By: Julie S. Baker

It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the Program Development Division (PDD) at the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance (OTAA).

Six months into my first year, seven years ago, the 2011 Program expired and we all worked so hard to retain staff and infrastructure, continue getting workers enrolled in the program and reemployed, and after reauthorization in 2015 – make workers whole again. We now have a strong and resolute Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) workforce with five years of a continuous 2015 Program. We understand the power of coming together and collaborating, despite barriers and a changing economy - despite a pandemic - with shared responsibility to deliver benefits and services to the workers we serve.

I am proud of OTAA’s steadfast operational focus; proud of PDD and the Regional Trade Coordinators. I am proud of every TAA Program practitioner around the country. I am proud of our TAA Final Rule and the clarity with which we gather, analyze, and share data and information to finely target areas for improvement. I am proud of the way Investigators and Certifying Officers continue to step up, day after day, under their constant, bruising workload.

It is an extraordinary thing to be an eyewitness to the full scope of the TAA Program. There have been numerous occasions, such as regional roundtables, when I have looked round the room to see State and Local leaders striving for excellence where it really counts. It has been a real pleasure to listen to the inspiring, honest, sometimes difficult, conversations for the greater good.
I don’t underestimate the difficulties ahead but I also know you are at your best when the chips are down. This is a program administered by practitioners that will rise to meet these challenges with fortitude, imagination, and true dedication and love for the TAA Program.

I will continue to cheer you all on back at my home base of the Chicago Regional Office (Region 5). I will have a new position in the wide world of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) but I hope to continue the conversation and collaborate with you – taking advantage of these wonderful Communities on WorkforceGPS.