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Executive Director’s Report: April 15, 2014

April 15th, 2014

Recent Board of Directors’ Meeting
The Board of Directors’ meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, March 12-13, went very well. A big thank you goes to Board President James King and Tennessee State Association Director Chelle Travis for their wonderful hospitality, great meals, transportation and meeting space at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology-Nashville (TCAT).

We were very pleased that so many dignitaries from Tennessee state government and education attended the board kick-off dinner. Nissan sponsored the dinner and attendees included Nissan Technical Training Manager Kevin Smith; Chris Tesmer, IRWIN Industrial Tools; Chancellor John Morgan, Vice Chancellor James King, Carol Puryear and Lynn Goodman from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR); TBR Board Members Danni Varlan and Emily Reynolds; SkillsUSA National Officers (past and present) Tony Hamblin, Jeremy Ballentine and Gildor Simplice; Representative Harry Brooks (House Education Committee Chair) and Senator Jim Tracy (Senate Education Committee Chair); Tennessee State Association Directors Brandon Hudson (high school division) and Chelle Travis (college/postsecondary division); TCAT Nashville Director Mark Lenz; and, Dr. Chip Harris from Tennessee State University’s Center for Career and Technical Education.

Modex Show
On March 18-19, I attended the Modex Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. I was asked by the Materials Handling Institute (MHI) to speak during the career and technical education track of the Modex Show. I provided a keynote presentation on the future skilled workforce and how SkillsUSA is a partial solution to the skills gap being experienced by this industry and many others. The show focused on transportation, distribution and logistics occupations. Other speakers were from both the companies that distribute goods (Target, Walmart, Staples, etc.) and those that build the automated equipment to move goods from manufacturing to warehousing to distribution. The entire show floor was an array of automated warehousing and distribution systems, and it demonstrated how high tech this industry has become. My track included several hundred students and teachers who were involved in the transportation, distribution and logistics education cluster.

SkillsUSA Foundation, Inc. Meeting
The SkillsUSA Foundation met in Louisville, March 25-26, and Dave Worden, Carol Lowery, Kelly Persons and I attended. The meeting was hosted by Snap-on Incorporated and Challenger Lifts. Special thanks to long-time Snap-on friends, Alicia Smales and Greg Rintala who filled in for Alicia during this meeting.

After a full-day meeting on Tuesday, March 25th, Foundation members reconvened on Tuesday, March 26th to walk the exhibit floor at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) and help our Business Partnerships and Development (BPD) team kick off the new, volunteer-led, SkillsUSA-Louisville Advisory Council. The Council is made up of a core group of local business, industry and education leaders from Kentucky and Indiana who will help steward the growing partnership between Louisville and SkillsUSA. The purpose of the Council is to help raise local funding, build awareness and secure in-kind materials and volunteers for the 51st – 56th annual National Leadership and Skills Conferences (NLSC) to be held in Louisville.

In addition, Tim, Dave and Kelly toured the Sullivan College of Technology and Design and met with Michael Covington, HVACR Technology Department chair. Three representatives from Sullivan College joined us during the Circle of Champions Breakfast in January and were excited to talk further about how Sullivan instructors, alumni and students might support NLSC as volunteer judges and technical committee members.

More Travel
From Louisville, I flew to Rhode Island to participate and speak at the SkillsUSA Rhode Island State Leadership and Skills Conference Awards Ceremony. Josh Klemp reported a record number of more than 1,800 students, educators and parents attending. And, there were some very special guests in attendance. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, State Education Board Chair Eva Mancuso and Deputy Education Commissioner David Talbott all spoke to the group and all were very supportive of the SkillsUSA program in Rhode Island. I was privileged to spend time with all three of them and with State CTE Director Vanessa Cooley. It was also great to see several alumni assisting with the event. Gianna Velino (Region I vice president, 2009-10) had a key role in producing the event and Sheila Vasquez (Region I vice president, 2005-06) delivered the keynote. As a national officer and a culinary student, Sheila had received a full tuition scholarship to Johnson & Wales University where she earned her BS degree. She just completed law school at Florida A&M University and will begin work within the next few weeks as prosecuting attorney in Miami-Dade County. She attributes her success to the love of service she acquired through SkillsUSA. With more than 6,000 members, SkillsUSA is the largest student organization in Rhode Island. Congratulations to State Association Director Josh Klemp and his team for an outstanding celebration for our students in Rhode Island.

We have also received word of top-level government officials attending other state conferences. The Governor will be attending the Illinois conference and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction will be attending the California conference.

On Thursday, March 27, I drove to Boston to meet with the SkillsUSA Massachusetts Board of Directors to assist them with strategic planning and financial strategy.

