Elevating CTE’s Impact in Improving Workforce Development

September 26th, 2023

Career Technical Education (CTE) equips students with in-demand skills and knowledge, preparing them for successful careers in diverse career pathways. State CTE Directors are tasked with the crucial duty of promoting the integral role of CTE in improving workforce development efforts and subsequently their state economies. CTE is a pathway to a skilled and competitive workforce and below are strategies to effectively advocate for CTE’s potential impact.

Work-based learning experiences, such as internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training, bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical application. Partnering with local businesses and community organizations is critical to expanding work-based learning opportunities for CTE learners. Demonstrating the tangible benefits of such experiences, including increased employability and a smoother transition into the workforce, reinforces the value of CTE as an effective workforce development pathway. 

This can be accomplished through elevating learner voice. Nothing speaks louder than success stories. State Directors can actively showcase the achievements of CTE alumni who have excelled in their careers after completing CTE programs. Featuring these success stories on websites, social media platforms and in local media can inspire current and prospective learners, parents and community members to view CTE as a viable path to achieving their career goals.

To strengthen CTE’s position as a workforce development pathway, an investment in modern infrastructure and technology is critical. Up-to-date equipment and technology not only enhance the learning experience but also demonstrate a commitment to providing learners with the necessary tools to succeed in the workforce. Additionally, leveraging workforce and economic trends to develop career pathways that are relevant to current labor needs creates the symbiosis needed for a properly functioning CTE ecosystem. State Directors can engage in outreach initiatives to build strong partnerships with stakeholders, highlighting CTE’s contributions to economic growth and prosperity. Engaging in conversations with employers and policymakers helps foster a shared vision and commitment to supporting CTE as a critical workforce development strategy.

Promoting CTE as a pathway to improving workforce development efforts is essential to creating a skilled and competitive workforce that meets the demands of a rapidly evolving job market. State Directors have the unique opportunity– and responsibility– to lead this transformative charge. By emphasizing industry-relevant skills, facilitating work-based learning opportunities, building strong partnerships, showcasing success stories and investing in modern infrastructure, CTE can remain at the forefront of workforce development initiatives.

For additional information, resources and tools on promoting CTE as a pathway to improving workforce development, please visit:

Brice Thomas, Former Policy Associate

Welcome Emily Passias to Advance CTE!

September 18th, 2023

I could not be more delighted to join the team here at Advance CTE! A self-proclaimed “Career Technical Education (CTE) evangelist,” I’ve spent much of my career designing, implementing and supporting policies and practices that create the conditions for high-quality CTE to flourish, and have had the pleasure to learn from and work alongside the Advance CTE team and members over those years. As a former State CTE Director and Advance CTE member, it is an honor to be able to give back to an organization that has given so much to me and to the field at large.

I am a Buckeye through and through, having spent nearly two decades either learning or teaching at The Ohio State University. As a sociologist by training, the driver at the heart of my work has always been reducing inequality. After many years of conducting research and teaching research methods, statistics, and substantive sociology courses at The Ohio State University, I became enthralled with the promise that CTE holds to prepare learners to achieve their aspirations. 

That passion took me to the Ohio Department of Education where I spent seven years serving the learners of Ohio, designing state-level policy and practice solutions to strengthen and scale CTE in the state while simultaneously closing long-standing access and performance gaps across student groups. During my tenure at the Ohio Department of Education, I had the opportunity lead the development of the state’s CTE Report Card and CTE-focused pathways to high school graduation, as well as the state’s efforts to launch and scale middle-grade CTE and better align education and workforce by identifying and incentivizing credentials of value in CTE programs. 

Immediately prior to joining the Advance CTE team, I served as the Vice President for Policy at the Linked Learning Alliance where I worked with states and communities to design and implement policies that support college and career pathways that intentionally integrate high-quality CTE, rigorous academics, early postsecondary opportunities, and work-based learning experiences.  I also spent several years as the Director of Career Readiness at Education Strategy Group, where I led the firm’s work on credentials of value and worked with states and communities to plan, implement, and scale high-quality, industry-aligned pathways.

I am based in Columbus, Ohio where I live with my large blended family which includes four teenagers along with my 21-year old, five dogs, and my lovely husband Geoff. For the first time this school year, I get to play another role in the CTE system – that of a CTE parent. Outside of work, you can find me in the garden, cooking, or shuttling kids around to volleyball and basketball activities.

Welcome Kevin Imes as the new State Director of Career and Technical Education for Arizona!

