Educating for the Future

Young Government Leaders (YGL) and GovLoop present the NextGen Public Service Awards for superior public service and achievement. The 5th Annual NextGen Public Service Awards will be given at the 2015 NextGen Award’s Ceremony, which will kick of the NextGen Training Summit on July 20th and 21st in Washington, DC. This year we have 30 finalists – the NextGen 30. Over the next month we will introduce you to our finalists through this blog series.423-award_finalist_bannercopy


Meet the Finalist:

Who: Karla Aguirre, Director of Program and Training, Department of Workforce Services

Achievement: NextGen Public Service Award Finalist, Advocates Category

“Karla has a strong connection with the community employer and other agency partners. This connection has created a collaborative approach to helping Utah citizens in an effective way. She has worked hard to provide professional development opportunities to her staff to foster growth and innovation. She often balances many overwhelming responsibilities at once. Karla’s creativity and problem solving is invaluable. She supports her staff consistently, and is always looking for opportunities to improve work life. Through Karla’s example in leadership programs, they are no longer just programs administered to ambiguous groups of people,” said Elizabeth Carver, a colleague of Aguirre.

As the Director of Program and Training for the Department of Workforce Services for the state of Utah, Karla Aguirre juggles quite a few tasks at once.

“My job is to make sure that we have policy, programs, and training for our local one-stop staff and that they’re providing services to help people with employment training and education, and a lot of other things,” said Aguirre. “One of the jobs that I really enjoy is getting employers, businesses, and the community partners together to help us provide better services to our citizens of Utah.”

Managing 85 staff members, 65 different federal and state employees, training programs, and a host of additional duties can be difficult to keep straight, but not for her. Aguirre’s trick to her trade is hiring really smart people.

“I really set the vision,” she said. “We do lot of creative things. We have a great operational staff and tell them what we want to achieve. We’re very outcome driven and I just get out of their way. They’re doing great stuff and I couldn’t be prouder of all the work they accomplish.”

In state and federal government, an outcomes driven environment isn’t as typical as many would hope. Aguirre’s creates that environment by setting their standard of expectations right from the beginning. “It starts with the end goal and that is about employment,” said Aguirre. “Our goal in this department is to help people connect to resources, but primarily to get them a good job. So if that means helping them with education and training, food stamps, childcare, or connecting them to the right resources, we do it.”

Public service is a tough job but Aguirre makes it look easy. She credits her success in managing organized chaos to being a single mother of four. “I don’t think I can handle a one dimension job,” she said. “Juggling so many balls gives me a perspective that I think helps in being a public servant. I know that there were people that helped me and I just want to return that and make sure they get a good opportunity as well.”

Aguirre is a leader in the state of Utah and there is no questioning her success as a public servant. But what makes her job so special is that she loves doing it. “I think if I didn’t come to work every day and like what I do, and really try to solve problems, and be collaborators with our partners, then I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

“I’m a public servant because I truly want to make a difference in the lives of our disconnected citizens,” said Aguirre. “When you hear some of the success stories of our customers and how we’ve changed their lives, that’s what’s important to me.”

We will be talking to all the NextGen Public Service Award finalists in the upcoming weeks. See the full list here. Finally, register to attend the Awards Ceremony to get to know the NextGen 30 in-person!


Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply