Director of employment and training now in charge of Workforce Development Board of Oswego County
By Stefan Yablonski
Rachel Pierce became the director of employment and training for Oswego County Department of Social Services in May 2020 — “at the height of the pandemic.”
“In July 2022, I added the role of executive director of the Workforce Development Board of Oswego County,” she said.
Prior to employment with the county, she worked with the New York State Department of Labor as a labor services representative at Oswego County Workforce New York, OCWNY, assisting unemployment insurance recipients.
“I was born and raised in Fulton,” she said. “I attended LeMoyne College in Syracuse for my Bachelor of Arts in history and returned home to attend SUNY Oswego for my Master of Arts in American history.”
She later earned her MBA from SUNY Oswego as well.
“My husband, a fellow Fultonian, and I have decided to plant our roots and raise our two girls — Kara and Elise 4 and 5 years old — in Fulton as well. We love our community and want to see it flourish into the future,” she said.
Her husband, Troy, works for a company that’s doing contractor work at Novelis. They do wastewater treatment.
“It’s a learning experience on a daily basis — relearning some of the basics in life that may have been taken for granted,” she said of her young daughters. “My younger one, she started preschool and she came home during the first week and she couldn’t believe that she had to raise her hand to talk. And, she also couldn’t believe that she had to keep her shoes on in school. That was a new one — I didn’t think to explain that to her before she went. She felt comfortable and wanted her shoes off,” Pierce laughed.
As the director of employment and training, she oversees the Oswego County Workforce New York Career Center in Fulton and the Employment and Training Team and Career Center at the Department of Social Services in Mexico.
“I split my time — one day a week in Mexico. My main office is here at the Workforce Career Center in Fulton in the county building, where the DMV is, across from Mimi’s,” she said. “I pick and choose my days — I come from Fulton — it’s just Route 3 driving, so it isn’t too bad.”
“As executive director, I collaborate with our workforce system partners to build economic and workforce opportunities for local employers and job seekers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act,” she said.
“I hope to establish a working environment that cultivates creativity and passion for the members of our local community and the betterment of everyone,” she continued. “I also want employees to feel heard and appreciated for the efforts they apply in assisting every person that walks through our doors, regardless of circumstance.”
She wants to continue to grow OCWNY’s presence in the community through outreach and participation in community events.
“OCWNY staff is phenomenal at sharing information about our services with local businesses to help them find a qualified workforce and community members in reaching their training and employment goals,” she said. “It is often said that we are the best kept secret in Oswego County; we need to continue to spread our story and the opportunities we can offer community residents.”
“I want to grow our presence within the community. There are a lot of people, a lot of businesses, who don’t know, maybe that we are here or even what the career center can offer,” she said. “We can help with scholarships, we can help with recruitment, and we can help with wage reimbursement for new hires. We put on individual job fairs and we put on our own job fairs where we set up with a lot of employers. There is so much we can do to help; the job seeker and the employer. We are trying to get that information out there even more.”
They recently partnered with Mentor Ambulance.
“We were able to help with funding of seven new EMTs. They were hired by Mentor — went through the training — they were being paid while they went through their training and all seven retained their employment with Mentor and earned their certification,” she said.
There are a lot of people who live in Oswego County that work in Onondaga County.
“The Micron project — that is always a topic of conversation. There is a lot that is going to come with that; but it is also knowing that Micron might pull from some of our local businesses. We need to continue to support the local businesses that we have here,” she added.
That’s the best part of the job – helping people, she said.
“A drawback would be working within all the government regulations. The ever-changing government regulations. You have got to stay on your toes,” she said. “I work within federal, state and local. It makes it interesting.”
Dogs or cats?
“That’s an interesting question. I would consider myself a dog person. But we used to have two cats that we actually lost this past year. We’re going to possibly get a puppy in the future. My girls want a puppy — so, my only request is it be a nonshedding dog,” she said with a smile.
An avid reader, she said she likes to spend time with family and friends, and also enjoys playing with her young daughters “and rediscovering the world through their eyes.”
“I also teach pilates and dance fitness classes at my local gym, (a certain one in Fulton), and supporting other women on their wellness journeys,” she said.
Name: Rachel Pierce
Position: Oswego County Director of Employment & Training / Executive Director of the Workforce Development Board of Oswego County
Birth Date: September 1987
Birth Place: Fulton
Education: Bachelor’s degree in history, LeMoyne College; master’s degree in American history, SUNY Oswego; MBA, SUNY Oswego
Affiliations: Member of Integrated Community Planning, Inc. board of directors; P-TECH governance committee; Oswego County Early Childhood Alliance; Early College High School steering committee; Oswego County Transportation, advisory committee
Family: Husband, Troy; daughters, Kara (5) and Elise (4)
Hobbies: Pilates, exercising, dancing, reading, quality family time!