Job Opportunities Task Force
Caryn York is proud to be the youngest and first black female CEO of Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF), an independent, statewide nonprofit group that works to help low-wage workers move to higher-paying jobs.
In a 2017 interview, York recalled how a random 2011 encounter with a classmate from Baltimore City College High School, who told her about a job opening at JOTF, moved her life in a new direction. She liked helping people as a paralegal with a Baltimore law firm, but becoming a policy associate at JOTF was different: She had found her life’s passion.
“I am very clear that economic justice is the civil rights issue of our day and at the center of that is the inability for many to access stable employment and wages that leads to some form of wealth,” said York, who was senior policy associate and director of policy and strategic partnerships before being named CEO in 2017. “As such, I have been competitive in pushing workforce in spaces where it’s not known to exist.
“Forcing stakeholders and policymakers to rethink how we talk about workforce and recognize the many moving pieces that impact workforce development, such as the intersection of race and incarceration and employment, is how I have been able to access a diverse set of tables and rooms and is viewed as thinking innovatively about workforce development.”
As York continues her fight to break down the educational and employment barriers facing low-income adults, especially those with a criminal background, she reflects on her past.
“Every day, I must remind myself of how I got here, why I was chosen for this position and what is at stake,” she said. “I am reminded that every single one of my experiences as a little black girl growing up in a single-parent household in Baltimore City must be clearly illustrated in every word, action and behavior that I exhibit as CEO, especially in tough economic times.”