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National Conference Still Changing Lives

July 15th, 2012

The National Leadership and Skills Conference is always an exciting—transforming—experience involving 15,000 of our closest friends. It’s also humbling to realize how much our collective work affects lives. Many teachers said to me and to staff: “Thank you for what you do for our students.”

Of course, that includes you. By way of example, board member Greg Rintala forwarded an email he received from Tina Oswald-White of mikeroweWORKS Foundation with an attached thank-you note from a student who received a mikeroweWORKS travel scholarship. The email commended the board members “who work so hard behind the scenes . . . and do so much not only for the organization but for the students and our future workforce.” The student’s note said in part “[This experience] opened my eyes to how much potential I have in the world, something I have never seen before.”

I wish everyone could have heard the Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates say during the Special Guest Breakfast on Tuesday, “Scholarships and internships are wonderful for individuals. Support for SkillsUSA is an investment in capacity building for the American workforce.”

All of our special guests including Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Education Brenda Dann-Messier, Bill Symonds of the Harvard Pathways to Prosperity Project and many more were all amazed by the conference. As one of our first-time guests said to me, “If Secretary of Education Arne Duncan could see this, he’d stop talking about ‘islands of excellence’ in CTE.”

I’m not even going to start recounting all of the corporate executives in attendance, but it was delightful to have the top executives from two of our best sponsors attending the conference together, Jim Lentz of Toyota and Nick Pinchuk of Snap-on. I understand each had a marvelous time and I know Jim was in the news more than once. Here’s one TV clip including Jim – http://fox4kc.com/2012/06/26/students-showing-off-talents-at-skillsusa-competition/.

Speaking of news, the early report on coverage in the Kansas City area media includes 79 separate stories and that doesn’t even include stories that are coming in on area winners. For the first time ever this year, we had three of the four TV networks covering the Championships live simultaneously and multiple times on Tuesday morning. There were 24 stories on Tuesday alone. Several years ago, we asked the Convention and Visitors Association what other Kansas City convention SkillsUSA should use as a benchmark for news coverage. The answer was “SkillsUSA is the benchmark. No organization gets the coverage you get.” We’re also picking up national coverage.


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