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Goodwill Tour in Cleveland

December 31st, 2011

We took the SkillsUSA Goodwill Tour to Cleveland on December 6 to visit two of our long-time corporate partners and with two new ones. The SkillsUSA national officers who handled much of the presentations were Diego Carvallo of Georgia, high school Region II vice president and Wade Persson of South Dakota, college/postsecondary parliamentarian. Each did a tremendous job of representing the organization. We were joined on all four visits by Mike Cowles, state association director of SkillsUSA Ohio.

First stop was at Thomas & Betts Corporation, a manufacturer of electrical equipment. The introduction to Thomas & Betts was made by Lincoln Electric. We met with seven executives including the director of HR and five regional HR managers. Our presentation for all four visits – prepared by Eric Gearhart – centered on how SkillsUSA addresses skilled workforce issues. By the end of the meeting, the director expressed interest in opening internships and hiring alumni. We’ve scheduled a presentation in January to meet with the corporation’s executive team at their headquarters in Tennessee.

Next stop was at Sherwin-Williams, a SkillsUSA partner for 15 years with four people on our automotive refinishing technology contest. This was a thank you visit for Sherwin-Williams’ continuing support. We met with managers in refinish and in marketing to discuss expansion of the partnership and support for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam in 2013.

The third visit was another big thank you for Lincoln Electric, a corporate partner for 31 years. Lincoln Electric not only supports our national welding contest, but 43 state association welding contests as well. Lincoln Electric is also a platinum sponsor of the WorldSkills Competition. We met with 50 executives in sales and marketing and with Chris Mapes, COO. Chris told the group: “Lincoln Electric has certain strategic partnerships. SkillsUSA is one of our most important.” Both Diego and Wade made masterful presentations and both were presented with brand new MIG welding machines to take back to their schools.

And, fourth, we met with Kenneth Henderson, principal at Dealer Tire and 12 of his senior executives. The introduction here came through Youth Development Foundation member Dave Camden of Toyota. The introduction was facilitated by the Champion of the Year dinner.

And, we did visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The students were thrilled. Cleveland Rocks!


October 15th, 2011
  • The board of directors met on September 19. The board approved the August financials. It appears we will have a positive change in net assets and SkillsUSA will beat its budget for the ninth time in 10 years. The board also went to the Hill with the students and I heard from many people that the student and board member advocacy combination was very powerful.
  • Caleb Houston, high school division parliamentarian, and I made a presentation about SkillsUSA to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA) on September 22 near Baltimore. The ACA is interested in finding effective partners and methods to recruit young people into apprenticeship. Our friends, Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc, Greg Chambers of Oberg Industries, Inc. and Steve Mandes of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, all recommended to the committee that involvement with SkillsUSA would be a good approach. I’m certain we’ll be hearing more from ACA.
  • Members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam arrived in Leesburg on September 29, in preparation for the trip to London Friday evening. Before they left, we had some Washington visits for them. At 9 a.m., we were at The White House Conference Center for a meeting with the Office of Science and Technology Policy. At 10 a.m. we met with staff from the CTE Caucus in the Cannon House Office Building and some of the team members’ Senators and Representatives staff members. At 1 p.m. we met at the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education, and then, at 2 p.m. we went over on the Senate side to meet with staff from the Senate HELP Committee.
  • The competition has finished and here are the scores from the 41st WorldSkills Competition in London: Bradley Clink of Washtenaw CC in Saline, Michigan won Silver in Welding. Laina Call of Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College in Ogden, Utah won a Medallion of Excellence (at least 500 points out of a possible 600) in Hairdressing. Daniel Lehmkuhl of Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California won a Medallion of Excellence in Automobile Technology (Automotive Service Technology). Rachel Koppelman of Columbia Area Career Center in Columbia, Missouri won a Medallion of Excellence in Cooking. WorldTeam information is online at:

WorldSkills Competition Day Three

October 7th, 2011

The SkillsUSA WorldTeam is finishing their third day of competition.  The third day is usually the toughest as it begins the second half of very challenging and rigorous competitions. Our team is amazing and I am so proud of how they have represented SkillsUSA and the United States of America.

There are tough assignments benchmarked to international standards and our students are also encountering some equipment not usually seen in the USA. But each student is taking the challenge head on and performing well. Tomorrow will wrap up the final day and awards will be presented on Sunday evening.

Also today, National Treasurer Emad Madha and National Region I Vice President Elena Melekos made an excellent presentation to world leaders at the Global Skills Marketplace. They shared the SkillsUSA model of student leadership and also presented information on social networking. They were excellent.

If you’re an American, there’s a lot to be proud of in London today! Seeing our students’ technical and leadership skills demonstrated on this world stage reminds me of the importance of what we all do to fulfill the SkillsUSA mission: to help its members become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.

Student Officer Team Ready to Roll

August 15th, 2011

The new team of national student officers was here for training from July 21-28 and what a great group of students this is. Each team is a perennial reminder of what SkillsUSA is really about: recognizing and nurturing the next generation of America’s leaders and champions. The week of training is a special time. We get to see individuals from diverse backgrounds as they learn about each other and about themselves while becoming a team with a common purpose: to represent their fellow students, SkillsUSA and CTE.

This year’s team looks as though it will be outstanding. To see the group photo of the officer team and their elected offices, please visit:

2011-12 National Officer Team

July 31st, 2011

The new national officers have been trained and are ready for assignments. If you are interested in having a national officer visit your state, please contact Deb Tripp at 703-737-0637 or Stephanie Bland at 703-737-0622. The newly elected officers for 2011-12 are:

High School Division
President: Victoria Holbert, Mass.
Vice President: Karmen Ayres, Wash.
Secretary: C.J. DeHart, Texas
Treasurer: Emad Madha, N.J.
Parliamentarian: Caleb Houston, Ohio

Region I Vice President: Elena Melekos, N.J.
Region II Vice President: Diego Carvallo, Ga.
Region III Vice President: Kathryn Berry, Ohio
Region IV Vice President: Marco Cavazos, Texas
Region V Vice President: Christi Durham, Idaho

College/Postsecondary Division
President: Chance Litwin, Ala.
Vice President: Jeremy Ballentine, Tenn.
Secretary: Veronica Senkowski, Okla.
Treasurer: Stephen Allen, Ga.
Parliamentarian: Wade Persson, S.D.

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