And, on Friday, March 28, Massachusetts State Association Director Karen Ward arranged visits for me and two executives from Dassault Systems to see two of her local SkillsUSA chapters using best practice examples of employability skills integration into STEM education classrooms. The experience provided a good snapshot into how our CTE schools teach STEM and integrate life skills training into the school day through SkillsUSA curriculum and chapter activities. More on these visits next time.

WorldSkills Americas Competition
The WorldSkills Americas Competition concluded on April 5 and the U.S. team has returned from Bogotá, Colombia with two silver medals and a “Best in Nation.” Jake Wozniak (N.Y.) won a silver medal in cabinetmaking and Mike Mullen (Calif.) won a Silver medal in automobile technology and also earned a “Best in Nation” award. There are some great photos on our website at: www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldskillsamerica.shtml.

Highlights

  • On March 15, Kelly Horton and Carol Lowery attended a STEM conference hosted by Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in California. The objectives of the conference were to showcase STEM in automotive and diesel curriculums and to illustrate to teachers how to become intentional about marketing their CTE program as an integrated STEM classroom. Teachers from California, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming attended.
  • UTI will be hosting an “invitation only” event for teachers from across the country at NLSC with the same objectives as above. Plus, SkillsUSA facilitators will illustrate how to integrate SkillsUSA into their CTE classroom using the STEM model showcased in the workshop.
  • Christen Battaglia was in Washington, D.C. on March 18, meeting with HP LIFE (Hewlett Packard) and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). HP LIFE gives entrepreneurs the skills and IT knowledge they need to manage, build and grow successful small businesses.
  • The 2014-15 school year will feature two distinctly separate Membership Kits. One kit will be specific to high school needs and will include resources that a teacher working in a traditional 9th -12th grade environment or a career center will find useful. And, a college/postsecondary kit is being created in direct response to the action plans that were developed by the College/Postsecondary Task Force this past fall. This kit will contain resources and materials that are unique to the nature of a technical or community college. We anticipate that by working to better meet the needs of these two customer markets, they in turn will be able to reach, recruit and engage more members in their chapters.
  • During the recent board of directors meeting in Nashville, Tenn. the board voted to approve the SkillsUSA Middle School Constitution. This move allows the national staff to begin to structure and organize the middle school chapters that are already in existence throughout the nation. Currently, 10 states are serving the middle school market, and this latest advancement will allow the formalization of chapters and the ability for national staff to quantify and serve this membership. Resources and materials for this market will be developed as funding allows.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

Board Meeting Brief

October 15th, 2013

The board was pleased to welcome four new members: Dr. Dale Derrickson, Region 1, Delaware; Jen Polz, state director chair, Minnesota; Mike de Castro, and Laurie Hackett from Air Products Corporation.

A big thank you to the board members who participated in the September 23 board meeting and who also made congressional visits with our student leaders. The board reviewed the proposed middle school constitution and asked staff to conduct further research and determine the resources that will be required to move into this market. In other business, the board approved a name change for the YDF. It will now be known as the SkillsUSA Foundation Incorporated.

The board also reviewed the fourth quarter and final FY13 report and it showed several new records being set in programming and participation and outstanding financial performance by the organization.

Highlights

July 15th, 2013
  • Michael de Castro, director, GO Strategic Development with Air Products is joining the board of directors. Michael steps into the position held by Joe Pietrantonio. I know all of us appreciate Joe’s service, his business acumen, wisdom and spirit. He’s been a tremendous asset to all of us. Thanks Joe and welcome Michael.
  • We are also very pleased to welcome a new Region I representative to the Board – Dr. Dale Derrickson, state association for Delaware was elected to replace a great board member from Pennsylvania – Jerry Tylka.

SkillsUSA Board of Directors Meets in North Carolina

April 1st, 2013

The SkillsUSA board of directors met on March 12-13 in Huntersville, N.C. The meeting was hosted by IRWIN at their corporate offices and Learning and Development Center. IRWIN kicked off the board meeting with dinner at the Peninsula Club on Lake Norman and Rich Wuerthele, president of IRWIN, spoke to the group and brought the official welcome. Six IRWIN staff members participated in the evening event, including our host and board member, Nick Mastrone and YDF member Cheryl Mehrmann.

The morning of March 13 began with an overview of the Newell Rubbermaid family of brands by Rich and an overview of the IRWIN operations and workforce awareness programs by Nick. The board then toured the Learning and Development Center and learned how product research, development and testing are performed on a variety of products. Our main tour guide, Doug Nelson, IRWIN’s senior prototype manager, told us at the beginning of the tour that he was a SkillsUSA member back when it was VICA and he is still involved assisting with SkillsUSA competitions. It’s always great to see success in former members.

