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Executive Update: September 2023

In this update:

L.E.A.D. 2023 – Registration Extended to Friday!

Thurs. - Sat., Oct. 19-21 | Peoria, IL

Registration Deadline: Sept. 29

Returning after a four-year hiatus, L.E.A.D. is a two-day employability skill development conference that helps members activate their career and leadership potential through hands-on, high-energy, and motivational programming. L.E.A.D. allows members to increase career readiness through experience, understand how to lead a SkillsUSA Chapter, and gain a set of skills that can be used to lead others. L.E.A.D. is also for career and technical education professionals, offering development around the best practices of career readiness instruction. This year will focus on work-based learning initiatives.

Construction Pathways: Career Experience – Save the date!

Fri., Dec. 1 | Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center - Edwards, IL

SkillsUSA Illinois, through an innovative partnership with the Otto Baum Company, Inc., is excited to hold their second annual Construction Pathways: Career Experience. Open to schools across the state, with special focus on Central Illinois, this Career Experience will bring together construction employers across the region who are all focused on and interested in hiring young, talented individuals. The goal of this annual hiring event is to connect students who are ready to enter the workforce with industry who are ready to hire.

SkillsUSA Professional Development Opportunities

SkillsUSA offers a variety of training opportunities to our professional members, what we call our selfless, hardworking teachers and SkillsUSA advisors. SkillsUSA’s professional development offerings can assist with licensing and certification requirements, provide helpful tools for the classroom, proven strategies for career management, and more.

Upcoming Training Opportunities:

  • New Advisor Training | Oct. 6: 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. CT Come learn the essentials of starting your work as a SkillsUSA advisor! Through this professional development built intentionally for advisors in their first, second, or third year, you will be advising a high-quality, engaging chapter in no time. Note that this is an extended session, securing adequate classroom coverage while you train is suggested.

  • Chapter Excellence Program: Level 1 | Oct. 10: 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. CT The Chapter Excellence Program (CEP) recognizes student achievement related to integration of the SkillsUSA Framework in Program of Work activities. Navigate your SkillsUSA chapter to success by creating relevant activities that encourage participation and more! This training will walk you through your CEP application and give you best practice tips.

  • Chapter Excellence Program: Level 2 | Oct. 12: 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. CT Take your CEP application to another level by navigating how to fill out level 2! This training will walk you through your CEP application and give you best practice tips on creating SMART goals to make your application stand out.

To register for these and view other offerings for this year, visit:

The Championships (State) Qualifying Events Update

SkillsUSA Illinois has been evaluating how to best envision a return of hands-on skill evaluation as part of the qualifying process to compete at the state level. Post-pandemic, we have not received enough support from our community college partners to return to events like those hosted in 2019 and 2020. Based on feedback provided by advisors at our Advisor Development Conference, we will be exploring new options for the delivery of hands-on experiences as part of the qualifying events process with hopes of implementation in 2025.

For this year, SkillsUSA Illinois will follow the traditional state qualifying exam process to qualify to participate in The Championships. All exams are now on a three-year rotation to be updated with a new question bank that is aligned to the technical standards and validated by our Business Partner Network. This year, two-thirds of all exams will have been updated. More information on the qualifying process will be released in December.

Registration and Hotel Fees for The Championships 2024 Now Available

SkillsUSA Illinois has published the 2024 registration and hotel fees for The Championships 2024. Please visit to learn more. Look for additional information coming soon.

Staffing Updates at the SkillsUSA Illinois State Office

We are excited to share three staffing updates at the state office. Please welcome and congratulate these individuals on their new roles within our organization.

Director of Member Engagement

Brendan Creamer will be joining the team, serving as our new director of Member Engagement. In this role, Brendan will be responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating mission-related programming with a special focus on legacy SkillsUSA programming. An outgoing, passionate, and dedicated program manager, Brendan's career to this point has revolved around fighting for educational equity for the students of Boston Public Schools, and having recently relocated to Illinois, he is excited to apply the skills he has developed within a new community. The child of a teacher, Brendan has a strong understanding of the value of education and of developing applicable life skills. Based out of Chicago, Brendan has worked to establish a diverse and robust professional network, and he could not be happier to work to expand the influence of SkillsUSA Illinois. Brendan will also play a key role in the rollout and implementation of our new membership and work-based learning experience platform coming next fall. Outside of work, Brendan is a loving dog owner and a huge Boston sports fan. Brendan will begin work with the organization on Oct. 3, 2023.

Senior Program Coordinator in Member Engagement

Marla Swanson has been promoted and will now serve as Senior Program Coordinator in Member Engagement. In this role, she will continue to provide fantastic support to our chapters across the state through implementing and evaluating mission-related programming with a special focus on legacy SkillsUSA programming. She will also engage members through programs, membership initiatives, and planning trainings that meet organizational goals. Marla will begin transitioning some of her current responsibilities in early October with a goal to be fully in her new role by the start of the calendar year.

Program Specialist in Workforce Development

Alex Swanson will join the team full time, serving the organization as Program Specialist in Workforce Development. In this role, Alex will provide support to our Business Partner Network, concentrating on developing industry partnerships and registered apprenticeship programs. Focused on communicating the organization’s mission, Alex will also create and manage the content of the organization’s digital media initiatives and platforms – including updating, managing, and providing strategic leadership around the organization’s website and social media channels. Alex has served the organization as a digital media consultant since September of 2022. Alex will begin work with the organization on Oct. 3, 2023.

Learn more about the SkillsUSA Illinois Staff Team at


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