February 15th, 2012
The officers of the SkillsUSA State Director Association met on January 25-27 in Red Rock, Nev., to review the first draft of the national FY13-14 strategic plan, advise national staff on issues in the states and to create an agenda for the state directors’ annual professional development and training conference. The annual conference will be held this year on August 14-18 in Rapid City, S.D. The officers selected Grand Rapids, Mich., as the site for their 2015 meeting.
The officers are great communicators. They’ll be holding a webinar on February 21 to update all of the state association directors on their meeting. My thanks go to Ohio state association director, Mike Cowles, the state association officers and to national staff members.
September 1st, 2011
Each August, we gather with our state association directors for our annual State Association Director Professional Development and Training Conference. It’s a great time of training, networking and sharing of best practices among state associations and a time that reminds us that we are about to embark on a new school year with a new crop of students to inspire. The conference started on Monday evening, August 15, with training for nine new state association directors who received two days of training on the basics of managing a quality state SkillsUSA organization. On Tuesday, our experienced state directors arrived and we were very pleased that Dr. Dale Winkler, the new state director of career and technical education for Kentucky, spoke at the opening banquet. Dr. Winkler expressed his support for SkillsUSA as an integral component of CTE instruction and his commitment to our national conference when it moves to Louisville in 2015. Over 50 state directors and support staff were there and they had the opportunity to tour the city, visit the Kentucky Expo Center and meet city officials and representatives from conference hotels and local attractions. The directors were impressed with Louisville and all it has to offer for our national conference.
The conference also featured the presentation of the 2011 SkillsUSA “Best of Brand” Awards. Congratulations to the following state associations for their excellent work and for winning the various categories: SkillsUSA Arizona and director Carrie O’Grady-Wolf for Best of Brand Online; SkillsUSA Georgia and director Gayle Silvey for Best of Brand Multi-Media; SkillsUSA Massachusetts and director Karen Ward for Best of Brand Print; and SkillsUSA Wisconsin and director Brent Kindred for Best of Brand Conferences and Events.
Training sessions included best practice workshops in social networking, conference and contest management, membership development, finance and insurance, alumni growth, program of work strategies and Vision 2020. State directors also held regional meetings, brought recommendations from standing and special committee meetings, and they held their annual business meeting on Saturday morning. On Saturday evening, during a special reception at Churchill Downs, Board President Russ Hoffbauer and State Director Chairman and Board Member Mike Cowles, conducted a listening session for state directors with the purpose of providing input and questions for the national board.
Finally, I am thrilled to congratulate three state association directors for achieving the SkillsUSA State Director Certification. The certification is based on American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) standards and demonstrated expertise in membership development, communications, image and media, conference management, industry partnerships, operations management and personnel management. Congratulations to Gayle Silvey of Georgia and Millie Perez of Puerto Rico for attaining their certification and to Mike Cowles of Ohio for attaining re-certification.
July 15th, 2011
At the end of June, we received news that three SkillsUSA projects won Awards of Excellence in the annual APEX program which recognizes graphic design, editorial content and the success of the entries in achieving overall communications effectiveness and excellence. For 23 years, APEX (Awards for Publication Excellence) has judged and presented these awards to professional communicators. The SkillsUSA publications staff received Awards of Excellence in the following categories: –Member and Customer Materials: 2010-2011 SkillsUSA Membership Kit, submitted by Ann Schreiber; Marketing and Public Relations Electronic Media and Video Publications: A Week of Champions, submitted by Tom Kercheval; and, Tom Hall entered our 2010 Official Conference Program in the Brochures, Manuals and Reports category – and we won a Grant Award, the highest honor. This is the first Grand Award our staff has won in 14 years. The judges said: This is what a conference program should be.” Other Grand Award winners this year included familiar names such as Walt Disney Co., Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Ford Motor Co., City of Baltimore, Merrill Lynch, TD Ameritrade, FedEx and AARP.
And, on Friday during conference, new officers were elected to serve on the SkillsUSA State Association Director Executive Committee. Their offices will become effective after the August meeting. Gayle Silvey, Georgia, will be chair-elect. Josh Klemp, Rhode Island and Bruce McBurney, Washington, were both reelected to represent Regions 1 and 5 respectively. Tammy Brown, Michigan, was elected to represent Region 3. Carrie Wolf, Arizona, is the new secretary and Pete Carey, New Jersey, is the new parliamentarian.
March 1st, 2011
SkillsUSA is very big on communications, and the national office has been “webinar central” the past month. We’ve held four online conferences: two for state association directors; another for alumni; and, the webinar for SkillsUSA members during SkillsUSA Week.
On February 8, students and teachers from 18 schools nationwide tuned into the SkillsUSA Week inclusion and diversity webinar on “Respecting All Perspectives.” Board President Russ Hoffbauer addressed the group saying how pleased he is that SkillsUSA is discussing inclusion and diversity because this is also an important issue to business.
The February 4 webinar with 16 state association directors was a discussion on SkillsUSA’s online conference registration system. During their August meeting, the state directors asked us to make our registration system more user-friendly, and our consultant, Mark Williams, has been doing just that. He’s even created a series of online training modules to walk users through the process. Reactions from the participants were extremely positive including posted notes that said: “Love the changes.”
On February 17, the state association directors’ executive committee conducted an hour-long webinar for the 18 directors who signed in. This was a follow-up report on their meeting in January including: minutes; proposed Constitutional amendments; the improvement of services to states by the SkillsUSA Store and stock of core products; and, the August Professional Development Conference. There were also updates from national staff on Vision 2020, state association insurance, national conference updates, membership mega prizes and an April membership registration task force to include some non-SkillsUSA instructors to help us improve online registration by next school year.
And, on February 15, the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association held its first membership service webinar on enhanced communications. Three of our alumni members served as the expert speakers on topics including job interview techniques, communication and asking questions and serving as a mentor. There were 18 participants, and it seemed a propitious start to this kind of membership service.
All the webinars have been archived, so we strongly encourage those who could not participate “live” to go to our website to view them.
February 15th, 2011
The expression may be “what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas” but we plan to do some exporting. The SkillsUSA state association directors’ executive committee met January 26 – 28 to discuss a wide range of issues and to plan the state association directors’ August meeting in Louisville. Mike Cowles, state association director for Ohio, officially took over as chair of the committee during this meeting. Mike will be joining the board of directors during its March meeting.
A consistent theme throughout was the need for open communications, both inside state education agencies and within the SkillsUSA association. Mike and the other directors spoke of how state agencies are changing, and the student organizations’ need to change right along with them to meet education goals. That means showing how the student organizations work with career clusters, career pathways and how they align with the common core education standards developed by the National Governors Association and now adopted by 42 states.
To increase communications within SkillsUSA, the committee proposed a series of webinars for state directors beginning with a webinar on February 17 so the committee can discuss with the other directors nationwide, the outcomes of this meeting. They would also like to have webinar meetings on topics such as the strategic plan and training sessions on how to use SkillsUSA tools and programs, such as the membership mega prizes. By scheduling regular webinars during the year, we won’t be trying to put so much information into our two annual face-to-face meetings.
The committee approved the draft of the FY12 strategic plan – they’re eager to get some of the things sooner – and they also discussed major initiatives, financial reports, state liability insurance and the SkillsUSA Store.
I stayed in Nevada on Saturday, the 29th, to conduct board training for the Nevada association. It was a pleasure to work with Mike Pointer, our new association director, and his board. He had 100 percent attendance.