By Kathy Chouteau
Jay Lloyd, who originally hails from the Motor City, has Chevron Richmond’s Regional Occupational Program (ROP) firing on all cylinders since taking over as its instructor in August 2021.
The program provides local residents with free job training that equips them for high-paying careers in industrial facilities such as the Richmond Refinery. For Lloyd, the role as teacher expands beyond the boundaries of classroom instruction about refinery pumps, exchangers, compressors and the like to also include life lessons.
“We talk a lot about the power of positivity, love and gratefulness which are more everlasting than just a career,” Lloyd said. “These are things that I want to be able to impart upon them, things that they can take with them beyond just a career or beyond making money.”
While building a promising career in the fuels and petrochemicals industries might be what initially draws locals to the ROP—which is funded by Chevron Richmond and implemented by the Contra Costa County Office of Education—the impact of Lloyd’s life lessons also resonate far beyond the 18-week class.
“There are so many people within that [ROP] class who are going through the same things that I’ve been through and vice versa.”
Lloyd should know. “There are so many people within that class who are going through the same things that I’ve been through and vice versa,” he said.
Growing up in Detroit, Lloyd had an alcoholic stepfather who was physically and mentally abusive to his mother, while the family also lived in poverty. As the oldest child, he looked after his two brothers and sister and said “it wasn’t easy,” doing so as he tried to excel at school and sports. Looking back, he said “school and basketball were a refuge,” as was his grandfather, who encouraged him to get an education, telling Lloyd, “It will free you from the life you don’t love.”
Taking his grandfather’s advice, Lloyd went on to Eastern Michigan University, where he graduated in 2000 with a BS degree in Business Management. He went on to a career as a business banker and, later, founded Lloyd Resource Group, his own outside sales and marketing business.
It was the encouragement of another family member, his uncle who worked for Chevron Richmond, which saw him come to Richmond to start working for the company in 2012 as an operator. Eventually his work there led to him taking on his current role of ROP instructor, a role in which he has shined.
Operating for more than 40 years, the ROP is a free training program for local residents that has launched hundreds of successful careers in the fuels and petrochemicals industries, including for many Chevron employees. Since 2015, the program has directly hired more than 115 ROP graduates as either maintenance mechanics or process plant operators, while additional program graduates have gone on to work for other facilities or companies across the energy industry.
Students in the ROP program learn technical skills such as mechanics, mathematics and chemistry, along with communication and analytical skills, safety practices and how to work independently and as part of a team. They are also provided job interview training.
Lloyd said his work as an ROP instructor is to “equip students from the beginning of the class until the end about work/life balance, giving them energy, education and instruction behind the things that we use here in the refinery.”
Reflecting upon his childhood challenges and how those experiences have impacted his present work, Lloyd said, “Those were the things that I know that I’ve taken and have been able to implement here, especially as ROP instructor and for the people of Richmond.”
Sharing his past experiences—and life philosophies with students as young as age 18—has resulted in Lloyd building powerful connections with them. Students send him emails and text messages saying, “Man, you were the greatest teacher we’ve ever had; you really connected with us,” said Lloyd.
“Positivity, love, gratefulness…things of that nature sometimes slip by because we’re so animated about what’s happening right now in front of us,” said Lloyd, circling back to the life lessons/philosophy he shares during classes and that came to focus on in adulthood thanks to people in his college and professional circles.
He added that sometimes we don’t know how to compartmentalize the negative experiences from our past and make room for the positivity, “so I love being able to connect with students in that way.”
When it comes to his positive mindset, Lloyd practices what he preaches in his personal life too. A true “girl dad” he is the proud father of two daughters with his wife Monica: Suraya, age 18—who is in college—and younger daughter, Madison, who is age 16 and in her senior year in high school.
When Madison was eight months old, a staph infection in her brain caused her to have a stroke, with multiple surgeries ensuing. Since that time, she’s been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which requires her to undergo a lot of physical therapy. Lloyd said watching Madison persevere and fight through her health challenges inspires him to stay positive amid what could otherwise be a “helpless” feeling as a parent.
“She’s a huge part of why I carry the positive attitude that I carry and I am the person that I am,” said Lloyd about Madison. “We all have things that can easily pull us off track, but she’s definitely kept me on the straight-and-narrow. And the positivity, strength and determination to keep going toward my goals, as I see her striving toward hers.”
In his off time, Lloyd is an avid athlete who loves going to the gym, coaching/mentoring and watching sports like his beloved Raiders, A’s and Indiana Pacers. He also enjoys hanging out and doing fun stuff with his family, traveling and listening to jazz music.
Interested in training with ROP? Visit www.cocoschools.org/rop and www.cccoe.net/rop/signup for information on the program and signups. For questions, call the program hotline at (925) 942-3467 or email the ROP Principal at [email protected].