Organizing a Design Team

One of the most critical early steps in any initiative is getting the right people at the table. Once you have committed to engaging in a redesign initiative, you’ll need to start reaching out to potential partners and stakeholders in order to create an effective design team. You will want to make sure all the key stakeholders are engaged early on. For example:

For state-driven efforts, design teams should be comprised of community college system offices, state ABE leadership, state agencies (such as Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services), employers, community college representatives, and other key stakeholders.


For community college-driven efforts, design teams should include college leadership, ABE programs working in partnership with community colleges, Workforce Investment Boards, community-based organizations, and other local stakeholders.

Things to Consider

  • Make sure your team includes individuals with sufficient authority to make change happen as well as general capacity to keep things on track.

  • For state-led efforts, be sure to engage college representation on state teams—it’s important to make sure that college faculty and leadership have a place at the table.

  • Engage employers early and often to endorse curricula, and validate and offer job placement opportunities.

  • Figure out who will be leading the team. The lead/coordinator model has worked well in Accelerating Opportunity: the lead tends to be someone with authority to set priorities and communicate the vision; the coordinator tends to be more focused on operations and management, including supporting college implementation efforts.