Department of Labor, Department of Education, and Commission for Veteran’s Affairs; institutions of higher education, including: Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, University of Delaware and Wilmington University; as well as several private employers.

Delaware Cyber Aces targets high school and college students, veterans and jobseekers in an effort to identify and develop top talent. All applicants are eligible for the first round competition, which consists of three training modules and corresponding testing. High scorers will continue to move through the training modules and eventually earn the right to compete in a statewide championship in March 2014.

“Delaware’s Cyber Aces State Championship helps to address the critical skills gap in the cyber arena,” said Delaware Chief Information Officer Jim Sills III. “Students, job seekers and veterans can learn new skills, compete for top honors, and the best performers may earn scholarships for elite training.”

Registration is free and open to all state residents at

Delaware Receives $1.4M in Federal Grant to Train Dislocated Workers

State and Federal leaders applaud grant that will help fund innovative programs to help Delawareans train and find jobs

Dover, DE –  The Delaware Department of Labor will be receiving a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide job training and job search assistance to displaced workers who have been challenged over the long-term by residual effects from the economic downturn.  The funding for expands training for unemployed individuals to acquire industry-recognized credentials that lead to new career opportunities.

It supports on-the-job training, customized training, registered apprenticeships and other approaches that connect individuals with employers, with a focus on providing these services to those in longer term unemployment.  Delaware defines this as individuals who have been unemployed for a minimum of 27 weeks.

“This funding will help us break some of the barriers preventing some Delawareans from returning to work, including training that will assist those who can transfer skills or learn new skills and return to the workforce,” said Governor Jack Markell.  “Our state Department of Labor has been focused on developing innovative programs that connect individuals with jobs that match their employable skills with potential employers.  A combination of training, credentials, and work experience bring long-term employment success.”

Delaware is piloting the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), a portable credential that demonstrates achievement and a certain level of workplace employability skills in applied mathematics and locating information and reading.

“The attainment of meaningful credentials is already a focus in Delaware,” said John McMahon, Delaware Secretary of Labor.  “Our training activities will be targeted to Delaware’s Career Ladder Initiative, providing some short term training for many dislocated workers whose skills are transferable, particularly in Information Technology fields where the number of jobs are growing and advanced degrees are not necessarily required.  We are working with business to identify talent gaps and discuss how we can bridge some of the skill gaps for people who need jobs. ”

The Delaware Department of Labor job bank – Delaware Joblink – assists workers with case management, job search, labor market information, job matching, and training provider information.  The Joblink is also used by employers in their search for their next employee.

“Despite a recovering economy, too many Delawareans remain out of work. Fortunately, this grant from the Department of Labor will send close to $1.5 million to Delaware to help folks that have been unemployed for too long receive the training and resources they need to get back on track and into the workforce, “ said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. I’m confident this grant will help these Delawareans cultivate new, useful skills that will put them on paths towards long, successful careers.”

“Too many Delawareans know what it feels like to lose their job when their factory closed down or their company left town,” Senator Chris Coons said. “With so many still looking for work, this federal grant will give our neighbors the training they need to get hired. Helping Delawareans find jobs remains my top priority, so I’m hopeful about what this grant will mean for our state.”

“This grant will be a big boost for the many Delawareans who are eager to return to the workforce,” said Congressman John Carney.   “I’ve visited employment and training centers all over the state – like Goodwill in Bridgeville and West End Neighborhood House in Wilmington.  These organizations provide tremendous resources for those looking for work, and help connect employers with Delawareans who meet their needs.  The grant announced today will help these centers do their jobs better, and benefit Delaware employers and job seekers.”


From the U.S. Department of Labor

The U. S. Department of Labor invited states to apply for one-time funding in May and were asked to prioritize training efforts on long-term unemployed workers, many of whom would be likely to soon exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits.  The funding is being provided through Dislocated Workers Training National Emergency Grants.


State Award
Alabama $1,192,254
Alaska $1,200,000
California $1,784,413
Delaware $1,439,897
Florida $1,437,743
Hawaii $1,769,095
Idaho $675,882
Illinois $3,577,056
Indiana $2,343,780
Kansas $768,133
Kentucky $1,240,897
Massachusetts $2,872,496
Michigan $3,484,453
Minnesota $1,075,633
Mississippi $1,132,695
Missouri $2,037,558
Montana $1,402,065
Nevada $1,870,000
New Jersey $2,500,000
New York $1,427,560
Ohio $3,413,653
Oregon $2,616,342
Pennsylvania $3,606,703
Rhode Island $1,058,814
South Carolina $1,200,254
South Dakota $418,000
Texas $4,428,052
Virginia $1,249,991
Washington $2,702,646
Wisconsin $2,073,935
TOTAL $58,000,000

Governor Markell Signs Workers Compensation Reforms to Address Business Costs

Implements recommendations of Task Force led by Lt. Gov. Denn

DOVER, Del.  – Following a review by the Workers’ Compensation Task Force, created with the support of Governor Jack Markell and led by Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, the Governor signed House Bill 175 to implement the group’s recommendations. The law will place tighter controls on workers compensation medical costs, while improving the state’s workplace safety program and more effectively encouraging injured individuals to return to work.

The Task Force was established to address the dramatic increase in Delaware’s workers compensation premiums over the past two years, after four consecutive years of decreases that totaled over 40%.

“This bill represents another important step toward ensuring we make our state an attractive location for companies,” said  Governor Markell. “Rising premiums weren’t only unfair, but they also take away from other investments businesses can make in expanding and hiring Delawareans. I applaud Lt. Governor Denn’s leadership in ensuring the task force acted swiftly and effectively.”

HB 175 passed the Senate 21-0 on June 19 after passing the House on June 6 (39 yes, 2 absent).

“The legislation makes important changes to control medical costs, ensure greater scrutiny of insurance company rate increase requests, and help get injured workers back to work more quickly,” said Lt. Governor Denn, Chair of Delaware’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force. “But our work is not done, and we will continue to look at other areas where we can control costs without impacting the quality of medical care received by injured workers.”

Created by House Joint Resolution 3, the Workers Compensation Task Force was created on January 30, 2013 by the Delaware General Assembly and the Governor, and charged with an expedited review of Delaware law relating to workers compensation, the impact that the 2007 amendments to that law had upon workers compensation premiums, the reasons for recent increases in workers compensation premiums, and whether any additional changes to statutes, regulations, or practices are required to control growth in premiums.

Lawmakers who joined the Task Force and shepherded the bill to passage emphasized cooperation as a key to the group’s success:

“It was a pleasure to take part in an effort in which people from diverse backgrounds came together to accomplish a great deal toward reaching a common goal,” said Rep. Bryon Short, D-Brandywine Hundred, lead House sponsor of the bill. “I look forward to continuing to work with the group to tackle what’s left to ensure we keep rates low and protect our workers.”

“We got this bill through both houses so quickly because of the task force’s ability to reach a consensus among all of the groups represented,” said Senate President Pro Tem Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere. “We think we have taken significant steps to stabilize workers compensation.”

“This was the collective work of the elected, legal and business community,” said Secretary of Labor, John McMahon.  “As a former Insurance Commissioner, Lt. Governor Denn was uniquely qualified to help us navigate a set of diverse and complicated issues and develop a responsible plan of action.”

The task force’s recommendations fall into four areas:

1. Place tighter controls on workers compensation medical costs. These recommendations include a two-year inflation freeze on the fee schedule for medical treatment of workers compensation recipients, a permanent reduction in the inflation rate allowed for hospital treatment of workers compensation recipients, and reductions in allowed reimbursements in a variety of medical categories.

2. Ensure that insurance carriers’ requests for rate increases receive a high level of scrutiny. These recommendations include the retention of a part-time attorney to represent businesses during the workers compensation rate-setting process, and a system to ensure that insurers are diligently enforcing the state’s medical cost controls.

3. Make the state’s laws encouraging injured workers to return to work more effective; and

4. Improve the state’s workplace safety program to both increase its usage and ensure that is accurately determines which workplaces are using appropriate safety practices.

Additionally, the General Assembly accepted the task force’s suggestion that they be kept in existence on a temporary basis, both so that it can consider some issues that it did not have time to discuss during the short time that it had to make recommendations, and so that it can monitor the impact of its recommendations and suggest stricter measures with respect to medical costs if necessary. If the implemented recommendations do not result in manageable increases in workers compensation premiums, the task force believes that more significant changes should be considered both with respect to the levels and methods of paying medical claims, and the system for calculating injured workers permanency and lost wage claims.