August 14th, 2023

The Arizona Department of Education recently named Kevin Imes the Deputy Associate Superintendent for Career Technical Education (CTE). 

Kevin Imes’ 36-year career in public education covers a diverse range of experiences. From the beginning of his career as a Biology teacher in downtown Phoenix schools to his role in opening a magnet program, an alternative school, a comprehensive high school and a public CTE district from the ground up, Kevin’s expertise in program development lends itself well to his new position as State CTE Director.

In the year ahead, Kevin is focused on strengthening the relationship between secondary and postsecondary institutions in Arizona to improve the transition experience for learners. Kevin would like to eliminate the preconceived stigma around CTE and to promote the benefits of CTE for learner success and its role in social, economic and career mobility.

Kevin is most excited about introducing learners and families not familiar with CTE to the programs and benefits CTE offers. He sees CTE as a solution for eliminating poverty by helping learners of all ages acquire economic independence through CTE program completion.

“I believe we are at the start of a new paradigm where there is truly a collaborative effort between industry and education, both depending on the other, accepting their shared responsibilities in preparing students for their entry into the talent pipeline,” Kevin shared. “We are standing at the edge of educational reform! Looking over the edge. For some, it is frightening to only be able to see the abyss below. But for others, it is a necessary launch pad to reach the new horizon.” 

A lifelong learner, Kevin looks forward to learning and growing with his colleagues in Arizona and across state lines.

When he is not in the office, Kevin enjoys spending time with his family.

Welcome Kevin to Advance CTE!

Welcome Dan Adams to Advance CTE!

July 12th, 2023

My name is Dan Adams, and I am very excited to lead Advance CTE’s Data & Research team where I’m responsible for Advance CTE’s data quality and initiatives to promote data-driven decision-making among state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders and within Advance CTE.

My commitment to education in pursuit of equity and equity in pursuit of social justice was the reason I started my career as a middle school STEM teacher. Most recently, I served as the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s Statewide Director of Career Pathways where I collaborated with stakeholders to promote the equity impacts of investments in career pathways. In 2022, based in part on a first-of-its-kind data system I helped build, the Oregon legislature passed and Governor Brown signed Future Ready Oregon into law. The law invested $200 million in education and training, including $17 million for career pathways in Oregon, a nearly tenfold increase.

As Accountability and Data Specialist at the Oregon Department of Education, I authored numerous research briefs and provided invited testimony before the Oregon House and Senate on the equity impact of investments in CTE. Based in part on my findings and testimony, in 2019 the Oregon legislature passed the Oregon School Success Act, which invested an additional $300M in interventions including secondary CTE.

Commitment to education equity and social justice informs my private life as well. As co-chair of Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition, I was honored to be the first signatory to the state’s LGBTQ2SIA+ Student Success Plan which was signed into law in July 2021. As Co-Chair of Seaton Elementary School’s PTO Family Engagement Committee, I was honored to contribute to my family’s home school receiving the Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming School Seal of Excellence in 2023.

I graduated from the University of Notre Dame twice, first with a Bachelor of Science in Science-Business and later with a Master of Education degree and a middle-level science license. I’ve called California, Oregon, Indiana, Texas, Alabama, Ireland, Oregon again, and now the District of Columbia (DC) home. 

When I’m not working on more equitable education systems, I’m usually with my wife and son. We can be found on our bikes in and around our home in DC’s historic Shaw neighborhood. If you already checked there, you may also find our bikes locked outside any of DC’s bistros, coffee shops, brew pubs, or museums.

Dan Adams, Data & Research Manager

Welcome Layla Alagic to Advance CTE!

June 20th, 2023

Hi, I’m Layla, and I’m excited to join the Advance CTE team as a Digital Communications Associate! I will oversee digital media strategy and content in several areas, including the Advance CTE website, social media and organizational newsletters. I’m thrilled to be an advocate for Career Technical Education (CTE) and to be part of a team committed to supporting a more equitable education system across the country. This role on the communications team will allow me to combine my passion for both marketing and education while supporting CTE in its next chapter. 

I was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and grew up in Southwest Virginia. I completed my bachelor’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and now live in Richmond, Virginia.

Before joining Advance CTE, I worked in marketing for an international B2B software company, and during my time in college, I interned at an equity-focused human resources startup. I also have experience in photography, videography, and video editing. In my personal life, I love reading, film, learning languages, home improvement, and traveling!

