- I’m pleased to report that SkillsUSA’s board of directors is now at full strength. Robert Wagner of Lowe’s and Joe Pietrantonio of Air Products complete the industry chairs and Kathryn Manns will now fill the chair for the American Association of Community Colleges. This is going to be quite a board meeting in August.
- We held a post-conference debriefing meeting on July 13 and reviewed departments’ plus-delta reports. We created a top 10 challenges list of items to be overcome by next year’s conference, but – in the main – staff seems to believe that the conference went very well.
- On July 20, SkillsUSA staff, by invitation, attended a high-level meeting at the Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers. The subject was industry’s concern on how it can excite American youth about manufacturing careers. They said manufacturing needs to rebrand itself. Participants also discussed the need for an umbrella organization to promote manufacturing careers to young people and to focus the message. The next phase of the discussion will be on message coordination. More meetings are planned.
- The Virginia state officer team was here at the National Leadership Center on July 17 along with state director Dave Rathbone. On the 14th, we had a meeting with Microsoft consultants to talk about much needed upgrades to our software and the server.
- And, on the 28th, I met with union executives at AFL-CIO headquarters to discuss support for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam.
- President – Russ Hoffbauer, State Farm Insurance Companies
- Vice President and ACTE Liaison – John Gaal, Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis
- Secretary and Region II Representative – James King, Tennessee Board of Regents
- Region I Representative – Gerald Tylka, Pennsylvania Department of Education
- Region III Representative – Brent Kindred, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
- Region IV Representative – Marlys Bucher, Minnesota Department of Children, Family & Learning, Secondary Vocational Education
- Region V Representative – Dave Milliken, Utah State Office of Education
- Chair of the State Directors’ Association – Curtis Barnett, Utah Association of SkillsUSA
- NASDCTEc Liaison – Milt Ericksen, Arizona Department of Education
- College/Postsecondary Representative – Kathryn Jo Mannes, American Association of Community Colleges
- Business & Industry Representative and Youth Development Foundation Committee Chairman – Greg Rintala, Snap-on Industrial
- Business & Industry Representative – Nick Morrisroe, IRWIN Industrial Tools
- Business & Industry Representative – Chris Arvin, Caterpillar University
- Business & Industry Representative – Scott Plemmons, Lowe’s Companies, Inc.
- Business & Industry Representative – Joe Pietrantonio, Air Products
The SkillsUSA Board of Directors and the Youth Development Foundation Committee met March 17 and 18 at the National Leadership Center. During my flight to Wyoming after the meeting, I sat back for a few minutes to reflect on how much the Board of Directors and the YDF Committee mean to this organization. That particularly hit home as the 24 members of the Board and YDF introduced themselves during our joint meeting on March 18. I just thought to myself: “Wow. Look at the breadth and depth of experience we have here in this room. We are extremely fortunate to have such an engaged, committed and high-powered group of individuals governing and guiding our work.” Here is a brief report on the highlights of the meetings.
The board approved the FY11 strategic plan and budget. This is the first strategic plan to be directed by the new Vision 2020 goal statements. The joint meeting of the YDF and board expressed a consensus to move forward with the WorldTeam for London in 2011, support for the Alumni & Friends Association initiative and for SkillsUSA’s Vision 2020.
In addition, the board revised the SkillsUSA mission statement. It now reads: “SkillsUSA empowers its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.” The revision is the addition of the word “leaders.” Board members believed that SkillsUSA’s focus on teaching leadership should be manifest in the mission statement. And, the board revised the core statement to read: “SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. SkillsUSA helps each student excel.” The sole change was the substitution of “SkillsUSA” for “It” at the beginning of the second sentence. These changes will be made to the SkillsUSA publications and online.
The board also established an ad hoc subcommittee to work on state association governance and financial standards. The board wants to be sure our state associations are and continue to be healthy. That includes having features such as industry support. The subcommittee will be looking for gaps where states need assistance and crafting recommendations on how the national organization might help. The state association directors currently serving on the board – Curtis Barnett and Larry Rabalais – are members of the subcommittee.
The board meeting highlighted something else: Four of the five regional representatives will be leaving the board of directors in June. We will have vacancies in Regions I, II, III and V. We’re asking the board and state association directors to nominate corporate members from their regions soon so we’re ready for elections come June.
Thanks to State Association Director Toni Decklever, I had some very productive meetings with the 11-member Wyoming board of directors, March 19 through 21, in Casper. The board has a good balance of industry representatives, teachers and administrators. I did some board training, and then, we plowed right through a strategic plan for next year. The draft plan was in their hands last week.
- Membership is still coming in at a good rate. As of last Friday, February 25, we were at 285,304 and processing vigorously. This number puts us at 1,093 members ahead of last year’s same day total. All of the snow here in the area recently has caused us to close the office for three days and created a paper jam. Staff has been working to catch up with the backlog.
- I surveyed the state association directors on extending the national membership deadline by one week to March 8 in light of bad weather and school closings all over the country. Every director who replied (and it was a majority) said it was fine by him or her as long as it didn’t affect state deadlines; so, we’re good to go.
- Gerald Tylka, the corporate member from Pennsylvania, has agreed to stand as a candidate from Region I to replace Holly Harriel on SkillsUSA’s Board of Directors. Background information has been sent to the board and they have been asked to approve the appointment until the June conference.
- Fred Smith – a nationally recognized expert – conducted two excellent inclusion and diversity workshops with the entire staff on February 17. He seemed as impressed by SkillsUSA and its staff as he impressed us. One of the points he really highlighted, once he know more about the work of SkillsUSA, was the importance of inclusion to corporations and how corporate underwriting often hinges on exactly the kinds of things SkillsUSA is doing in communities across the country. Thanks go to Jackie Parker of Newell Rubbermaid for making Fred Smith’s visit to us possible.
- During the past several weeks, we’ve been speaking with one association and two businesses about licensing opportunities for the Skill Connect Assessments, the Professional Development Program and/or the Career Skills Education Program. They all appear to be good partnership opportunities that have potential to drive revenue opportunities for the work of SkillsUSA.
- Finally, in light of both Vision 2020 and our current budget, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve received over $44,000 worth of software from Microsoft to update all kinds of things from our operating system to our server and much more. SkillsUSA’s cost? That was $1,800. Thanks go to staff for knowing who to ask and when to ask that resulted in saving SkillsUSA over $42,000 and moving us into the 21st century at the same time.
- SkillsUSA staff is collecting items for relief efforts in Haiti. In addition, our office will be a drop-site for local residents looking to assist in the Haiti relief efforts. Staff is collecting goods from the community on February 11 and goods will then be taken to Catholic Relief Services and The Greater Washington Haitian Relief Committee for distribution in Haiti. The effort was organized by a friend of a staff member who has worked closely with the Haitian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
- On January 25, SkillsUSA sent out the news release announcing CTE Month in February on behalf of the CTE community. This is the release prepared by the Association of Career and Technical Education, The National Association of State Directors for Career and Technical Education consortium and all of the student organizations to celebrate CTE Month and makes a unified case for CTE. We used the VOCUS system for distribution, and the release went not only to the news media but also to all of the major internet sites such as Google and Yahoo… so it should get really good exposure and pick up. Here’s just part of the message. “As America continues to tackle economic, education and workforce issues, recent research illustrates the critical need to earn a high school diploma and complete some form of postsecondary education or training. For instance, The Economic Benefits of Halving the Dropout Rate: A Boom to Businesses in the Nation’s Largest Metropolitan Areas, a report released this month by the Alliance for Excellent Education, examines the impact of cutting a single class’s dropout rate in half. The report states that more than 30,000 jobs could be created in one year based on increased spending and investments, with an estimated $5.3 billion boon to local economies by the time this one class of graduates reaches the midpoint of their careers.”
- Finally, Region I Board Member Holly Harriel submitted her resignation this week effective February 1, 2010. She’s leaving the Rhode Island Department of Education to fill a leadership role at Brown University. We wish her continued success and thank her for her service.
