Kevin Vericker enjoys making light of his extensive experience with analytic software.
“It feels like I’ve been doing this since the Eisenhower administration,” Vericker said of his work, which involves describing, predicting, and improving the development, maintenance, and management of complex software systems. “I’ve actually been working with software since the 1980s, specifically in the area of analytics supporting government projects.”
Throughout his career, Vericker said his work has taken him from the private sector to the Pentagon. He is currently employed at IBM, which is where he became aware of an intriguing new professional opportunity.
“IBM offered me the opportunity to talk with Encore,” Vericker said. Encore Fellowships seek to match seasoned professionals with social purpose organizations in paid transitional assignments, but Vericker, 62, puts his experience in plainer terms. “I am comfortable with the o-word, so I’ll say their premise is to help older employees apply what they’ve learned in private enterprise for the public good.”
On May 1, Vericker began a five-month Encore Fellowship with the City of Miami. He is receiving his salary from IBM while working for the city in a full-time capacity during that span.
Vericker said that once he decided he was interested in an Encore Fellowship, the match with the City of Miami was facilitated by Florida CAN, which was in the process of trying to connect prospective Encore Fellows with social purpose organizations in the state.
Kathleen McDonald, Florida CAN’s assistant director for network partnerships and a member of Encore Tampa Bay’s board of advisors, facilitated a meeting between Vericker, Hernandez and Domingo Echevarria, education policy advisor for the City of Miami’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative, which is also supported by Vericker’s Encore Fellowship work.
Vericker recalls meeting the pair at 6:30 a.m. on a Monday morning, which was a sign that all parties were invested in making Vericker’s Encore Fellowship a reality.
“Their schedules were both full that week, so that was the only time we could all meet,” Vericker said. “I usually need cowbells and a marching band to get me out of bed at that hour in the morning.”
The focus of Vericker’s work with the city is to help increase high school graduation rates and postsecondary access in five general studies high schools in Miami. Each of the five schools is within 5% of the U.S. high school graduation rate.
“The goal is to exceed the national average of 80.4% high school completion in the poorest schools in Miami,” Vericker said.
Vericker has applied his expertise in data measurement and community outreach to two major initiatives in order to help accomplish this goal.
The Graduation Coaches Initiative seeks to expand the volunteer base for local organizations like Take Stock in Children and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America), while the Education Success Initiative aims to create a Partners in Service Portfolio to serve as a repository of information for at-risk kids, their parents, schools, and community organizations.
Both projects are managed by Raul Hernandez, the City of Miami’s chief service officer.
“Kevin is a true professional who hit the ground running,” Hernandez said of Vericker. “His fast understanding of the needs of our educational initiatives and willingness to learn and adapt to the needs of their implementation have made a positive difference.”
Hernandez also has high praise for Encore.
“The Encore Fellowship was a discovery to me, and it has been a tremendous help in our mission to complete a comprehensive service plan for the City of Miami,” Hernandez said.
Vericker is excited to continue his work for the City of Miami.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, all of it constructive,” Vericker said. “This project hits the sweet spot between what I can contribute and what I need. I’ve gotten the opportunity to apply my skills in a place where they were really needed.”
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