Layla Alagic, Digital Communications Associate

ECMCF Fellow Feature: Dr. Tempestt Adams

June 12th, 2023

In September 2022, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE)  that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. For this next blog in the ECMCF Fellow Feature series, we’re excited to feature ECMCF Fellow Dr. Tempestt Adams (NC) whose own experience in the classroom served as the inspiration for her Real-World Project topic. Dr. Adams is passionate about improving educator preparation programs and finding solutions that integrate learner voices into discussions about how institutions can increase retention rates. 

“As a lifelong learner, I’ve always been intentional in my pursuit of professional development and growth in my career.”

Dr. Adams found the Fellowship through the recommendation of a colleague who saw the thread of equity throughout the curriculum and workshop topics as an opportunity for her to build upon her previous work in this space. Through the Fellowship, Dr. Adams has had the opportunity to engage with Career Technical Education (CTE) specific knowledge that she had not previously been exposed to. As a result, she feels more equipped and confident to use language and tools to support her ideas about becoming a more effective leader.

“Any researcher would say that you build confidence as you read and increase your exposure to new ideas. This is particularly true for learning about using an equity lens in CTE, and I’m grateful as this isn’t always the reality of my everyday work.”

Dr. Adams has seen the ways in which her participation in the Fellowship has helped her advance in her current role as an Assistant Professor at Appalachian State University and she’s interested in exploring additional opportunities to increase her leadership to expand her impact. Specifically, she’s learning more about programs that directly address issues impacting student success in undergraduate CTE or graduate certificate programs. The Fellowship has also piqued Dr. Adams’s interest in learning more about community colleges and how postsecondary CTE programs are leveraging learner data. As a transfer-friendly institution, data-sharing partnerships with community colleges would provide a more complete understanding of where students are coming from before they transfer. Dr. Adams sees an opportunity to use this data to better equip her instructors in their class preparation.

Dr. Adams became enamored with data during her doctoral program when she was exploring the national challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers of color. She noticed that there was more racial diversity among the second-career individuals entering the graduate certificate program than those choosing to enroll in her program. At the same time, she noticed that the retention rates of those enrolled in the graduate certificate program were much lower, and as a result, fewer teachers of color were completing the program. Through her Real-World Project, Dr. Adams is exploring the reasons for this drop in learner retention with the goal of improving institutional awareness of the challenges that learners are facing so that they can be addressed.

 “Looking ahead, I’m interested in taking this work and the outline I’ve created to pursue a Spencer Foundation Grant. Additional funding would provide the opportunity to expand the number of students that I’m surveying in my Real-World Project and look more whole scale at black teachers and CTE in the state.”

If you have any questions, contact Dr. Adams by email at adamstr2@appstate.edu 

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

Perkins Regional Meetings April and May 2023: Key Takeaways

June 8th, 2023

Over April and May 2023, Advance CTE hosted three Perkins Regional Meetings across the country in Minneapolis, Baltimore and Phoenix, with over 200 leaders from across 40 states and territories which was made possible through support from the Gates Foundation. The agenda for the three meetings was designed for state leaders from secondary, postsecondary and workforce development to connect and collaborate on ways to enhance their current Career Technical Education (CTE) systems and programs. 

States participated in keynote presentations, workshops, roundtables focused on supporting special populations and cross-state sharing sessions with the intent of building and strengthening the career preparation ecosystem for all learners across the nation. State leaders and our Advance CTE team were both energized by the engagement and inspired by the dedication of all those that attended the meetings and are working to create a high-quality and equitable system that supports all CTE learners.

While each state has its own unique challenges, accomplishments and opportunities, certain recurring themes emerged across multiple states. The national CTE landscape is one of great opportunity but will need support to provide access to high-quality experiences for all CTE learners. 

Key Takeaways


  • Strong partnerships and support between private industry, education and government leaders to support economic development  
  • Implementation of needed improvements garnered from Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments (CLNA) at the state and local levels
  • Collaboration and cooperation among state workforce agencies and departments of education and higher education during the Perkins Regional Meetings
  • Work-based learning (WBL) program guidance on how to focus staffing and funding resources


  • CTE instructor training, recruitment and retention
  • Staff turnover at both the local and state level
  • Data management, collection and utilization
  • Collaboration between secondary, postsecondary and workforce development
  • Capacity building to meet the demands of learners and region-specific needs

Using the information gained at these meetings, CTE leaders will be able to build upon the accomplishments and help provide resources, tools and support to address the challenges within the current system, with an eye towards how states will leverage the potential to revise or update their Perkins V state plans as their original four-year plans come to a close next spring. Advance CTE continues to be available as a resource to provide best practices, information on innovative policies on the horizon and technical assistance to states to achieve our shared vision of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits).

