Our Mission

Our vision is that all students are prepared for the changing world of work. We aspire to narrow the gap between higher education and employment.

Our core values are equity, transparency, adaptiveness, and sustained capacity-building.

The Need

“The world of work is undergoing dramatic changes before our eyes... It requires employers and employees to come to terms with a new environment, in which flexibility and adaptability have priority over job security and long-term (if not lifelong) employment, structured environments, and standardized roles and responsibilities.”
- The Economist

Nearly 3 in 4 employers say they have a hard time finding graduates with the soft skills their companies need.
Society for Human Resource Management

50% of managers feel recent grads are prepared for a full-time job, while 87% of grads feel they are ready for the big time.
-Payscale 2016

Our Origin Story

The QA Commons was founded in 2016 with a grant from Lumina Foundation, providing a new approach to higher education quality assurance. Focusing on the employability of students, the QA Commons provides an innovative certification process that aims to ensure today’s graduates enter the workforce prepared for the responsibilities they will be expected to face. 

After undertaking considerable research and conducting a national pilot project, the QA Commons has identified eight skills that comprise a hire-worthy graduate profile

The QA Commons believes all disciplines need to prepare students for employability – not just those that are specifically workforce-related or pre-professional.


Convened national leaders (funded by a USA Funds—now Strada—grant). Unanimously decide that new models focusing on career readiness are vital.


Research begins on bridging the gap between Higher Ed and the workplace. Awarded a Lumina Foundation grant.


Co-design EEQs & the EEQ Cert process with 27 programs from 14 institutions serving over 35,000 students.


Successfully conclude Pilot Program. Awarded Lumina Foundation continuation grant. Launch Kentucky EEQ Certification Initiative.


Launched a Faculty Employability Fellows program, enabling faculty to learn first-hand about local workforce needs, employer concerns, and the views of the role higher education needs to play.

Need access? Please email info@theqacommons.org

The QA Commons Staff

The QA Commons Staff, our NCHEMS partners, and our robust Advisory Board and Stakeholder Advisory Board members comprise our entire team.

Ralph Wolff
President & Founder


“For the rapidly changing jobs of today and tomorrow, “soft skills” are no longer just something to pick up “somewhere.” Technology, offshoring, and roboticization are but a few of the challenges graduates will face, and skills such as collaboration, adaptability, and continuous learning have become essential for ongoing employability. We need to integrate essential employability qualities with academic content and theory to prepare graduates for meaningful careers. That’s why we created The Quality Assurance Commons.”

— Ralph Wolff

Michelle Deasy
Director of Operations & Planning; NCHEMS Liaison
Janna Vice
Director, Kentucky Engagement
Florence S. Tate
Director, Connecticut Engagement
Bill Plater
Senior Scholar
Gary Burkholder
Senior Advisor, Research & Evaluation
Brad Clark
Senior Advisor, Faculty Fellows
Denise DeZolt
Senior Advisor, EEQ Certification
Bob Allison
Senior Advisor, Finance
Sally Johnstone*
President, NCHEMS
Laleh Kazemi
Executive Assistant


Independent Reviewers

The QA Commons works with a cadre of experienced, professional educators to review Employability Self-Assessments and EEQ CERT portfolios. Click HERE to view our Independent Reviewers and their bios.

Stakeholder Advisory Committee

A group of employers and provosts has convened in Kentucky to link employer needs with the certification process for the participating postsecondary programs in the state.

Beth Davisson

Executive Director, Workforce Center Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Angie Mannino

Chief People an Culture Officer, Baptist Health System

Kim Menke

Manager, Community & Government Relations, Toyota Motor Engineering

Pat Murphy

Workforce Development Manager, UPS

Kevin Smith

VP, Kentucky Beam Bourbon Affairs, Beam Suntory

Jeff Whitehead

Executive Director, Eastern Kentucky CEP, Inc.

In the News

Schools Offer Certification for Employability Skills
US News & World Report
November 5, 2019

Do Your Academic Programs Actually Develop ‘Employability’? There’s an Assessment for That
Chronicle of Higher Education
April 16, 2019

CPE Launches Employability Initiative to Prepare Graduates for Workplace Success
Kentucky Business & Economic News
November 16, 2018

Group Attempts New Twist on Accreditation
Inside Higher Education
October 9, 2017

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