Mayor Johnson names Lynn McBee as workforce czar

McBee will be responsible for implementing the mayor’s workforce study recommendations.

Mayor Johnson officially announced McBee’s appointment on Monday.

DALLAS — Mayor Eric Johnson on Monday named Lynn McBee as his Workforce Czar to help boost upskilling efforts — a top mayoral priority — in the city.

The mayor’s appointment of McBee fulfills a promise he made during his State of the City address to name a czar in early 2022 to implement the recommendations of his landmark workforce development report. The report, released in November and titled “Upskilling Dallas: How to Modernize the City’s Workforce for the Jobs of Tomorrow,” found a great need for more initiatives and resources for training and education programs for working-age adults.

Mayor Johnson and McBee said during a news conference Monday that expanding, improving, coordinating, and promoting workforce development programs will be crucial to the city’s longstanding efforts to grow southern Dallas by taking a people-focused approach to economic development.

“Workforce development is one of the most important and least discussed issues of our time,” Mayor Johnson said. “But now, it is time for us to make upskilling a top priority in Dallas and come together to build the workforce of the future — one that will attract and grow businesses, build equity, and sustain our city’s outstanding economic growth for years to come.”

Mayor Johnson called McBee “an ideal fit” for the Workforce Czar position, citing her education leadership experience, longtime homeless solutions advocacy, and other volunteer and civic work in Dallas. McBee, who worked for decades as a research scientist, currently serves as Co-Chair of the Board of For Oak Cliff and is a Trustee for the Dallas College Foundation. She has also served on numerous civic boards, including as chair of The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, The Family Place, and the Visiting Nurse Association.

As Workforce Czar, McBee will be responsible for building and executing strategies to implement the report’s recommendations, including establishing formal agreements with existing workforce development organizations, such as Dallas College, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas and other providers. She’ll also work to refine and implement programs that help working-age adults secure better jobs. And, she’ll work closely with the Mayor’s Office to communicate workforce training opportunities to key audiences and track workforce development progress.

“I’m excited to work with Mayor Johnson on this issue that’s so important to our city, our families and our future. Workforce development will not only lift families and communities and create more opportunity and growth, but it also addresses equity, it’s a step forward in eliminating racial barriers, and it’s key to ending systemic cycles of poverty,” said McBee, who serves as CEO of Young Women’s Preparatory Network.

According to the Upskilling Dallas report, which was produced by research and management consulting firm Cicero Group and funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, working-age adults make up over 35% of the city’s population. About 40% of households in Dallas are considered low-income, with the greatest disparities among minority groups including Black, Hispanic and female-led households. More than 30% of all households headed by single women are below the poverty line, increasing to more than 40% if a woman has children.

The report also showed an unequal distribution of workers in “good jobs” by race, with white workers holding 54% of family-sustaining wage jobs, while Black and Hispanic workers hold only 15% and 16%, respectively. The report also showed that jobs held by Hispanic workers represent more than 40% of the jobs facing high automation risk.

The report was briefed to the Dallas City Council’s Workforce, Education, and Equity Committee in December at Mayor Johnson’s request.

The mayor had previously made workforce development a priority for his mayoralty in his inauguration speech in 2019, but his efforts were temporarily delayed because of the upheaval caused by the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Mayor Johnson has said, the societal changes wrought by the pandemic, paired with the city’s economic ascendancy, has now made the issue even more resonant and urgent.

“Successful workforce development is not just about improving individuals’ career paths,” Mayor Johnson said. “It is about changing the trajectory of our city, creating growth and opportunity for all, and making Dallas a truly equitable city of the future.”

Read the complete Cicero Group report here.

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