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Students Shine During Ohio Regional Officer Institute

February 1st, 2013
Ohio Officers

The SkillsUSA Ohio State Officer Team

The SkillsUSA National Leadership Center was home to 54 wonderful students and instructors during the week of January 14. The annual training event for Ohio’s regional and state student officers draws upon many of the features in the Washington Leadership Training Institute, but then adds more. State association director, Mike Cowles put together a powerful and packed program.

Training activities included public speaking, teamwork and advocacy. The students got to put their new skills into practice on Wednesday, the 16th, during Capitol Hill visits to the offices of Senator Sherrod Brown and Representatives Bob Gibbs, Marcy Kaptur and Patrick Tiberi. (Republican Members’ offices were closed for an offsite retreat that day.) The students talked about the importance of career and technical education and SkillsUSA in their lives as education, in preparing for their careers, to the economy and to their communities. Mike told me the students had great visits and were polished in the delivery of their messages.

Other highlights for the delegation included a trip to visit the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) facility and to meet their executives; a meeting with the Maryland student state officers and state director Chuck Wallace; and more Washington events including a tour of the Capitol, a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns, a memorial ceremony at the Pentagon, a walk around The White House and visits to monuments and the Smithsonian. And, I had the pleasure to speak during their banquet just before the students received their Statesman Awards and medallions from their contests. All in all, Mike and his advisors put on a tremendous educational program for the student officers of Ohio.

Click here to view more photos from SkillsUSA Ohio’s Regional Officer Training.



December 14th, 2012
    • The NCC-CTSO (National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations) met here at the National Leadership Center on November 14. All ten federally-recognized organizations were represented in person or on Skype. It was a good meeting. We worked on developing a paper to lay out our mutually-shared values and discussed CTSO membership concentrations in congressional districts.
    • I attended the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) board meeting in Alachua, Fla. on November 15-16. While there, CEO Don Whyte and I announced a new joint initiative called “Skills to Industry.” It will begin with a pilot program to connect some of NCCER’s commercial contractor members with our chapters to line up internships and employment for our student members. We will be providing more information to state directors where pilots will be implemented as soon as plans are solidified.
    • On the conference front, staff reports that state conferences are showing higher attendance.
    • We have posted a highlight video from the 2012 Washington Leadership Training Institute, below:


2013 American Airlines Discount Program for SkillsUSA

November 1st, 2012

American Airlines continues an airline discount program for the 2013 National Leadership and Skills Conference and the 2013 Washington Leadership Training Institute. See the following for instructions:

2013 NLSC

Attendees using correct code can use the five percent discount on the lowest published fare.  The discount is good for American Airlines flights into Kansas City International Airport – MCI – Kansas City, Mo. A discount agreement is valid June 16 through 30, 2013.  To make airline reservations, call American Airlines at 1-800-433-1790 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and refer to your Promotion Code 1963DK or go online to and choose “More Flight Search Options” and insert the promotion code in the appropriate box. At this time there is no ticketing charge for reservations made and ticketed on Please allow one hour for the code to be loaded for use on  The percentage discount can be booked online at for American Airlines and American Eagle flights only.

 2013 WLTI

Attendees using correct code can use the five percent discount on the lowest published fare.  The discount is good for American Airlines flights into Reagan National Airport (DCA-Washington, D.C.) Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI-Baltimore, Maryland) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD-Herndon, Virginia).  A discount agreement is valid September 15 through 29, 2013. To make airline reservations, call American Airlines at 1-800-433-1790 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and refer to your Promotion Code 8493BC or go online to and choose “More Flight Search Options” and insert the promotion code in the appropriate box. At this time there is no ticketing charge for reservations made and ticketed on  Please allow one hour for the code to be loaded for use on  The percentage discount can be booked online at for American Airlines and American Eagle flights only.

In SkillsUSA There are Triple-Headers

October 15th, 2012

From September 15-19 in the Washington, D.C. area, SkillsUSA held three of its most important events of the year: 1) the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI); 2) the fall board of directors meeting; and, 3) the Champion of the Year dinner. Each of these manifests the important work SkillsUSA is doing in the interests of our members, partners and ultimately the nation.

The WLTI is at the core to SkillsUSA’s mission to teach students and their instructors the skills they’ll need to be successful leaders and advocates. The emphasis isn’t just on making an impact in Washington — although we do that too — it’s on putting those skills to work back home. I was particularly pleased to hear that some of the state delegations are doing just that. In New York, for example, students are expected to go back to school boards and other groups to talk about their experiences when they return.

With 314 registered attendees, this was our largest WLTI ever. There were excellent presentations to the students and instructors by Congressional staff from both parties from the House and the Senate. There were discussions with senior staff from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education on the administration’s Blueprint for Reform and reauthorization of Perkins. And, Barry Wulf, a past national officer and now a Black Hawk helicopter pilot for the California National Guard was a commanding keynote speaker.

