From left, Michael R. Greenberg, Dean/Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph. D./James Zullo, Bloustein School Alumni Association Chapter Representative
TRENTON — Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D., Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, was honored Friday with the “Dean’s Medal of Merit Award” from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University at a ceremony at Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick. The Alumni Achievement Awards recognize Bloustein School alumni (Fichtner ’05) whose exemplary professional and personal contributions to their communities have been of the highest caliber, bringing distinction to their alma mater. “I am honored to be recognized by this prestigious institution that has had such a profound impact in shaping my education and career,” said Commissioner Fichtner. “The Bloustein School is an important resource as we work to address the public policy challenges facing our state and nation.” "My colleagues and I at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development are very proud that Aaron Fichtner received the prestigious Dean's Medal of Merit from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy for his career as a researcher and public servant,” said Dr. Carl Van Horn, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Director, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University. “During Aaron's service at the Heldrich Center's director of research and evaluation, he made many important contributions to field of workforce development and improving evidence-based decision making. He has continued to advance best practices during his leadership as Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Fichtner was sworn in as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development by Gov. Chris Christie on June 5, 2017, after having served in an acting role since September 2016. Fichtner brings extensive workforce and economic development experience to his new role. Fichtner led the department’s efforts to develop a strategic vision and direction for workforce and talent development in New Jersey and to implement all four titles of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. He focused the department’s workforce investments on the needs of employers in the state’s key industries. Additionally, Fichtner led the development of seven industry-focused Talent Networks responsible for building high-quality, employer-driven partnerships across the state. Under his leadership, the department has expanded services to jobseekers through partnerships with employers, community colleges, libraries, and community-based organizations and strengthened connections between unemployment insurance and reemployment services. He also worked to modernize the state’s unemployment insurance program through technology enhancements and improved processes. He has strengthened the use of data throughout the department by developing new performance metrics, implementing a workforce longitudinal data system, and developing industry-focused labor market information. Prior to assuming the role as Deputy Commissioner in January 2012, Fichtner served as the department’s Assistant Commissioner for Labor Planning and Analysis. Before joining the department in 2010, Fichtner was the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. In that role, he conducted extensive research on the workforce and skill needs of key industries, implemented a variety of workforce and education initiatives, and conducted evaluations of education and training programs. He also has worked in the field of economic development in Jersey City and Atlanta. Fichtner currently serves as Chair of the National Association of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships, the workforce development committee of the National Governors Association. He previously served as chairman of the Labor Market Information Committee of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, where he currently serves as a board member. In March 2016, Fichtner was appointed to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Information Advisory Council, which is advising the Secretary of Labor and the Commissioner of the Bureau of the Labor Statistics on the use of workforce and labor market information. Fichtner earned a Ph.D. from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, a Master’s degree in City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.A. in History from Vassar College.