Maria Flynn is president & CEO of Jobs for the Future. Her commitment to JFF’s vision of equitable economic advancement for all and her leadership in workforce policy have made her a national authority on the future of work, the role of technology in the labor market, career pathways for learners and workers underserved by the education and workforce systems, and employer engagement.
As CEO, she has led JFF’s growth and evolution into a leading-edge organization. She launched JFFLabs to help forge connections between traditional education and workforce systems and innovative companies designing technology-driven solutions to challenges facing workers, learners, educators, employers, and policymakers. Under her leadership, JFF acquired the Employment Technology Fund, now operating under JFF Ventures, JFF’s impact investing arm for funds focused exclusively on startups using emerging technologies to improve economic advancement opportunities for workers in low-wage jobs. She also oversaw the acquisition of EQOS, a nonprofit whose framework workers, learners, and employers can use to assess the quality of education and training programs and identify those that lead to equitable economic advancement.
As JFF approaches its 40th anniversary in 2023, Maria has refined the organization to remain nimble and maximize its impact in a dynamic education and workforce ecosystem. As of 2022, JFF’s core offerings reside in the following areas: JFFLabs, JFF Ventures, three practice areas (Education, Employer Mobilization, Workforce & Regional Economies), and three centers (Racial Economic Equity, Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning, Justice & Economic Advancement).
Before becoming CEO in 2016, Maria was JFF’s senior vice president and led the Building Economic Opportunity Group, which focused on helping entry-level workers advance to family-supporting careers while enabling employers to build and sustain a productive workforce. She also led JFF’s federal policy and advocacy strategies.
Before joining JFF in 2007, Flynn was a member of the federal government’s Senior Executive Service. In the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, she oversaw the development of policies for training programs serving both young people and adults, supervised the agency’s research and evaluation strategy, and managed the development of its $12 billion annual budget. She was a key driver of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the National School-to-Work initiative, and the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills initiative.
With three decades of experience and a reputation as an expert on the intersection of workforce development and education, Maria is frequently invited to speak at national events. She has participated in panel discussions and delivered presentations at the ASU+GSV Summit, the Milken Institute Global Conference, Fortune Brainstorm A.I., the Aspen ESG Summit, the Economist’s Innovation@Work U.S. event, and the Atlantic’s AtlanticLive conference, and at meetings hosted by Stanford University, MIT, Harvard University, the Council on Foreign Relations, SOCAP, and the Fortune CEO Initiative, among others.
Respected for her policy insights, Maria has testified on workforce system reform before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. She was named to the Forbes 50 Over 50: Impact list for 2022, which features influential women in the business, legal, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors and beyond. She also has been recognized by the Women’s Edge and The Boston Globe Magazine as CEO of one of the top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts, most recently in 2022.
Maria sits on the board of the SkillUp Coalition and is a member of NationSwell and Chief, a professional network for women in executive positions. She also served on the planning committee for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine project on Meeting Regional STEMM Workforce Needs in the Wake of COVID-19. She has been a guest on numerous podcasts and video programs and quoted in major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, USA Today, Marketplace, Bloomberg News, and Fast Company.