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May 31st, 2012
  • It appears we’ll be having a record-breaking conference too. National conference registration is now 9,924. Total registration (not counting Courtesy Corps) last year was 9,527. Membership staff members say they believe we’re going to exceed last year’s total in part because of the number of hotel rooms states are adding to house their delegations this year.
  • On May 4, we held a Day of Service here at the National Leadership Center. Most of the staff was on hand to help in painting, landscaping, cleaning, organizing and polishing around the center. The SkillsUSA Toyota van was cleaned and polished inside and out and the SkillsUSA sign on Route 15 got a fresh coat of red, white and blue paint. The place looks great.

Got Champions?

May 31st, 2012

SkillsUSA Champions magazine, Summer 2012At the national conference, the staff of SkillsUSA Champions magazine will be on the lookout for interview subjects and cover models. If you know of a SkillsUSA student, advisor, industry representative or alumnus who will be at conference and whose story would be motivating and inspirational, please email Tom Hall at He’ll then set up a specific time to meet with the magazine staff.

In addition, if you have a student who is going and could be a potential cover model, there will be designated “photo studio” hours. Please let Tom know and he will contact you with the available times. Four students’ photos will be chosen to appear on SkillsUSA Champions covers next year. The remaining photos will appear in various materials, from the membership poster to other promotions. Our magazine staff looks forward to meeting your Champions at conference!

Live Webcast from NLSC

May 31st, 2012

Once again, SkillsUSA will broadcast the pre-event activities and the entire opening and awards ceremonies online from the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. This live streaming video will give family, friends and sponsors the opportunity to watch the keynote speakers and see students as they receive their awards.

Please pass the word to advisors, students and family of conference attendees. The sessions will be broadcast here: SkillsUSA’s Web streaming from the NLSC is sponsored by Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Alumni Committee Elections and Proposed Constitutional Amendments

May 30th, 2012

All registered alumni members are eligible to participate in the 2012 Alumni Coordinating Committee elections and voting on the proposed constitutional amendments. Representatives for Region 2, Region 4 and Executive Chair, and on the proposed amendments, will be on this ballot.

Alumni members may vote only once online at: Voting will be open June 1-15, 2012. Ballots will be counted at the 2012 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, and results will be announced on Wednesday, June 27, at the Annual Alumni Appreciation Luncheon at 2 p.m. Please contact Niki Clausen at 703-737-0639 or with questions.

National Courtesy Corps Auction Reminder

May 30th, 2012

We need everyone’s help with the National Courtesy Corps annual auction. As you know, every year, the national Conference Management Team – Auction Committee collects items to be auctioned that help raise money for the National Courtesy Corps. The Auction will be held on Wednesday, June 27th, in Lobby 2200, Room 2215C, Bartle Hall, Kansas City Convention Center, beginning at 11 a.m.

We urge instructors to donate items, possibly student projects from their schools. All of this helps with expenses incurred as a result of having the valuable talents of the Courtesy Corps at our disposal during the NLSC. If you have items you would like to donate for the auction, please either mail them to the attention of NCC Auction, c/o Byekwaso Gilbert, SkillsUSA, 1100 Main Street, Suite 2200, Kansas City, MO 64105-2040, or you can also leave donated items with the national conference registration staff in Lobby 2100, Room 2103A of the Kansas City Convention Center when registering your state delegation. If you have questions, please contact Byekwaso Gilbert at

WorldSkills Competition General Assembly

May 17th, 2012

My first day in Jeju, Korea began with a welcome dinner for official and technical delegates at the “Spirited Gardens” on Jeju Island. A beautiful setting in a bonsai garden hosted the dinner that included welcome addresses from Korean officials, and the President and CEO of World Skills International. (a couple of photos attached). A great time to network with delegates from the 39 countries attending and with World Skills board and foundation members as well as Global Industry Partners (GIP)of World Skills. Scott and I have had very good conversations with three of our own partners who also are GIPs of World Skills: Carl Peters of Lincoln Electric, David Greene of Fluke and Bob Schoener (sp) of Cisco.

