News & Perspectives

Announcing Our FY22 EPIC Awards Winner for Entrepreneurial Spirit!

15. September 2021 PCG Blog

PCG’s quarterly employee recognition program, aptly-named the EPIC Awards, is designed to help bring the firm’s four core tenets—Entrepreneurial Spirit, Passion, Impact, and Community—to life in a tangible way. Today, we are thrilled to announce that Candace Phinney has been selected as PCG’s newest EPIC Awards winner in recognition of her Entrepreneurial Spirit and ongoing commitment to delivering solutions that matter to our public sector clients and those they serve.

Candace was nominated by Angela Pate and Brian Howells of the Human Services team for creating and implementing an innovative approach to client funding through which, PCG’s public sector partners are able to provide needed services they may have otherwise lacked the funding to provide. These are services that clients acknowledge would lead to better outcomes for their constituents, if only they could afford to provide them... Enter Candace and her team.

An Entrepreneurial Approach to Business Development

Following the acquisition of workforce development firm Focused Management Solutions (FMS) in late 2017, PCG’s Workforce Development team, of which Candace was a new member, participated in a business development exercise. The goal was to identify innovative ways for PCG to leverage its national footprint to grow and retain a larger client base that went beyond responding to requests for proposals (RFPs). Candace and team devised an approach built upon their extensive experience in the workforce development space, as well as their firsthand knowledge of the needs of existing clients’ workforce development participants nationwide, and clients’ fiscal constraints. PCG could help clients address these needs through expanded services while also assisting them in securing federal funding to expand service provision. 

To that end, Candace sought federal grant opportunities that would fund the expansion of needed services for existing workforce development clients as well as for potential new clients. She led her team to:

  1. Identify solicitations from the US Department of Labor (DOL) that could be used to provide the needed services.
  2. Manage a grant writing effort including an extensive nationwide partner outreach program (with support from managing internal team leads, Kim Tesch-Vaught and Makaya Mcknight, who oversee program design/outreach, and finance, respectively).
  3. Recruit new and existing clients to serve as recipients of federal funds to apply for the grants, with support from PCG.
  4. Draft the grant applications on behalf of these clients and potential clients.
  5. Submit the extremely competitive grant applications, and more importantly, win them.
  6. Negotiate contracts to provide funded services after an award was won.

Fueled by their entrepreneurial spirit, Candace and team turned a business development exercise into a mechanism for building and sustaining pipelines to long-term relationships with existing and prospective clients. Through these long-term relationships, clients and prospects come to rely on PCG for both the innovative solutions we deliver AND the federal funding we help them secure—all while bringing real value to those they serve.

Solutions that Matter Snapshot

Entrepreneurs are innovators and problem solvers. Candace embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of PCG because she has created a client funding mechanism that enables public sector agencies to better serve their constituents’ needs. Simply put, Candace delivers solutions that matter to the public sector, to jobseekers and employers nationwide, and to PCG and our employees. The following reflects just a sampling of the grant projects PCG currently supports as a direct result of Candace and team’s work (note this list is not exhaustive):

Tech Quest Apprenticeship (TQA) program

A US DOL-funded initiative led by Clark University, PCG, and a national consortium of workforce development boards and training partners to provide pre-apprenticeships and IT and IT-related apprenticeships to 5,000 unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers.

Rural Roads to Connected Care (RRCC) program

A US DOL-funded statewide program run by CommunityHealth IT (CommHIT) with support from PCG that provides 250 eligible individuals in rural Florida communities with grant-funded job training, instructional services, and support to prepare them for select direct care health occupations.

Tech Boost Training program

A US DOL-funded initiative led by Clark University, PCG, and the national workforce system through which 800 unemployed and underemployed workers will receive training and retraining in IT and IT-related careers.

Foundations for Life program

A US DOL-funded initiative led by the Florida Concrete Masonry Education Council (FCMEC) for re-entry of 200 incarcerated participants via pre-release training, industry credentials, and/or employment/retention with a goal of less than 12% recidivism.

A Most Worthy EPIC Awards Recipient

Colleagues and clients alike offered high praise for Candace and her entrepreneurial spirit in support of her EPIC Awards nomination. These testimonials paint the picture of a most worthy award recipient.

