North Carolina Department of Commerce names Andrea DeSantis Assistant Secretary of Commerce for workforce division

The North Carolina Department of Commerce has named Andrea DeSantis Secretary for the Division of Workforce Solutions (DWS), Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders announced.

DeSantis will succeed current Assistant Secretary Chet Mottershead, who is retiring from the post. Mottershead will remain with the agency briefly during the transition.

DeSantis most recently served as Policy Advisor for Gov. Roy Cooper, a role in which she focused on workforce development and higher education issues.

“With her experience in workforce development and education, Dr. DeSantis is poised to provide innovative leadership in this critical position, supporting both jobseekers and employers as we continue to implement our First in Talent Plan,” Baker Sanders said. “I want to thank Assistant Secretary Mottershead for his leadership at DWS, capping a 30-year career of outstanding public service to North Carolina.”

The Division of Workforce Solutions administers workforce programs statewide that help North Carolina residents prepare for employment, and connects businesses to the workforce they need to operate effectively.

“I’m eager to join the talented and dedicated team at DWS and continue strengthening our partnerships with local workforce development boards to ensure North Carolinians, especially those with barriers to employment, are able to receive the services and training they need to access the growing number of good-paying jobs across the state,” DeSantis said.

Prior to her work in Cooper’s Office, DeSantis served as a senior workforce development analyst for the NCWorks Commission, which is a key partner to the Division of Workforce Solutions and serves as the state workforce development board. It’s housed at the Department of Commerce, leaving DeSantis with plenty of internal familiarity as she enters her new role.

Prior to that, she served as assistant director of research at NC State University’s Belk Center for Community College Leadership & Research. She also served in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, which she credits for driving her passion for enhancing equitable access to higher education.

DeSantis earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston, a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. in Educational, Leadership, Policy, and Human Development from NC State.

“It’s been my great privilege to serve the state of North Carolina in a number of roles, highlighted by the opportunity to work with the top-notch team at DWS, Commerce leaders and strong workforce development partners,” Mottershead said. “I’m excited to support Andrea in this leadership transition, as she is uniquely qualified to take this division to even higher levels of success.”

DeSantis’ first day is April 3.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. In early 2022, she left the business to serve as Communications Director for St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. After leaving the administration, Janelle briefly worked as a communications consultant for candidates, businesses and non-profits, before accepting her position as Publisher for Southeast Politics, a homecoming of sorts to her Florida Politics roots, where she served as a reporter and editor for several years. Janelle has also held roles covering the intersection of politics and business for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and general assignment news with an emphasis on social justice and climate change for WMNF Community Radio, where she also hosted a political call-in show under several names, including Last Call, Midpoint and The Scoop. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

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