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Gov. Wolf Recognizes L&I Employee for Workforce Initiatives During Opioid Epidemic, COVID-19 Pandemic

05/19/2022

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf honored Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) employee Brenda Duppstadt, director of L&I's Bureau of Workforce Development Administration, with a Governor's Award for Excellence (GAE) for her efforts to support Pennsylvania workers, particularly in times of crisis.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duppstadt collaborated with officials from the departments of Labor & Industry, Health and Human Services, as well as local workforce stakeholders, to secure a nearly $7 million Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant for pandemic-recovery efforts in Pennsylvania.

"In a time of crisis, Brenda Duppstadt used her unique skillset and workforce development background to obtain resources for Pennsylvania when the commonwealth and its citizens needed her most," Governor Wolf said. "She is the epitome of a public servant, the type of individual who recognizes a need and takes decisive action for the greater good of her neighbors and co-workers. When Pennsylvania needed her, Brenda was there." 

Duppstadt was pivotal in obtaining the National Health Emergency (NHE) Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant that was awarded to the commonwealth in 2018. The grant -- in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine on Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Supporting Employers, Supporting Employees in Recovery -- provided a free educational series for employers of individuals with substance abuse disorders to address the opioid crisis during a time when the commonwealth's rates were among the highest in the nation. 

Most recently, Duppstadt was featured in a digital case study highlighting Project ECHO's successes, by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

"Brenda's contributions to the commonwealth in times of crisis have been uniquely valuable, with immeasurable impact on the lives of Pennsylvanians. But she is also a constant contributor to L&I's mission of providing effective and accessible support to Pennsylvania workers and employers. As the labor market and the demands of work change, we are lucky to have leaders like Brenda identifying and distributing resources where they are most needed," L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.

Duppstadt has a career track record of working to direct resources toward underserved populations. Recognizing the need for individuals with physical and sensory disabilities to be able to access services at PA CareerLink® centers, Duppstadt has worked with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) to identify urgent ADA-accessibility needs, ensuring that people with disabilities can fully participate.

"Brenda epitomizes the idea of a civil servant. At her core she strives to provide the very best of service to Pennsylvanians who need us the most. She is an absolute pleasure to work with, kind, engaged and focused on getting things done and getting them done right," said Sheila Ireland, L&I Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development.

Duppstadt, who started her career in workforce development 18 years ago, has also served as Division Chief for the Grants and Fiscal Division, as well as Acting Bureau Director in the Bureau of Workforce Development Administration.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Duppstadt managed roughly $1 billion in federal grants and state dollars aimed at delivering efficient customer service to individuals and employers assisted by Pennsylvania's workforce system. She was also pivotal in investing roughly $8 million of recaptured program dollars back into the public workforce system – funds that would have been returned to the federal government due to complications created by the pandemic. 

"Through my career in workforce development, I have been able to serve and support others in making a lasting and impactful change in their own lives," said Duppstadt. "There is no greater blessing than to support someone in overcoming an obstacle that they may not have been able to overcome independently."

The Governor's Awards for Excellence recognizes employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and increased efficiency. Employees or a group of employees are nominated by a co-worker for the award. Duppstadt is one of 50 employees from 12 agencies being recognized for exceptional accomplishments in 2021.

Visit the L&I website and follow us on Facebook or Twitter to learn more about workforce development or OVR.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Alex Peterson, dlipress@pa.gov

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