The board’s business meeting was March 14 and we were pleased that Peyton Holland, N.C., college/postsecondary state association director joined us for the day. A big thank-you goes to Nick Mastrone and the entire IRWIN team for their incredible hospitality and for a high quality experience for the board and staff at their corporate offices.

Highlights

December 1st, 2012
  • On November 7, a staff member and I took the train to West Orange, N.J. to meet with the CEO, two group VPs, the marketing director and the business development director of Lincoln Educational Systems, the parent company of Lincoln Technical Institute among several other colleges. We were joined by Pete Carey, New Jersey state association director, three of his advisors and two of his state officers, both from the Gloucester County Institute of Technology.
  • The Alumni Coordinating Committee met at the national center for a three-day meeting, November 9-11. They reviewed their FY13 objectives, did some FY14 planning and put together plans for the national conference.
  • We recently received some good news on sponsorship. 3M Company, which was a sponsor years ago, has pledged in-kind support for the SkillsUSA Championships and pledged $36,000 to support our WorldTeam Cabinetmaking contestant. And, Interstate Battery System of America has already pledged $25,000 for next year. Interstate is pleased by the response of our chapters to the fundraising plan calling it the “best early response by any organization.”
  • Two staff members represented the national office during the recent Mid-America Conference in Columbus, Nebraska. They report it was a highly successful experience for all of the students and teachers attending and that Greg Stahr, Nebraska state association director, did a great job leading the event.
  • Welcome to our newest board member representing NASDCTEc, Scott Stump, Colorado associate provost for career and technical education. Scott is currently serving as NASDCTEc’s secretary/treasurer, and he knows student organizations having worked for National FFA and served as state FFA advisor.
  • And, finally, the board will be meeting by webinar, December 3-4. The spring board meeting will be held on March 13, hosted by Nick Mastrone at IRWIN corporate headquarters in Huntersville, N.C.

Highlights

September 1st, 2012
  • The Best of Brand Awards were presented during the state directors’ conference in Rapid City. Congratulations go to: SkillsUSA Georgia for capturing Best of Brand in the Website Category and Best of Innovation, Membership Recruitment Category; SkillsUSA Massachusetts for Best of Brand in the Multi-Media Category and Best of Innovation, Advocacy Category; and, SkillsUSA Wisconsin for its Best of Brand in the Print Category.
  • In early August, I had a great trip to Yakima, Wash., to do two presentations on the Skill Connect Assessments. The first was a panel discussion including other assessment providers. The second presentation was strictly on our assessments. Both presentations were packed with people. I also got to spend some great time visiting with Eleni Papadakis, the Washington state CTE director.
  • I received a nice letter from Assistant Secretary of Education Brenda Dann-Messier thanking SkillsUSA for inviting her to participate in the national conference. The part I liked best comes at the end of this paragraph (that I’ll paraphrase):  ”The Administration’s blueprint for Perkins reauthorization calls for transformation of our career and technical education programs based on our key principles: effective alignment of CTE and labor market needs … strong collaboration [among education and employers] … meaningful accountability [for academic, technical and employability skills] … and increased emphasis on innovation. Through your national skills competitions, and the many state and local competitions and activities that SkillsUSA offers throughout the year, your organization is already demonstrating the key reform principles in action!”
  • In a quick update on national conference media coverage, we’ve documented over 100 stories about conference and/or winners in the greater Kansas City region from May into August. As a matter of fact, there’s a feature on a local medalist that ran several times beginning August 22, so it keeps on going. That figure is up over the 85 stories last year. The news releases on medalists and Skill Point recipients were emailed out almost immediately after conference, arriving before the July 4 holiday. A total of 5,581 releases were sent to daily and non-daily papers. And, trade press has been very good. Some of the trade press celebrates the fact that there are more contestants in the contests they cover. They see that as a sign of increasing interest in their fields.
  • Champion of the Year invitations were delivered directly to Member offices on Capitol Hill on August 20. In all, we invited 11 Senators and 12 Representatives, including Paul Ryan who just happens to represent the district in Wisconsin where Snap-on has its headquarters. We also invited representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor. A press conference is scheduled at the National Press Club during the morning of September 18.
  • During our staff meeting on August 8, it was reported that Skill Connect Assessment sales were up 28 percent over last year and that we are seeing much more pre- and post-testing using the assessments. Staff also reported publication sales were up three percent over last year as of the end of June and the marketing department is still crunching the numbers on a survey taken by 650 students at conference.
  • Board President, James King, was here for the staff meeting and he told the staff  ”There’s interest in CTE because we teach marketable skills. The leadership component is what was missing and that’s what SkillsUSA does. I can’t think of any organization in America that does more for students than SkillsUSA.”

