Bennett named as new leader of Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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Jeanne Bennett, a leader in promoting science education and research, has been selected as the executive director of the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council, the nonprofit said Friday.

She succeeds Lisa Nisenfeld, who was named last year as CEO of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, the nonprofit jobs promoter and business recruiter.

For the past four years, Bennett served as executive director of the Mount St. Helens Institute, a nonprofit that promotes stewardship, science education, and research and appreciation of volcanic landscapes.

As leader of that agency, Bennett was responsible for program administration, fundraising, partnership development and overall administration of the organization.

From 2002 through 2007, Bennett oversaw the youth workforce programs operated by ESD 112 and funded by the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council (SWWDC).

Her resume also includes stints working for former Congressman Brian Baird in his Vancouver office and for Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse in Oregon.

"Jeanne’s background in helping youth connect with the world of work will be very important as the SWWDC pursues its plans for the future, " John Deeder, superintendent of the Evergreen School District and board member of the SWWDC, said in a news release. "We feel very fortunate to have her."

The Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council aims to provide resources and leadership to promote education and workforce strategies that help build the regional economies of Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties.