KEARNEY — Longtime Kearney area workforce leader Stan Zimbelman is retiring Sunday as the executive director of Kearney Works.

Replacing him will be Elizabeth Roetman of Kearney, an emerging leader for state and local workforce and economic development issues, said Jonathan Nikkila, board chair of Kearney Works.

Kearney Works is a non-profit devoted to addressing workforce issues in the Kearney area. Its primary focus is to serve unemployed and underemployed residents. Kearney Works trains clients in soft skills, connects clients with mentors, assists with job leads and serves as a hub for connecting clients with resources to receive additional education and training. The services are free.

Roetman comes from the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County, where she served as vice president. In addition to playing a role in Kearney’s recent economic development success, she spearheaded workforce development partnerships with area employers and schools. Much of that activity will be carried over to her new position as leader of Kearney Works.

“There is a lot of excitement about Elizabeth,” Nikkila said. “We know we will not miss a beat with her many existing working relationships. Most importantly, Elizabeth is well-liked in the community. That is critical for a role where she will be interacting with and coordinating highly diverse groups of people.”

After a long career with the Nebraska Department of Labor, including managing the Kearney office that the state closed in 2008, Zimbelman became the founding director for Kearney Works in 2017. He built it into the service center it is today, providing employment assistance to 205 area residents in the past two years. Zimbelman also was a member of the Greater Nebraska Workforce Development Board.

“Stan has been the right leader at the right time for Kearney Works,” Nikkila said. He said Zimbelman’s expertise is what made the nonprofit start-up succeed.

“Kearney had a need for a centralized workforce organization and we could not have asked for a better person to lead,” Nikkila added, “As someone who personally benefited from Stan’s workforce assistance years ago to land my first full-time job in Kearney, I know that Stan is leaving behind a great legacy.”