July 14th, 2012
The SkillsUSA publications department has won recognition in the annual APEX (Awards for Publication Excellence) program for two SkillsUSA projects in these categories:
- Member and Customer Communications: 2011-2012 SkillsUSA Membership Kit.
- Magazines and Journals, Print: SkillsUSA Champions.
APEX awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and the success of the entries in achieving overall communications effectiveness and excellence. For 24 years, APEX has judged and presented these awards to professional communicators. From almost 3,300 total entries this year, only about 30 percent were recognized with awards. Other winners this year include T. Rowe Price, Boy Scouts of America, Kraft Foods, the Walt Disney Co., Ford Motor Co., American Airlines, NFL and American Cancer Society.
March 1st, 2012
We just finished CTE Month and we had a lot going on here at SkillsUSA. That includes social media activity during SkillsUSA Week, a new board member, a new staff member and a shout out from the Assistant Secretary of Labor. So, here are some of the highlights during this shortest month of the year.
- As part of our SkillsUSA Week celebration, February 6-10, we experimented using advertising on Facebook by posting the SkillsUSA public service announcement (PSA) featuring alumna and NASCAR reporter, Wendy Venturini. The ad ran from February 9-12. The campaign reached over 420,000 unique viewers and yielded nearly one million impressions. To view the PSA, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/psa.shtml and scroll down to the video window of Wendy. We used the 60-second version.
- Also during SkillsUSA Week, we heard about lots of activity from around the country as our chapters and state associations were engaged in advocacy and service activities. We were happy to have approximately 100 attendees on our SkillsUSA Week webinar on Tuesday, February 7 and pleased by the special guests, Russ Hoffbauer, both student national presidents and one of our business partners, former board member (and SkillsUSA alumnus), John Hinesley, who gave the keynote speech.
- I’m pleased to announce that Lowe’s Senior Vice President, Troy Dally, will be joining the board of directors. And, last week, I had my first phone conversation with the new Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation director, and she sounded excited about the partnership with SkillsUSA.
- Chance Litwin, this year’s SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national student president has been invited to attend the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., March 18-21. The annual event brings together community groups, educators, local and state leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses and youth to discuss efforts to increase high school graduation rates. The Summit is expected to draw 1,000 people including General Colin Powell and U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chance was chosen from over 200 student applicants. State Farm is a Premier Sponsor for the Summit.
- On February 21, Christen Battaglia joined the Office of Business Partnerships and Development to help with our fundraising. We’re very glad to have her with us and know you’ll give her a hearty welcome when you meet her.
- Here is the latest on SkillsUSA membership. Remember, tomorrow (March 1), is the deadline for not only competitors, but officer candidates and delegates as well. We have 296,490 members entered now and more states have surpassed their total membership last year. Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Clay Mitchell; Connecticut, Heidi Balch; Hawaii, Gilbert Chun; Maryland, Chuck Wallace; Massachusetts, Karen Ward; Mississippi, Andy Sims; New Hampshire, Lynda Demers; New Jersey, Pete Carey; New York high school division, Bruce Potter; Oklahoma, Darren Gibson; Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson; Rhode Island, Josh Klemp; Virginia, Ed Sullivan; and, West Virginia, Paul Lovett. And, a reminder that professional membership and alumni memberships count, so if you have staff, board members, corporate members or others (including yourself), be sure and submit them today. Individuals who are industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
- SkillsUSA Champions magazine won a silver award this year in the Association Trends All-Media Contest. Among the judge’s comments: “This submitted issue lives up to the mission statement with excellent and focused content and clean and easy-to-read design elements. This organization has a strong Web presence and a digital version to further enhance its commitment to members.” Congratulations to Tom Hall and the Office of Publications. If you would like to see the winners gallery (including honors to past SkillsUSA publications), please visit: www.associationtrends.com/gallery/?cat=261.
