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Honoree headshot

Karen Kirchler

Deputy Commissioner, Workforce Development
Technical College System of Georgia

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Founded: 2007
Industry: Postsecondary education and Workforce Development

The most important lesson learned as a leader for Karen Kirchler is to empower teams by leaning into their individual strengths and giving them the opportunity to grow and create success for the organization. “Galvanizing our strengths as a team and helping everyone be able to connect their role to the success of our mission creates flow, leading to excellent outcomes, because everyone has ownership,” said Kirchler.

She leads with this lesson as the deputy commissioner of Workforce Development at Technical College Systems of Georgia.

The mission of the Technical College System of Georgia is to build a well-educated, globally competitive workforce through technical education, adult education and customized training for Georgia’s businesses and industries. The 22 colleges within the Technical System of Georgia provide state-of-the-art training in high-demand technical fields.

TCSG oversees the state’s technical colleges, adult literacy programs and a host of economic and workforce development programs. It embraces a unified system of technical education, adult education and customized business and industry training through programs that offer easy access to lifelong education and training for all adult Georgians and corporate citizens.

In her role, Kirchler oversees the administration and distribution of the state’s federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funding. WIOA funds are allotted to individuals or businesses and administered specifically through services geared toward helping disadvantaged citizens obtain meaningful employment.

“I’m working to make TCSG the premier and model workforce development agency in the country,” said Kirchler. “Achieving this will help to ensure Georgia’s ongoing economic prosperity and will support prosperity for all of its citizens.”

This includes working in partnership with business and industry, K12 and post-secondary education systems and other workforce development stakeholders. “I want to ensure that we are preparing Georgians for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs,” Kirchler said.

Throughout her tenure in public service, Kirchler has demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision and passion in each of her positions. While her professional career began in human services, working with individuals facing mental health challenges and disabilities, she shifted to education and found her home with the Technical College System of Georgia.

“Her passion for equitable economic development is apparent in her commitment to adult education and workforce development,” said her colleagues. “She recognized that her opportunities working in education provided a platform to have a broader impact and TCSG’s mission of workforce development was a natural fit.”

Karen enjoys being outside whenever possible whether hiking, bicycling, camping, rafting, or just walking her three dogs.

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