Eric Wright

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Winning the Talent Pipeline or Losing Everything Else

By: Eric Wright

In his bestseller, “The Coming Jobs War,” Jim Clifton, the former chairman of Gallup, describes the competition for global job creation as a war. Before you start conjuring images of an international apocalypse, consider that the modern world economy is more interdependent, educating a higher percentage of the population and allowing a greater percentage to enjoy being a member of the middle class than ever before in history.

Whether you want to describe it as a conflict or a competition, there is universal agreement that the one key to who will win and who will lose is: How robust is your talent pipeline? Fifty years ago, India’s economy trailed Finland in GDP and China wasn’t much better. But what these countries did have was a very successful educational system. The rest, as they say, is history.

Few understand the challenges and the joys of preparing a generation for global competitiveness in the job market like Maria F. Vazquez, Ed.D.


Maria F. Vazquez, Ed.D. of
Orange County Public Schools


Maria Vazquez started out as an engineering student at USF, but in her junior year she worked at a summer camp for disadvantaged children and it changed her forever. “I knew then I wanted to work with children and make a difference in their life.” That decision raised some eyebrows, particularly with her parents, but she never regretted the choice, having since become the chief academic officer for the 10th largest school district in the country, serving over 203,000 students from every imaginable background.

“Meeting the needs of such a diverse group can be perceived as challenging, but I work with an impressive team that works tirelessly to ensure students, teachers and schools have the support necessary to ensure we are the top producers of successful students in the nation,” she said.

By all accounts she is hitting that goal as Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) was ranked in the top 10 in the Digital School Districts Survey. U.S. News & World Report ranked six OCPS schools in the top 10 percent of high performing high schools in the country. Not to mention that they received the Governors’ Sterling Award in 2014 and 2015 and the OCPS Superintendent was the 2017 Superintendent of the Year and a finalist for the National Superintendent of the Year.

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