Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Franklin, No Stranger to Challenge, Gets a New One With WIN

Posted By on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 6:26 AM

New WIN director Desi Franklin
  • JB
  • New WIN director Desi Franklin
The city’s Workforce Investment Network, an often troubled agency charged with retraining workers in obsolescent positions and with helping companies structure their work forces, has a new executive director — Memphis attorney Desi Franklin.

Mayor A C Wharton named Franklin to the position on Tuesday after, as he put it, spending “quite a bit of time combing the profiles and qualifications of candidates to find the best possible fit for this critical role.”

Beginning May 10, Franklin will take leave of her longtime partnership at the Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz law firm, where she has dealt with corporate clients undergoing transitions of various kinds.

Franklin, who was recently returned to the position of vice chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party, is no stronger to controversy and challenge, having immersed herself in the task of restructuring the party in the wake of the Tennessee Waltz scandal of 2005, which had decimated the local Democratic leadership.

Franklin has been tapped for numerous executive leadership positions over the years, and is currently chairman-elect of the annual Memphis in May Festival.

Her task at WIN will be a special challenge, both for Franklin and for Wharton. Under former mayor Willie Herenton, the agency was often charged by state authorities with aimlessness and inaction, and in 2007 it was embarrassingly required to return to the state a half million dollars in unspent federal funds.

Altogether the state had withheld some $11 million in federal funding from the agency since November of 2008 in response to what state authorities regarded as the agency’s failure to turn in accurate financial information or to prepare a satisfactory plan of action.

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