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RDG's Interview Series

Updated: Aug 17, 2023


A Conversation with Dr. Anna Lebesch about Talent Development

By RDG Principal Clint Nessmith

Resource Development Group's relationship with JAXUSA Partnership dates back to the early 1990s when eventual RDG co-founder, Mike Trubiano, managed the first funding campaign for the organization that was then known as Cornerstone. Since then, we have had the pleasure of witnessing first-hand as this organization has become one of the top-performing economic development entities in the country while managing five of their funding campaigns. Therefore, it was no surprise to us when JAXUSA entered into the talent development realm and thrived.

Dr. Anna Lebesch leads JAXUSA's talent initiatives. With more than 20 years of experience as an educator and college administrator, Anna has been instrumental in paving the academic paths for the countless students and workforce members who are currently serving Greater Jacksonville communities. She has been involved in developing more than 60 educational programs to answer the local workforce needs, partnering with Northeast Florida businesses and industries, colleges and universities and regional school districts. Her talent development duties include managing JAXUSA's Talent Advancement Network (TAN). In this blog interview, I talk with Anna about the TAN.

Clint: JAXUSA has been very proactive in the talent development space for years, but the creation of the TAN is a relatively recent development. What exactly is the purpose of the TAN and who is involved?

Anna: The TAN is comprised of talent decision makers from our top companies and education providers. They meet regularly to ensure educational platforms understand the needs of our region's industries and develop the talent pipeline. The TAN identifies and develops relevant projects to address key areas of interest supporting the Elevate Northeast Florida workforce strategy, strengthening career pathways, enhancing our workforce and building our economy.

Clint: Will you provide an example or two of how the TAN has already made an impact in the Jacksonville region?

Anna: Through the guidance and input of the TAN, we were able to launch the Career Pathways Campaign a full year earlier than expected. The campaign focuses on deepening the understanding of our region's industries and their essential career pathways and developing a new pathway website found here. These resources work to engage and excite K-12 and postsecondary students by featuring industry hype videos, occupations found in our region, certificates and degrees aligned with those occupations, and employer/employee success stories.

Secondly, the TAN was also supportive in providing input and feedback on JAXUSA's talent recruitment campaign website,, which was recognized by the International Economic Development Council's Awards of Excellence for the special purpose website category. The website expands the brand awareness of the region's job opportunity, lifestyle and relocation opportunities and serves as a resource for our TAN network as well as other companies looking for skilled talent to hire from outside of the region.

Lastly, when talent development opportunities are identified, the TAN serves as our direct connection to capitalize on those opportunities. A great example was the effort to bring a $3.6 million fintech grant to our region. Jacksonville is naturally seeing a shift to fintech operations growing within corporations, businesses and startups in the region's finance industry. Couple that with the 2019 announcement from Jacksonville-based Fortune 500 company, FIS, to add 500 new jobs, invest $150 million in capital investment and build a new headquarters in downtown Jacksonville. As the world's largest fintech company by revenue, FIS' presence and growth in Jacksonville, along with three other fintech announcements last year, positioned JAXUSA, the TAN, and the region's state colleges to take the lead in building that talent. Our Financial Services TAN members convened to provide input and guidance on the specific needs of the industry to support this growth which resulted in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing that our region would be awarded the $3.67 million dollars to Florida State College at Jacksonville and St. Johns River State College to enhance the development of that talent pipeline.

Clint: Do you have any advice for other chambers of commerce and economic development organizations who might be interested in forming a similar initiative?

Anna: My advice is to be strategic. Have a purpose for your Talent Network and what you want to achieve. It should be aligned with your strategic plan. Also, talent is a concern for more than a company's head of human resources, so include company strategists and any others who have a pulse on the talent needs of the organizations in your network.

Clint: Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us, Anna. With talent being a priority for every community, I am sure you have helped to spark new ideas for our readers today.

Follow this link for more information about Anna Lebesch and JAXUSA Partnership.

Authored by Clint Nessmith.

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