Dedicated to providing world-class, evidence-based educational solutions and training sessions for Michigan employees and leaders of all sizes and types, Mt. Pleasant-based Ambridge Workforce Solutions
celebrated their launch with the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 2.
At the Chamber’s ribbon cutting ceremony, the boutique consulting firm described their new services, including in-person and online presentations, workshops, and other educational programs led and designed by Dr. Liz Boyd, a highly experienced management consultant with a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology.
Before returning to her hometown of Mt. Pleasant, Dr. Boyd worked as a consultant for a wide variety of organizations throughout the country including the U.S. Navy, Monster.com, Kimberly-Clark, and the American Red Cross. After being asked to design a custom training program for a friend facing a complicated workplace situation, she and Ambridge Workforce Solutions COO, Kathleen Bracken, recognized the need for evidence-based organizational solutions in mid Michigan.
“Before AWS, if you were looking to take the guesswork out of finding the right training and education for your workforce, you would be looking at firms far outside of central Michigan,” says Dr. Boyd. “Starting AWS right here in Mt. Pleasant gives this area and other communities in Michigan access to the highest-quality training and education available. We know there is a need and I’m excited to bring my expertise to the area.”
Epicenter chatted with Dr. Boyd and Bracken to learn more about their backgrounds, the HR firm, and the business and nonprofit training they offer around DEI, communication, leadership, and grant seeking.
As founders, can you please share your professional and personal backgrounds?
I’m Kathleen Bracken, I have orchestrated and facilitated the financial, administrative, human resources, and clerical support for a large restaurant franchisee for almost two decades. My experience ranges from managing tailored customer support, marketing and content management efforts via social media, to the tactical execution of year-end tax processing for hundreds of employees. I serve on the board for William and Janet Strickler Non-Profit Center on their communications committee. I am also a yoga alliance certified yoga teacher and taught privately and in a studio for over 10 years. I have lived in Mt. Pleasant for the majority of my life. I live here with my husband and while the rest of my family has moved away, I chose to stick around! I love this community and I’m really happy to be bringing Ambridge Workforce Solutions to fruition right here.
Dr. Liz Boyd:
I’m Dr. Liz Boyd and I’m originally from the Mt. Pleasant area. After graduating from CMU I earned a master’s and doctorate in Organizational Psychology from Michigan State University. I spent eight years as a professor and have over 15 years’ experience as a consultant. During my career I’ve taught thousands of students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, published dozens of peer-reviewed academic articles on organizational psychology, and consulted with companies of all sizes and types on a wide array of organizational issues. Of all these activities, training and development of employees is the one I’ve chosen to focus on with Ambridge Workforce Solutions. Not only do I find training and development to be personally rewarding as an instructor, these efforts are extremely important to the health of any organization. Educating and developing employees not only helps them perform well, get along, and follow the law—but also helps an organization attract and retain top talent by showing them they are truly valued.
How would you describe your new firm, Ambridge Workforce Solutions?
Bracken & Dr. Boyd:
We are a boutique management consulting firm specializing in educational and training sessions for employees and leaders. We deliver educational solutions that equip employees with the knowledge they need to succeed. Our custom sessions cover a wide variety of topics such as harassment prevention, leadership, communication, work-life balance, employee selection, and job design. If one of our 20+ topics isn’t a perfect fit, we also offer fully customized sessions for almost any topic related to the workplace.
Can you share what your services look like?
Bracken & Dr. Boyd:
Absolutely! Here’s an example. Let’s say an employer is hearing reports of harassment and bullying within their workforce. Of course they want to do something about it—and they know they are legally required to make some type of effort to reduce harassment after such a report. So what can they do? One option is to bring us in to deliver an educational session on harassment and its prevention. We offer multiple fully customized sessions to best fit the needs of the employer, either in-person or in an online format. Our harassment sessions not only teach employees what harassment is and why it is illegal, but also explain the psychological reasons why harassment occurs and provide actionable evidence-based strategies for reducing harassment. Our sessions also offer the option of a pre- and post-test, allowing an employer to demonstrate change in their employees.
What brought you to deciding mid Michigan was an area that was in need of your services, and that’s where you should be based?
Bracken & Dr. Boyd:
It’s really exciting to bring this unique company to this region for several reasons. The first being—we need it here. Businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions in the area are growing and modernizing at a rapid pace. As a result they need access to the highest quality training and education available. Our goal is to make a real difference to local organizations and their people by giving them access to world-class training and education within our local area and within their budgets. Education and training, when done properly, CAN change attitudes and behaviors and make the workplace better in countless ways. Investing in our services means accessing a wealth of specialized knowledge and insights, ensuring local employees and managers receive the highest quality educational experience. The other benefit of being here is already feeling like such a part of the community. It’s a huge benefit to have grown up here. We have great friends and family and it is wonderful to have their support.
You’ve mentioned you bring scientifically supported and evidence-based educational solutions to organizations. What does that entail?
My Ph.D. training means that when I provide information or education to an organization, that information is not just my opinion based only on my own life experiences. Instead, I take a “scientist-practitioner” approach to my work, meaning my recommendations are backed by data and scientific findings while also being informed by the real business world. For example, unstructured interviews where a candidate is asked a non-standard list of questions are still being used in many workplaces. However, decades of research within my field has shown that they are terrible predictors of work performance—as well as being a reliable way to introduce bias. So the science of organizational psychology tells us something needs to change, to benefit both employers and job seekers. Taking a scientist practitioner approach means helping local employers tap into the wealth of information and resources available about how to deal with employees effectively, legally, and fairly.
Ambridge Workforce Solutions' Dr. Liz Boyd and COO Kathleen Bracken celebrated their launch with the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, August 2, 2023 in downtown Mt. Pleasant. (Photo courtesy of Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce)Epicenter:
Ambridge Workforce Solutions recently had a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce. What did that signify?
Bracken & Dr. Boyd:
We had so much fun having our ribbon cutting at the Chamber. It was nice to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones. The ribbon cutting was a way to mark the launching of our company and our membership into the Chamber of Commerce. We are really proud to join the Chamber. We know what an asset they are to the community and that they are all about building relationships. That’s what matters to us too and we’re looking forward to seeing how we can benefit one another.