Meet the Team

Jaime Cruz

Executive Director

Jaime Cruz serves as Executive Director for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Local Workforce Development Board.  Prior to his appointment as Executive Director in October 2017, Cruz served as Chief Strategy Officer for eight years and was instrumental in partnering with local libraries to expand WIOA driven workforce programs.

Cruz understands first hand the barriers many face when trying to improve their careers.  As a young man who immigrated to the United States, Cruz initially worked as a dish washer despite a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Escuela Nacional De Marina Mercante in Lima, Peru. By improving his command of the English language and capitalizing on the growth opportunities he was presented, Cruz was able to successfully return to the engineering field and later transition to the public sector.

Prior to his career at Workforce Connections, Cruz worked on sustainability initiatives for major hotel casino companies in Las Vegas, including overseeing the development and implementation of the energy management and building automation systems at MGM Resorts International’s CityCenter.   He is recognized as a Certified Energy Manager and Certified Sustainable Development Professional by the Association of Energy Engineers, as well as a Certified Public Manager by the State of Nevada.

Cruz became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1994 and has lived in Southern Nevada for thirty years.  He is the proud father of two children, Samuel and Sofia.

Irene Bustamante Adams

Deputy Director & Chief Strategy Officer

Irene Bustamante Adams, the Deputy Director & Chief Strategy Officer for Workforce Connections, stands out as a dynamic and transformational leader in Southern Nevada’s Local Workforce Development Board. Her remarkable journey is adorned with prestigious recognitions, including the title of “National Trailblazer” by Emerge America and the esteemed “Women Inspiring Nevada” accolade by Vegas Inc.

With a rich background at MGM Resorts International, where she ascended from clerk to a corporate position over 18 years, Bustamante Adams has demonstrated resilience and excellence. She repeatedly assisted in creating and executing national award-winning programs for the organization. Her dedication to public service led her to represent District 42 in the Nevada Assembly from 2010 to 2018, culminating in her role as Speaker Pro Tempore.

Hailing from the farming community of Kerman, California, Bustamante Adams overcame humble beginnings by waking before dawn to work in agricultural fields alongside her siblings. As the first in her family to attend and graduate college, each earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from California State University, Fresno. In 2007, Bustamante Adams became the first Latina in Nevada history to earn an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree from UNLV.
In 2023, Bustamante Adams added another significant achievement to her portfolio by securing a position on the Clark County School Board, a remarkable feat in the fifth-largest school district in the nation with over 300,000 students. Her colleagues recognized her leadership qualities, electing her as the Vice President of the Board. This accomplishment was complemented by her selection as Vice President of the Nevada Association of School Boards by her peers.

Beyond her professional roles, Bustamante Adams actively contributes to the community, serving on the board and councils of the United Way of Southern Nevada and the RTC’s Transportation and Resource Advisory Committee. Her personal life is as fulfilling as her professional one – married to Army Sergeant Brad Adams, she is the proud mother of two daughters, Olivia, and Alaina, and recently welcomed her first grandchild. Irene Bustamante Adams continues to inspire and impact both her community and family with her unwavering dedication and outstanding contributions.

James (Jim) Kostecki

Chief Financial Officer

James (Jim) Kostecki serves as Chief Financial Officer for Workforce Connections (Southern Nevada Workforce Development Board). His areas of responsibility include direct oversight of federal agency funding under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)/Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Jim is also charged with providing oversight of the operations budget for the agency as well as resource funds placed within the community. Additional responsibilities include procurement, budgeting, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable and cash management, among others.

Prior to his assignment with Workforce Connections, Jim served as a finance analyst for the City of North Las Vegas, where he oversaw the Finance Department areas including accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll and grant accounting.

Jim is a licensed Certified Public Account and graduated from Illinois State University in May, 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. Jim has served in various managerial accounting positions for manufacturing companies prior to moving to Las Vegas in early 2007 from the Chicago Suburbs.

Dr. Ricardo Villalobos

Chief Programs Officer

Dr. Ricardo Villalobos currently serves as the Chief Programs Officer for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Local Workforce Development Board, which oversees WIOA Title I Adult, Dislocated Workers, and Youth Programs. Dr. Villalobos received a Bachelor of Science degree from BIOLA University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of San Diego.

In 2017, he graduated with a Ph.D. in Workforce Development from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, and a proud father of two sons, Ricardo A. Villalobos and Daniel P. Villalobos.

Jan Pieri

Senior Human Resources Consultant

Jan Pieri, Senior Human Resources Consultant with Prism Global Management Group, LLC. Jan has over 20 years of Human Resources experience; her expertise includes recruitment, employee relations, compensation, benefits, training and development, OSHA compliance and workers’ compensation. She has provided Human Resources services to a wide variety of industries including a Fortune 500 telecommunications company, construction, economic development, non-profit, and government agencies.

Jan holds a degree in Business Administration from Southeast Missouri State University and is an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Southern Nevada Society of Human Resource (SNVSHRM) organizations.

Suzanne Benson

Board Administrator and Executive Assistant to
Jaime Cruz

Suzanne Benson joined the Workforce Connections team in September 2009 and serves as the Board Administrator and Executive Assistant to Jaime Cruz, Executive Director. Before joining Workforce Connections, Suzanne worked for a non-profit WIOA Title I adult and youth service provider.

