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Dozen: Squillace leads community by focusing on 'something bigger'

It may seem like Frank Squillace has bounced around a variety of fields in his career, but to him, it’s all the same.

Sure, he started in hospital administration and then went to church and business administration. But he’s quick to point out they all have one commonality.

“To me, it’s all administration,” he said. “It’s how you treat people. While they’re different fields, it’s being able to manage people, resources and customer service with relationships.”

Squillace has spent more of his life in the Charlottesville area than he did in his native Syracuse, New York. During this time, he’s made a mark in the community and now helps residents find jobs as the executive director of Network2Work.

Squillace first came to the area in 1988 as an administrative intern at Martha Jefferson Hospital long before Sentara Healthcare took over operations.

After earning his master’s in hospital administration at Duke University, Squillace had no intention of returning to upstate New York.

“I love my family, but too cold,” he said.

The internship was for a year, but Squillace was offered a job after six months.

After 11 years with the hospital, he transitioned to administrator at Church of the Incarnation. Twelve years later, Squillace was named vice president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

While Squillace was at the chamber, Ridge Schuyler helped to craft the Orange Dot report, which found that one in five families in the city don’t make enough money to be self-sufficient.

Out of that report, Schuyler piloted the Network2Work program, which helps job seekers gain skills and resources needed to find quality jobs.

The program partners with nearly 100 jobs in Charlottesville and Albemarle County that pay at least $25,000 a year. It will expand to Louisa and Greene counties next year.

Squillace said the program works with employers in four categories: health care; construction and trades; transportation and logistics; and hospitality.

The program doesn’t work with jobs paying less than $12.50 an hour.

“These employers have to realize you’re not only going to not have employees, but nobody buying your services because you can’t afford them,” Squillace said.

Squillace said about 375 people will be served this year and the program is on pace for 500 in 2020.

Through the program, Network2Work peers and mentors sit down and work through various barriers, including legal issues, transportation problems and health care. The program then outlines manageable steps to solve those issues and even offers loaner cars and scholarships to help bridge gaps.

“We basically, in my mind, reverse engineer the way people seek jobs and the way employers hire those people to fill the positions they have,” Squillace said. “What we’ve done is say, take care of the person, the whole person, first.”

“If you take care of that first, then the person is going to be a better candidate, they’re going to stay on the job longer and the employer is going to be happier because those things that they lose people over aren’t going to necessarily show or manifest themselves.”

Job seekers then apply though normal channels and Squillace said the “secret sauce” is an email vouching for the candidate.

“He works tirelessly to encourage local employers to offer quality employment,” said Kevin Doyle, a Charlottesville counselor.

Squillace said he took over at Network2Work because it was basically a combination of his previous employment.

“I think to be healthy, you have to feel good about yourself and one of the best ways is to use the gifts you’ve been given in a meaningful job,” he said.

Schuyler, who’s now the director of self-sufficiency programs at Piedmont Virginia Community College, said Squillace was selected to lead the program because he’s “a natural fit because of his big heart and his big Rolodex.”

“He cares about people,” Schuyler said. “He also has such a great way with people, and his time at the chamber in charge of membership introduced him to all these employers.”

Schuyler said Network2Work wants to reduce the number of people in poverty by a third over the next eight years, and that Squillace is the right man for the job.

“I can think of no one better to lead that charge than Frank,” he said. “He has the connections and the caring of the community.”

Outside of his day job, Squillace has been involved with other boards and organizations, including the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA.

He’s also one of the founders of the Charlottesville Catholic School. Established in 1996, the school serves more than 300 students a year in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Squillace also has been playing electric cello for 22 years in a rock cover band called 180.

No matter what he’s doing, Squillace said it’s important to help others.

“It’s about living your life as it’s not about you,” he said. “It’s about something bigger.”


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