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Executive Director’s Report: May 15, 2014

May 15th, 2014

STEM Demonstrations by SkillsUSA in Washington, D.C.
SkillsUSA students demonstrated aspects of their occupational programs during the third annual USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., April 25-27, 2014. More than 325,000 people attended, including 180,000 students and teachers. Six students from C.S. Monroe Tech in Leesburg, two students from Thomas Edison High School (Md.) and two students from the Edison Academy in Fairfax (Va.) put on demonstrations illustrating STEM education in CTE. There were demonstrations of 3D Printing/Advanced Manufacturing, Culinary Arts, Dental Assisting, Robotics and Welding. Three national officers were also in the booth – Cole Fallis (Ohio); Brittany Velez (Mass.); and, Laura Goullion (Calif.). Our national officers were featured on the Mike Rowe stage Saturday morning of the Festival where they delivered the 9 a.m. keynote presentations. Headliners at the Festival included Bill Nye the Science Guy and Mike Rowe.

It was nice that the opportunity for SkillsUSA to participate came through Mike Rowe and mikeroweWORKS. His office started talking to us about participating shortly after the June national conference. They thought we should be there. Our 10×40 exhibit space was next to the Mike Rowe booth. Mike also helped us make a connection with Walmart Foundation which gave SkillsUSA an $11,050 grant to cover expenses for the Festival and floor space in its exhibit. In the same pavilion were other valued SkillsUSA partners including CAT, Lincoln Electric, the American Welding Society and Universal Technical Institute.

Dave Worden said that Walmart executives were pleased with the results of including SkillsUSA in the exhibit and many additional new business and industry contacts were made. Particular thanks to Niki Clausen, Dave Worden and Jim Kregiel for participating and pulling the team together for SkillsUSA. Here are some photos from the event.

Highlights

  • On Tuesday, April 22, Natalie Crede and Malinda Lindimore, two HR executives from Safelite, an auto glass replacement company, visited the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center for a reception with staff in the morning. A little later, we took them on a tour of the Frederick Career and Technology Center in Maryland. Martha Lowry, the SkillsUSA school advisor, had her leadership team meet us at the door. We met with the principal, the culinary students served hors d’oeuvres, we toured the school and then students spoke on how SkillsUSA participation had changed their lives. It was a moving experience for all concerned. Safelite presented SkillsUSA with a sponsorship-level $25,000 check in what they said they hoped would be the first of many donations. The company is particularly interested in customer-relations skills because a lot of its work is done in customers’ driveways. Natalie and Malinda were very complimentary of the SkillsUSA brand and our leadership curriculum. Thanks go to Don Hermanek of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) and Russ Hoffbauer of State Farm for the introduction. Check out these photos from the visits.
  • On the evening of April 22, I addressed the GAERF (Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation) board of directors during its meeting in Washington, D.C. I spoke on our partnership with GAERF on the Skill Connect Assessments (which GAERF has now recognized as certifications for the printing industry), the skills gap and workforce shortages. Board members asked if there are ways we can work together on advocacy. They’re concerned because they’ve been seeing graphic communications programs closing. On a brighter side, I had a former CEO of a major printing company ask if there was anything he might do to support us in Ohio. Mike Cowles has already had his first meeting with the company in Dayton.
  • On April 10 and 11, I was in Jacksonville, Fla. to introduce Mike Horn of Pro Services at Lowe’s to Boyd Worsham, chair of our Carpentry contest technical committee and vice president of Haskell Company, a national contractor. We were joined by Don Whyte, president and Steve Green, vice president of NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research). The topic was how best to work with commercial contractors. This is one of those instances where SkillsUSA was happy to make the introductions.
  • While there’s no specific movement on Perkins reauthorization, we’re pleased to note that 94 members of the House of Representatives and 25 Senators have helped champion federal funding for CTE. In separate letters to House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittees, the large bipartisan coalition urged a strong federal investment in Perkins in upcoming appropriations bills. Thanks go to ACTE and NASDCTEc for their leadership and to Representatives Thompson (Pa.) and Langevin (R.I.) and Senators Blumenthal (Ct.), Baldwin (Wis.) and Kaine (Va.) for leading in their respective chambers.
  • Sales of Skill Connect Assessments are up by over 3,600 tests at this point in the year. We understand our customers are very happy with the support desk at K2Share and with the new delivery system.
  • We’ve heard great things about state association spring conferences including those in Ohio and Maryland. I attended conferences in Florida and Massachusetts (more in the next issue). And, you might like to see how Gwinnett Technical College in Georgia used their medallions and winners to get lengthy TV news coverage and demonstrations. See it here – http://tinyurl.com/kvzl9la.
  • I just returned from the NCCER board of trustees meeting in San Francisco, and I’ve had it confirmed that one of our students will speak during their Construction Industry Institute meeting this summer. Present will be owners of major construction companies.

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

Connecting and Engaging our Stakeholders

December 1st, 2013

We’ve recently had some good opportunities to make some important connections with groups of SkillsUSA stakeholders from across the country.

