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CTE Leadership Collaborative Equips a New Generation of Leaders to Reshape CTE’s Future

2021 Year in Review

February 07, 2022

Chef Martha Wiggins from New Orleans restaurant and workforce development program Café Reconcile gives remarks to open the CTE LC convening.

By Patrick Bourke, Program Officer, Career Readiness

With twice as many fellows as last year and a new fellowship program, 2021 was a year of expansion and deepening connections for ECMC Foundation’s CTE Leadership Collaborative (LC), a collective of fellowship programs funded by ECMC Foundation that provide professional development opportunities to the next generation of postsecondary CTE leaders. ECMC Foundation Fellows (Fellows) represent a range of disciplines and approaches – including research, data analytics, business and industry, journalism, higher education, and state and system leaders – all working to advance postsecondary CTE.

Changing the Face of Postsecondary CTE Leadership Across the Country

The LC began in 2018 with 35 Fellows; at the end of 2021, the LC had grown to more than 200 Fellows across 39 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam. In the last year alone, we went from five fellowship programs to six, introduced seven new cohorts.

Acknowledging that CTE is a field that has historically been dominated by white men, our fellowship partners have made it a priority to cultivate diverse cohorts of emerging leaders. Of the 208 Fellows who provided demographic information, 61% are women and more than two in five identify as people of color. This expanding network of Fellows are reshaping the future of CTE by bringing fresh insights to the field and supporting leaders who reflect the diversity of students in CTE programs.

Offering More Opportunities to Listen, Connect and Build Community

In July 2021, ECMC Foundation surveyed alumni Fellows from the CTE Research Program at North Carolina State University, the Postsecondary Leadership Success Program at the Association for Career and Technical Education and the Higher Education Media Fellowship from the Institute for Citizens and Scholars about their fellowship experiences and career trajectories.

The survey results tell us that while pandemic-related challenges limited opportunities to author publications, present at conferences and engage in other field-building activities, the respondents overwhelmingly agreed that participating in the LC increased their knowledge of issues, challenges and best practices within postsecondary CTE, brought more awareness to the field, and helped them connect with other professionals in positions both similar and different from their own. Underscoring the leadership development aspect of the LC, at least nine alumni Fellows were promoted or moved into new roles better aligned with their professional goals. 

According to Fellows, networking and making connections were considered to be one of the most valuable parts of the program.

In fact, Fellows wanted even more opportunities for networking and building connections across programs. In response, we launched a private LinkedIn community for the LC, where ECMC Foundation staff, LC fellowship program leaders, and current and alumni Fellows can engage virtually to share job openings, volunteer activities, professional development, funding opportunities and more.

We also launched the first semi-annual newsletter for Fellows and fellowship leads to provide updates regarding the CTE Leadership Collaborative and other projects funded by ECMC Foundation.

Promoting Cross-Fellowship Collaboration with the Mini-Grant Program

In an effort to foster collaboration and provide Fellows with a platform to apply their learnings and grow their networks, we introduced a new, invitation-only competitive funding opportunity for ECMCF Fellows interested in working across programs and disciplines. Seven grants were made to five teams of Fellows to conduct a range of projects, including an examination of the role of postsecondary CTE pathways in economic justice and opportunity for high-poverty neighborhoods; development of an equity immersion training for postsecondary CTE faculty and staff in Oklahoma; and the creation of a digital toolkit practitioners can use to recruit, train and retain CTE faculty.

A new Mini-Grant Program application process for Fellows will open in Spring 2022.  

Sparking Dialogue and Strengthening Connections at the 2021 CTE LC Convening

On November 30 and December 1, we hosted ECMC Foundation’s 2021 CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening in New Orleans, LA, where we brought together more than 150 ECMC Foundation Fellows, CTE Leadership Collaborative grantee staff members, and leading postsecondary CTE thinkers. After the pandemic forced us to shift to a virtual event in 2020, it was a wonderful moment to safely convene again in person, with opportunities for networking, interactive and plenary sessions and remarks from featured speakers Martha Wiggins, Executive Chef at Café Reconcile and Monty Sullivan, President, Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

Monty Sullivan, President of Louisiana Community and Technical College System gives keynote.

Fellows engaged in conversation about the current challenges and opportunities facing postsecondary CTE, including strategies for upskilling the workforce, supporting some-credit/no-degree students, and implications for federal and state legislation and funding.

More than 80% of attendees felt they were better able to articulate issues and opportunities within postsecondary CTE as a result of the convening and the majority of sessions were rated 80% or above in terms of usefulness.

ECMC Foundation Fellows Alina Tugend, Freelance Journalist (Institute for Citizens and Scholars Cohort 3) and Tony Warren, Calhoun Intermediate School District (Advance CTE Cohort 1), participate in a breakout session at the CTE Leadership Collaborative convening in December 2021.

ECMC Foundation Fellow Emilie Cherry, Community College of Baltimore County, Maryland (ACTE Cohort 2) asks a question at the CTE LC convening.

In addition to the convening, ECMC Foundation sponsored a reception at the Association for Career and Technical Education Research’s 2021 CTE Research and Professional Development Conference to highlight the CTE Research Program at North Carolina State University and foster connections among current and prospective Fellows.

Our goal is to grow the LC to more than 500 Fellows across a range of disciplines by 2025. We look forward to continuing our work to change the face of CTE leadership, advance equity within the field and equip emerging leaders with the tools they need to reshape the future of postsecondary CTE.


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