Highlights

August 15th, 2012
  • Newly-elected board President, James King, paid a visit to the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center on August 8-9. He participated in our monthly staff meeting and NLSC debriefing. He also spent time with individual staff during his time with us. We very much enjoyed his visit.
  • Letters have been faxed to Members of Congress, governors and state CTE directors, along with medalist and Skill Point recipient news releases. They were sent out in record time this year, well in advance of the congressional recess. Staff reports we’ve received many requests from Members for home addresses so they can send letters of commendation.
  • Staff traveled to Snap-on headquarters in Kenosha last week to continue planning for the Champion of the Year Dinner where Snap-on CEO, Nick Pinchuk, will be honored on September 18. And, staff met with Bosch at their Chicago headquarters on August 9 to discuss our partnership moving into the future.

2012-13 Board of Directors

July 13th, 2012

The 2012-13 SkillsUSA Inc. Board of Directors has been announced:

President and Region II Representative – James King, Tennessee Board of Regents

Vice President and Region III Representative – Brent Kindred, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Secretary and Business & Industry Representative — Chris Arvin, Caterpillar University

Region I Representative – Gerald Tylka, Pennsylvania Department of Education

* Region IV Representative – Peggy Torenns, Kansas Department of Education

Region V Representative – Dave Milliken, Utah State Office of Education

Chair of the State Directors’ Association – Michael Cowles, Ohio Association of SkillsUSA

NASDCTEc Liaison – to be announced at a later date

ACTE Liaison – Jeffery Johnson, Frances Tuttle Technology Center, Okla.

College/Postsecondary Representative – Kathryn Jo Mannes, American Association of Community Colleges

Business & Industry Representative – Nick Mastrone, IRWIN Industrial Tools

Business & Industry Representative – Russ Hoffbauer, State Farm Insurance Companies

Business & Industry Representative – Troy Dally, Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Business & Industry Representative – Joe Pietrantonio, Air Products

*Youth Development Foundation Committee Chairman and Business Representative – Dave Camden, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

*Denotes a new member of the Board of Directors

Highlights

June 15th, 2012
  • Thanks to an introduction from Board President Russ Hoffbauer, staff and I met on June 7 with the president and senior vice president of Insurance Automotive Auctions (IAA), an automotive recycling business with 160 locations in 48 states. IAA is looking for talent in IT, management trainees and people with automotive experience. They saw a fit with the SkillsUSA mission, and they are interested in getting IAA involved at the state and local levels. They will both be attending conference.
  • We reached out to sponsors to support CTE and the student organizations slated for cuts under California Governor Jerry Brown’s school finance reform proposal. I sent email to our sponsors on June 1 and June 6.
  • On June 1, we had a very encouraging meeting with the CEO, executive vice president and chief engagement officer and the new student relations director of Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Rosanne White, Technology Student Association (TSA) executive director, joined us. PLTW is interested in working with both organizations again and has reopened discussion on the Engineering Alliance created by TSA and SkillsUSA previously. PLTW wants to increase the number of schools offering its curriculum by 800 next year, and they are very interested in teaching employability skills to students.
  • On May 30-31, Arizona State Association Director Carrie Wolf and I went on a recruiting trip to Phoenix to start an Arizona Youth Development Foundation. Four companies have already pledged their support and agreed to serve.
  • On May 25, the national staff directors held a retreat to discuss funding priorities with an eye toward achieving Vision 2020 goals. The meeting generated great discussion on SkillsUSA’s message, in addition to helping us take a more comprehensive look at our FY13 strategic plan and beyond. Congratulations go to the staff members who planned and lead the meeting, and thanks to ASE for inviting us to use their headquarters for the retreat.
  • The National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) met on May 24. One of the primary topics for discussion with Robin Utz from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) was the administration’s blueprint for reform of Perkins. The NCC-CTSO is pleased to have an opportunity for early reaction to the blueprint, and the Council will be preparing its own white paper on the blueprint and Perkins reauthorization.
  • Thanks to an introduction from board member Kathy Jo Mannes, I spoke on May 23 with representatives from Skills for America’s Future, an initiative by the administration tied in with The Aspen Institute. Their focus is to help find ways to build business and community college partnerships, and they’re looking to SkillsUSA to help.
  • Finally, I was a special guest speaker for the Fredtech 2012 banquet in Fredericksburg, Va. on May 22. The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and 21 students – all of them Virginia state medalists – were honored.

Board Spring Meeting in Kenosha, Wisconsin

April 15th, 2012

We had an excellent board meeting on March 21 and 22 at the Snap-on Corporate Headquarters and I‘m pleased nearly all board members were present. A big thank you goes to Greg Rintala and Snap-on for hosting the meeting and the tours and to the president of the board, Russ Hoffbauer, for his leadership throughout.


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