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An Invitation from Bill Symonds, Director of the Global Pathways Institute

 The Western Pathways Conference is designed for leaders committed to developing policies, programs and practices that will prepare all young adults for careers leading to economic independence.  We come together to address one of the most pressing challenges facing our society: an education and workforce development system that leaves many young people behind and ill-equipped to pursue the American Dream.


I am proud that the Conference has built an impressive track record of producing results. The Conference helped shape South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Workforce Development Initiative, which he led as Chair of the Western Governors’ Association in 2017-18. Prior to the 2018 Conference, we worked with Education Commission of the States to organize a thinkers meeting of leading experts, and then issued a playbook for creating effective state career pathway systems at the Conference. And over its history the Conference has helped shape initiatives in numerous states, including Colorado, Utah, Oregon, South Dakota and Idaho.


Unlike most conferences, which are designed for a single sector, Western Pathways attracts leaders from multiple sectors, including education, business, government and philanthropy.  It is an action-oriented Conference where state teams and individuals work together to address issues like improving career development, closing the skills gap, scaling-up work-based learning, creating high-quality career pathways and much more.  Our speakers are a mix of national and Western leaders, and are carefully chosen to present the most creative and innovative ideas, practices and policies designed to create a more effective, efficient and equitable education system.


Despite our “Western” name, the Conference welcomes leaders from around the country who are involved in these issues.  Typically, we attract attendees from more than half the states.  Many of our participants tell us this is the best conference they have attended.  I hope you will join us in Kansas City in 2020!


-Bill Symonds, Director, Global Pathways Institute at Arizona State University