Jennifer Thornton


Jennifer Thornton is the vice president of programs for the Business-Higher Education Forum where she engages business and higher education in the development of strategic partnerships to meet workforce needs. In this role, she works with BHEF members to improve alignment between business and higher education, developing partnerships that foster diverse, highly skilled graduates with emerging skills in digital technologies.   Jennifer routinely publishes reports and presents to a variety of audiences on labor market and skill trends, credential design, and regional talent-ecosystem development.

Previously, Jennifer was the director of workforce initiatives for the Greater Washington Partnership, where she led the formation of the Capital CoLAB, one of the nation’s foremost collaborations between academia and business.  She developed deep partnerships with university and business leaders to design industry-recognized digital technology credentials and supported their launch in universities throughout the Capital Region.

Prior to joining the partnership, Jennifer managed initiatives for the Pew Charitable Trusts focused on identifying business-led strategies to increase youth employment and assessing states’ use of data analytics to inform budget and policy decisions. Before Pew, Jennifer spent nearly two decades in workforce policy and leadership in Washington state, where her roles included chief administrative officer of WorkForce Central, senior research analyst for the House of Representatives’ Higher Education Committee and Technology & Economic Development Committee, deputy assistant commissioner of the Employment Security Department, and workforce education program administrator for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. 

Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from Cornell University and a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.