WorldSkills Photo

Tim Lawrence, USA Official Delegate to WorldSkills International, Simon Bartley, President of WorldSkills International from the UK and Scott Norman, USA Technical Delegate, Pittsburg State University.

On Day Two, we attended the World Leaders Forum and participated in three discussions: (1) Skills for sustainable growth – the role of skills competitions, (2) Keeping competitors engaged beyond the competition, and (3) The world’s top skills performers – how do they do it? The third and final discussion was extremely interesting as we heard from Switzerland and Korea, the two best performing countries in World Skills Competitions over the past decade. The governmental support, training and rewards systems in these countries are all very impressive and great examples of national commitment for world competitors. Our cultural experience for the afternoon involved attending a women’s ocean diving competition and we saw the divers bring up shellfish, blowfish and octupus. We experienced Korean folk dancing performances and an ocean kayak race where our own Bob Schoener placed second overall in the race in the harbor off JeJu Island.

Day Three was the first day of General Assembly meetings. Thirty nine member countries answered roll call and we reviewed the World Skills Action Plan that is being implemented to rise to the goals of World Skills Vision 2020. We heard campaign speeches and elected a new vice-president of the Strategy Committee and heard updates on the state of World Skills International from both President Simon Bartley and CEO David Hoey. We approved SanPalo Brazil as the site for the 2015 World Skills Competition and heard a proposal from the official delegate from the United Arab Emerates for hosting the event in 2017. We also heard presentations and voted to approve the membership of three new countries to join World Skills International. Russia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago were all three approved as new members, bringing the total number of countries involved to 61. We broke into working groups for the entire afternoon to generate ideas on how World Skills should go about implementation of the Action Plan.

We have two more days of General Assembly meetings and lots more business to address, including introduction of new competitions and a revisit of Vision 2020 to secure member ideas in the process. More to follow as we close out the assembly on Saturday night.

Here are a few photos from our time here:

WorldSkills Photo

WorldSkills Photo

WorldSkills Photo

WorldSkills Photo

Scholarship winners announced

May 16th, 2012

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Student Leadership Development and the Sharon Melton Meyers Memorial scholarships. The winners of the Student Leadership Development Scholarship will each receive $1300 to attend Leverage and Activate training in Kansas City. The Sharon Melton Myers Memorial SkillsUSA Scholarship fund provides $500 to graduating SkillsUSA members the opportunity to continue their education in college or technical school.

2012 Student Leadership Development Scholarship

  • Stephen DeVito, Sussex County Technical School, Sparta, N.J. (Activate)
  • Anthony Hamblin, Tennessee Technology Center – Oneida/Huntsville (Leverage)
  • Connor Johnson, Eaton ISD Career Preparation Center, Charlotte, Mich. (Leverage)
  • Ruby Ramirez, Cibola High School, Yuma, Ariz. (Leverage)

2012 Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Scholarship

  • Andrew Jones, Area 31 Career Center/Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Jessica Pilkey, McMinn Career Technical Center, Athens, Tenn.

These and other scholarship opportunities can be found on our website:

Congratulations to our winners!

Tennessee was the Next Stop on the State Conference “Mega Tour”

May 15th, 2012

I attended a wonderful Tennessee state conference that filled the downtown Chattanooga Convention Center and several satellite sites, April 23-25. The high school and college/postsecondary associations run parallel conferences in the same facility, but hold separate opening banquets and awards ceremonies. On Monday evening, Carol Myers, SkillsUSA Tennessee high school association state director, and corporate member, Sue Tucker, managed a banquet for nearly 1,400 high school participants. The state officer team did a great job running the show. Carl Creasman, college/postsecondary state association director and his officer team hosted an opening banquet the following evening for nearly 500 participants. Board member James King, and national officer, Jeremy Ballentine, were both key parts of the ceremonies. James King certainly had everyone’s attention when he presented a brand new car to the outstanding student of the year.

