In December 2018, Governor Polis appointed Joe Barela as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, a 1900-person state agency housing the Divisions of Unemployment Insurance, Workers’ Compensation, Labor Standards and Statistics, Vocational Rehabilitation, Employment and Training and Oil and Public Safety. Joe has more than 25 years of experience in workforce and human capital development and is seen as a local and national leader in the field. Joe is passionate about creating more opportunities for better career pathways for working all Americans. Under his leadership he has introduced the Office of the Future of Work, The Office of New Americans and the Office of Just Transitions as well as the Colorado Family and Medical Leave Insurance Division.
Before serving in the Polis administration, he was a Director for Skillful, a Markle Foundation Initiative. In 2015, Joe served at the U.S. Department of Labor as a Senior Advisor; he helped coordinate the USDOL’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) at state and local levels. In his current role as the Executive Director of CDLE, Joe serves on the Business Experiential and Learning Commission, the Education Leadership Council, the Just Transition Advisory Council and the Colorado Workforce Development Council. He also serves on the board of directors for the Center for Work Education and Employment, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies as the chair-elect.
Mr. Barela is a Colorado native and a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder.