Joe Barela

Executive Director, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Appointed on January 8th, 2019 by Governor Jared Polis, Joe Barela leads the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Dedicating much of his life to workforce development, Joe has been part of numerous organizations, with the goal to prepare America’s workforce for the future. 

With 25 years’ experience in workforce issues, he is seen as a local and national leader in the field. Prior to his appointment to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Joe was the Director at Skillful Colorado, an initiative of the Markle Foundation, the state of Colorado, Microsoft, and LinkedIn. Joe also served the U.S. Department of Labor in 2015 as a Senior Advisor, helped coordinate the U.S. Department of Labor’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) at state and local levels. He spent 12 years as the Executive Director of Arapahoe Douglas Workforce region, and was the Division manager of AD Works. 

Joe is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. He also earned the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Executive Development Program Certificate in 2007 and completed the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania’s Workforce Leadership Development Program in 2014.