Governor Markell Announces Nomination of Patrice Gilliam-Johnson, Ph.D. to Serve as Secretary of Labor


Dover, DE — Governor Markell announced today the nomination of respected educator and human resources expert Patrice Gilliam-Johnson, Ph.D. to serve as Delaware’s next Secretary of Labor.Patrice

For more than a decade, Dr. Gilliam-Johnson has served as Chairperson of Wilmington University’s Organization Dynamics Program.  In that capacity, she has helped prepare thousands of students for careers through instruction in the social and psychological elements of organizational behavior, leadership, motivation, workplace performance, and management.  Prior to entering academia in 1997, Dr. Gilliam-Johnson was a consultant providing training and consultation relating to workplace competency skills, employee selection, assessment and performance evaluation systems, and grievance procedures.  Prior to that time, Dr. Gilliam-Johnson gained a critical understanding of how organizations and governments can prepare employees for growth while serving in various roles with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the District of Columbia Courts, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Patrice’s experience and background coupled with her strong work ethic, dedication to underserved communities, and her passion for public service will make her a strong Labor Secretary if confirmed,” said Governor Jack Markell. “I am confident that Patrice’s understanding of people and how best to support them and their organizations will allow her to help build a stronger workforce in Delaware.”

Dr. Gilliam-Johnson received her Bachelors in Psychology from Morgan State University, and her Masters and Doctorate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of Maryland. She currently resides in Wilmington.  Dr. Gilliam-Johnson is active in the community, including as President of the Gilliam Foundation.  She has served as a board member or volunteer with the Delaware Community Foundation, the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, and Communities in Schools.  If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Gilliam-Johnson would fill the vacancy created by the retirement of John McMahon.

“I am honored to have been nominated by Governor Markell to serve as Secretary of Labor,” said Gilliam-Johnson. “The Department has a hugely important role connecting people with the training and resources they need to get good jobs.  If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to helping them with this vitally important work.”


Labor Secretary John McMahon to Retire after Seven-Year Tenure

Guided Department’s efforts to create more opportunities for Delaware workers

Wilmington, DE – Having successfully led the Department of Labor’s efforts to support Delaware workers during one of the most challenging times in the state’s history, Secretary John McMahon announced today that he would retire to spend more time with his family. An effective date, as well as Governor Markell’s nominee to replace him, will be announced in the coming days.

“John’s work has driven tremendous progress throughout the Department of Labor, while dealing with the unprecedented demands for Department services during a time when so many workers needed assistance as a result of the Great Recession,” said Markell. “Importantly, he has also played a vital role in helping our state tap into the talents of groups who were too often unable to access the employment opportunities they deserved, from recently returning veterans to people with disabilities. I am grateful for John’s passionate service and wish him and his family the best in everything that comes next.”

One of the signature accomplishments of Secretary McMahon’s leadership involved the vast improvement of Delaware’s online resources to support workers in improving their resumes and identifying job openings, while assisting employers in finding well-qualified Delawareans to fill company needs. Tens of thousands of workers have used these services, with more than 60 percent of Delawareans who use the services of the Division of Employment and Training now gaining employment within 90 days. That’s up from 42 percent in June 2010.

In the state’s new resume builder application, workers input their skills and experiences into a program that churns out a professional resume that more clearly indicates their strengths. Employers can then search the database for the people who are most likely to fit in their companies. In addition, the Department has launched web-enabled career lattices focusing on the manufacturing, IT, finance, retail, and hospitality sectors. These tools give workers an easy way to determine jobs for which they qualify in growing fields and the skills they need to acquire to help advance their careers.

Additional progress made during McMahon’s tenure includes:

  • Veterans: Unemployment rate for most recent returning veterans (age 18-34) has dropped from 14.5% (2010) to 5% (2014), following an intensive effort to engage the business community in considering these individuals.
    • From 2009 to 2014, the Department’s Veterans Program experienced a 55% increase in positive employment outcomes for all veterans served and a 40% increase for disabled veterans.
  • People with Disabilities: The Department has partnered with businesses statewide to help improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities and a recent study ranked Delaware first in getting youth receiving social security disability benefits into employment.
    • The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation’s efforts to connect people with disabilities to employment opportunities resulted in benefit savings of $1.65 million in 2014, compared to less than $1 million prior to 2008.
  • Workplace Safety: The number of injuries and illnesses causing employees to miss work decreased by nearly 23 percent from 2008 to 2013, from 3,690 to 2,860.
    • During this time, the Department’s Division of Industrial Affairs has increased outreach to provide free workplace inspections to Delaware employers.

“It has been my highest honor to lead the Department of Labor and the truly dedicated and committed staff who worked tirelessly throughout the Great Recession,” said McMahon. “I am grateful to Governor Markell for this incredible experience and for the chance to be part of the dedicated efforts of so many state leaders to support our citizens through both recession and recovery. While it is not easy to leave the many Labor employees who work so hard every day on behalf of our state, this job demands a tremendous commitment and I feel it is necessary to step down to have more time to spend with my family.”