We’re still compiling the reports from the states on their delegation visits. We have record of 80 visits — down from 103 last year — but we still don’t have reports from all of the states. We heard from board members and from delegations about how much they enjoyed making the congressional office visits together and I received a letter from one of the board members about WLTI saying the “national staff is simply outstanding.” WLTI photos are available here:

The Champion of the Year became two events on September 18 with a news conference at the National Press Club in the morning and then the dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The news conference focused on America’s skills gap. Of course, Champion of the Year Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on was the featured speaker. Also speaking: Jane Oates, assistant secretary of Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor; Bryan Albrecht, president, Gateway Community College; Amelia Powers, western region parts manager, Caterpillar and a SkillsUSA alumna; Kaila O’Farrell, national Region I vice president of SkillsUSA; and, yours truly. Bloomberg News was there to cover it as were reporters from two magazines, the Association of Career and Technical Education, and a 5:30 video news release was written and edited together and put on the feed to Fox stations by 3:30 p.m. for the evening news and then transmitted again the following morning.

The dinner was an impressive affair. (One student said to me: “I didn’t think it would be this elegant.”) Mr. Pinchuk is an eloquent and passionate speaker when it comes to both the importance of the skilled workforce and SkillsUSA. He said in part: “We, as a nation, need to make skilled workforce training a national priority, and to make skilled careers, a national calling.” He concluded his remarks by recognizing the students in the audience saying, “Meet America’s future, the young men and women of SkillsUSA.” Special thanks go to Greg Rintala, Alicia Smales and Rick Secor of Snap-on for all of their work on these events. Check out the pictures and video:

A news release went out from this office to all of the search engines and many more business and trade magazines, broadcast networks and newspapers. To read the release, link to: Clips are still arriving.

WLTI, Board Meeting and Champion of the Year Dinner Festivities

October 1st, 2012

WLTI 2012

The Washington Leadership Training Institute, the board of directors’ meeting and the Champion of the Year dinner all went beautifully.

WLTI definitely hit a new registration high with 314 attending representing 27 states and Puerto Rico. It took six buses just to get the group around. We had some great presenters, including top staff from the U.S. Department of Education to talk about the administration’s Blueprint for reauthorizing career and technical education (CTE), congressional staff to talk about the outlook for Perkins, and experts on the Common Core State Standards Project and the Common Career Technical Core. And, we had exciting trainers and training for the students. It was a great five days.

Champion of the Year

The Champion of the Year dinner honoring Nick Pinchuk, Snap-on chairman and CEO was an outstanding event. We had over one hundred students join in the excitement. We also had super support from our own partners on the board and the Youth Development Foundation. There were also letters of congratulations from Assistant Secretary of Education and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor Jane Oates, Senators Herb Kohl, Ron Johnson, Mike Enzi and Mark Warner and from five U.S. Representatives. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared September 18 “Nick Pinchuk Day.”

As part of the Champion of the Year festivities, there was a press conference at the National Press Club at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 18th. Nick Pinchuk spoke on the national imperative to prepare a skilled workforce and the importance of career and technical education and organizations such as SkillsUSA to close the gap. We know the word is getting out there. A reporter from Bloomberg News called last week and said: “I’m working on a story on the skills gap. I know the gap exists, now I want to know how to fix it. That’s why I’m calling SkillsUSA.” I spoke with the reporter for nearly an hour.


September 15th, 2012
  • A big thank you to our state association directors who attended the Professional Development and Training Conference in Rapid City, S.D. Here are just a few more highlights from the conference. Tiffany Sanderson, team leader, Perkins Career and Technical Education in South Dakota – equivalent to the state CTE director – was a featured speaker during the opening dinner. The states held regional meetings before the business meeting and all ran very well. Mark Williams, SkillsUSA’s chief IT consultant, did an outstanding job of demonstrating the conference management system. At least half of the directors attending participated, and Mark did a separate training for new state directors. The Mount Rushmore nighttime lighting ceremony was wonderfully patriotic. Jen Polz, state association director from Minnesota is the new executive committee chair-elect and all of the executive committee did a phenomenal job of running the conference.
  • On August 23, I flew to Chicago to meet with the CEO and executive staff of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) and the CEO and president of ADESA (a leading provider of vehicle remarketing services). Board member, Russ Hoffbauer, made the introduction by inviting the president and vice president of IAA to the conference last June. Needless to say, they were impressed by what they saw. During our meeting, Kaila O’Farrell, national high school vice president, talked about the value of SkillsUSA to students and then Russ Hoffbauer talked about why State Farm is involved in SkillsUSA. I’d say they were both persuasive because both organizations signed up to be SkillsUSA official sponsors effective this year. Executives from each organization met with us in Leesburg on September 11. Thanks go to Russ Hoffbauer for his support.
  • We have 311 people registered to attend the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) and it starts tomorrow. They’ll be representing 27 states and Puerto Rico and 31 state associations. I believe this is the largest WLTI in history. All of the national officers will be attending.
  • Preparations for the Champion of the Year dinner are reaching a feverish pace. An announcement news release went out on September 6, and Snap-on has really stepped up efforts to get coverage during a news conference scheduled at the National Press Club. Staff is following up on the invitations to the administration and Congress. We’ve had good sponsorship responses from the Youth Development Foundation and members of the board, and we’re looking forward to having 100 students and teachers from WLTI join us for the dinner.
  • We’re getting ready to send 13 students and 12 technical delegates from the 2013 SkillsUSA WorldTeam to Brazil for the WorldSkills Americas in mid-November 2012. We sent two contestants to the 2010 WorldSkills Americas competition and found it was a great way to prepare the contestants for international competition and – even more important – to help prepare the technical experts. Thank you to the state associations who are stepping up to support these contestants in their quest for excellence on the world level.

