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Alumni Leading at Conferences Coast to Coast

May 15th, 2011

At all three of the state conferences I’ve attended since mid-April, SkillsUSA alumni and government officials have been prominent speakers. In one instance, the speaker was both. April 13 – 15, I attended the Colorado Leadership and Skills Championships in Golden and held at Red Rock Community College and Warren Tech. Over 700 people attended. The keynote speaker was Ruben Amador, a 2010 SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national officer. It’s exciting to see alumni such as Ruben bringing what he learned through SkillsUSA and his own personal example back to successive students. The contests were excellent, and it was a pleasure spending time with Ben Nesbitt, SkillsUSA corporate member, and state association director, Tony Raymond.

Then, I was off to the Tennessee State Conference in Chattanooga where the high school and college/postsecondary associations met together for a combined attendance of 2,300. It’s the only state conference I’m aware of where all the students get a steak dinner, high school on one night and college/postsecondary, the next. A representative from the governor’s office attended, and alumnus Carl Creasman, Jr. was the keynote speaker. The Tennessee association has full state agency support, and it shows in how smoothly the conference runs. I spent time with Sue Tucker, corporate member, and state association directors Carl Creasman and Carol Myers. I also got to meet with SkillsUSA board member, James King. James offers scholarships to the Tennessee Technology Centers to every state gold medalist and state officer.

Next stop was the Washington State Leadership and Skills Conference held in several locations in Yakima. Approximately 600 people attended. Micah Cawley, the mayor of Yakima and a SkillsUSA TV Production alumnus, brought greetings. There was a speaker from the governor’s office and past national officer, alumnus and North Carolina college/postsecondary state director, Peyton Holland, was the keynote speaker. Past national officer and alumna Shelby Adsero conducted officer training along with Katie Grimnes, national high school president, and alumna Jessica Lueck was signing up all the alumni members she could. Congratulations go to past SkillsUSA board member Moe Broom, Bruce McBurney, executive director, and the new state association director, Dennis Wallace, for a well-run conference.

Two other conferences of note: Chuck Wallace reported that Maryland just held its largest conference in history with over 1,200 registrants. Maryland used the Conference Management System offered by SkillsUSA for the first time and said it was “seamless.” Chuck was particularly pleased to post all the contestant scores online “just like nationals.” And, Myron Laurent reported that the Alabama conference was underway in Birmingham when the tornadoes struck the state. He wrote: “We’re in shock. The immediate relief we felt [when the tornadoes bypassed the conference in Birmingham] was soon overshadowed as news began to break about what had happened all around us. Considering that it would be unwise to travel at night, we chose to complete contests in the morning, cancel the Awards Ceremony, and release everyone by noon.” Thankfully, no one at the conference was hurt.

State CTE Directors’ Conference Features McGlade

May 15th, 2011

On April 18, John McGlade, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Air Products and SkillsUSA’s CEO Champion of the Year, was the keynote speaker during the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) Joint Spring Meeting with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education in Washington, D.C. In attendance for the luncheon were Joe Pietrantonio, Lauri Gostley-Hackett, Diane Donaher and a representative from Air Products’ Washington, D.C. office. Two VIP tables were reserved for them during the luncheon and directors from the states where Air Products has a major presence were seated with them.

John’s remarks referenced his own connection to CTE. He frequently praised the work of SkillsUSA and Air Products’ partnership with SkillsUSA, and the importance of soft (“21st Century”) skills. His overall theme was that successful enterprises take advantage of changing times. John’s speech – and the presence of Air Products – was frequently referenced from that point during the three-day conference, including the presentations on the new brand initiative for CTE and both of the closing speeches by the outgoing and incoming presidents.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also spoke. His remarks were also quoted during the conference, but not happily. He confirmed not only that federal funding for CTE had been cut $140.2 million this year, but that the President’s budget would propose a cut to $1 billion in fiscal 2012, when funding has been at the $1.3 billion level for many years. Unfortunately, the federal cuts might also precipitate state CTE funding cuts as well. An advocacy campaign directed toward Congress is underway, and SkillsUSA and its partners are considered important parts of the coalition. There will be much more to come on all of this.

Also unveiled during the conference was a new brand for CTE. The slogan is “CTE: Learning the Works for America.” There are many nice features, talking points and some great statistics on the value of CTE. Items are to be available online in mid-May. They come along just in time for the advocacy campaign. SkillsUSA did serve on the select advisory committee for the brand initiative.


May 15th, 2011
  • The final official membership total is 320,287. That includes 300,302 student and teacher members and 19,302 alumni members.
  • On April 27, SkillsUSA staff and Gayle Silvey, Georgia state association director, did a test drive of the SkillsUSA chapter registration software with a group of teachers from Middletown Middle School in Maryland. They also spent time on the website comparing SkillsUSA’s site to others and deciding what organization to join based upon their online experiences.
  • Staff projects sales of Skill Connect Assessments might well reach 15,000 in May.
  • Lowe’s has invitations out to 20 of its vendors to attend national conference. Staff reports some have already spoken of support.
  • I’m sorry to report that Milt Ericksen from the Arizona Department of Education and representing NASDCTEc on the board has announced a job change, and he will be moving to the Arizona state agency that represents health and nutrition. As a result, NASDCTEc will be naming a new representative to our board. I expect to hear shortly. I personally thank Milt for all he’s done for SkillsUSA through the years, and I wish him well in his new endeavor.
  • April 29 – 30, I attended ProStart, the competition of the National Restaurant Association in Overland Park, Kan. SkillsUSA and ProStart are going to be aligning our standards for competitions, and I hope doing much more together.
  • And, I just returned from my final state conference visit to Florida. Carl Miller did a great job managing Florida’s largest state conference ever. SkillsUSA Florida also achieved the highest membership ever this year. Brandon Mullings, 2009-10 national officer, served as a keynote speaker, and it was great to spend time with him during the conference. SkillsUSA Florida ran 110 contests and over 3,000 attended the event.

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