The Talent Connection

Using her expertise from WORKFORCE Plus, Kimberley Moore helped develop new business in Wakulla County as head of the Chamber of Commerce.

The Talent Connection Kimberley Moore has worked to match the needs of local workers and Wakulla businesses By Lee Gordon

We all know someone who works harder, thinks bigger and strives for greatness everyday. Some would call them overachievers. But those who know Kimberly Moore call it more of an expectation.

Even at a young age, it was clear that there was something different about her, something that set her apart from everyone else. Many young women spend their adolescence following the latest trends; Moore spent her early years crafting out a roadmap for success. And it’s no coincidence that in August 2005, at the age of 32, she became the first female, first African-American and youngest CEO of WORKFORCE Plus.

With the unemployment rate in Florida above 11 percent, it’s up to Moore to play the role of job seeker, life coach and sometimes psychologist. Her position at WORKFORCE Plus oversees the counties of Leon, Wakulla and Gadsden, implementing a strategy for folks desperate to get back into the workforce.

“As early as 9th grade I set a goal of becoming a CEO,” said Moore. “I recall vividly researching leaders and their thought processes, specifically related to how they created change and served as a positive influence and contributor. In retrospect, I have always been intrigued with the opportunity to serve as a voice for people, causes and issues.”

The 39-year-old has helped thousands of people find work over the past decade, and that challenge has brought about additional opportunities. In 2009, Moore was nominated and voted in unanimously to serve as president of the Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce. The post, which she held until January, gave her the unique perspective of working on behalf of workers and employers — and helping to foster new businesses in a recessionary economy.

“Our workforce system is often viewed as unique based on our primary mission of serving employers and connecting them with the available talent found both in … and outside our region,” said Moore. “By all accounts the two groups are very distinct; however, at the same time what it boils down to is the opportunity to gain greater insight to their combined needs while establishing a nexus for the two coming together. The interaction … creates a win-win system for everyone in that as we learn the hiring needs of a specific employer our system is able to quickly identify a pool of candidates whose skill sets most align with the needs of the employer.”

The Chamber job, she added, has given her a stronger appreciation of why the small businesses that make up nearly 80 percent of employers need strong community support to survive and thrive.

Another first for Moore: She was the first Wakulla Chamber president not to live in the county.

“Wakulla County is not as parochial as people think we are,” said Steve Brown, a former Chamber president and a retired businessman who founded Fortune Group International, a structural systems business. “We recognize that our businesses are all rental related and things that affect business in Tallahassee affect Wakulla. If Kimberley had not been involved locally, she would not have become a member of the Chamber.”

Moore’s efforts worked to help bring in more business to Wakulla County while keeping the current business landscape healthy.

“The current economic downturn has impacted the level of growth sought in our area much like the other 66 counties that make up the state,” said Moore, who lives in Leon County. “However our efforts to communicate the many assets available in (Wakulla) county have not gone unnoticed. This is due in large part to the focused advocacy created by and through the Chamber’s Government and Commerce Committee. Over the course of last year there were a number of new business start-ups. In terms of existing business, we have worked aggressively to determine the needs of our employers.”

One of those new startups is owned by Chuck Robinson, who opened The Works Coworking Café in December and said Moore was a welcoming presence.

“We are both very passionate about education and so she immediately jumped at a chance for us to work together on an idea I had involving our high school,” Robinson said. “It quickly made me feel welcomed and included in not only the Chamber but in the county, something that can be tough for a fledgling business.”

The Chamber has established an Education and Resource Committee that focused specifically on providing real-time resources and education to support businesses at no cost. Additionally, formal partnerships were established to provide tools and resources for the existing business community. Among the county’s business development partners: the Florida State University Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, Florida A&M Small Business Development Center and Tallahassee Community College – Wakulla Center.

A Meteoric Rise to the Top

Moore began her rise to stardom in Greenville, Fla. She graduated from Madison County High School and holds an Associate of Arts degree from Tallahassee Community College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Florida State University. In addition, she has an MBA degree from Webster University.

Her first job out of college was with the Florida Department of Revenue, where she served as a revenue specialist in the Child Support Division. From there she entered the workforce development division under the TCC umbrella. Once the school opted not to continue as the provider for workforce services, Moore headed to WORKFORCE Plus. In three years she rose through the ranks, earning the title of Chief Executive Officer and overseeing an $8 million budget.

“In essence, living out the American dream of starting with a company and working my way up the career ladder,” she said of her career path.

This year marks a decade of service in the workforce development arena for Moore. It’s a job that isn’t for the faint of heart. Since the recession began in December 2007, there has been a constant demand for the services she and her staff provide.

“I firmly believe that leaders and companies are not defined by their actions in good times, but instead when the pressure is on. You must be able to create solutions while at the same time continue to motivate your team/staff to rise to the occasion,” Moore said.

As the CEO, Moore is a cheerleader and a window of hope; a tireless advocate to ensure that the outcomes desired are achieved, all the while keeping herself motivated to make a difference in her counties.
“I am the first one in my office and the last one to leave because there are so many people depending on our system, and I won’t fail them,” she said.

Taking Wakulla County to New Heights

The Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce was a natural fit. Moore’s current job allows her to lead the workforce development charge in Leon, Gadsden and Wakulla County. With the Chamber, she has been responsible for economic development and business expansion solely in Wakulla County. Her experience and understanding of the issues offered a perfect segue for working with the stakeholders in Wakulla County as they fought to bounce back from a very unsteady 2010.

As Chamber president, her priorities for the county included establishing a business model for success as the county looks to expand in 2011 and beyond. Her focus was on membership, business retention and economic development, fostering a positive quality of life and providing timely economic and community information.


Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs

Jobs in the Sunshine State was a hot button topic on the campaign trail this past November. Gov, Rick Scott pledged 700,000 new jobs in seven years. Moore would love to see that type of success.

“I believe that any time a person wants to work and can’t secure employment, there is need for concern,” she said, adding that she is optimistic that Florida will work itself out of the recession over the next few years.

“I believe the most important step that must be taken is ensuring that all stakeholders (education, workforce, business, and government) are on the same page. (We need to) create a workforce that is prepared to meet the current and future needs of Florida’s next economy,” Moore said. “Without the alignment or coordination, opportunities will be lost and our recovery period longer.”


850: What are your key elements for being an effective leader?

  • Lead by example: model the behavior that you would like to see
  • Make sure everybody counts and everybody knows they count
  • Know your objectives and have a plan on how to achieve them
  • Embrace change, as change is inevitable
  • Follow through on commitments, your word is your bond
  • Lead with the planned outcome in mind