Ed Harper

PathFinder Recording 9: Expanded Employer Partnerships – A Panel Discussion

PathFinder Session 9

Session Speaker 

Howard Drake

Howard Drake

Chairman, NCCET Board of Directors Chairman, NCCET Conference Committee Director, Polk State Corporate College hdrake@polk.edu
Howard Drake is currently Director of the Polk State Corporate College at Polk State College and has been in this position since 2016. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor at Polk State College, Webster & Barry Universities since 2008. He also served as President and CEO of LifePath Solutions.

Howard holds a Master of Science in Leadership from Capella University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Arts in Management from the University of South Florida. Under Howard’s leadership, Polk State Corporate College is ISO 9001:2015 certified. This certification distinction for the Corporate College is believed to be the only workforce development recipient associated with a college in the United States.

Howard enjoys all sports and music. He has been playing drums for over 50 years and participated in many band activities and groups. Drake is the current President of NCCET Board of Directors and has board and advisory activities with the Manufacturing Institute, Associated Industries of Florida and the Mid-Florida Manufacturing and Supply Chain Alliance [MSCA].

Guest Panelist

Aaron Demerson

Aaron Demerson

Commissioner Representing Employers Texas Workforce Commission 101 E. 15th Street, Room 630 Austin, TX 78778 (512) 463-2800 aaron.demerson@twc.state.tx.us
Aaron Demerson serves as the Commissioner Representing Employers for the Texas Workforce Commission. Governor Greg Abbott appointed him to the three-member Commission on August 20, 2019.

In his role, Commissioner Demerson serves as an advocate for over 565,000 Texas employers and over 2.6 million small businesses. Commissioner Demerson’s team is devoted to serving as the first line of resources for all Texas employers. His office provides a variety of tools including employment law conferences and an employer hotline to help businesses start, grow and thrive in Texas. Demerson is also devoted to supporting the economic development and education that helps advance the skilled workforce that Texas demands.

Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Demerson served as the Director of the Office of Employer Initiatives at the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). In this position he provided leadership and direction to engage employers, business organizations, and the economic development community in the ongoing development of a customer-focused, market-driven workforce system.

Before TWC, he was a Senior Advisor to Governor Rick Perry and Executive Director of the Economic Development and Tourism Division in the Office of the Governor, leading a team that marketed the State of Texas as a premier destination for both business and travel.

Commissioner Demerson has a BBA in Finance from Texas A&M University–Kingsville. He also received a general banking diploma from the American Institute of Banking and is a 1991–1992 graduate of Leadership Austin. He also serves as the chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs, which identifies issues impacting the state’s changing demographics.

Guest Panelist

Brett Lafferty

Brett Lafferty

Group Vice President – Finance Transformation Frontier Communications
Brett Lafferty is currently Group Vice President Finance Transformation for Frontier Communications, a top provider of communication services; including broadband, video, voice, long distance, and other network access products.  Based in Tampa since September 2010, he transitioned from Verizon to Frontier in April 2016 when Frontier acquired the wireline business from Verizon in the states of Florida, Texas, and California.  At Frontier, Brett has led many highly regarded finance teams and most recently has been part of the merger, acquisition and divestiture team responsible for maximizing the value of Frontier assets. 

He was previously based in Baltimore MD, where his role and responsibilities for Verizon were to lead a team of subject matter experts that provided technical and administrative solutions for field personnel located in Maryland, Washington D.C., and the Virginias.  Brett began his Verizon career with GTE in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, working as a budget and results administrator.  He has held various management positions of increasing responsibility within the areas of Finance and Field Operations which included additional assignments in Durham, NC, Lexington, KY, and in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Brett holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Marshall University, and a Master of Business Administration degree in finance and marketing, also from Marshall University.  He is an active community supporter and has been involved in the United Way, the Hillsborough Community College Foundation, Community College of Baltimore County, Metropolitan Ministries, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Habitat for Humanity

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