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The Way We Lead – SC Works Upstate Talent Development Specialist Nikki Burgess




As a Talent Development Specialist at SC Works Upstate in South Carolina, Nikki Burgess is an employee who never stops giving. She works tirelessly to assist local citizens with barriers to employment gain meaningful jobs and training.

Her customers sing her praises often commenting that her personal investment is the catalyst to their success. Donnie Eison can speak to the success he found with Nikki’s help. Due to past decisions, Donnie had barriers that hindered employment opportunities and the ability to provide for his family.

Nikki helped Donnie enroll in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult program. He had expressed his interested in enrolling in commercial driver’s license (CDL) training and wanted to attend the Truck Driver Institute as soon as possible. Having obtained a Gold level following completion of the WorkKeys Assessment, completion of three Academy courses and the WIOA Scholarship Application, it was evident that Donnie was motivated to make a positive change in his life. Nikki helped him get approval to attend the Truck Driver Institute and obtain his CDL. A few days after obtaining his CDL, he contacted Nikki to let her know he had secured employment.

Nikki has received several awards, including the quarterly Star of SC Works Excellence Award and the SC Works Star of the Year Award. Most recently, she received the Upstate Unsung Hero Award from Ten at the Top, a non-profit organization with the mission to foster regional collaboration and cooperation in the Upstate Region of South Carolina.

Nikki is a community activist in the city of Union, SC. She hits the streets on a regular basis helping schools and community partners with WIOA Orientations and classes and assists employers with Rapid Response activities. Instrumental in the development of the Transition Alliance of SC (TASC), she serves on the Union County Disabilities and Special Needs Board, United Way of the Piedmont Advisory Board and Allocation Committee. Her involvement in the United Way of the Piedmont Union food drive led to over 450 meals donated, and her partnership with the Dollar General Distribution Center for a school supply drive provided over $2,372 in supplies to over 104 children. She does all of this while also taking care of her family!

Project Director Doug Stephenson said, “Nikki’s example is one for peers to emulate and all to appreciate.”

Thank you, Nikki, for being an authentic, servant leader!