Office of Youth Employment and Opportunity (YEO) Announces Key Leadership
Today, the Worker Empowerment Cabinet announced key leadership staff in the Office of Youth Employment and Opportunity (YEO). Allison Vernerey will serve as the Executive Director of YEO alongside Deputy Director Adeola Ebekozien and Strategic Consultant Li Liang. YEO’s mission is to ensure that Boston's youth are equipped to transition successfully into adulthood through short-term youth employment, skill development and career readiness opportunities. Together, the leadership team will work to create a holistic youth workforce development system by improving the hiring process, increasing job quality, and expanding employment opportunities for young people year round.
Research from Northeastern University shows that Boston’s Youth Employment Program raises employment rates among youth, increases high school graduation and boosts college enrollment, and reduces criminal justice involvement. Moreover, youth jobs have the potential to reduce economic inequality by increasing access to early employment experiences for low-income and disadvantaged youth. In collaboration with city-wide partners, the City of Boston invested $35 million in youth jobs this year, successfully employing nearly 12,000 young Bostonians through both summer and year-round programs. The City's commitment represented over 75% of this total. Being the largest employer to hire Boston youth, the City is doubling down on this historic investment by establishing the YEO leadership team to increase the effectiveness and equity of the youth jobs program.
“We are excited to welcome Allison to lead a new leadership team alongside Adeola and Li to expand and connect Boston’s young people to job opportunities across the neighborhoods,” said Rashad Cope, Deputy Chief of Worker Empowerment. “Boston's youth jobs work has been thriving for nearly 30 years, and identifying a new leadership team to continue this important work for the city will mean a great deal for our young people, employer-providers, and advancing the Cabinet's work around early career pathways and work readiness.”
Allison Vernerey is a dynamic leader with extensive experience in driving positive change and a proven track record in leadership and organizational transformation. She holds an MBA from Boston University's Questrom School of Business and a BS in Economics with High Honors from Duke University.
In her professional career, she has successfully grown within the field of product management, holding various management positions at Decathlon, driving growth at Home Depot as a Digital Product Manager, and most recently as VP and head of Product for Zmags, a Boston-based marketing software company.
Beyond her professional accomplishments, Allison is deeply committed to community engagement. She founded "Blue Devils vs. Cancer," a fundraising and support organization for those affected by cancer and the Global Connection program, an international student engagement initiative.
Allison resides in Dorchester and loves to hike, swim, or do anything outdoors.
"I am thrilled to get the chance to leverage my years of business and management experience to help scale the City’s youth workforce development programs," said Allison Vernerey. “We want to positively impact as many young people as possible and that means focusing on technology, operations, and most importantly, on empowering our dedicated YEO team to do their best work."
Adeola Ebekozien is a mission-driven participative leader with experience as an attorney, having earned a law degree at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and an LLM in International and Human Rights Law from Boston College Law School. As Deputy Director of YEO, she manages the strategic planning and operational processes, as well as emerging programs and special initiatives to maximize external impact and improve internal efficiency. Her wide range of experience includes strategic planning, program development, community engagement and protecting immigrant rights.
Prior to this role, Adeola served as the Deputy Director of Boston’s Somali Development Center, where she managed their operations, strategic planning, and resource development to strengthen and diversify the social services provided to immigrants, refugees, in an effort to support their integration into the community.
Outside of work, she is a member of the Advisory Council of African Diaspora Engaging Africa (ADEA), an initiative that supports and develops nonprofit leaders’ capacity to implement and scale life-changing projects in Africa.
Li M. Liang is an English Language Learner (ELL) and first-generation college graduate. She earned an MA in International Studies and International Economics at Johns Hopkins University and her BA in Political Science at Wellesley College.
Li possesses more than 15 years of experience helping companies and nonprofits in various industries drive higher impact and business performance. Previously, she served as the Managing Director of the award-winning BUild Lab Student Innovation Center at Boston University. Prior to that, she held leadership roles at two tech startups that focused on leadership development for employees at organizations and career readiness and training for college students respectively. Li has also helped various large companies solve complex business challenges as a management consultant at Bain & Company and as an innovation consultant at Innosight.
Li is excited to join the YEO team and build a more holistic and inclusive workforce development system for Boston youth.
YEO has partnered with Northeastern University on a multi-year research project funded by the William T. Grant Foundation to evaluate and improve Boston's youth jobs programming. Earlier this year, the City made an unprecedented $18.7M investment in youth summer jobs to implement recommendations from the project which included expanding the opportunities being offered, streamlining the application and hiring processes, and improving coordination across job providers.
“It has been such a rewarding experience to work closely with Rashad and his team, and to see the research evidence put into practice to improve and expand opportunities for Boston’s youth,” said Alicia Modestino, Research Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. “It’s through this type of community-engaged research that Northeastern aims to have a positive impact on our surrounding communities and we look forward to continuing this important work.”