Veronica Soto

Veronica has over 19 years of experience developing economic and workforce development programs that increase the capacity of small, minority businesses to compete in mega-building programs and establish career paths for minority students and adults to enter the architecture, engineering and construction industry sectors. Veronica leads the Southern California Regional Energy Network workforce pilot program and implemented the E-Contractor Academy Program that prepares small, minority contractors to compete for energy efficiency projects. She also implemented the workforce development strategy that establishes pipelines to high-road careers in the energy sector. Veronica also oversees ECC’s involvement in the LA-based ACES (Architecture, Construction and Engineering Students) Pathway Program, which allows young people from diverse backgrounds to explore and get a head start on careers in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). Veronica led the ECC team’s partnership with the City of New Orleans on workforce and business development programs to maximize economic opportunities for local residents and businesses as the city invests in over $4 billion in major capital improvements.

How does your current work relate to economic democracy?:

I create programs to increase the capacity of small, minority businesses to compete for work on mega building programs and establish career paths for minority youth and disadvantaged adults in the fields of architecture, engineering and construction. My program designs capitalize on the economic opportunities created by natural disasters; public investment in transportation infrastructure that bifurcate communities of color; investment in school facilities to improve local access to education and eliminate the bussing of 16,000 children to schools outside their neighborhood; and programs that create inroads and capacity in sectors, such as energy and sustainability, that lack representation by people and businesses of color.

My work in Los Angeles serving disadvantaged youth and adults is challenging but rewarding.  Our constituents suffer through poverty, homelessness, limited education, abandonment, discrimination due to past incarceration, and/or violence.  However, I am overjoyed each time one of them begins a career because I know they will have food to eat and a roof over their head.  Most importantly, I know they will enlist others to join them on their new path, engage themselves in the community, and that the generations that follow them will have a bounty of opportunity.  

Similarly, when one of our contractors wins a contract, their company will continue to operate, create and retain jobs, and grow within the community.  Their success and wealth is shared among their employees and by extension their families.