Ola Kukoyi – Black Belt at the Denver Office of Economic Development

In April of 2018, Ola Kukoyi attended the 73rd cohort of Peak Black Belt training, and she’s been innovating ever since! Ola is currently a Program Administrator in the Workforce Development Services division of Denver’s Office of Economic Development, where she works diligently every day to serve her customers: Denver residents in need of guidance, support, and gainful employment.

As a Program Administrator, Ola helps unemployed residents find new jobs. She also helps connect her customers with benefits such as:

  • Assistance for job loss due to relocation overseas
  • Up to $30,000 to go back to school if you are in an approved training
  • Max of $2,000 per month for living stipend if you’re unemployed and going to school full time
  • Financial assistance to travel for an interview, including airfare, hotel and food
  • Up to $1,200 for moving expenses if you relocate for a job
  • If you’re 50+, TAA eligible and your current income is less than your former, you could receive up to $10,000 per year

“TAA is all about getting people back on their feet after being laid off due to foreign competition.”

Each of these benefits come from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program under the U.S. Department of Labor. Ola’s job is to help connect TAA customers with these benefits and ultimately, to keep them happily employed!

After black belt training, Ola realized that there is an unfortunate amount of lag time between when her TAA customers complete training, and when they ultimately land a new job. So, she decided to throw a Career Resource Fair, which was the first of it’s kind here in Colorado. Her goal was to find a way for TAA customers to get a job faster, while also connecting them with the appropriate workforce channels.

“I wanted to bring the employers to job seekers, tell them what is expected and what will help them get the job they need and deserve.”

To get this innovation off the ground, Ola partnered with other city agencies, state agencies, teammates and members of the Workforce Development Board. She, and her planning committee, reached out to professionals in IT, Health Care, Human Resources, and Management, which are the specific job categories that her customers are trained for. She found a facility to hold the event in, organized a speaker panel, and rounded up marketing swag and donations. She also made a point to reach out to veterans, with assistance from an employee who works in the federal department of Veterans Affairs. The event was well attended, and some notable participants were the Chairman and some members of the Workforce Development Board, the Director and Assistant Director of Denver Workforce Services, and representatives from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

After the event, Ola learned about a customer who ended up receiving a job because of the career fair. This individual had been laid off, and within five weeks after the fair, he received a full-time employment, with income of $90,000 and full benefits.. She learned that another individual received a job because of the fair, and Ola expects more to come as well.

Ola has an amazing story to tell, and she is absolutely a Peak Bright Spot. Her innovations have shown the ability to change her customers’ lives for the better, and she is an incredible asset to her team and the City and County of Denver.

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