CIRAS Shifting Personnel to Expand Workforce Offerings

CIRAS Director Ron Cox today announced two changes designed to help the center improve its ability to serve Iowa businesses during challenging times.

Teresa Hay McMahon

Effective immediately, Teresa Hay McMahon is stepping down as program director of the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC). McMahon instead will take on an urgent new assignment expanding CIRAS workforce-related programming under the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center program.

Tracy Schuster, assistant director of the ILC and a part of the consortium team since 2012, will take over as ILC director.

Cox, in an email to ILC board members on May 15, praised McMahon and Schuster for their willingness “to take on these new responsibilities and do what is necessary to help CIRAS serve Iowans better.”

McMahon’s new role involves overseeing the expansion of CIRAS workforce-related efforts using new opportunities available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased Iowa’s need for workforce assistance, Cox said. “In short, we need to move quickly.”

CIRAS last year used an EDA grant to launch the Iowa Workforce Innovation Network (iWIN), a new approach to community workforce planning. McMahon’s task now is to complement that programming by doubling CIRAS workforce-related efforts over the next year.

McMahon began her involvement with the Iowa Lean Consortium when it was a mere idea in 2006, eventually becoming ILC director in 2015. This week, she voiced gratitude for the “countless hours and ideas” volunteered by consortium members over the years to improve the organization.

“It is never easy to leave a labor of love, but I am confident in the ILC’s mission and in its continued success under Tracy’s leadership,” McMahon said. “Thank you to everyone who has helped to grow and sustain the ILC.”

Tracy Schuster

Schuster likewise praised the “solid foundation” McMahon created.

“I look forward to leading the consortium and, with the help and direction from our members, building on what Teresa started,” Schuster said.

The Iowa Lean Consortium, which became a part of CIRAS in 2018, is a dynamic, member-driven nonprofit dedicated to advancing Lean management techniques in all sectors of our economy. Current members come from more than 160 different organizations, including companies inside and outside of Iowa working in manufacturing, health care, and various service industries, as well as state and local governments. The ILC sponsors more than two-dozen events and half-day workshops each year, many featuring nationally known experts.

CIRAS began launching iWIN last year as part of an effort to provide targeted workforce management plans for select clusters of communities with populations between 5,000 and 25,000. The program targets rural Iowa communities that are closely connected to a metropolitan area and have at least one manufacturer within the community’s top five employers. The iWIN team is working with regional economic developers and business leaders to develop innovative, community-specific, multi-faceted solutions to Iowa’s systemic workforce issues.