As states work to address the challenges they face, Advance CTE has numerous resources available below and through the Learning that Works Resource Center to assist with goal set and challenges identified during the meeting: 

Save the Date for our next in-person opportunity to connect and receive support from Advance CTE! Our 2023 Fall Meeting: Elevating CTE’s Impact, will be held October 16-18 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

Welcome Dr. Monique Faulkner as the new State Director of Career Technical and Adult Education for the US Virgin Islands!

May 24th, 2023

The US Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Education has recently named Virgin Islands native Dr. Monique Faulkner as the State Director of Career Technical and Adult Education. The Department oversees the development and execution of Career, Technical and Adult Education programs in the Territory’s public education system, in alignment with the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and the Adult Education Family and Literacy Act (AEFLA).

Monique discovered CTE like many do as a path to reskill after an economic shift. After the mortgage industry collapse in 2007, Monique was forced to redirect her career path from a financial-focused background as a Mortgage Residential Underwriter to education. Monique went back to school and earned a Bachelor of Science in Education.

While pursuing a master’s degree in Education Administration with a concentration in Adult Education, Monique accepted a position as a Program Manager at the USVI Department of Education’s State Office of Career, Technical & Adult Education. Monique shared, “It was [there] that my full passion emerged, as I began to see a vision for how the two programs certainly complemented each other and if integrated correctly, could change the lives of individuals (secondary students and adult learners).”

In order to increase her exposure and gain additional knowledge of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Adult Education, Monique relocated to Georgia where she served as the Adult Education Dean at Atlanta Technical College. In this role, Monique gained hands-on experience with building sustainable programs that bridged learners from Adult Education into CTE pathways. In collaboration with the technical program deans, Monique created accelerated Career, Technical and Adult Education (CTAE) training programs for students, which focused on stackable credentialing. 

The experience Monique gained working directly with learners and educators fueled her passion for CTE and led to a federal position at the  U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), while dually pursuing her doctorate in Education. Her dissertation, A Change Management Plan: Expanding the Knowledge of Adult Education to Improve Program Performance, incorporated the rigor of academics with the relevance of technical education.  

In her new role as the State Director of CTAE, Monique is excited about CTE’s ability to not only build real-world skills but to change the trajectory of one’s future: “I am passionate about CTE because CTE is shaping the future. It is the foundation on which the world stands, economies are sustained, crime and recidivism are reduced drastically and strong communities thrive.  CTE is the driving force behind business and industry and economically self-sufficient communities.  When all of the aforementioned happens in a community, businesses are attracted like a magnet, the economy begins to blossom and greater levels of self-sufficiency among adults in that community are attained.”

For the year ahead, Monique’s priorities for CTE systems in the USVI are to create stronger connections between state and local CTE leaders given the territory’s unique structure of one state education agency and just two local education agencies.  

Monique shared that the concentrated team efforts for the next year are:

  • Rolling out extensive training and professional development to increase awareness and understanding of CTE and how high-quality CTE can be delivered in the territory. 
  • Conversing with stakeholders and district-level staff and professionals to gain their feedback, perspective and insight about CTE and how their contributions are needed for continued growth.
  • Reviewing programs and curriculum to develop a cohesive integrated curriculum framework for the territory (inclusive of new program offerings which align with the demand pathways for each respective island and for the territory).

Another priority is changing the mindset around CTE from the “old voc-ed” mentality to a better understanding of the benefits of modern CTE with a culturally responsive lens. Due to the geographically separated nature of the islands, it can be challenging to share and spread information. Monique emphasizes that The ability to change mindsets through informing and engaging adults of and in changes … requires a concerted, bottom-up effort that is deeply rooted in … the cultural norms of communication to gain a receptive and motivated audience that … can become an integral part of the change.”

A published poet and writer, outside of the office Monique also enjoys creating unique jewelry (“wrist candy”) and “delicious 100 percent natural juices.”

Welcome Monique to Advance CTE!

Welcome Kyllie Freeman as the new State CTE Director in Connecticut!

May 17th, 2023

The Connecticut State Department of Education has named Kyllie Freeman as the State Director of Career Technical Education. The Department oversees all secondary and postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs as well as CTE for justice-connected individuals and youth and pre-apprenticeship programs.

