By Emily West, Vice President, Skills, Talent & Future of Work

On February 27, Greater Washington Partnership hosted the annual Collaborative of Leaders in Academia and Business (CoLAB) Principals Luncheon at Northrop Grumman’s offices in Falls Church. CoLAB is Greater Washington Partnership’s coalition of board partner companies and regional postsecondary institutions who convene and collaborate on talent development in the region from Baltimore to Richmond. This year’s event brought together over 35 leaders, including presidents from 4-year and community colleges and Partnership board members, for a cross-sector discussion about how to build and strengthen regional talent pipelines.

Partnership Board Chair and Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden welcomed attendees and shared details on our region’s unique positioning in talent development, and Partnership CEO Kathy Hollinger provided background information about CoLAB and our collective goal to create cross-sector talent solutions. Then McKinsey Senior Partner Nora Gardner and Partner Brooke Weddle shared labor market data that highlighted bright spots in the region’s talent ecosystem and showed where there’s opportunity to work together to close talent gaps.

Key insights from McKinsey: 

You can find additional analysis on the State of the Regional Labor Market here. 

Following a presentation and discussion of this data, Kathy Hollinger shared information about the Partnership’s Employer Signaling System (ESS) our systematic tool that combines labor market information with insights directly from employers to paint a comprehensive overview of the region’s workforce needs. To learn more about the ESS, check out our new video explainer below:

The lunch closed with a moderated discussion that surfaced examples of effective employer-educator partnerships and employer-aligned academic programs in the region. A few examples of strong partnerships include: 

The Partnership will continue to spotlight innovative collaboration and support the development of new, cross-sector initiatives with our employers and educators. To learn more about the Partnership’s Skills & Talent work, please email Emily West at [email protected].


  • Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and JPMorgan Chase Vice Chairman Peter Scher at 2024 CoLAB Principals Luncheon.