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July 1, 2013 (El Cajon) – Rancho San Diego resident Ann Durham, Director of the Health Workforce Initiative based at Grossmont College, has been named Deputy Sector Navigator (DSN) for Health for the San Diego/Imperial Region.

The appointment, announced this week by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Division of Workforce & Economic Development, means that Durham will have expanded responsibilities and budget under the "Doing What Matters" program.

In the past, her office has operated under a $205,000 annual grant; this amount has been increased to $300,000 as a result of the expanded program. Previously the Health Workforce Initiative had four centers, including Durham's, up and down the state to coordinate educational programs in the health care field with the needs of hospitals, clinics, medical offices and other health care venues.  In the upcoming fiscal year, the Health Sector will expand its reach by having ten offices in as many separate geographic regions.  The 10 DSNs will work together to promote the advancement of California’s health care workforce through quality education and services.

Health is just one of ten sectors of the economy for which community college programs educate workers and improve standards.  Others include Advanced Manufacturing; Advanced Transportation and Renewables; Life Sciences/ Bio Technology; Agriculture, Water and Environmental Technology; Global Trade and Logistics; Information Communication Technology; Small Business; Energy (Efficiency) and Utilities; and Retail, Hospitality, Tourism. 

Each geographic region was tasked with identifying 3 priority sectors and 2 emerging sectors.  Depending on each region's priorities, DSNs were selected through a competitive process, and each sector will be coordinated and lead by a Statewide Sector Navigator, also selected through a competitive process.

Durham said that the Health was identified as a priority or emerging sector in all ten regions, and that she and other veteran coordinators in this field will meet with the Statewide Sector Navigator in July with the six new DSNs from other parts of the state.

Up to now in San Diego and Imperial Counties, Durham’s office has focused on two major initiatives:  the Welcome Back Center, which works with internationally trained health professionals to help them get licensed in the United States so they can work in their field of education and expertise, and with the Health and Science Pipeline Initiative (HASPI) program, working with middle schools and high schools to strengthen science programs to prepare students for successful careers in nursing and allied health, and to familiarize those students, as well as community college students, with the many different occupations in the health care field.  With the additional funding, Durham said, she has allocated funds for mini-grants for each of the nine community colleges in the San Diego/Imperial region: Cuyamaca, Grossmont, Imperial Valley, MiraCosta, Palomar, San Diego City, San Diego Mesa, San Diego Miramar, and Southwestern.

Additionally, Durham said, she plans to help create an organization for San Diego and Imperial County directors of programs that teach students to become medical assistants in doctors' offices.  The organization would be similar to one already in place for the directors of nursing programs.