Management Team

Ed Murphy

Ed Murphy, Founder and Executive Director of Workforce Development Institute (WDI), has a long history as a leader in public policy, veteran services, economic and workforce development. Ed began his professional life as a military intelligence agent, fluent in Vietnamese.  He returned as a veteran’s advocate, and Vietnam expert articulating the mistakes and missed opportunities related to America’s war.    

Ed has used his BA in American Studies, two (2) years graduate work in the history of social change and revolution, certificate in Arts Management and Master’s in public administration to support his work in business, as a government and non-profit executive and consultant. At NYS Civil Service, Ed led development of New York’s first state workforce plan in 1989, recommending introduction of a Workforce Impact Statement as a component of public funding.  

In 1999, Ed came to work with the NYS AFL-CIO, establishing WDI, a national leader in workforce intelligence, education and training of unionized workers.  Ed helped found the NYS Apollo Alliance, bringing together businesses, organized labor and environmental advocates to address energy concerns. Ed serves on the New York State Workforce Investment Board.

Ed has had three (3) photo exhibits sponsored by the NYS Vietnam Memorial, been an advisor on two movies, shares an Emmy for HBO’s Dear America Letters Home From Vietnam, and has published five books.

Vivian Benton

Vivian Benton is the Deputy Director for Workforce Development Institute (WDI), having first served as the CFO and then Director of Operations. In all roles, Vivian has been responsible for working with regional staff, unions, businesses, educational institutions, government agencies and others to shape collaborative programming initiatives. She is especially interested in working with businesses and unions on regional solutions to address the skills gap in manufacturing. 

Prior to her roles at WDI, Vivian served as Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at Harvard Medical School, where she served in a key planning function to the executive team in all aspects of finance and program planning. Vivian holds a BA in Economics and French as well as an MBA in Finance from the University at Binghamton.

Allison Bashkoff

Allison Bashkoff joined WDI as Chief Financial Officer in 2011. She began her career at Honeywell Information Systems in Boston working in the manufacturing sector. After moving back to the Capital Region, where she was born and raised, Allison held a variety of leadership and CFO positions in both financial services and healthcare before arriving at WDI. Allison’s diverse work experience in various industries for both large and small organizations, coupled with her strategic thinking, have made her an integral part of WDI’s leadership team as the organization has grown. She holds a BA in Economics and Finance from Boston College and an MBA from the University at Albany.

Dan Cullen

As WDI’s Director of Field Services, Dan Cullen manages and coordinates the activities of WDI’s ten Regional Directors, and therefore has a broad statewide view of our work. Prior to his current role, Dan held the position of Regional Director for the Capital Region. In this capacity Dan supported programs in a variety of industries and facilitated workforce solutions including employee training, skill development for unemployed individuals, and improving employment accessibility for immigrants, refugees, and individuals with disabilities. 

Prior to joining WDI, Dan spent several years in the staffing sector, recruiting for businesses in manufacturing, warehousing, and financial services. He then went on to the NYS Department of Labor where he was involved in the design and operation of programs aimed to help long-term unemployed individuals return to the workforce.

In 2017, Dan was named "40 Under 40" by the Albany Business Review. He is on the Board of Directors for the Capital District Women's Employment & Resource Center, and is active on the Advisory Boards of the Upstate Alliance for a Creative Economy (ACE) and the Occupational and Environmental Health Center. Dan is a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in Political Science and History.

Lois Johnson

Lois Johnson is the Director of Workforce Strategies where she works on scalable solutions to 21st century workforce challenges. Prior to WDI, Lois served as the Chief Strategy Officer for Innovate+Educate working on building skills-based economies in New Mexico as well as nationally. She also served as Director of Workforce for the State of New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions where she led a statewide reorganization of the public workforce system, including consolidation of 41 workforce centers, development of a new demand-driven service model, and system-wide staff re-training. Lois was the founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Employment and Resource Center (WERC) in New York’s Capital Region, noted for successful workforce training programs for low-income women.