Enjoy a Life of Opportunity and Success with Delaware Pathways to Apprenticeship
Our mission is to provide transformational apprenticeships in the building trades to individuals from low-income communities. We offer training, mentorship, and support to help you succeed in your career and make a positive impact in your community.
Our Nonprofit Organization
When you choose Delaware Pathways to Apprenticeship, you’re not just investing in yourself – you’re investing in a better future for your community. We work with unions and community organizations to eliminate obstacles that prevent low-income communities from accessing building trade opportunities.
We recruit, train, and mentor people from low-income communities—including, but not limited to, the formerly incarcerated, people on public assistance, and people who live in public housing—to be accepted into and succeed in construction union apprentice programs in Delaware.
Meet the people who make it all possible
Executive Board Members
LEEP Representative/Local 55
John Blyden (Chairman of the Board) is currently the Vice-President and an executive board member of LIUNA (Local 55), co-founder of L.E.E.P., the co-chair of Pathways to Apprenticeship (P2A), and the Chairman of L.E.E.P.’s Board of Directors.Read More
He has served as regional lead organizer for LIUNA since 2002 and was formerly Delaware’s Labor Chair for the NAACP, commissioner, and vice-chair of Wilmington Housing Authority.
John became a union member in 1995 as a commercial laborer and has since then been involved in the labor movement as an organizer and subsequently an executive board member. As a regional lead organizer, John led campaigns in Delaware, New York, and New Jersey.
He was born in Harlem and relocated to Delaware in his teens. John attended Claymont High School in Delaware where he played running back for the Claymont Indians. It was during his senior year that his path traversed and he ended up involved with the criminal justice system.
After serving an eight-month sentence John entered Job Corp, secured a job with the local laborer’s union, and began his life’s journey of reconnecting individuals to opportunity. Over the years, John has organized over 1000 workers and helped secure life-changing careers for hundreds of individuals and families.
John’s transformative journey from Harlem to the streets of Delaware, to prison, to Rutgers University, to Cornell University, and finally to the executive board rooms of organized labor and his vision and fight for the inclusion of the most marginalized members of our community, sparked the formation of a collaboration between organized labor and community stakeholders and the development L.E.E.P., Inc, and the Pathways Programs.Read Less
New Castle Prevention Coalition
Sandra Smithers (Community Outreach Chair) is a lifelong resident of Delaware. She resides in the community of Dunleith where she grew up and works to preserve the history and the legacy of this unique African American community.Read More
Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Delaware State University and her Master of Education degree in Educational Administration from Antioch College.
Sandra’s career as an educator spans nearly 50 years. During that time she taught students in preschool, adult basic education, high school, alternative settings, and adult prison. Her career has been interspersed with positions in corporate and non-profit settings and with years as a small business owner.
After retirement as a Science Specialist from the Appoquinimink School District, in Middletown, Delaware, she coached novice science teachers with the University of Delaware’s ARTC (Alternate Routes to Certification) program. Sandra now operates a local non-profit, New Castle Prevention Coalition that addresses social determinants of health.
Sandra is president of the Dunleith Civic Association and co-founder and co-chair of LEEP. She serves on the Boards of Meraki CPC, Route 9 Monitoring Committee, Delaware Community Benefits Agreement Coalition, and the 913 All Civic Alliance.Read Less
Ronald “Kimoko” Harris
Ronald “Kimoko” Harris (Labor Chair) is the current Business Agent for the International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1883 (ILA Local 1883). He has over forty-two (42) years of affiliation with this union and has been an officer for twenty-five (25) years.Read More
Mr. Harris led the drive to amend the strict requirements necessary to secure a TWIC card for employment so that previously excluded community members could gain access to unionized job opportunities. He played an instrumental role in the port expansions with Gulf Container coming to the Port of Wilmington which meant thousands of new jobs in the area.
Mr. Harris has been working diligently with LEEP to ensure that residents are prepared to have access to these job opportunities through the pathways program. He was also instrumental in starting the DE Chapter of CBTU.Read Less
Dinah Davis-Russ (Finance Chair) is a 46-year veteran retiree from the City of Wilmington. She also served for thirty-plus years with LU 1102 and is currently the active President.Read More
Mrs. Russ is an avid committed advocate and activist for Wilmington and Delaware at large, serving the Delaware Democratic Party as Delegate, standing in countless picket lines, rallies, and demonstrations for the betterment of the African American communities.Read Less
Blair Talmadge (Program Chair) is the son of an (ILA) Longshoreman, whose family ties have a long historical affiliation with labor unions and political roots. He currently operates his own political consulting firm.Read More
Mr. Talmadge has worked on forty-two (42) state-wide campaigns in DE, and his firm helped to secure the appointments of multiple political candidates. During his political journey, he became motivated to have a positive impact on the communities he serves by transforming the physical landscape and opening opportunities to restore real estate as an investor in those communities.
He became engaged with LEEP through community forums and has maintained an active role in the organization and the development of its pathways programs.Read Less
Evonne Murray (Communications/Marketing Chair) is currently the AFSCME Staff Representative. She is responsible for negotiating contracts for salary and working conditions and handles grievances and arbitrations.Read More
Ms. Murray sits on the board of AFL-CIO and chairs the Women’s Committee for the DE chapter of CBTU. She has been involved with LEEP since its inception and is a passionate advocate for the rights of workers.Read Less
Angela Harris (Fundraising Chair) is a devoted public servant and community advocate/activist. She has worked thirty (30) plus years volunteering to improve the lives of others. Her public service includes work to increase the minimum wage, assistance with foreclosure mediation, reform, and voter registration.Read More
Ms. Harris currently serves on LEEP’s board of directors as the fundraising chair, helping to secure the necessary funding to implement programs and outreach projects developed by the organization.Read Less
Bishop Dr. George Gibson
Bishop Dr. George Gibson (Interfaith Chair) is the current President of the Interdenominational Ministers Action Council, (IMAC) and the Pastor of the Christian Love Worship Cathedral and Diocesan Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic Region, which comprises Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia. He also serves as Chair of the House of Bishops under the United Covenant Churches of Christ (UCCC).Read More
Bishop Gibson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Intermediate Education at Winston-Salem State University. Soon afterward, the Lutheran Theological Seminary for the Master of Divinity degree program, and the Doctor of Ministry program. He is a technical expositor of the Word of God and possesses an immutable preaching dexterity.
Bishop Gibson’s wisdom propels him to be an advisor and mentor to countless senior pastors as well as spiritual sons and daughters. Bishop Gibson is a Spirit-led individual with more than three decades of leadership sagacity. He travels internationally for sake of the Gospel and Missions.
Others work for multiple “streams” of provision, but To God Be The Glory, Bishop Gibson has become multiple streams of vision. He is a man for all seasons, as a parent educator, he has worked with youth in the “Parents as Teachers” educational program which encompassed leading the Fatherhood Initiative.
Bishop Gibson currently serves as president of the Delaware Fatherhood & Family Coalition for New Castle County. He is the acclaimed author of “90X45: The Game of Life”Read Less
Over 118 people have graduated from one or more of our classes.
Since our inception, we have taught 13 classes in Delaware.
local 199 Placements
Teamsters Union Placements
Women in building trades
Build a Better Future for Yourself and Your Community
Meet the people who make it all possible
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