Miles-Olund, Fleischman to Lead OBI Education Steering Committee

Published Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lori Miles-Olund, President of Miles Fiberglass & Composites, and Steve Fleischman, Chief Executive Officer of Education Northwest, have agreed to co-chair the Oregon Business & Industry (OBI) Education Steering Committee. OBI thanks Lori and Steve for accepting this responsibility at an important time for education policy and workplace development in Oregon.

The Legislature signaled its intention to prioritize education during the 2019 Session when it formed the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS). Education policy and funding also is a key component of fiscal reform, which OBI and our partners in the Oregon Business Plan believe should be a priority in 2019. The discussion comes at a time when low unemployment and the gap between workers’ skills and employers’ needs are making it increasingly difficult for employers to find qualified workers. The rising cost of education and job training, in turn, discourages some workers for pursuing the specialized training needed to close this skills gap.

Finding solutions to these challenges is critical to Oregon’s economy. Improved education and training will help Oregon companies, create more jobs and lift more Oregonians into the middle class and beyond. This growth, in turn, will produce more revenue and, along with spending reform, help Oregon stabilize its budget.

The Education Steering Committee will work with OBI Legislative Affairs Senior Associate Megan Chrisman to develop policy recommendations and lead OBI’s advocacy efforts. But they need your input. If you would like to participate in the Education Policy Council, which receives education policy updates and advises the Steering Committee, please email Megan. 

The new Steering Committee Co-Chairs want to work collaboratively with OBI members to support policies and legislation that will move Oregon forward.

“I am looking forward to co-chairing the Education Committee with Steve,” Miles-Olund said. “We have a lot of important work ahead and we welcome anyone who would like to join us to help bring perspective from the business community to policy discussions. One important area we should focus on is closing the financial gap for education.”  

Fleischman expressed similar enthusiasm. “By now it is a truism that a quality education system that serves all students well is a key to the future success of all Oregonians —the students themselves, our economy, and the strength of our society in general,” he said. “I am excited to co-chair the education committee with Lori to translate the recognition of the importance of education into practical, evidence-informed policy options that OBI members can support.”

Public meetings being held by the Joint Committee on Student Success provide another opportunity for OBI members to become involved in shaping education policy. Members who have participated in meetings emphasize the importance of bringing a business perspective to the discussion.

For example, Bill Thorndike, President of Medford Fabrication, said the JCSS meeting in Medford provided “a wonderful opportunity for the committee and others in attendance to hear about the great work of the Business Education Partnership, which is beginning its third year of developing partnerships among school districts, community colleges and local businesses.” These efforts include innovative programs offered through Junior Achievement and work by the Associated General Contractors to develop a future workforce.

The next JCSS meeting will be July 11 in Beaverton. If you are interested in attended and would like more information, contact Megan Chrisman. Click here for a full schedule of JCSS public meetings.