Suzanne received her Bachelor of Science in Human Services/Management from the University of Phoenix and is a Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP).

Suzanne is originally from the beautiful city of Santa Barbara, CA, and relocated to Las Vegas in 1995, where she lives happily with her husband, Sarge, and two Cavadoodle, Oliver and Penelope.

Brett Miller

Strategic Analysis Manager

Brett Miller is the Strategic Analysis Manger at Workforce Connections.  He joined Workforce Connections in 2013 and has 20 years of analysis experience in the private and public sector. Previously, Brett held positions in the casino industry ranging from casino accounting auditor to director of financial planning at the Mirage.

Passionate about data and analysis, he enjoys using his skills to answer questions and improve systems.

Brett received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Kansas in 1999.

Jeannie Kuennen

Program Manager

Jeannie Kuennen serves as a Program Manager for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Workforce Development Board. She performs contract oversight, training and technical assistance for grant awardees.

Prior to joining Workforce Connections in 2009, Jeannie spent over 10 years working with non-profit agencies providing workforce development services. She has over 20 years of experience working in workforce development programs.

She attended the University of Idaho and Western Governors University and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and is a Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP).

MaryAnn Avendano

Senior Financial Analyst

MaryAnn Avendano serves as a Senior Financial Analyst for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Local Workforce Development Board. She performs high-level internal accounting duties and provides training and oversight for grant sub-awardees.

Prior to joining Workforce Connections in 2006, MaryAnn spent six years doing non-profit and grant accounting at several local non-profit agencies.

MaryAnn was raised in Las Vegas. She graduated from Bonanza High School and attended UNLV where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Accounting.

She is married to Ramon Avendano and is the proud mom of two daughters, Maya and Isabel.

Malik M.L. Williams

Project Coordinator

Malik M.L. Williams currently serves as a Project Coordinator for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Local Workforce Development Board. He manages oversight of the Employ NV Business Hubs and the Southern Nevada ACT Work Ready Communities initiative, along with other employer engagement activities. Prior to joining Workforce Connections in 2021, Malik accumulated experience in a wide variety of industries in the private and public sectors. Most recently he spent several years as a Specialist and Program Coordinator in the College of Southern Nevada’s Division of Workforce and Economic Development. He is an experienced presenter, facilitator, and public speaker, and is a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM).

Malik received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Western Governors University, is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Learning & Technology, and is a Certified Program Planner (CPP).

Faith Cannella

Senior Financial Analyst

Faith Cannella currently serves as a Senior Financial Analyst for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Local Workforce Development Board, which oversees WIOA Title I Adult, Dislocated Workers, and Youth Programs. Faith received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

During COVID she took advantage of the shut down and study hard and in early 2021, she received her CPA license. Faith is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, and a proud mother of two sons.

Adrina Ramos‑King

Strategic Initiatives Manager

Adrina Ramos-King serves as Strategic Initiatives Manager for Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Workforce Development Board. She joined the team in 2021 and serves as the strategic convener of Southern Nevada’s Industry Sector Partnerships which includes employers across multiple industries along with education, training, and labor. Adrina ensures the ISPs are an integral component of the region’s workforce strategies and coordinates the alignment of employer needs (talent demand) to the skill-acquisition pipeline (talent supply).

Her professional experience includes a ten-year public service career with the City of Las Vegas in Economic and Urban Development in various roles in business attraction, redevelopment, and government affairs. Additionally, she has three years of experience working at local non-profit organizations including The Mob Museum and the DISCOVERY Children’s Museum. She is an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America program and at her church.

Adrina attended Trinity College in Washington, DC and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She subsequently earned a graduate certificate in public management and a master’s degree in public administration from the Greenspun School of Public Policy and Leadership, at UNLV. She is an inaugural graduate of Leadership Nevada and the Jameson Fellowship program.

Adrina is a native of Southern California and is married to Duane. They enjoy spending time in the great outdoors with their children Marcus and Jade Camille, and their Lhasa-Apso poodle, Beckham James.

Cecil Fielder

Strategic Initiatives Manager

Cecil Fielder previously served as the Assistant General Manager for Keolis Las Vegas – operations. With over 30 years of experience in transportation, he was directly responsible for overseeing all transit operations for Keolis Las Vegas. Before joining Keolis, Cecil held the professional position as the Area Safety, Training & Security Manager for Veolia Transportations Fixed-Route Transit Systems in Downtown Los Angeles. Cecil has led over 700 employees (union and non-union). He was also responsible for the annual operating budget and oversite of safety, training, transit, and security systems, including Bus Operation Control, Supervisor Investigation, Drug and Alcohol Compliance, Transit Security, and Facility Compliance.

Cecil’s professional transportation career began with the family-owned business, a boutique limousine company in Beverly Hills, California, where he served as the Operations Manager. Cecil ensured safe and efficient transportation of the company’s A-list clientele.

In May 2023, Cecil joined the Workforce Connections team of Southern Nevada. Cecil strongly believes in community development and workforce development. Cecil formerly served the Workforce Connections Board as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Workforce Connections Program Committee. He also served on the Governors Workforce Development Board (GWDB) for the State of Nevada.