NewsBlack History Month 2023


Clyde McQueen reflects on 35 years of redefining workforce development in Kansas City

Clyde McQueen
Posted at 6:11 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 19:12:33-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City wouldn't be what it is without the dedication of Clyde McQueen over the last three decades.

McQueen is celebrating 35 years with the Full Employment Council. During his career, he has redefined workforce development in the KC area and helped thousands of people with employment.

When looking back on this milestone, McQueen said it's hard to believe he's at this point.

"It's like time went by really fast, I don't really feel like it's been 35 years, I can still remember the day I came here," McQueen said.

McQueen's love for helping others succeed can be felt throughout the office.

"His passion is unwavering," Shelley Penn, FEC senior vice president, said.

McQueen said he learned the value of hard work through his father and uncles, who never went to college but made their own way in the world by going into business. They taught him the value of understanding and building relationships with customers.

During his career, he's tackled issues such as child care, transportation and helping the under-represented out of poverty.

Providing opportunity to everyone will always be his goal.

"Our whole approach is to make it a systematic approach and not a programmatic approach so that it can just be self-sustaining and that it creates a system that enables all persons to rise," McQueen said.

McQueen has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Local Hero award from Ingram’s. He's also been listed as one of Kansas City’s Top 100 Most Influential Leaders.

He has received national recognition for his innovation within workforce development, including congressional recognition.

Penn said McQueen is often referred to as "Dean McQueen" around the country when it comes to workforce development.

"Whenever we go outside of Kansas City, everybody wants to hear what he has to say, and he has a lot to say," Penn said. "He's always the force in the room, he's not afraid to fight the big fight when it comes to helping people, Clyde will not back down."

His work has also resulted in many services for underrepresented populations in the metro.

"Clyde has probably single-handedly brought in over $200 million in funding for our youth and for the economically disadvantaged," Penn said.

McQueen said his career has made him feel as if he's not working.

"It's been a very enjoyable experience. I feel like I've been in a place that is organic and constantly changes," McQueen said. "You meet a diversity of people, but more importantly, there is a dedicated area where you can see the African-American population has contributed and they are part of the conversation from a policy standpoint."

McQueen's drive and determination can be seen through success stories like 23-year-old Alain Nunez who suffered from homelessness before getting a job at the Full Employment Council through its youth program.

Nunez now has an apartment and is working toward his GED.

"I didn't realize how important a job is, it's very important to keep a job and the FEC gave me a job, and that's really cool that there's a place like the FEC and Mr. McQueen supports that," Nunez said.

When asked what Black History Month means to him, McQueen said it's recognizing that African-American people are part of Kansas City's history and its leaders, and the city would be incomplete without them.

"We don't want everybody to be the same. I want people to be different and just understand we have a difference of opinion and we come together with a common solution,"McQueen said.