On November 4-5, I traveled to Houston, Texas and participated in a meeting with Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) and four of our state association directors. This was one of several regional meetings IAA is holding to connect their local and regional managers with SkillsUSA in the states where they do business. We met at IAA’s Houston facility and were joined there by state directors Stacy Scott and Pat Conner (Texas), Larry Rabalais (La.) and Darren Gibson (Okla.). IAA was represented by their corporate HR director and a corporate vice president (both from their Chicago headquarters), and a branch manager and three managers from the aforementioned states. IAA became an official sponsor last year, and they are very impressed with our students. They are developing strategies to hire our students, and this meeting was a wonderful opportunity to bring our state leaders together face-to-face with the industry leaders who will be doing the hiring. IAA is working with us to plan a similar meeting on the west coast early in 2014.

Connecting on Sea Island

October 15th, 2013

On September 16-18, I participated in the Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc. (IAA) Industry Leadership Summit at the Cloister Resort on Sea Island, Ga. The summit was attended by over 150 executives representing 42 automotive associations and several national insurance companies. My presentation “The Workforce for America’s Future” was extremely well received by the group and I’ve had several requests for follow-up and interest in partnership opportunities. The summit was an outstanding networking opportunity and a great chance to let more people know about the work of SkillsUSA. Russ Hoffbauer, SkillsUSA board member, who first introduced us to IAA, was also a participant at the summit.

 

Sharing our Journeys

October 15th, 2013

Following the STEM meeting, I flew to Columbus, Ohio and joined state director Mike Cowles and two of his state officers, along with Cole Fallis, national region III vice president, to prepare for a meeting on September 26 with the CEO of Safelite Group. Safelite’s corporate headquarters is in Columbus and the connection to this company was made through IAA and reinforced by State Farm Insurance. Russ Hoffbauer, board member from State Farm also flew to Columbus to be a part of the meeting. Tom Feeney, Safelite CEO and his entire corporate senior staff, hosted the meeting and provided a comprehensive overview of Safelite’s operations, culture, social responsibility agenda and leadership development process. It was a great learning experience for all of us, especially the student leaders. We then provided an overview of SkillsUSA, our programs and leadership model, including a presentation by Mike Cowles about the SkillsUSA Ohio program and a presentation by Russ Hoffbauer on why business supports SkillsUSA. However, the highlight of the day was when Haley Pickett, Tyler McComb and Cole Fallis spoke from the student’s perspective and told their personal stories about how SkillsUSA had made a positive impact on their lives. We will follow up with Safelite and I am confident that we will soon count them as a major partner, both at the national and state levels.

And, I just returned from Seoul, Korea and Louisville, Ky. I’ll elaborate on these trips next time.

SkillsUSA TECHSPO, TAG Tuesday and Champions Night

June 25th, 2013

SkillsUSA TECHSPOSkillsUSA TECHSPO opens this morning at 8 a.m. It is the largest trade show for technical education. You can find booths outside on 13th Street and North Central between Municipal Auditorium and Bartle Hall. There are also a few special SkillsUSA University sessions beginning this morning.

New this year is TAG Tuesday (Train-Act-Grow). TAG Tuesday is a series of leadership activities to be held for delegates during national conference. In the morning, there will be workshops for high school chapter leaders and high school state officers and there will be separate workshops for college/postsecondary delegates on networking with business. The afternoon will offer experiential sessions for the high school delegates and one-on-one interviews with business representatives for the college/postsecondary delegates. TAG Tuesday is sponsored by Insurance Auto Auctions and Adesa.

Tonight at the Kansas City Power and Light District will be the Champions Night activity. Note: a state/national SkillsUSA shirt is required for entry. Champions Night is sponsored by Carhartt. Also at 7 p.m. is the 100-Percent Advisors Reception at the College Basketball Experience. Sponsored by Air Products, the event is for 100-percent chapter advisors only.

Highlights

September 30th, 2012
  • On September 11, Don Hermanek and Rita Figi of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) came by the national office to discuss the launch of a partnership to reach out to support SkillsUSA state associations and chapters and to offer training and employment opportunities to SkillsUSA students from many training program areas. They expressed particular interest in students competing in the leadership contests. They started the meeting with the presentation of a $25,000 check. We are to get back together in early October to further develop our strategy.
  • Along similar lines, staff and I met on September 13 with NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research). They’re predicting an uptick in construction hiring and so they’re looking for ways to hire our construction graduates.
  • Thanks to Bill Maddox and Wanzel Jessie of YDF member N.E.W., we were able to take the Mega Prize winner John Lee and his wife, Samantha, to the owner’s box at a Washington Nationals baseball game September 7th and then I took them on a Segue tour of the Washington monuments on the 8th. Both John and Samantha are big baseball fans so they were just over the moon about the prize. John teaches diesel equipment technology at Tennessee Technology Center in Elizabethton. He’s also a state certified trainer, he’s had national contestants, has a national officer this year and he was a Virginia state officer many years ago.
  • And, finally, the WorldTeam had its first webinar on August 3. Most of the contestants, experts, management team and a few state association directors participated. It was an orientation for the team and to check on how we’re doing on communications and training. We met with state association directors Karen Ward and Mike Cowles on September 10 to discuss several topics including state director certification, new training structures and registration procedures and the hotel lottery at national conference among others. The staff values their input. Past national officer, national staff member and all-around good friend to SkillsUSA, Bill Prince and his wife Patty came by to visit with the national staff on September 12. Bill addressed the staff meeting on the early history of SkillsUSA and exciting moments he recalled such as the appearance of President Reagan at our national conference.

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