David Etzwiler was named CEO of the Siemens Foundation in 2013, a new role charged with expanding the organization’s reach and impact. The Siemens Foundation ignites and sustains today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. Under David’s leadership, the Foundation has increasingly focused its STEM efforts on U.S. middle skill workforce development.
Prior to joining Siemens, David led the Decade of Discovery in Diabetes, a partnership of the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and the State of Minnesota to improve health and drive economic growth.
David’s leadership has frequently been at the intersection of business, government, and philanthropy. He spent thirteen years with Medtronic, Inc., most recently as VP of Community Affairs, and Executive Director, Medtronic Foundation. David aligned philanthropy with the company’s global business strategy, building value for both organizations and society by fully leveraging Medtronic’s people, products, and programs. His tenure included leading state government affairs efforts for Medtronic’s headquarters and serving on the board of its PAC.
A graduate of Northwestern University, David earned his Masters of Public Policy from The Claremont Graduate University and his JD, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School. Prior to taking on leadership roles in the field of philanthropy, David practiced law, with an emphasis in charitable giving, estate planning, and non-profit management.
David has been an active member of numerous boards throughout his career, including the National Council on Foundations, where he chaired the Corporate and Global Philanthropy Committees and co-chaired the 2012 Task Force on the Future of Corporate Philanthropy. He has served on the boards of the National Urban Fellows, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Council on Foundations, and the Children’s Theatre Company. David is a member of the Board of Directors of the Siemens Foundation and the World Affairs Council in Washington, D.C.
The Siemens Foundation has invested over $90 million to advance U.S. workforce development and education initiatives in science, technology, engineering and math. Its mission is inspired by the culture of innovation, research and continuous learning that has been the hallmark of global technology powerhouse, Siemens AG, for more than 165 years. Siemens Corporation, with $22.2 billion in fiscal 2014 revenue, is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, which had fiscal 2014 worldwide revenues of approximately $98 billion. Approximately 50,000 of the company’s 343,000 employees are located throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Together, the programs at the Siemens Foundation are narrowing the opportunity gap for young people in the U.S. when it comes to STEM careers, and igniting and sustaining today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. Follow the Siemens Foundation and Siemens USA on Twitter / Twitter, Facebook / Facebook, and Siemens’ U.S. Executive Pulse leadership blog.
When I joined the Siemens Foundation as CEO in 2013, my board – comprised of Siemens business leaders – and I took a hard look at our philanthropic portfolio and asked hard questions: Does our work fully leverage the company’s business assets? Are we addressing a real societal need in STEM education and workforce development? Are we leveraging Siemens’ expertise and brand to best serve society?
While the answer was a resounding yes to much of our work, we knew we could do better.
As a result, we charted a course to revamp the foundation’s vision and portfolio. Today, we’ve aligned the mission of the Siemens Foundation with the people, products, and programs of the Siemens Corporation to address the STEM needs of society.
The Siemens Foundation ignites and sustains today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. Siemens Science Day aligns the knowledge and expertise of our employees with the natural curiosity of kids in kindergarten through sixth grade. Siemens employees take time out from their work days to share a well-designed STEM curriculum with elementary school students and to help them understand how STEM impacts their daily lives. Thanks to our partnership with Discovery Education, teachers have twenty-four hour access to 140 STEM modules aligned to national standards they bring to life in their classrooms.
Our redesigned Siemens Competition continues to set the standard for high school STEM research competitions. Offering scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 to the best and the brightest high school scientists, the Siemens Competition is helping to ensure our country has the engineers, scientists, and researchers it needs to be innovative and to prosper for generations to come. Last year, we added new features such as an innovator’s lounge featuring entrepreneurs in STEM fields and hosted by CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield. This year, leveraging the power of technology, we are excited about the next phase of our redesign – hosting our regional competitions virtually. Collectively, these changes bring the Siemens Competition into the 21st century.
The Siemens STEM Middle Skill initiative is our newest program in workforce development. Focused on developing the technical skills required for STEM jobs requiring a high school degree but not a four-year degree (jobs often referred to as “middle-skill” jobs), the initiative targets young adults in the U.S. Young people in the U.S. face significant barriers to education and employment and are struggling to compete with their international peers. Some 5.6 million young people in the U.S. are not in school and are not working. According to a recent study by the Educational Testing Service, U.S. millennials are struggling when it comes to numeracy and literacy skills compared to our international peers. In literacy, the U.S. scored lower than 15 of the 22 participating countries. In numeracy, the U.S ranked dead last. These are challenges we cannot afford to ignore.
At the same time, recent research shows great opportunity in STEM middle-skill jobs. According to a 2013 Brookings report, 20 percent of all U.S. jobs are STEM jobs – requiring a high-level of knowledge in at least one STEM area. That’s double the share of STEM jobs since the industrial revolution. Half of those jobs don’t require a four-year college degree and pay $53,000 on average – that’s 10 percent higher than non-STEM jobs with the same credential demands.
Importantly, the same research found that STEM-oriented metropolitan areas perform better on an array of economic indicators – from lower unemployment, to higher wages, and the rate of exports. This is an accessible pathway that makes a difference in the lives of young people, their families, and our communities.
The gap between where too many young adults find themselves today and the opportunities possible with STEM middle-skill jobs is simply too wide for us to accept. It is an area where we think the Siemens Foundation can make a difference and why we decided to add this new program to our Foundation portfolio. Here’s our strategy for helping close this opportunity gap.
First, we must change the perception of middle-skill job opportunities in this country from a “fall back option” to a “career pathway of choice.” These are great jobs accessible with low to no student debt and unlimited potential. With our partners at the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, we’re supporting the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and launching the Siemens Technical Scholars program, which will profile successful STEM technical scholars to increase awareness about these great career pathways and debunk the myth that these are “dirty,” “loud,” or “dead end” jobs.
Second, we’re identifying, championing and scaling proven workforce training models. Knowing full well that states are essential to scaling, we are working with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices to identify what makes work-based learning models effective, how to bring them to scale for young adults and how to move them into STEM fields. The closer the connection between workforce training and the demands of the employer or an industry, the more likely that training will lead to a job and advancement. It is an underutilized method that we believe holds the promise of opportunity and is ripe for growth.
Comprehensively, the revamped portfolio of the Siemens Foundation is working to address STEM talent pipeline needs at multiple points – from early awareness, to technical training, to supporting the next generation of scientists and engineers. Together, our work is playing a vital role in closing the opportunity gap for young people in the U.S.