- Mike Cowles was in Washington on February 7 as part of a delegation from Columbus, Ohio to visit the White House to discuss metro economic revitalization and job creation and how the city can work with small and large businesses to do it. This was one of 40 similar meetings planned by the White House. The delegation included the mayor of Columbus. Mike joined them because of the role of career and technical education in economic development and education. He told me that at one point during the meeting he started to talk about SkillsUSA, and Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates said to the entire delegation: “SkillsUSA is a great organization. If you’re not involved with it already, you need to be.”
- We’re putting the final touches on a rigorous selection process for SkillsUSA WorldTeam and we’ll be keeping our state association directors informed right up front on the process and the candidates. We’ve also restructured the management team. I will be serving as the official delegate. Scott Norman from Pittsburg, Kan., is our technical expert. Dave Worden is our assistant technical expert and Heidi Ambrose is the team leader.
* The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) held a conference call the other day to ask the career and technical student organizations to help in the promotion and participation in the administration’s National Education Startup Challenge, an entrepreneurial look at education. SkillsUSA is happy to help. While on the subject of OVAE, President Obama’s 2013 budget flat-funds Perkins at $1.13 billion. One of the three key themes in the budget is “Jobs: aligning job training and education programs with workforce demands.”
* Sales of the Skill Connect Assessments are double what they were last year at this time and sales of ASE automotive assessments – in which SkillsUSA shares – are also way ahead of last year. We’ve been very fortunate to have an assessment expert helping us review the Skill Connect system, providing significant advice on how and where we can make improvements to the system and helping to develop a tool to show teachers the weighting of competencies in the tests. That will be a big help to teachers to prepare their students.
* Finally, there were 700 entries in the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) pin and T-shirt design contest. That’s pretty neat. And, we held our first NLSC staff meeting on Valentine’s Day.
February 1st, 2011
Our strategic planning sessions the week of January 10 went extremely well. Board President Russ Hoffbauer gave the full staff his keynote remarks on Tuesday, January 11, by phone. With a little paraphrasing, he said: “The ultimate aim of planning is results, not activities. That’s one reason why your focus on metrics this year is so exciting. There’s never enough time or resources to do everything, that’s why planning is so important. The board counts on your work.”
With staff recommendations, the directors developed eight macro objectives comprising all of the work of the association – in contrast to the 21 macro objectives we have now – in the five goal areas to help SkillsUSA reach toward Vision 2020. The macro objectives should also be the eight areas we report on to the board and the foundation. All of the departments have now developed objectives and tactics. A preliminary draft of the plan went to the State Association Directors Executive Committee last week.
January 15th, 2011
On December 17, we held our annual Holiday Celebration with a bus tour to Washington, D.C. and our Annual Employee Years of Service Recognition Luncheon. Staff and family members boarded the magic bus at 8:30 a.m., and after playing some seasonal trivia games and watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” arrived at the Gaylord Hotel for a quick tour. Then, we walked across the street to the ICE! Experience, a 15,000-square-foot attraction under a huge tent featuring 10 scenes from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It’s big, impressive, colorful and carved out of two million pounds of ice. It’s also cold. The exhibit space is kept at a constant nine degrees. No wonder the staff reminds visitors as they enter the exhibit: “Don’t touch or lick the ice.” After we returned the arctic parkas and walked outside, one staff member said: “Wow, even though it’s below freezing out here, it feels like a spring day after being in there.”
Then, it was back on the bus for the drive to Georgetown Harbor for lunch at Tony and Joe’s Seafood and staff recognition. Of course, one of the things SkillsUSA is well known for is the dedication of its staff and that shows up not only in the quality of their work, but in their tenure as well. This year, we recognized 12 employees with a combined time on staff of 132 years. Four of them – Tom Hall and Ann Schreiber at 25 years each and Keith Ashby and Shelly Coates at 30 years each – accounted for 110 years by themselves. It must be the SkillsUSA mission keeps them all looking so young. It was a wonderful day of celebrating a great national staff.