The SkillsUSA Advisor of the Year program recognizes professional members who actualize the organization’s mission of empowering students to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.
A SkillsUSA chapter is only successful with the support of an advisor who has dedicated themselves to career and technical education by intentionally integrating the SkillsUSA Framework and ensuring students can articulate the skills they have developed. State recipients are submitted to the regional competition. At NLSC, regional winners are interviewed and a national winner is selected.
For more information, please contact your state association director.
The 2020 regional Advisors of the Year are:
Region 1 (Maryland)
Charlene Zinnel has been teaching culinary arts for 28 years, the last 16 years of which at the Dorchester Career & Technology Center in Cambridge, Md., and has been a SkillsUSA professional member for the past 20 years. As a lead advisor for her school, chapters have received the Chapter Excellence Gold Distinction for the past two years and a Models of Excellence award in 2018. Zinnel has transformed the school’s SkillsUSA involvement from participating only in competitions to becoming a fully active chapter. She has been a member of the SkillsUSA Maryland Board of Directors and a SkillsUSA Maryland state officer advisor for the past 20 years. She is a member of the National Education Team in Commercial Baking and has been named Maryland Region One Advisor of the Year three times. She also has been named Chef of the Year two times by the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation and the CTE Educator of the Year by the local Rotary Club. This past year Charlene was named Dorchester County Teacher of the Year, which is the first time a CTE teacher has earned this honor.
Region 2 (South Carolina)
Joseph Chapman is a law enforcement services teacher at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies in Chapin, S.C. Chapman graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice and spent 11 years as a deputy with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, four years as an instructor and won numerous awards. Joining the staff at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies in 2017, Chapman became the lead advisor for their SkillsUSA chapter in 2018. He has since gained additional instructor level certifications and accolades, including the SkillsUSA Career Essentials teacher certification, 2020 Teacher of the Year at the school and 2020 SkillsUSA South Carolina Advisor of the Year. SkillsUSA has become a large part of Joseph’s life, as he has dedicated himself to the success of America’s future workforce by intentionally integrating the SkillsUSA Framework into the culture of his classroom and chapter. This year, under his leadership, their chapter accumulated 1,100+ hours of professional development, 400+ hours of community service, became the largest CTSO in their school district and reached Chapter of Distinction Gold Level. The chapter has also had multiple state officers for consecutive years. Joseph has a strong belief that influencing others to become better versions of themselves is the most important role he can play.
Region 3 (Ohio)
Sara Plozay is a graduate of the cosmetology program at Miami Valley Career Technology Center, where she was a SkillsUSA chapter officer. Following in the footsteps of her mother, who was a cosmetology instructor and advisor, Plozay decided to become a teacher and started her career at a local beauty college in 2004. Continuing to be involved in SkillsUSA, she served on MVCTC’s advisory board and as a judge at the local and regional levels. Plozay began teaching at Upper Valley Career Center in 2012, became a state advisor in 2013 and a chapter advisor in 2014. Plozay has mentored two state officers, five national officers and several regional officers. She has had national competitors in Cosmetology and Opening and Closing Ceremonies and state medalists. Her chapter earned the national Model of Excellence award three times. Conducting more than 30 training sessions at the local, state and national levels, in 2018 she became a SkillsUSA national certified trainer. Plozay started the Esthetics and Barbering contests in Ohio and facilitates a leadership exploration conference for over 125 members. In 2014, she earned the Miami County Excellence in Education award, and in 2017 she earned the Ohio ACTE Pacesetter award. Sara serves as the Secretary of the Ohio Cosmetology Career Teachers Association.
Region 4 (Oklahoma)
Cody W. McPherson is a technology engineering instructor and SkillsUSA advisor to both the middle school and high school chapters for the past three years. His connection to career and technical education started as a student himself. He was a welding student during high school where he was elected and served as both a SkillsUSA Oklahoma state officer and as a SkillsUSA national officer. Cody earned his American Degree and was a three-time state champion in contests. McPherson is proud to note that he is a third generation SkillsUSA alumni with both his grandfather and father being VICA alumni. With his background in SkillsUSA and his own personal traits, Cody has continued to serve others. He was a CTE employee and instructor for ten years at other Oklahoma Tech Centers. McPherson started the SkillsUSA chapter at Geary Middle and High School three years ago. By engaging and empowering his students, six have been elected as district officers, three were state officer candidates and twenty-four have been state medalists. His chapter won the Model of Excellence award in workplace skills at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in 2019. Cody serves beyond the classroom as he is on the Oklahoma ACTE STEM board and is a district advisor. McPherson also serves on the SkillsUSA Oklahoma alumni board and was a co-founder of the SkillsUSA Oklahoma Alumni and Friends in 2010. Cody has served on the national Alumni and Friends board. Other state-wide recognitions that McPherson has earned include being named a Newman Civic Fellow for his community service work. Cody was recently named one of the NextGen Oklahomans 30 under 30 for his service. He is a volunteer firefighter and medic with Geary Fire and Rescue.
Region 5 (Washington)
Kimberly Miller has been a culinary arts and early childhood educator at Woodland High School in Woodland, Washington for the last 33 years and has also served as the assistant CTE director for the past two years. Seeing the opportunities for students is what drew her to SkillsUSA, and the thrill of seeing how it helped her students grow as individuals both in personal skills and workplace skills, is what has kept her involved in the organization. Miller is an advocate for career and technical education programs and the associated student organizations. She believes in giving opportunities to students to help them prepare for their future and encouraging them to give back to their community. Her students run community service fundraising events to purchase food for our local families, this year earning $3,952 to purchase food for the local food bank as well as bringing in more than 2,000 non-perishable items of food. Miller’s chapters were chosen for the Chapter of Distinction Gold awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and a Model of Excellence chapter for workplace skills in 2018. She has served as a chapter and state officer advisor, regional coordinator and state board representative for SkillsUSA and received Washington state’s ESD 112 Teacher of the Year for 2019.