Building Advantage Wisconsin

Mark Kessenich named WRTP/BIG STEP President and CEO

WRTP/BIG STEP Board of Directors taps Mark Kessenich as New President and Chief Executive Officer

Contact: Renee Shavers, Development and Communications Coordinator
Phone: (414) 342-9787

November 11, 2014 (Milwaukee, Wis.) – After an extensive nationwide search, WRTP/BIG STEP, a nationally recognized, workforce development intermediary is excited to announce that Mark Kessenich has been named President and CEO effective immediately. Kessenich held the position of Vice President at WRTP/BIG STEP and since July has been acting as Interim President and CEO.

“Mark has been a powerful force in workforce development for nearly two decades in Milwaukee,” said Mike Fabishak, Co-Chair of the WRTP/BIG STEP Board of Directors. “The Board of Directors is excited to formally announce his appointment as President and CEO of WRTP/BIG STEP after a national search of very qualified candidates. Mark’s leadership and vision have strengthened the organization for two years now and we are thrilled to welcome him on to lead us forward.”

As a recognized leader in workforce development strategy, Kessenich has been expanding WRTP/BIG STEP’s reach both in Milwaukee and throughout the Midwest. He is a leading force on the workforce development planning strategy connected to the Lakefront Redevelopment project, including Northwestern Mutual Tower, the Coutour Hotel, and the redesign of the lakefront freeway system. He has also played an integral part in the Milwaukee Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership Initiative, an initiative aimed at assisting Wisconsin manufacturers design recruitment and training programs designed to resolve critical workforce skills gaps. In addition to local coordination in construction and manufacturing, Kessenich has led WRTP/BIG STEP’s partnerships and efforts other areas including Wausau, Lac du Flambeau, Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and Minneapolis.

“As President and CEO of WRTP/BIG STEP I’m thrilled to be chosen to lead our organization at such a critical time. Milwaukee’s workforce has both the greatest need and the greatest potential for growth in the nation.” remarked Kessenich. “My goals are no less than to help grow economic regions with comprehensive workforce development strategies. Harnessing the value of individuals by offering them opportunities to enter into family sustaining career pathways builds the value of industry while strengthening our communities.”

“WRTP/BIG STEP’s success and growth is directly related to Mark’s hard work in the past two years” said Sheila Cochran, Co-Chair of the WRTP/BIG STEP Board of Directors. “His leadership is exactly what WRTP/BIG STEP needs as it sits on the edge of more expansion and opportunity to connect industry with a talented and well prepared workforce.”
About Mark Kessenich
Kessenich has dedicated his 17 year-career to designing innovative ways to meet workforce needs through planning and policy efforts, while working hand-in-hand with industry and community partners. Prior to joining WRTP/BIG STEP, Kessenich worked as the Director of Planning and Development at the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board where he developed a national reputation for his work and expertise in workforce development. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and serves on a variety of local and national Boards, including the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals.

The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/Building Industry Group’s Skilled Trades Employment Program is an innovative and nationally recognized non-profit workforce intermediary that is Industry Led, Worker Centered, Community Focused – Building a qualified, skilled, and diverse workforce to create a competitive economy and a health community.

WRTP/BIG STEP’s mission is to enhance the ability of public and private sector organizations to recruit and develop a diverse, qualified workforce in construction, manufacturing and emerging industry sectors of the regional economy. In 2013, WRTP/BIG STEP exceeded their workforce goals by serving 1862 individuals, placing 743 into careers with an average hourly wage of $17.00. As an industry-led organization, WRTP/BIG STEP’s unique workforce model has allowed them to attain successes garnering them national and local attention including the 2013 Construction Users Roundtable Workforce Development Award, as well as being selected the workforce partner on the Northwestern Mutual Headquarters project in downtown Milwaukee.

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