iMentor CEO Gives Keynote Address at the CTE Impact on Achievement Conference

iMentor CEO Heather Wathington delivered keynote remarks at the CTE Impact on Achievement Conference 2023, a conference focused on Career and Technical Education (CTE) in New York City. An iMentor NYC team also presented a breakout room discussion titled “Engaging the Private Sector in Career Connected Learning Experiences for Youth and Volunteers.”

Held at the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) headquarters, the CTE conference is an annual gathering that brings together educators, counselors, school administrators, and industry partners with the goal of strengthening and celebrating CTE programs and offerings.

David Banks, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, and Michael Mulgrew, the president of the UFT, gave the welcome and leadership addresses.

During the keynote address, Wathington stressed the importance of career and technical education and the misperceptions about the type of students best suited for CTE programs, and addressed the challenges in making these programs accessible to different student populations. Wathington encouraged educators to use the power of connection to make education real and relevant for students and stressed the importance of community engagement in achieving the goals of CTE.

“There is a perception that career and technical education programs are for underperforming students and students that are not academically ready,” said Wathington. “Program providers often believe that people don't understand that career and technical education is about next generation careers that don’t require every single student to go on any predetermined path.”

Wathington was directly involved with CTE at the Maya Angelou Schools, which developed a program for students to learn urban agriculture skills and obtain workplace learning experience.

At Girard College, Wathington and her team made the curriculum more relevant and connected to students' passions and to the job opportunities in Philadelphia, particularly in energy and advanced manufacturing.

Wathington urged the educators at the conference to harness all of their connections and resources to galvanize their work in CTE. “One of the things that I learned was that the power of connection with others and knowing what I wanted for my community brought me closer to my goals,” she said.

The iMentor discussion panel featured both iMentor NYC staff and community members: Grace Gallogly, program director; Taylor Lewis, senior manager of recruitment; Scott Millstein, executive director; Krista Njapa, senior director of Mentor Engagement; Olufemi Watson, director of program; Sahra Dalfen of Reed Smith & iMentor NYC Advisory Board; and Esterina Frangaj of EY.

The team presented an overview of iMentor's impact and connection to career pathways and CTE efforts, two separate case studies on private sector engagement (an in-person engagement at a partner school and a hybrid experience), and offered guidance for participants who are planning to engage the private sector. iMentor staff members and partners then led a workshop in which attendees crafted an “ask” for the private sector to volunteer with their schools.