By Stephanie McMillen
LeSena Jones, manager of career and workforce education, said that she feels honored to be part of the Valencia family.
“I love our innovative and pioneering spirit,” she said, “the way we aspire to excellence in everything we do, our focus on students and learning first, our teamwork and collaborative culture, and the opportunities that we have every day to help transform lives.”
This year, LeSena is celebrating her 20th anniversary at the college, and said, “It has been an exciting and rewarding journey together.”
She started working at Valencia in 1992, and since that time has held the roles of assistant for technical education, coordinator for workforce development, and currently, manager for career and workforce education.
Her office is responsible for strengthening, enhancing and improving the outcomes of Valencia’s career and workforce education programs to ensure they are meeting the needs and demands of our workforce region. “We respond to critical job needs emerging in the workforce through program modification, expansion and development,” LeSena said.
LeSena attended Trevecca Nazarene University in Tennessee, and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
One of her memorable experiences at Valencia occurred in 2005 when LeSena had the unique opportunity to travel to Namibia, Africa on a U.S. Aid grant.
“We were there for two weeks and worked with the Polytechnic University of Namibia to increase the capacity of their hotel school to provide high-quality training for jobs in their growing tourism sector.”
The project entailed meeting with the university faculty and staff to review academic programs, and meeting with various employers, businesses and city officials from the community to assess workforce training and education needs. Ultimately, the team made recommendations for restructuring the university’s hospitality programs.
“It was a life-changing experience,” she said. “We learned to eat all kinds of unusual food, and of course, we were able to see all kinds of exotic wildlife.” The lasting impression from this trip, LeSena said, was realizing “how often we tend to do so little with so much, while others learn to do so much with so little.”
Since she has been at Valencia, LeSena has been most inspired by Joan Tiller, special assistant to the president.
“She has inspired me through her devotion and dedication to her work, her visionary leadership at the state and national levels, and her high drive for excellence in everything she does,” LeSena said. “She never does anything small, and has encouraged and inspired me in both my personal and professional life to always give everything I do my very best!”
In her free time, LeSena enjoys traveling, shopping, hanging out with friends, and volunteering at her church and in the community. She has volunteered with the Special Olympics, Great Oaks Village, Give Kids the World, the Jobs and Education Partnership, and Central Care Mission where she is currently serving as a board member.
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