Excerpt from endorsement submitted by the Program Director for Workforce Grants at Clark University, Dug Jones, JD: 

“I have had the good fortune of working with and around Candace for many years in my roles at Santa Fe College and at Clark University. All told, I’ve been connected to projects she helped imagine, structure, and execute exceeding $30M. Her insight, expertise, and committed approach have been integral components of many very large successes. I consider her a “grants genius.” She strikes the perfect balance of being both visionary/innovative and understanding/following the necessary guidelines/frameworks. I reach out to her for guidance with almost every difficult grant-related question.

Most recently, we have worked together as partners on two large DOL grants. Clark University was awarded (with significant PCG support) a $12M Scaling Apprenticeships Grant (Tech Quest) in 2019 and a One Workforce Grant (TechBoost) in 2021. Candace was the architect for both proposals. We currently work together (with additional teammates) to implement/manage both of these projects. Candace is always able to see the possibilities/opportunities. Her approach to these and other projects has always been entrepreneurial.

At Clark University, we all look forward to winning and managing additional grant projects in partnership with Candace (and PCG).”

Excerpt from endorsement submitted by PCG colleague: 

“Candace exemplifies entrepreneurial spirit. In the last three years she has successfully been the lead writer and strategist securing five Department of Labor grants. Candace’s leadership and mentorship encourages the team implementing these projects to continuously look for ways to innovate and improve our infrastructure and processes. We build resources and increase efficiency in program delivery then leverage these improvements to secure more strategic partners that position us to reply to new funding opportunities.

Identifying the problem and designing innovative solutions that win more work is the core of Candace’s entrepreneurial strength.”

Excerpt from endorsement submitted by the President and CEO of CommHIT, Kendra Siler-Marsiglio, PhD:

“CommunityHealth IT (CommHIT) is grateful to Candace Phinney for her entrepreneurial thinking and expertise. She embodies "Entrepreneurial Spirit," and we fully support her receiving a PCG's EPIC Entrepreneurial Spirit award.

Candace crafted our funded DOL statewide grant entitled “Rural Roads to Connected Care" (RRCC) and supports our implementation activities in our partnership with PCG. Her work with us is particularly important because of the lack of Florida's healthcare delivery workforce that has become glaring in the midst of COVID. Many of the state's rural hospitals, federally-qualified health centers, behavioral health centers, and nursing facilities are biting at the bit to be part of this program that Candace initiated.

The crafting of the original grant in partnership with Candace and her team has created a great opportunity for CommHIT, and CommHIT whole-heartedly supports a decision to recognize her within PCG for her outstanding work.The ongoing operational implementation continues the PCG support of CommHIT's mission. We are honored and thankful for the opportunity to work on this project with PCG and will continue to engage PCG for its administrative services as more and more opportunities to do so arise.”

Excerpt from endorsement submitted by PCG colleague:

“Candace has created an entrepreneurial solution to grow workforce development services from PCG. Her team helps existing and new customers by writing grants for them to submit to win millions of dollars in funding from federal agencies and then negotiates a contract with them to implement the designs in those proposals.

I would like to tell you a bit about Candace. She is the sole care giver to her family while she runs a team of PCG professionals currently managing five large DOL funded projects. Additionally, she is constantly working to grow these business lines as the strategic plan is to scale and replicate proven practices across the country. She continues to write additional grants for more contracts for continued growth…This is a proven solution to increasing growth rates, improving services to client participants needing greater assistance and making significant impact while delivering solutions that matter…

Candace is brilliant, competent, steadfast, calm and supportive yet driving, strong, relentless in finding the truth and root causes of obstacles. She focuses on the relevance of any effort. She makes progress at all times…Her leadership brings out the best in people. She hires people smarter than herself in strategic areas of expertise. She deserves this recognition as she is humble to her own detriment, usually giving credit to others.”

Excerpt from endorsement submitted by the Executive Director of the FCMEC, Jim Painter:

“We would like to convey our support for Candace Phinney's award of PCG's EPIC

Entrepreneurial Spirit award. Candace crafted our DOL grant funded Foundations for Life program and supports our implementation activities in our partnership with PCG.

The crafting of the original grant in partnership with Candace and her team has created a great opportunity for our organization and we whole-heartedly support a decision to recognize her within PCG for her outstanding entrepreneurial work. The ongoing operational implementation continues the PCG support of our mission, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work on this project with PCG.”

Please join us in congratulating Candace for this well-deserved recognition of her entrepreneurial spirit and hard work. It is because of colleagues like Candace that PCG continues to make an impact delivering solutions that matter to the public sector and those they serve.