Introducing Career Services Director Dianne Bari

JFCS’ full array of Career Services helps job seekers prepare for success in today’s competitive job market. Our programs empower people to explore and identify their visions of career success. JFCS is thrilled to introduce Dianne Bari, who was recently hired as JFCS Career Services Program Director. Dianne brings a wealth of fresh and valuable experience to JFCS Career Services. Learn more below in a Q&A with Dianne about her background in career services and vision for the department:


Why did the Career Services Director position appeal to you?

I was particularly attracted to JFCS, first, for its mission, and also because of the full complement of services that cover the lifespan of individuals and families.


The Career Services Program Director position appealed to me because I love workforce development. Finding and connecting to meaningful work is highly significant in peoples’ lives, myself included! I am someone who likes a lot of variety at work, and this role provides plenty of variety to which I can apply my talents and skills. The role also includes opportunities for me to stretch and reach to learn new things, which I welcome.


I previously directed a multi-site workforce development program in Chicago, which targeted at-risk youth, many of whom had no previous exposure to the working world. It was a very dynamic role, and I loved helping young people discover their talents and interests, and supporting them through the process of finding a job or career path.


What is your background?

I was a psychology major in college, and my plan was to go on and become a clinical psychologist. However, after completing an internship senior year, I was turned off to the field. I job-hopped frequently thereafter, chronically under-employing myself in the business world for eight years. I finally determined I did still want to be in a helping profession and decided to get a degree in clinical social work. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was doing workforce development back then when a classmate and I started a mentoring network at our school. As students, we were eager to connect with “real world” social work professionals who were employed in direct service, policy and administrative roles.  We engaged alumni and put on quarterly networking events.


I spent many years in Chicago administering workforce development services for older youth at thirteen alternative high schools. I moved to Minnesota in 2015 to companion and care for my elderly mother. Blending my experiences in the business world with social work has been very beneficial to workforce development because I “get” the needs of both sides of the equation – job seekers and businesses. We all do well when we all do well, and the economic health of our region and state depend upon an educated, skilled workforce.


What are some of the challenges and opportunities for career services programs in today’s environment?

Having worked in education settings delivering workforce development services, I can say that our education system needs to evolve to align and better meet the needs of industry, and instructional methods need to provide students the opportunity to experience the relevance of what they are learning through practical application. Many youth and adults have had poor education experiences. They lack the academic and critical thinking skills needed to compete effectively in today’s job market and earn a livable wage.


Our challenge is to connect those job seekers to education supports so they can improve their skills, while simultaneously keeping them motivated to pursue, find, and retain employment. Minnesota does a wonderful job of implementing its career pathways strategy, which affords job seekers the opportunity to learn and earn within an industry. JFCS operationalizes that strategy well via the IT Pathways program, which connects individuals with the needed resources to prepare for success in IT jobs. We are eager to explore this strategy with other sectors.


What are your goals for JFCS Career Services in the long-term?

As a department, we are about to engage in a strategic planning process; I would like that process to inform long-term goal planning. In the short time I have been on staff, however, I have identified a couple of areas on which to focus.


It is well known that Career Services staff deliver very high quality services to our clients, and I would love to incorporate more data visualization to communicate the outcomes and impact of our work, in addition to written stories.


We have terrific partners and an amazing program in IT Pathways, which has been in existence since 2012. I would like to build on our success in this area and consider expanding our career pathways programming in order to continue to meet the needs of the Twin Cities’ other high-demand industries.