From September 15-19 in the Washington, D.C. area, SkillsUSA held three of its most important events of the year: 1) the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI); 2) the fall board of directors meeting; and, 3) the Champion of the Year dinner. Each of these manifests the important work SkillsUSA is doing in the interests of our members, partners and ultimately the nation.
The WLTI is at the core to SkillsUSA’s mission to teach students and their instructors the skills they’ll need to be successful leaders and advocates. The emphasis isn’t just on making an impact in Washington — although we do that too — it’s on putting those skills to work back home. I was particularly pleased to hear that some of the state delegations are doing just that. In New York, for example, students are expected to go back to school boards and other groups to talk about their experiences when they return.
With 314 registered attendees, this was our largest WLTI ever. There were excellent presentations to the students and instructors by Congressional staff from both parties from the House and the Senate. There were discussions with senior staff from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education on the administration’s Blueprint for Reform and reauthorization of Perkins. And, Barry Wulf, a past national officer and now a Black Hawk helicopter pilot for the California National Guard was a commanding keynote speaker.
We’re still compiling the reports from the states on their delegation visits. We have record of 80 visits — down from 103 last year — but we still don’t have reports from all of the states. We heard from board members and from delegations about how much they enjoyed making the congressional office visits together and I received a letter from one of the board members about WLTI saying the “national staff is simply outstanding.” WLTI photos are available here: www.skillsusa.org/events/wltiphotos.shtml.
The Champion of the Year became two events on September 18 with a news conference at the National Press Club in the morning and then the dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The news conference focused on America’s skills gap. Of course, Champion of the Year Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on was the featured speaker. Also speaking: Jane Oates, assistant secretary of Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor; Bryan Albrecht, president, Gateway Community College; Amelia Powers, western region parts manager, Caterpillar and a SkillsUSA alumna; Kaila O’Farrell, national Region I vice president of SkillsUSA; and, yours truly. Bloomberg News was there to cover it as were reporters from two magazines, the Association of Career and Technical Education, and a 5:30 video news release was written and edited together and put on the feed to Fox stations by 3:30 p.m. for the evening news and then transmitted again the following morning.
The dinner was an impressive affair. (One student said to me: “I didn’t think it would be this elegant.”) Mr. Pinchuk is an eloquent and passionate speaker when it comes to both the importance of the skilled workforce and SkillsUSA. He said in part: “We, as a nation, need to make skilled workforce training a national priority, and to make skilled careers, a national calling.” He concluded his remarks by recognizing the students in the audience saying, “Meet America’s future, the young men and women of SkillsUSA.” Special thanks go to Greg Rintala, Alicia Smales and Rick Secor of Snap-on for all of their work on these events. Check out the pictures and video: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/champion.shtml.
A news release went out from this office to all of the search engines and many more business and trade magazines, broadcast networks and newspapers. To read the release, link to: www.prweb.com/releases/2012/9/prweb9925505.htm. Clips are still arriving.