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Westchester County Veterans Agency Awarded Workforce Development Grant with Iona College

The Iona College Department of Speech Communications Studies has partnered with Westchester County to earn a grant to support communication skills of military veterans.


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Westchester County has been awarded a Workforce Development Institute (WDI) grant, continuing efforts to support veterans here at home. These funds will be put toward developing a veterans’ communication project aimed toward providing vets with skills and strengths that will lead to future employment.

"These folks who gave so much for us by fighting to protect our freedoms deserve as much support as we can possible give them upon their return home," said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. "This grant is a small step toward providing that support – and we look forward to seeing the results it will produce."

The grant project, titled Westchester County Veterans communication improvement, aims to assess the needs of the Veteran population in order to better serve them by providing communication skills training, workshops and services. Ultimately, these services could enhance and improve Veteran's employment opportunities and enable them to enter the workforce.

"Our Department is tasked with finding solutions to the challenges Westchester County veterans face here in our own backyard," said Ron Tocci, director of Westchester County Veterans Agency. "This grant will make it that much easier for our vets to find gainful employment – which is key to tackling all other challenges they may face when they come back home."

"There is a strong need to provide communication skills, a skill necessary for employment opportunities, through innovative support programs and services to our veterans in Westchester County," said Sonja Brown, regional director of Workforce Development Institute Lower Hudson Valley. "The Westchester County Veterans Communication Improvement Project, in partnership with WDI, Iona College, and Westchester County, will hopefully serve as a model throughout New York State."

WDI is a statewide organization that works regionally to identify targeted strategies that address workforce challenges, trends, and opportunities. These strategies can include partnerships, training and funding. Many issues impact individuals’ capacity, productivity and earnings in the workplace market. WDI provides programs and services to help individuals thrive in the workplace. Building stronger communities in partnership with a focus to grow and keep good jobs in NY.

"Workforce development increases our County’s talent pool and is a critical factor in driving Westchester’s economic growth and prosperity," said Bridget Gibbons, director of Westchester County Economic Development "This training will enable our veterans to gain the skills they need for employment so they can both put themselves on the road to success and contribute to our region’s business growth."

"The Iona College Speech Communication Studies Department is honored to have the opportunity to partner with local veterans to sharpen their communication skills," said Jennifer Gerometta, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Iona College chair of Speech Communication Studies. "We continue to work with veterans in developing "story scripts" to effectively enhance the interview process for veterans seeking employment, and we are grateful for the generous funding for this opportunity through the Workforce Development Institute."

Westchester County, located in the heart of the historic Hudson Valley, covers 500 square miles and has a population of just under a million. Originally home to Native Americans, who were members of the Lenape tribe, it is today a rich mix of many cultures and landscapes. The County is a blend of bustling cities, quaint villages and picturesque towns as well as open spaces and a network of beautiful parks. Westchester is made up of 6 cities, 19 towns and 20 villages. Westchester County is known for top-notch public schools, and a high quality of life. The County is also an intellectual capital, boasting a highly educated workforce, competitive colleges and universities, Fortune 500 companies, world changing non-profits, and cutting-edge research centers. Westchester is led by County Executive George Latimer, who took office in January 2018 as the ninth County Executive. Using inclusion and openness as a foreground, Latimer is fighting to make Westchester a destination for all people to live, work and enjoy. Learn more about Westchester County by visiting

Founded in 1940, Iona College is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre campus is just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of over 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, a prestigious recognition awarded to just five percent of business schools worldwide. The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2020.” Iona College also recently launched a new, fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility.