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CTE Leadership Collaborative: 2020 Year In Review

March 11, 2021

By Patrick Bourke, Program Officer, Career Readiness

ECMC Foundation launched the CTE Leadership Collaborative (LC) in 2018 to bring together diverse perspectives and equip leaders with the tools, resources and skills needed to advance postsecondary career and technical education.  

Through grants made to leading organizations and institutions, we provided funding for six fellowship programs offering professional development opportunities including mentorship, in-person and virtual convenings, and capstone projects.



Each fellowship program (listed below) provides opportunities for the next generation of leaders from a range of disciplines and a variety of approaches—known as ECMC Foundation Fellows (Fellows)—dedicated to improving postsecondary CTE.   

  • The CTE Research Program at North Carolina State University supports graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from a range of postsecondary institutions and a variety of academic disciplines. The goal is to increase high-quality postsecondary CTE research, which currently lacks significant visibility and financial support.
  • The Postsecondary Leadership Success Program at ACTE supports current and aspiring leaders in CTE. The goal is to provide professional development opportunities for the next generation of leaders at nonprofits and postsecondary institutions offering CTE programs.
  • The Higher Education Media Fellowship at the Institute for Citizens & Scholars supports education journalists. The goal is to increase the number of journalists equipped with tools and networks to provide richer and more comprehensive coverage of postsecondary education, particularly CTE.
  • The Strategic Data Project - Career and Technical Education at Harvard University supports data professionals at community colleges. The goal is to improve the use of data to support students in the successful completion of CTE programs and generate insights about the workforce outcomes of their various CTE programs.
  • The CTE Industry Fellowship Program at JFF supports learning opportunities for industry leaders from across the United States. The goal of the program is to build the knowledge and leadership capacity of Fellows to act as change agents within their companies and strengthen their companies’ policies and practices to hire and promote CTE graduates.
  • The Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellowship Program at Advance CTE is sponsored by ECMC Foundation and supports individuals aspiring to lead postsecondary CTE at the state level. The goal is to develop a diverse cohort of state CTE leaders prepared to design and lead high quality and equitable postsecondary CTE programs and policies.

While the six grantee partners oversee the majority of the programmatic activities, we serve as the connective tissue to ensure collaboration across programs. In addition to convening Fellows across programs on an annual basis, we host receptions and networking events at conferences and offer funding to support Fellows interested in collaborating on projects. 


Bringing the community together

As with most things in 2020, we changed our plans significantly due to the ongoing challenges with COVID-19. What was once going to be an in-person convening (the second annual) for current and alumni Fellows in Nashville, TN, became a virtual, two-day event held in December 2020. Over the course of the two-day event, more than 100 Fellows and program staff heard from thought-leaders and engaged in conversation about the current challenges and opportunities facing postsecondary CTE -  including COVID’s impact on CTE, the role of CTE in closing equity gaps, and the policy landscape - in diverse groupings across discipline, approach, and geography. Featured keynote speakers included Leland Melvin, former NFL player and NASA astronaut, and Eloy Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

More than 70% of the attendees found the 2020 CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening extremely useful with many of the sessions rated as 90% or above in terms of satisfaction and effectiveness.

Hearing from ECMC Foundation Fellows

During the summer we surveyed ECMC Foundation Fellow alumni in order to solicit feedback on the fellowship programs, review field-building activities, and track career changes.

We found that:

  • More than 90 percent of respondents believed that their respective fellowships achieved all of the goals established under the CTE Leadership Collaborative
  • Connecting with other postsecondary CTE professionals was considered the most helpful element of the program
  • Most alumni maintain communication with the fellowship program, as well as at least one fellow

Each fellowship program supports the development and publication of written pieces and encourages attendance and presentations at relevant conferences to ensure greater field building beyond the program activities. Over the last year, Fellows reported completing six dissertations and giving more than 40 presentations during national conferences such as ACTE’s CareerTech VISION Conference, Association for Career and Technical Education Research’s (ACTER) Annual Research and Professional Development Conference, and Education Writers Association’s National Seminar.

Of note are the six Fellows who received awards for their presentations during the ACTER conference, sweeping every award category:

  • Best Roundtable Discussion: Kawana Johnson
  • Best Paper: Walt Ecton
  • Best Poster: Anthony Perry (1st Place); Jodi Coffee Adams (2nd Place)
  • Best Symposium: Chris Lemon, Jodi Coffee Adams, Melita Pope Mitchell

Finally, we celebrate the individual accomplishments of the ECMC Foundation Fellows who advanced in their field in 2020. Some of these changes are listed below.

  • Georgia Reagan (Postsecondary Leadership Success Program at ACTE) got a job at Mi Casa Resource Center during her fellowship. She then applied for and received a grant to help MCRC build a Financial Services Pathway.
  • Rosario Torres (Postsecondary Leadership Success Program at ACTE) is now an ECMC Foundation program officer on our Career Readiness team.
  • Brandon Hudson (Postsecondary Leadership Success Program at ACTE) is now employed at ECMC Foundation grantee Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Credited his success in part to the fellowship.
  • Ashley Smith (Higher Education Media Fellows) published a piece on COVID-19’s impact on postsecondary CTE alongside several other thought articles.


Establishing a pathway forward

Indeed, there is much to celebrate over the last year. The community of fellows grew to more than 100; their reach can been seen in communities across the postsecondary CTE field. We have our own accomplishments to celebrate, too. During the ACTE’s CareerTech VISION Conference, Jennifer Zeisler, senior program director Career Readiness and I accepted the first-ever Friends of PACE Award for ECMC Foundation’s support of postsecondary CTE.

As the CTE Leadership Collaborative expands and evolves, we look forward to building community across fellowship programs, celebrating the accomplishments of the ECMC Foundation Fellows, and working together to explore what is possible for the future of postsecondary CTE.

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