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Turning Basin Labs: Workforce Transformation Fellow

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

The following information was provided by Turning Basin Labs

BACKGROUND: In early 2021, with funding and support from the James Irvine Foundation, a group of partners that included Make Fast Studio, Jobs for the Future, the California Workforce Association, Turning Basin Labs, and CivicMakers set out to explore the degree to which human-centered design principles were present in workforce development boards across California and the country. The goal of this work was to develop a set of tools to help guide workforce development boards towards discovering a more empathetic organizational body language. We hypothesized that by changing this body language, and the practices and policies that underlie it, workforce boards will deliver more equitable and meaningful outcomes to those they serve.

With insights gained from interviews with workforce development board leaders, community-based organizations, and workers, we developed a “maturity model” that maps behaviors along a spectrum of customer and community engagement.

Now, to help solve the deep structural barriers facing the public workforce system, our partnership seeks to operationalize the maturity model by embedding full-time design thinking fellows into five California workforce development boards for a period of 12 months.

ABOUT THE ROLE: We’re looking for 5 individuals to bring their backgrounds and lived experience to help catalyze lasting shifts in behavior, practice, and operations within regional workforce systems. Workforce Fellows will use human-centered design principles to more closely align the policies, procedures, and products of a local workforce development board to the needs of individuals in their communities, particularly those earning lower wages.

This will be a 1-year, full-time position starting in December 2022 or early January 2023. This will require some onsite work (approximately one day per week), and we are looking for fellows located near the following regions: the city of Anaheim, the city of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara County, Tulare County, and Ventura County.

Organizations from each of these regions applied and were selected for their overall commitment to use human-centered design, and partner closely with a Fellow, to examine their community-centricity and to improve the ways in which they interact with people and partners across their region.

Over the course of their experience, Fellows will utilize design thinking tools and concepts to work with workforce board leadership, staff, and the community to identify opportunities for improvement, both discrete and wide-ranging. Fellows will participate in a structured training program that will introduce the core concepts of human-centered design and equip them with customized tools and techniques. The resources provided to the Fellows through this program are designed to support their role as embedded change agents, supporting workforce boards, job centers, and their partners in putting people and communities first.

We anticipate the Fellows engaging in a variety of interventions and projects, large and small, during their assignment. Examples of types of activities could include working with the workforce board to write organizational policy, working with frontline staff to reorganize process workflow, or building asset maps of potential partner organizations. Related tasks could involve grant-writing, program design, and implementation. At the end of the 12-month fellowship, each fellow will complete a capstone project highlighting the ways in which they helped guide their workforce board toward a specific transformation and the progress or outcomes of that effort. Fellows will be encouraged to produce a written article reflecting on their experience to be published on and promoted by the project partners.

In addition to structured training, Fellows will receive supplemental support from coaches, peers, and an assigned mentor at their placement location.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: Experience working with public and quasi-government organizations (workforce boards, community-based organizations, and governments).

  • 3-5+ years work or volunteer experience in a policy or practice role for a mission-driven organization or as a public servant.

  • Lived experience with the public workforce system — participation in WIOA funded training or earn and learn training and placements, OR an extensive period as a frontline worker — providing customer service and working with clients or customers directly.

  • Demonstrated commitment to public service or a belief that the government can and should work better for people that rely on social services.

  • Demonstrated ability to work in a project or program lead role.

  • Experience working as an organization advocate, patient-advocate, community-builder, intermediary, etc.

  • Training and/or work experience in quality assurance, continuous improvement such as LEAN methodologies, or organizational psychology is preferred

  • Strong design making and execution skills.

  • Experience working on complex social problems or a drive to learn.

  • Some exposure and familiarity with principles and practices of human-centered design preferred.

  • A demonstrated commitment to REDI (race, equity, diversity, and inclusion) and a deep compassion for people of all backgrounds.


  • Salary will be in the range of $80-85,000, depending on location.

  • Monthly $500 healthcare stipend


  • Apply before November 23, 2022.

  • We’ll make offers in mid-December.

HOW TO APPLY: Email your resume to, and in lieu of a cover letter, please write a short letter explaining why you’re interested in this fellowship.