Skip to Content

CTE Leadership Collaborative: 2023 Year in Review

February 27, 2024

ECMC Foundation Fellows building connections at the 2023 CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening. Photo: J Amado Photography.

By Anna Fontus, Program Officer

Innovation, connection and growth were at an all-time high in 2023 for the CTE Leadership Collaborative (CTE LC). What started in 2018 with two fellowship programs and 34 Fellows has expanded year after year, now comprising six fellowships and supporting more than 300 Fellows, with researchers, postsecondary CTE practitioners, data analysts, human resource professionals, journalists and government officials among them. 

While the six grantee partners oversee the majority of the programmatic activities, ECMC Foundation fosters collaboration across programs. In addition to convening Fellows on an annual basis, we host receptions and networking events at conferences and offer funding to support Fellows interested in collaborating on projects. See below for more about our activities in 2023!

Amplifying Learnings

CTE Month 
ECMC Foundation Fellows kept postsecondary education in focus within the greater context of CTE during CTE Month in February 2023. The Institute of Citizens & Scholars and ECMC Foundation co-hosted a webinar called “What’s the Story: The Changing Narrative of Postsecondary Career and Technical Education,” which featured outgoing ECMC Foundation president Peter Taylor, alongside other leaders in the field, in a panel discussion about a range of education issues exploring how students, institutions and businesses are thinking about postsecondary education. 

Fellow Spotlight 
This year, the CTE LC launched a Fellow Spotlight series to showcase the diverse work of individuals in the fellowship program. The first three Fellows to kick off the series were Nzingha Williams, Ed.D., (former Director of CTE at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC), Tadd Wamester (Director, Partnership Development at EnGen) and Crystal Davidson (Vice President at iBuild). [Include links to spotlights]

Below are some excerpts from the first three Fellow Spotlights: 

  • “I stay committed [to postsecondary CTE] because I think CTE is one of the many ways to impact economic mobility and level the playing field for many students. I also stay committed because it is fun! CTE serves everyone–students, employers and their institutions. I believe that CTE facilitates hope for generational futures and wealth. CTE gives clear examples of how to on-ramp into the workforce through curriculum and training.”Nzingha Williams, NextLevel Fellow and CTE Research Fellow
  • “The most rewarding part [of the ECMC Foundation-funded fellowship program] has been the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of passionate professionals who share a common goal of advancing workforce development. Through this fellowship, I have been able to engage in meaningful conversations, exchange innovative ideas and develop lifelong connections with individuals who are dedicated to making a positive impact in the field.”Crystal Davidson, Talent of Tomorrow Fellow
  • “Diversity, equity and inclusion in CTE programs deliver a win-win situation by meeting employer demand and leveling the playing field, and this is a huge motivator for me. New Americans and multilingual learners deserve access to (and awareness of) the myriad career opportunities that CTE provides. Career exploration and mentorship can help move the needle and bring diversity to skilled trades and other CTE programs that to-date have tended to skew very white and male. Our CTE programs need to be representative of the population and demographic changes in our workforce.”Tadd Wamester, Talent of Tomorrow Fellow

Evaluation Launch
In the spring, ECMC Foundation retained Public Profit as its partner to lead the CTE LC evaluation. This evaluation will measure the impacts of the initiative at the Fellow, fellowship, initiative, and postsecondary CTE field.

All smiles at the end of day three of the 2023 CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening. Photo: J Amado Photography

Funding Innovations 

Pitch Competition
The CTE LC Pitch Competition provides a platform for selected ECMC Foundation Fellows to make lightning-round pitches and allows the audience - also ECMC Foundation Fellows - to vote for their top innovations in postsecondary CTE. In 2023, the competition was virtual, with eight Fellows pitching ideas to the audience of their peers. This was the largest Pitch Competition in the history of the CTE LC, with a total of $32,500 in prizes distributed to the participants who were selected to compete based on the proposed activities, targeted underrepresented populations, and identified systemic change elements. First place went to Advance CTE Fellow Dimitria Harding for her pitch, “Here’s Your Keys, Good Luck,” a training program that would equip technical experts with tools to apply their expertise to the classroom. Second place went to Chandra Bozelko for her pitch, “CTE Spells Freedom,” which would train incarcerated men at two Alabama correctional facilities in CTE building trades. 

To read more about all the Pitch Competition winners, click here

Mini-Grant Program
The CTE LC’s Mini-Grant Program, an invitation-only, competitive funding opportunity, facilitates partnership among Fellows from the six fellowship programs, while elevating their leadership profile within the field of postsecondary career and technical education. 

Not only did we see the largest number of applications yet in 2023, ECMC Foundation awarded funding to a record 15 projects totaling nearly $75,000, bringing funding and participation up this year by an incredible 87.5%. Funded projects range from cultivating multicultural centers to establishing apprenticeship blueprints to equipping healthcare CTE programs. To read more about the 2023 Mini-Grant Program recipients, click here.

ECMC Foundation President, Jacob Fraire, addresses the crowd at the 2023 CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening. Photo: J Amado Photography

Fostering Connections

CTE LC Convening 
The 2023 CTE LC Convening brought together more than 130 ECMC Foundation Fellows and fellowship leaders from across the country to Denver, Colorado in September. The LC brought in national experts for the Convening like Georgetown University Research Professor and Chief Economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce Nicole Smith, who delivered the event’s keynote speech. 

Attendees were introduced to new programming, including the Fellow Showcase, a platform for Fellows to share their work with the wider CTE LC community, and spark new ideas among Fellows. Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a site visit to the Community College of Aurora, an institution that centers largely on postsecondary CTE and is renowned for leading reforms to advance student success and its efforts to connect education to industry. 

In a post-event survey issued to CTE LC Convening attendees, a common sentiment was that the Fellows desire even more opportunities to connect with others across the varied approaches and disciplines represented in their fellowship program. The CTE LC is dedicated to bringing together diverse perspectives in postsecondary CTE and facilitating these opportunities for idea sharing and collaboration. 

One Fellow said it best: “Amazing opportunity to learn, lead and grow! Thank you for providing a safe, brave space where I can authentically, and unapologetically be the best version of myself!”

In 2023, we increased touchpoints across the CTE LC community. We convened the fellowship leads to maximize cross-fellowship strategy, boost creative responses to Fellows and strengthen the community to maintain a focus on belonging. We also updated the directory to help Fellows connect with each other.

The engagement and energy across the CTE LC community, including the ECMC Foundation Fellows and fellowship leads alike, was tremendous in 2023. We look forward to creating even more opportunities in 2024 for Fellows to connect, collaborate and continue shaping the future of postsecondary CTE. 

Back to News