As of October 1st, 2019, Erica Staley has succeeded Dan Swinney as Executive Director of Manufacturing Renaissance. Dan founded the organization in 1982 and after 37 years of service to the organization's mission has decided to step aside. Dan will still be deeply involved in the work of Manufacturing Renaissance, by serving on the Board and also acting as the Director of the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council.
Erica joined Manufacturing Renaissance over 10 years ago to lead the development of the Manufacturing Connect program. Under her guidance, the program served over 350 youth and young adults, organizing over 580 work-experiences and facilitating 98 permanent job placements. In addition, Erica played a crucial role in raising over $5M both for programmatic work and general operations.
Dan Swinney Reflects on 3 Decades at the Helm of Manufacturing Renaissance
Building Manufacturing Renaissance over the last 37 years (hard to believe) has been an incredible, challenging, exhilarating, and rewarding experience. I can’t think of a career that could have been better. I’ve had the honor of working with and influencing leaders of all kinds in work—from grassroots organizations on Chicago’s West Side, the labor movement, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, policy leaders, and elected officials. Together we have confronted big problems and usually have come up with creative solutions.
What could be more exciting than having Erica step up to become the Executive Director of Manufacturing Renaissance. She has emerged as a strategic leader in the organization and an excellent manager. She has personally led our complex work in education over the last 11 years and fully understands the distinctive features of Manufacturing Renaissance and our strategic vision. She has my complete confidence in her ability to take the organization to the next stage. And what could be more fulfilling to a father than having a daughter make this kind of commitment?
In case you’re wondering, I’m not retiring. I’m just letting go some of my responsibilities so I can focus on some of our key strategic programs and do some writing and passing on what I’ve learned over the last 37 years to the next generation.
Erica Staley Embraces Her Role as New Executive Director of Manufacturing Renaissance
Working for Manufacturing Renaissance has allowed me to do what I consider my life’s work. It is an honor for me to continue to serve this organization as its Executive Director. Though it’s a little daunting prospect to think of even trying to fill my Dad’s shoes, I think the job at hand is not to try to replace him but to build on his formidable legacy with my own experience and perspective.
As a mixed-race, woman-of-color, a former environmental justice organizer and ecologist, along with nearly 20 years’ experience working in low-income Black and Latinx communities - the last 12 years working in the schools building a program that has positively impacted the lives of youth and influenced employers, community-based organizations and policy makers to think more broadly about workforce and community development, I know I have something to contribute in this new role.
My hope moving forward is for our organization and our work to embody the idea of “Renaissance” as much as possible. I want to be able to measure our impact not only in quantitative outcomes in counting credentials, jobs, and employers but in raising the expectations of what is possible in changing systems, institutions and culture. This work started with Dan and continues with me and team we’ve brought together.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.