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Ask Chelle: A Very Natural Next Step

SkillsUSA Executive Director Chelle Travis has a long family history and nearly two decades of work experience in career and technical education. Got a question? She can help.
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Chelle Travis

Q: You’re only the fourth executive director in SkillsUSA’s 55-year history. What does this mean to you? Chelle: I’m so honored to be serving as your new executive director. After more than 17 years in career and technical education, leading SkillsUSA feels like a very natural next step.

CTE is my passion. It’s also my heritage. My mom, an instructor for 40 years,
was an advisor for a career and technical student organization. My father studied and worked in machining. My grand- mother was a licensed cosmetologist.

I gained my passion for student orga- nizations in high school, where I had an advisor who invested in me. This led me to become a SkillsUSA advisor and, later, a state association director. Most recently, I was associate vice chancellor for Tennes- see’s Colleges of Applied Technology and senior director for workforce and economic development at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

When I ask students how they found their own career passion, they often say, “I had a teacher who saw something in me and who motivated me. I had a teacher who encouraged me and pushed me.” Likewise, I’m here to motivate, encourage and even push a little to ensure that we deliver excellence in every SkillsUSA classroom across the nation.

This issue of SkillsUSA Champions is filled with great examples of how and why we do what we do. The SkillsUSA Cham- pionships, our most visible program and a motivating force to achieve excellence, only exists because of our unique network of volunteer experts and business partners. Our outstanding instructors give their students meaningful opportunities to develop personal, workplace and technical skills. Inspired to do their very best, our students and alumni are giving back to their chapters and communities.

In my first month on the job, I’ve been busy listening to many dedicated people who are the lifeblood of this large organization. I recently met with our leading state association directors. They connect students, teachers and partners to our program, and they’re the “face of SkillsUSA” to many of you. But our inspiration, the ones at the heart of it all, are our students, and I’m looking forward to meeting many more of them in the near future. Students are a constant source of energy for SkillsUSA, and their positivity and professionalism continue to remind us why our work is so important.

Thank you for all you do each day! It is a true privilege to be a part of it.

Got questions about SkillsUSA or other topics? Email

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