Kyllie discovered her passion for CTE in the classroom as a culinary instructor of 15 years and fondly recalls seeing her high school learners’ “faces [light up] when they made something” as they gained valuable skills in her classes. “Some [learners] hadn’t even washed a dish before.”

Originally a nutritionist major in college, Kyllie switched to culinary arts to continue a career connected to food and nutrition without the intense focus on math and science. During her teaching tenure, Kyllie worked on her district’s grant for the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) which led to her taking a Perkins Grant Manager role at the state level. Kyllie oversaw the Hospitality and Tourism and the Information Technology, Education and Training Clusters®, explaining “I wanted to keep supporting Perkins but in a different role. ”

In her new role as State Director, Kyllie is excited to increase partnerships, aligning school districts, community colleges and industry partners to increase accessibility to high-quality CTE and success for learners across Connecticut.

In the year ahead, Kyllie is focused on supporting districts by remapping CTE School Courses for the Exchange of Data (SCED) codes to better align with the National Career Clusters Framework®, giving districts more flexibility in how they award credit. Kyllie is excited to offer technical assistance to district administrators to facilitate this process.

Kyllie is also focused on helping learners know more about the college and career opportunities available to them through CTE. She plans to accomplish this by better aligning course selection with learner interests. Kyllie will also support learners by updating the Student Success Plan and embedding CTE into the plan for better alignment with the opportunities available to learners.

One of the biggest challenges for CTE in Connecticut, teacher recruitment and retention, is not unique to the state; it is a national issue. The availability of qualified teachers in a particular pathway dictates where certain courses can be offered, thereby limiting course offerings for learners where teachers are in short supply.

In addition to addressing the top challenge of CTE instructor recruitment and retention, an issue facing CTE programs nationwide, Kyllie would also like to help change the perception of who should be participating in CTE. This shift would raise awareness that learners should be focused on college and career readiness, not just readiness for college. “CTE is huge and so many [skills] are transferrable.”

Coming from a long line of restaurant owners, Kyllie loves cooking outside of her State Director role. While she will “cook anything,” Kyllie enjoys cooking Italian food the most. Outside of the kitchen, Kyllie enjoys kayaking.

Welcome Kyllie to Advance CTE!

Jodi Langellotti, Communications Associate

Welcome Brent Haken State CTE Director of Oklahoma CareerTech

May 1st, 2023

As a lifelong educator, Brent Haken, who began his role as the new State CTE Director of Oklahoma CareerTech in January 2023, has a deeply rooted passion for Career Technical Education (CTE).

“I come from a CTE family,” Brent explains, noting that his grandfather was an industrial arts instructor, his wife began her career in event planning and restaurant administration, and they showed livestock growing up in the FFA program.

Brent began his career as an agricultural educator, teaching for eight years. He then transitioned into school administration roles, serving as an elementary school assistant principal, high school principal and superintendent. It was in the superintendent role that he reconnected with the administration of CTE programs, which eventually led to being offered the State CTE Director role.

In Oklahoma, CareerTech is a separate state agency that oversees the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) and the state’s robust investment in CTE that includes 29 technology center districts, 395 comprehensive school district with CTE programs, and 15 locations for 42 Skills Centers programs that deliver programs for incarcerated learners. Brent’s top priorities for this role are twofold: to increase awareness of CTE among learners and families, and to increase CTE’s presence at the state policymaking table. “My platform for this job is providing people – from young children to adults – an opportunity for a better life,” he explained.

He is excited about the increasing interest among families for more educational options that can lead to a career and believes the state has a major role in educating families about opportunities through CTE. Brent also takes seriously the role in educating and “selling the CTE story” to policymakers given that there is 25 percent turnover of state legislative members each year. Central to meeting Brent’s goal of keeping CTE at the forefront is ensuring CTE operates as a truly connected system of adult education centers, technical centers, and comprehensive high schools that collaborate and learn from each other.

At the programmatic level, Brent looks forward to securing and maintaining resources to fulfill the state’s CTE mission for learners to its full potential. This includes improving program alignment and fostering collaborative innovation with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. 

When Brent is not at his day job, he is at home at his family farm raising and caring for cattle with his wife and three children. Fun fact: in addition to being handy on the land, he also knows how to sew, having learned from his mother and grandmother!

Please join us in welcoming Brent to his new role, and to Advance CTE!

Stacy Whitehouse, Communications Manager