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Toyota’s Jim Lentz Becomes Champion of the Year

December 1st, 2011

We had an incredible evening in New York City in the Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom on Friday, November 4, for the SkillsUSA 2011 Champion of the Year dinner and awards ceremony. More than 260 people attended – including many students and teachers in their red blazers – and 36 corporations and organizations were represented.

The ceremony began with a procession leading Jim Lentz and his wife, Barbara, to the head table preceded by the New York City Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. Jim told me later it was probably the most dramatic entrance he’s ever made, and he might consider doing it again for a Toyota dealers’ meeting. National officers Victoria Holbert and Emad Madha did a beautiful job during the student section of the program introducing SkillsUSA to the guests, and there was a special video presentation from John McGlade, the 2010 Champion of the Year, quickly reprising some of his achievements and commending Jim Lentz.

Jim’s own remarks were nicely done with thoughtful stories about what makes people successful. He clearly put a lot of thought into what to say to the students in the audience. “My hope for all SkillsUSA students is that you find that higher purpose in your work and that all of you in this room tonight be proud of the fact that you’re part of a great organization that improves lives and is indeed creating a better world,” Lentz said. He also joked as he put on the SkillsUSA blazer, “I love playing golf, and I’ve always dreamed of winning the Master’s and getting that green jacket. This one’s much better and much more important.”

Jim received congratulatory letters from: Senator Tom Harkin, chairman, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee; Senator Mike Enzi, ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee; and Representative Jim Langevin, co-chair of the House of Representatives CTE Caucus in addition to letters from governors and other organizations. Photos from the event and a news release are available online here. A six minute wrap-up video is also available at that link.

I owe a big thank you to the state association directors from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York and to their students and teachers for attending. It makes such a difference when people being introduced to SkillsUSA get to talk to the students. And, thanks, too, to all of the Youth Development Foundation members who attended and supported the evening. As I said, it was incredible.

Lehigh Valley Chamber Awards

December 1st, 2011

On November 8, I attended the Greater Lehigh Valley (Pa.) Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Awards in Stabler Arena at Lehigh University. The Lehigh Chamber has 5,000 members and is the largest Chamber of Commerce in the country. There were more than 1,000 people attending.

U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent introduced the featured speaker, John McGlade, chairman, president and CEO of Air Products. Congressman Dent also referenced SkillsUSA and CTE in his introduction and played the CBS Evening News clip where John talked about his concern for America’s future workforce. John’s topic was “The Lehigh Valley’s Highly Skilled Workforce” and he told the audience “Air Products will hire 600 people next year and they’ll all be in technical jobs.” Time and again, John referenced the technical schools in the valley and he encouraged his listeners to “get involved with CTE and SkillsUSA.” He said he is concerned about the workforce, but he can be hopeful when he thinks about SkillsUSA. Melinda Stumpf of the SkillsUSA Lehigh Valley Industry Council was delighted by the speech and the number of businesses John was able to reach with his message.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

December 1st, 2011

I attended the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) meeting on November 9. The big topic of discussion was the request from the administration to involve CTSOs in an entrepreneurship in education event next summer. President Obama has declared November “National Entrepreneurship Month,” but the intent is to do much more in the months ahead to promote innovation and business under an initiative called “Startup America.”

As I understand it, every federal agency will be asked to undertake some kind of activity on a Startup Weekend. The U.S. Department of Education wants the CTSOs – which are already holding entrepreneurship contests – to work together with Junior Achievement and possibly two other youth organizations to solve an education issue.

In addition, we held a lengthy discussion on gathering data from all of the CTSOs so we can begin to aggregate the investment and impact of the student organizations.


December 1st, 2011
  • Staff recently attended the annual meeting of the CEWD (Center for Energy Workforce Development), a nonprofit consortium formed in 2006 of electric, natural gas and nuclear utilities and their associations. SkillsUSA has engaged in a partnership with the CEWD which was formed to help utilities work together to develop solutions of the coming workforce shortage in the utility industry. It is the first partnership between utilities, their associations, contractors and unions to team with secondary and postsecondary educational institutions and the workforce system to create workable solutions to address the need for a qualified, diverse workforce. CEWD contracted SkillsUSA to create a Skill Connect Assessment in Energy Industry Employability Skills, and it is now available. SkillsUSA’s Career Skills Education Program (CSEP) is being used by CEWD as the companion curriculum for that assessment. With help from a Gates Foundation grant, CEWD has launched the Get Into Energy Career Pathway (GIECP) featuring eight pilot sites whose goal is to attract a total of 5,000 low-income students into training and jobs for the energy workforce sector. Additional information about CEWD is at
  • Some closing media notes . . . The Champion of the Year releases – both before and after the event – were sent to 1,148 automotive trades, business and education reporters nationwide, both print and online each time, and posted in several places online including Google, Yahoo and AOL. We also produced a report of WorldTeam coverage to share with WorldSkills International and discovered we had at least 118 stories or repostings of press releases on the WorldTeam including WCBS-TV, WAGC-TV, several other TV stations, and several newspapers including the St. Petersburg Times, BodyShop Business as well as several other trade publications and, of course, Parade Magazine.

Dates for the 2012 National Leadership and Skills Conference

December 1st, 2011

Because Kansas City will be hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2012 and the schedule conflicted with the annual conference schedule,

SkillsUSA has agreed to move the National Leadership and Skills Conference up by a couple of days in 2012 only. Following is the revised schedule for NLSC 2012.

48th NLSC – Kansas City, Mo – June 23-27, 2012.

So, the 2012 NLSC schedule will be from Saturday to Wednesday. This means

  • The Opening Ceremony will be held on Monday, June 25
  • The SkillsUSA Championships will be held Monday and -Tuesday, June 25-26
  • The Awards Ceremony will be held Wednesday, June 27.

For the NLSC 2012 condensed agenda, go to:

2011 NLSC Souvenir DVD Reminder

December 1st, 2011

Relive the excitement of the 2011 Week of Champions! The 2011 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference DVD is now available. Use it to share the memories with your students. The DVD is organized in chapters for each major NLSC event so it can easily be divided into instructional topics. The DVD is $14.95.

To order, call 800-321-8422 or go to:

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