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Envision Returns to San Francisco with “The Future of Work”

April 17, 2024

Guests arrive at the California Academy of Sciences for Envision: The Future of Work.

On April 10, 2024, JVS supporters, community members, staff, and alumni gathered at the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) in San Francisco for Envision: The Future of Work, JVS’s annual gala celebration. Attendees commemorated 51 years of transforming the California workforce and looked toward a future where all jobseekers have access to quality, lasting careers. 

Envision guests were treated to after-hours access to the stunning CAS venue, including a rainforest experience and cocktail reception in the legendary Steinhart Aquarium. Attendees dined on cuisines from around the world as they socialized among thousands of aquatic animals before gathering for an inspiring event program. 

Guests at Envision enjoy the rainforest and aquarium during the opening reception.

The program opened with JVS’s new animation that busts some common job market myths that harm jobseekers looking for better opportunities and improved quality of life. Lisa Countryman-Quiroz, JVS CEO, then welcomed attendees and noted the effectiveness of their collective efforts to change the California workforce landscape. 

“We gather like this to take a pause from our day-to-day and reflect on some of the most powerful things we have achieved together,” Countryman-Quiroz shared. “This work requires all of us. Sometimes the smallest act can have the power to change someone’s job search, skill level, or career. As you hear from our community, I want you to remember your power in shaping a future of work that is better for everyone.” 

Lisa Countryman-Quiroz, JVS CEO, welcoming guests from the stage at Envision.

Seven JVS alumni were featured in new spotlight videos that highlighted their journeys and achievements over the past few years. The alumni are thriving in a variety of fields, from healthcare to tech to skilled trades, in which JVS provides career training and skills development programs. Erran Berger, JVS Board Vice President, noted the importance of organizations like JVS in providing training that not only leads to stable jobs, but also builds adaptability for jobseekers and employers navigating new technologies. 

“We are on the brink of a transformation of the labor market. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to transform the world of work, reshaping industries and redefining skill sets required in the job market,” Berger shared. “This seismic shift presents a dual challenge: ensuring that the workforce can adapt to new technologies, and seizing the unprecedented opportunities AI brings for enhancing productivity and creating new job domains. In this rapidly changing landscape, JVS’s skills-based strategy emerges not just as a response, but as a forward-thinking solution.” 

Erran Berger, JVS Board Vice President, addresses Envision attendees during the program.

Countryman-Quiroz moderated a panel conversation—featuring Mar Carpanelli, Head of AI Research at LinkedIn Research Institute, and Autumn McDonald, Senior Fellow and Head of New America CA at New America—about the future of work and how AI will impact the workforce in the coming years. The panelists shared their thoughts about how AI will affect equity in workforce development at a systems level and our collective responsibility to ensure access to new AI technologies benefits jobseekers from all backgrounds. 

From left: Lisa-Countryman-Quiroz moderates a panel with Mar Carpanelli from LinkedIn and Autumn McDonald from New America.

For the first time in several years, JVS brought back the Alumni Achievement Award for graduates who have thrived in their careers since participating in JVS programs. Yasmeen Gonzales, EXCEL class of 2010 alum, presented Denise Thomas, EXCEL class of 2014 alum, the award in recognition of her outstanding work ethic and service to the JVS community. Thomas is currently a Payroll Analyst 2 at UCSF, and in her nine years at the organization, Denise has been promoted from her initial role of Clerk three times. She is a frequent guest speaker at EXCEL program graduations and has represented JVS participants in interviews with the media and U.S. government officials. 

“JVS was where my journey really began,” Thomas shared. “JVS provided education and skill-building, and most importantly, it is at JVS where I discovered my love for public speaking. I used to always give credit to JVS for my success. Bekka [Rosenbaum, JVS Chief Strategy Officer] said to me many times, ‘You did the work.’  She repeated this over and over–so much so, that I thought, ‘She needs to stop saying that.’ Then one day, a light came on and I realized–I did the work!” 

From left: Denise Thomas received the Alumni Achievement Award from fellow alum Yasmeen Gonzales; Thomas on stage at Envision with her award; Thomas and supporters from UCSF, where she has been promoted three times in the past nine years.

The evening wrapped up with an inspiring fundraising moment, led by Kirsten Wolberg, JVS Board President, and supported by Hakeem Oseni, JVS alum and Board member.  

“I think most importantly, your donation will provide job seekers with an opportunity for prosperity,” Wolberg told the crowd. “I see a vision of the future where JVS has the ability to scale our impact and improve the lives of even more jobseekers. A future where individuals, families and communities have greater prosperity. And the reality of that future starts tonight.” 

Kirsten Wolberg (left) and Hakeem Oseni (right) energize the crowd during the fundraising moment.

Following the program, guests were treated to a dessert reception, where new bonds were formed among members of the JVS community. 

Envision will return in Spring 2025, with save the date announcements arriving by mail and email earlier in the year. Interested supporters can sign up to receive JVS e-newsletter updates by subscribing to our mailing list

Envision guests mingle during the dessert reception.