Posts Tagged ‘professional development; mentoring’

ECMCF Fellow Feature: Jomarie Coloriano

Friday, October 27th, 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. 

This month, we’re excited to highlight two members of Advance CTE’s second cohort of Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellows. ECMCF Fellow Jomarie Coloriano (WI) is using her new position to design and implement policies that are already improving outcomes for learners in her community.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I would describe my journey to the Fellowship as a happy accident, but one that has been profoundly meaningful. An email about the Fellowship came across my inbox, and it was at a time in my life when I was seeking opportunities to further challenge myself within Career Technical Education (CTE). I went to the website to learn more about the experiences of the first cohort, but I didn’t think I’d had enough relevant experience to be a competitive candidate for the second cohort. I was elated when I received my offer to join the Fellowship, but was immediately anxious about balancing working full-time, my doctoral coursework and this Fellowship. Looking back now, I am so thankful that I took the leap to apply and accept my offer. Being able to connect with so many other professionals who share my passion for this work is proof that I am in the right place at the right time. Learning from national leaders during workshops or at convenings and having critical discussions within our own cohort of Fellows has been invaluable. I think it requires a lot of courage to show up for these conversations, especially for those who are doing this work in states hostile to topics of equity.

I’ve also been able to reflect on how my experience of balancing working full time, my doctoral coursework and navigating the Fellowship reflects the reality our learners have as well when we think about CTE. I know this work is important and answering the call to make an impact for learners should be considered as an issue of national [economic] security. Without a skilled workforce to meet the demands of a changing economy, we’re leaving gaps that will have an adverse impact on generations to come. 

What skills or areas have you experienced the most growth in the program? 

Prior to this Fellowship, I would classify myself as an “emerging data embracer” but I don’t think I was informed at the level that I needed to be. This Fellowship has provided the space and opportunity for me to develop the skills to approach data with an equity lens. Becoming data literate to inform our practices and our work is important as these skills allow us to present a more complete story, and without this, you would not have the entire picture of why we’re seeing certain programs and outcomes. An institution or program is only as strong as the learner with the greatest need, and we cannot allow ourselves to ignore these gaps. 

I also had the opportunity to identify other blind spots in my abilities through our workshops and working closely with my coach.

Have you been tapped for new or more advanced roles within your organization as a result of your experience in the Fellowship? 

I began the Fellowship as a student support specialist for the multicultural program. In this role, I handled case management for our first-generation college students, multicultural program students, and students from immigrant backgrounds whether they’re DACA or recent arrivals to the U.S. Through the Fellowship, I’ve built the confidence and become more informed about CTE and as a result, I applied and was selected to be the Director of Inclusive Excellence. In this role, I oversee the complete suite of student supports offered by my institution, expanding the populations of learners that I support to include veterans, single parents, non-traditional occupations and the mentoring program. Without the Fellowship, I don’t think I would have had the requisite skills to be invited into these spaces to have a larger impact.

I am more confident talking about policy and strategic implementation, identifying friction points for students and developing relationships with internal stakeholders across different departments. Within my institution, I co-led the development of a policy to support learners with limited English proficiency. From there, we went on the develop a language access plan which allowed us to provide accountability for the implementation of this policy. We worked closely with other departments across campus to better understand the climate for learners with limited language proficiency. This work has been fast-tracked after presenting our work to the Wisconsin Technical College System and we’ve received requests for other institutions wanting to replicate our work on their campuses as well as external nonprofit organizations looking to partner with us. 

How has your experience in the fellowship helped you explore new spaces or positions in postsecondary state CTE leadership? 

The Fellowship has afforded me the opportunity to look at CTE beyond my institution. The collaboration that happens across Wisconsin’s technical colleges is certainly a bright spot and having these touch points has allowed me to look at CTE through a regional lens and the Fellowship has provided a national context as well.

Embracing data literacy and being more data-informed in my approach to this work has shown me how to be a truth seeker and listen to the learners and constituents of our institution. This Fellowship has pushed me to ask more critical questions and challenge the status quo to understand how to find alternative solutions. I’m asking myself what it truly means to be an advocate for CTE and how to ensure our policies and practices align with this vision. 

How has the Fellowship expanded your network? 

The Fellowship has expanded my network in a number of meaningful ways. My relationship with my mentor has been incredible! At first, I was worried that it would feel transactional or based on checking a box for compliance’s sake, but Dr. Jeanne Arnold is amazing. As a mentor, she is highly supportive and highly encouraging, and our conversations are not limited to CTE. We’re looking at things in an intersectional way to understand how social work and social work policy impact CTE. I also appreciate the wealth of knowledge that is in the network of Fellows. This network with cross-functional dialogues allows us to look at problems in more complex ways and meeting members of the other ECMC Fellowships at the convening was very meaningful.

Have you discovered new opportunities for what a role in postsecondary CTE could look like/the responsibilities of such a position?

My new role as the Director of Inclusive Excellence is new to the college, and so I’m exploring how this position might evolve especially as I continue to build relationships with external partners. I want to consider the scope of this work beyond my institution to better understand how to bridge the gaps for the learner populations my office supports and help them navigate basic needs issues. 