I keynoted both banquets. Also speaking was Bill Prince, a native of Tennessee, a former national staff member and special advisor to President Reagan. Bill spoke about his participation at the founding of VICA in Nashville in 1965 and the founding of the postsecondary division in 1969. He was truly inspirational. It was also great to hear Danielle Mezera, the new assistant commissioner for CTE, speak at the high school division banquet. I had dinner with her and then toured the Championships floor – a mini national Championships in an exhibit hall – with her the following day. She promised to come to NLSC.

It was great to see Chip Harris at the conference. He is recovering well and promises to be at NLSC to chair the national Quiz Bowl contest. And, a giant thank you goes to Carol Myers and Carl Creasman for the excellent job at this year’s conference.

I also visited Columbus, Ohio for SkillsUSA Ohio’s 60th anniversary state conference. Mike Cowles said it was Ohio’s largest conference ever with 5,000 attending – including 2,200 competitors – and the event takes up the entire Ohio State Fair Grounds. I had lunch and great conversation with Steve Gratz, Ohio state CTE director, and met with Stan Heffner, state superintendent of education. Stan said the SkillsUSA Ohio conference is the “number one event on his calendar every year.”

Ohio had 50 state officer candidates and a huge delegate assembly. The election process was exciting and very intense. Ohio also had a run-off for several national officer candidates. Being elected as a state officer in Ohio is a very prestigious position and one that garners a lot of attention. The current state and national officers on the Ohio stage did a magnificent job of running the show. A big thank you goes out to State Association Director, Mike Cowles, and his management team for their leadership and for such a high quality event.

YDF Takes to the Hill

May 15th, 2012

The Youth Development Foundation Committee held its spring meeting at the N.E.W. Customer Service Companies headquarters in Sterling, Va., on April 18 and then in Washington, D.C. on April 19. Twelve members attended the first meeting in person and by phone. The meeting was chaired by Greg Rintala of Snap-on. The meetings were productive, and the day wrapped up with a great evening in the N.E.W. suite at Nationals Park for a Washington Nationals baseball game (and the Nationals won).

We were up early Thursday morning for visits to Congress. The message carried by the YDF Committee members started with the issues of workforce shortages, skills gaps and middle-class occupations. Their message then went on to say “Policymakers should pay attention to – and build upon – what works to address these issues. We know SkillsUSA and career and technical education work. Here’s what we do to support them.” Then, the members would fill in their own stories on needed skills and the work they and their companies do with SkillsUSA. Two delegations of YDF members visited with staff from the House Manufacturing Caucus and staff from the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee. Members also met with nine additional congressional offices during the course of the morning. We held a debriefing of our meetings at the offices of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) just two blocks from the Hill. All visit reports were positive.

This was Greg Rintala’s last meeting as chair of the YDF. Dave Camden from Toyota is picking up the gavel. My thanks go to both of them for their tremendous leadership. And, thanks to Bill Maddox and Wanzel Jessie of N.E.W. for hosting the meeting.


New Strategies Forum in Charleston

May 15th, 2012

On April 15-18, I was in Charleston, South Carolina for the New Strategies Forum, a three-day training session on governance, direction and development for nonprofit organizations. Organizations must have corporate sponsorship to attend. SkillsUSA’s nomination came from Newell Rubbermaid, thanks to Jackie Parker of the Newell Rubbermaid Foundation.

Only 30 top nonprofit organizations were invited to participate. The training was led by Curt Weeden, a former executive with Johnson & Johnson. Curt led Johnson & Johnson’s philanthropy arm, and then became an advisor to several Fortune 500 companies. He now works with nonprofits nationwide and conducts training on building better corporate relations, board leadership and strategic direction. He reviewed SkillsUSA’s financials and our FY11 IRS Form 990. He also reviewed our annual report. I’m rather proud to say that Curt told the entire group how impressed he was with SkillsUSA and our business model.

Among the organizations participating: Junior Achievement; The Arbor Day Foundation; Feed the Children, Komen for the Cure; Project Lead the Way and many others. The networking opportunities were incredible, and I took home ideas on how to make a stronger and more dynamic case for corporate support.

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