That’s it for now. Until next time, thank you for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.


WLTI Student Leadership Development Scholarship

August 15th, 2012

Congratulations to the four winners of the 2012 WLTI Student Leadership Development Scholarship ($800 each):

  1. Michael Ferranti, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I.
  2. Konner Lamb, Louisville High School, Louisville, Neb.
  3. Nolan Rogers, Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center, Bay City, Mich.
  4. Devin Woodland, Ironwood High School, Glendale, Ariz.

Washington Leadership Training Institute Congressional Appointments

August 1st, 2012

On Tuesday, September 18, 2012, the students and advisors attending WLTI will have time to go to Capitol Hill and visit with their Senators and Representatives between 10:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (The bus leaves at 3 p.m.) Appointments need to be set up ahead of time.  You can find a sample appointment request letter here.

We suggest delegations first fax the appointment request letter and follow it up with a phone call. Letters sent by mail may take a month to reach Congressional offices because of security systems. But, if you do send a letter, please hand-write or type the address – don’t use a label. The label will be blackened because all Congressional mail goes through an irradiation process. And, don’t rely on an email invitation. Congress is receiving a massive amount of email right now, so there is a good chance it could be overlooked, depending upon the office.

If you have questions or need information about how to contact your members of

Congress, contact Jane Short at 703-737-0612 or by email at

American Airlines Group Travel Discounts

December 15th, 2011

SkillsUSA has partnered with American Airlines for five percent off published fares, even sale prices, to attend the following 2012 national conferences:

  • National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Kansas City, Mo. (June 23-27)
  • Washington Leadership Training Institute in Herndon, Va. (September 14-18) (Information available on 2012 WLTI Web page.)

Procedures for booking airline tickets for the 2012 National Leadership & Skills Conference are as follows

  • Visit From top menu bar, choose reservations followed by select flight; complete appropriate fields (i.e., travel dates, number of passengers departure and destination city.) At bottom of select flight screen, the last field (field #9) will be promotion code. Enter this code: 6662DA followed by selecting Go. The next screen will contain all flight times for departure and return. Complete reservation as instructed.
  • Call American Airlines Meeting Services Desk at 800-433-1790 and provide agent with code: 6662DA, or purchase tickets through a travel agent and mention 6662DA

Terms and Conditions
Discount is valid June 10-30, 2012 from any destination served by American Airlines to Kansas City (MCI). Discount is available to anyone attending the event. Save a booking fee by using Name change is allowed with 15OUSD/CAD GMT ticketing change charge. Name must be changed and re-ticketed prior to arrival at the airport. Allowed only on flights operated by American Airlines.All travelers are eligible for accrued flight miles.


October 31st, 2011
  • With all of our activity during the past month or so, including the Washington Leadership Training Institute and WorldTeam, over 30 days we had an 87 percent increase of “likes” on the SkillsUSA Facebook page. What’s more, our active users are up 111 percent, the number of people looking at posts is up 383 percent and feedback is up 453 percent. Every time we posted new photos or videos, the site would get 4,500 impressions. During the first week of October, 67,246 people viewed posts on our news feed. A good comparison here is to the first week of September when we had only 12,680 people viewing the news feed. Good news and activity gets great attention.
  • On September 29, I had a conference call with Larry Teverbaugh, CEO of K2Share. We will be signing a new memorandum of understanding to continue our CareerSafe agreement with K2Share, and Larry is projecting continuing growth of CareerSafe.
  • While in London, I had meetings with three of our industry partners. Russ Hoffbauer, the four national officers attending WorldSkills and I met with FLUKE. Russ did a super job of talking about the business advantages of partnering with SkillsUSA and taking it to a higher level. I’m scheduled to meet with FLUKE in Seattle in early December. The four officers, Karen Ward, SkillsUSA Massachusetts state association director, and I met with Autodesk representatives in hopes Autodesk will become involved in the Youth Development Foundation. And, I met with Lincoln Electric CEO, John Stropki, Jr. Lincoln has been a SkillsUSA partner for over 30 years, and I’m looking forward to meeting with John in early December.
  • The Alumni Coordinating Committee was in Leesburg for their fall meeting October 14-16, and they had good discussions.
  • The SkillsUSA Champion of the Year event is coming ever closer. Here’s a nice development: Toyota has asked its government affairs staff to get letters of congratulations for Jim Lentz from governors all across the country. That’s another way of leveraging this event. We hope many of you will encourage your business partners to participate in the event on November 4. Broadening our partner network will allow for greater awareness of the need for a skilled American workforce and help show that SkillsUSA and CTE are part of the answer. If you would like additional information about this year’s event, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Chris Powell of our staff.

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