My ideal role is one where I am able to shape policy and work closely with the implementation of that policy to ensure that it has the intended impact. My current position allows me to explore this space and I recently pitched an idea of developing a literacy program to our institutional research team. Last week was the launch of the project and I was pleased to see the number of people in attendance representing cross-functional areas. Our IR team developed the curriculum and the idea is that this would operate as a pop-up where folks can come and interact on demand. I really enjoy being at the college and being able to level set and bring everybody together to positively impact student success and have a sense of belonging and meaningful experiences. Through these efforts, we’re able to develop a common language to create impact and move it forward in sustainable ways.

You can contact Jomarie at   

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Increasing Demographic Diversity in CTE Leadership

Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

Career Technical Education (CTE) prepares students for rewarding careers and strengthening our workforce. Through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V*) CTE programs around the country continue to work towards building equitable access for every learner. 

However, it is essential to acknowledge that the representation of Black leadership in CTE programs has been disproportionately low – just 13% of CTE leaders identify as non-white. Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) states that learners should feel welcome and supported in their career preparation ecosystem. Part of creating this environment is ensuring that learners can see themselves represented in their CTE leaders. 

How can we increase the demographic diversity, specifically of Black leadership, in CTE? This deep-level work will require states to confront and dismantle biases and systemic barriers that currently hinder career advancement for Black professionals. State lawmakers must be encouraged to allocate resources for research and initiatives focused on increasing Black leadership. Collectively, lawmakers and educational leaders will need to publicly support the implementation of policies that address racial disparities in education and foster an environment where Black professionals can thrive. Hiring practices should be assessed and revised in order to attract a diverse pool of qualified candidates with intentionality while ensuring the selection process is transparent and unbiased.

Mentorship and sponsorship programs can have a significant, positive impact on the career trajectories of educators and professionals in CTE, especially aspiring Black leaders. The creation of formal mentorship programs that pair aspiring leaders with experienced mentors who can offer guidance, support and networking opportunities can help overcome some systemic barriers that hinder career advancement for historically marginalized populations. Black professionals need senior leaders in CTE to become their sponsors and to actively advocate for their career advancement. Fellowships, such as The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation, serve as additional pathways to train and elevate aspiring leaders.

State Directors in CTE, hold the power to affect meaningful change and create an inclusive and diverse landscape for all learners and professionals. By addressing biases, implementing mentorship programs, providing professional development opportunities and advocating for policy changes, states can uplift and empower Black leadership in CTE. Together, we can foster an environment that recognizes and values the talents and contributions of all individuals, regardless of their race or background. Commitment to this endeavor benefits all learners, communities, and the future workforce.

For more information on creating a leadership pipeline that reflects the diverse demographics of learners, see the Advancing Equity in CTE blog series:

Blog 1: Advancing Equity in CTE: Making the Case for Diverse Leadership Pipelines in Career Technical Education

Blog 2: Advancing Equity in CTE: A Review on the Current State of CTE Leadership Programs

Blog 3: Advancing Equity in CTE: The Equity-Minded Leadership Framework

Blog 4: Advancing Equity in CTE: Administrative Policy Review an Equitable Practices Assessment [COMING SOON]

*As amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Brice Thomas, Former Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Initiative Q&A: The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Last week, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the 15 Fellows joining the inaugural cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation that began this month. These aspiring leaders hail from 12 states, include 13 leaders of color, and represent multiple dimensions of equity as well as secondary and postsecondary institutions at the local, district and state level. 

The Fellowship strives to address the growing shortage of state postsecondary CTE leadership by closing racial representation gaps and removing equity barriers to leadership advancement to continue to foster high-quality, equitable state postsecondary CTE systems that support the needs of each learner. 

The following Q&A with Senior Advisor Dr. Kevin Johnson, Sr. provides additional insight on the structure and goals of the Fellowship as well as how the initiative will benefit members. 

Expanding CTE instructor and leadership pipelines is one of the most pressing issues facing the field. Why did Advance CTE decide to focus on state postsecondary CTE leadership? 

Postsecondary learners face more barriers than ever to accessing and completing postsecondary education. At the same time, historically marginalized learners, particular black and Latinx learners and learners experiencing low income, are still experiencing disproportionate impacts from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. There is an urgent need for diverse, equity-minded leaders in state CTE who reflect the experiences and needs of learners, and are equipped with the skills and networks to improve learner outcomes through systems transformation. Advance CTE’s deep experience supporting state CTE leaders and our commitment to innovation to advance high-quality, equitable CTE is a great intersection to step into a new space to not only empower today’s leaders but cultivate the leaders of the future. 

States are facing a severe CTE instructor shortage and often don’t have the capacity to focus on cultivating the state leadership pipeline. This Fellowships strives to enhance leadership representation across multiple dimensions of equity, with a particular focus on racial equity, while also cultivating an equity-focused leadership mindset to enhance learner access and outcomes in postsecondary CTE programs. 

