April Watkins, MPA
April Watkins has been part of Workforce Development for the past 15 years and her journey began in 2000 when she took a job as a receptionist for the Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC) there sheworked her way up from Receptionist to Case Manager/Internship Liaison. April became better acquainted with the Back to Work Initiative in 2001 when she worked within BRC’s vocational/employment program called Horizon. There she worked within a Special Populations contract through the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Department of Labor, under Employment Services and Placement for individuals with substance abuse issues. She held this role for three years and was then offered a position to work as a Job Readiness Instructor at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in 2004. GMHC is the world’s first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy services. GMHC being new to employment services landed their first contract with The New York State Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) to provide job readiness and job placement assistance to the HIV/AIDS community. April played an intricate role in the implementation of the start-up program and created several program models that still exist today, although GMHC’s workforce program has since expanded.
April returned to school and completed her studies in December 2014 with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and continues to be a strong advocate bringing awareness to lack of employment services for people with disabilities and more importantly people with HIV. Being HIV positive and formerly on public benefits, April considers herself the spokesperson for HIV/AIDS community. Armed with first- hand knowledge of both sides of the spectrum—formerly a client and now a provider has allowed her to be open minded and passionate to this cause. She states that this never gets old for her and she never gets tired of advocating and changing the lives of others in need of support on their journey to self- sufficiency.
After eleven plus years of working in various position within GMHC’s workforce program— April was recently promoted to Director of Workforce Development at GMHC’s MATCH and RISE Employment Programs.