- Tom Hall, director of the publications department at SkillsUSA reported that on January 7 two SkillsUSA projects recently won awards. Our most recent annual report won an award in the annual Printing Industries of Virginia competition. With many other associations based in Virginia or having their annual reports printed here, this is quite an accomplishment for us. Congratulations go to Tom Kercheval, the B&I staff and everyone else who had a hand in our annual report. Also, in the Association TRENDS 2009 All-Media Contest, SkillsUSA’s 2009-10 Membership Kit won a gold award in the Membership Promotion Kit category. The 2009 competition included more than 425 entries in 26 categories of association communications. As the best in its category, our kit will be displayed in a “Winners’ Gallery” in D.C. next month, as well as on the TRENDS Web site. Congratulations go to Karen Perrino and all staff who worked on this project.
- As reported before, Dave Worden joined the staff last Monday as the program director of the national SkillsUSA Championships. Dave brings years of experience with SkillsUSA – dating all the way back to 1978 – and tremendous experience in industry and as chairman of the Power Equipment Technology contest. We look forward to having his expertise and sense of humor on the national staff.
- Staff traveled with a representative from the U.S. Department of Labor last week for a tour of CAT North outside Baltimore, Maryland. CAT is one of our favorite model SkillsUSA programs. The tour was part of DOL’s consideration of a grant for SkillsUSA activities and chapters in YouthBuild programs nationwide. We had a good discussion with representatives from YouthBuild and DOL on Monday of this week.
- On Monday morning, January 11, we had meetings with the Engineering Alliance. Representatives from Project Lead the Way and the Technology Student Association (TSA) joined us. The official launch of the Engineering Alliance is today, January 15. The Web site address is www.engineeringalliance.org
- John Foster, president and chief executive officer of NOCTI stopped by for a visit on January 5 to discuss a number of things including work NOCTI is doing on pathways and NOCTI support for the national SkillsUSA Championships. It was great to visit with John to discuss future cooperative efforts.
- And, I visited last Friday with Board Member Emily DeRocco. We’ve wanted to get together to discuss the National Association of Manufacturers certification system and the possible fit of the Skill Connect assessments. We had a great discussion on this topic and the work of the Manufacturing Institute.
We had a well-attended Webinar board meeting on November 18 with 13 of our 15 board members either in attendance in Nashville or online. National officer and board liaison Brandon Mullings also joined us. There was a lot on the agenda including review of the preliminary audit for FY09, a review of proposed adjustments to the FY 10 budget in light of the economy, a business plan for the sustainability of the Work Force Ready System and board recommendations for strategic planning including long-range Vision 2020 planning. Official board minutes are still being written. This was the longest Web conference in our history clocking in at three hours.
Particular thanks go to our old friend Dr. Chip Harris of Tennessee State University for making the arrangements for the board meeting, for a Chapter Management Institute that also took place on Campus on the 18th and for arranging a tour to the birthplace of SkillsUSA (then called the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America). There’s a plaque commemorating the founding of SkillsUSA on the spot where the Andrew Jackson Hotel was located until 1971. SkillsUSA was founded on May 8, 1965. Now the hotel is gone, but the plaque transferred to the building that replaced it, the James K. Polk Office Building, containing the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the Tennessee State Museum.
We went right from the state directors’ meeting to the board meeting beginning with a great Southern dinner for both groups on Saturday. Following, new board President Julie Yeater led a discussion session among the board members and the state directors. In the main, state directors thanked the board members for their support of the association. There was also some discussion of the Skill Connect Assessments.
The next morning the board received reports on progress on the FY09 strategic plan, the Work Force Ready System (including a demonstration of the online tests) and updates on Vision 2020 and the Engineering Alliance. This was the first board meeting where the board reading file was sent electronically and the board approved of the process.
Preparations are underway for the state association directors’ meeting and the board meeting in Charleston, South Carolina August 11-16. The state directors have put together quite a series of seminars for both new and seasoned directors. I believe all of the best practices sessions are set at 45 minutes each so it’ll be an active get-together. Topics included in the 14 different sessions are advisor training, state conference scoring, managing SkillsUSA inside and outside departments of education and diversity/culture sensitivity. Curtis Barnett will preside as the new chair of the SkillsUSA State Directors Association. It should be a great conference.
We’re also putting together reports for the year and agenda items for the board meeting on the 16th. This will be the first time we’ve produced an electronic board reading file. We look forward to having our new board members with us, and this will be the first board meeting conducted by newly elected Board President, Julie Yeater. Thanks go to Jackie Clarkson, South Carolina state association director, for helping us pull everything together.