Jenny Geno - Saginaw Intermediate School District - 2021 MFG Talent Champion

This article appeared in the November 2021 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

With over 25 years of commitment to education, which has evolved into full-hearted focus on Career and Technical Education (CTE), Jenny Geno has proven to be a valuable resource for supporting the talent pipeline in Michigan. She is the Executive Director of Career and Technical Education for the Saginaw Intermediate School District (SISD) but is well-known throughout the entire manufacturing community for her dynamic and innovative work promoting the skilled trades.

“Everything that I do, what motivates me, is really creating opportunities for people. First and foremost are students,” says Geno.

With manufacturers throughout the state facing the challenge of an ongoing labor shortage, efforts by Geno not only serve an incredibly valuable role for talent acquisition but also can provide a template for other communities to make a difference at the local level.

State Senator Ken Horn is one of many professional fans of Geno and says that other areas around the state should take note of the programs and initiatives she has enacted if they want to be successful.

“The facility that is being developed here because of her work with the Marshall Plan, the PRIME program and the Perkins Grant applications that she puts out…sets this up to be a premier CTE program,” Horn says.

Due to her work on the Marshall Plan for Talent, Geno helped secure $6.3 million in CTE funding on behalf of M-46 Talent Consortium, which is comprised of 72 businesses in mid-Michigan and Muskegon County. It was the largest grant award out of the $100 million program under former Governor Rick Snyder. However, that is just one of many accomplishments Geno has spearheaded during her brief tenure at SISD. Geno was the point person for the 2018 CTE millage in Saginaw County which has been used to implement SME PRIME education, she has been instrumental in bringing Middle Michigan MI CareerQuest to the region and she has engaged area boards and stakeholders to help make it all happen.

Patrick Curry, President of Fullerton Tool, first met Geno shortly after she started at SISD. He immediately recognized Geno’s energy and passion for the industry.

“She has a real passion for the youth in this community. And she cares about the community of manufacturing,” says Curry. “She’s done a fantastic job and, without her, I don’t think we’d be moving in the right direction. I think we’d still be slipping backwards.”

Geno has also worked closely with Jeremy Bockelman, Executive Director of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, on implementing Industry 4.0 curriculum. He says, before Geno, there were some efforts to coordinate and promote CTE programs but she really brought the vision.

“Jenny understood that there had to be a greater vision,” says Bockelman. “And that vision was embedding Industry 4.0 into curriculums and at the various career centers. And what that does is it puts you on the forefront. It puts you ahead of the competition.”

While Geno is focused on early education and talent cultivation, she also sees herself as an advocate for the industry.

“It’s very rewarding to see that there are pathways that are being created to good-paying, rewarding careers. It’s thrilling to be able to shift perceptions of manufacturing, so it’s been a great experience all the way around.”