Mark Kessenich, Interim CEO
Interim Employ Milwaukee CEO Mark Kessenich is the President & CEO of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership / Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (WRTP/BIG STEP) – a non-profit workforce development intermediary serving Wisconsin’s Manufacturing and Construction industries.
Mr. Kessenich joined the staff of WRTP/BIG STEP in November of 2011 and in July 2014 was named President / CEO. Prior to WRTP/BIG STEP, Mr. Kessenich served for 12 years as Director of Development & Planning for Employ Milwaukee.
Mr. Kessenich is well regarded as a national expert on workforce development. He has served as a speaker, consultant, and technical advisor to a number of public and private workforce development organizations across the Midwest and nation, including the International Foundation, the Sector Skills Academy, AFL-CIO Working for America Institute, NABTU and Jobs For the Future. Mr. Kessenich currently serves as an advisor to the Construction Labor Management Council of SE Wisconsin, and the Construction and Manufacturing Industry Advisory Boards of Employ Milwaukee.
Mr. Kessenich serves on the National Skills Coalition – National Advisory Panel, the Council of State Governments -Wisconsin Re-entry Task Force, the State of Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards Advisory Council and is a past Board Member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals.
Robert Cherry, Chief Fund Development Officer
Robert Cherry is dedicated to improving the lives of residents across the Milwaukee community. Throughout his 15-year career, he has passionately championed workforce development, public health, and policy development with direct involvement in efforts that have dramatically reduced poverty in Wisconsin.
In his current position as, Chief Fund Development Officer for Employ Milwaukee, Cherry develops strategic initiatives, engaging workforce partners, to connect residents across southeastern Wisconsin to workforce resources and services. His highly successful team secures funding from the federal and state levels of government, along with private foundations to implement innovative programming.
Previously, Cherry served as Director of Youth Programs for Employ Milwaukee. His energy and hard work have strengthened and grown youth employment and training in the Milwaukee area. In his previous position as Director of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, Cherry consistently maximized grant funds and extended budgets using exceptional budget forecasting capabilities. Under Cherry’s leadership, the Public Policy Institute increased its funding for Community Advocates by 85 percent, through close work with stakeholders and state government connections.
Peter Coffaro, Chief Program Officer
Peter Coffaro has more than 20 years of experience in program administration, contract procurement, budget analysis and private sector employer engagement. As Employ Milwaukee works to build a demand driven, employer led, sector focused workforce development model, Coffaro directs programming staff to plan, develop, implement and evaluate programs in compliance with the requirements of funders, the needs of program participants, and the needs of employers. Additionally, Coffaro provides leadership and advocacy to enhance innovation and participation in issues related to economic and workforce development. Prior to joining Employ Milwaukee in 2015, Coffaro came from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District where he oversaw District contracting and worked to align procurement opportunities with social responsibility policies, such as diverse business participation and local workforce goals.