What are the biggest barriers to leadership advancement for professionals historically marginalized from these opportunities, and how does this Fellowship aim to remove these barriers? 

The same systemic barriers facing learners in reaching their full career potential also exist in our state CTE systems that prevent historically marginalized professionals from reaching their full leadership potential. We are encouraged that State Directors are willing to conduct the difficult but critical work to remove those barriers, and this Fellowship can serve as a learning model. 

Many leadership position requirements still value level of education over skills and experience, particularly experiences gained through industry or positions outside of the education system. Additionally, because historically marginalized leaders, particularly those of color, are less likely to see themselves in leadership positions, they face more barriers to developing meaningful and trusting professional relationships or feeling welcome and psychologically safe in networks that are critical to leadership advancement. Furthermore, in rural and smaller geographic areas, professional and leadership development opportunities may be limited at the state level. Advance CTE has the national resources and network to fill that need. 

The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation strives to remove barriers to leadership advancement through an intensive, interactive curriculum; intentional spaces to develop networks with Fellows and national CTE leaders; individual coaching to strengthen knowledge on both equity and postsecondary CTE; and a real-world fellowship project that allows each Fellow to remove equity barriers right where they live and work. 

What promising practices do you hope to gain from this initiative that can be shared with states? 

This Fellowship is just one building block for a much stronger and permanent foundation that must be built to identify and cultivate state leadership talent from a variety of CTE-focused professions. We hope to identify the supports that aspiring leaders need most for leadership that they are not currently receiving in their home states, and empower states to implement those supports in their professional development programs. There will be two cohorts of 15 fellows served through this Fellowship, and we have already gained valuable lessons learned on effective communication tools, outreach and other components of program recruitment that will be shared with members. Finally, we will gain significant knowledge on building and managing spaces of mentors and mentees to build meaningful relationships among groups historically marginalized from leadership advancement.

I know the Fellowship has just begun, but what excites you most about this group of Fellows so far? 

The first workshop for this cohort was held last week. I am most excited about our Fellows’ enthusiasm for learning not only from Advance CTE staff and their coaches, but from each other. Each Fellow brings a rich diversity of professional and personal experience from industry, secondary and postsecondary institutions, workforce and state institutions that is so important to help these aspiring leaders develop a well-rounded understanding of how systems interact, as well as how to remove silos to ensure each learner has the means to achieve success in the career of their choice without limits. 

How can state leaders participate in future cohorts? 

It is not too early for professionals with extensive experience in delivering or supporting postsecondary CTE programs to consider applying for our second Fellowship cohort.  

Applications will open in Spring 2022, and the next cohort will begin in Summer 2022. 

Additional details about the Fellowship, including profiles for each Advance CTE-ECMCF Fellow can be found on Advance CTE’s Fellowship web page. If you are not an Advance CTE member, sign up to receive our CTEWorks newsletter to stay informed on key program dates. Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources on access and equity and instructor and leader quality

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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NASDCTEc Spring Meeting: Cultivating Leaders: What Professional Development Opportunities Address this Need?

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Education programs can only be as good as the people who lead them. But cultivating those leaders – from administrators, teachers, guidance counselors and others – is no small task. Indeed, all of these individuals have varied needs, but all professional development resources must be at the least relevant, innovative and effective to charge these stakeholders with the ability and confidence to take the helms of the education system. At our Spring Meeting last month, we dedicated a dialogue session to Cultivating Future Leaders through professional development. Our attendees had an opportunity to not only participate in their own professional development, but also focus in on leadership development opportunities and examples that they could bring back to their home state.

Professional Development Opportunities: ACTE

Steve DeWitt, Senior Director of Public Policy at ACTE, presented attendees with an exciting new professional development opportunity created in partnership with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) and the Successful Practices Network: the Institute for 21st Century Leadership. The Institute is focused on bringing together core academics and career and technical education through exceptional leadership (see brochure).  

What challenges are we facing?

What are we doing to meet these challenges?

What is the developing structure of the program?

What are the primary goals?

Professional Development Model: Arizona, “Camp M&M”:

The work in Arizona, according to Milt Erickson, State Director of Arizona, is focused around eight functions throughout the year that culminate in a summer conference. At this conference, they have one day of professional development, affectionately coined “Camp M&M”. Last year, they offered 315 sessions for teachers and administrators.     

Note: in Arizona, they have established “option C”, which helps bring business and industry people into the classroom. Option C gives individuals with business and industry content knowledge three years to learn pedagogy while they teach and they can become certified.

Professional Development Model: Arkansas, “Career and Technical Leadership Institute”

When Perkins was reauthorized, “the stars aligned” for Arkansas to do many things they had wanted to do, said John Davidson, Deputy Director of Career and Technical Education. Now they had two ways to spend Perkins dollars:

  1. Programs that lead to high skill, high wage, high demand jobs (3 year period of putting money into a POS)
  2. A project that would meet an indicator.

Due to the second option, schools set aside $600,000 a year for a reserve fund to pay for the Career and Technical Leadership Institute. This program is a specific professional development leadership academy.

By admin in Meetings and Events