Photo by Lloyd Wolf.
During the Awards Ceremony at SkillsUSA’s 2022 National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC) in Atlanta this past June, seven committed and passionate student members were elected as SkillsUSA national officers for the 2022-23 school year. From the moment they stepped off the State Farm Arena stage, each new officer was excited to get to work furthering SkillsUSA’s mission on behalf of every SkillsUSA member and stakeholder.
Fresh off the heels of the 2022 Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) in Washington, D.C., this “Magnificent Seven” has proven they have the skills it takes to empower SkillsUSA members across the nation to seize the day. During the annual advocacy conference, the officers took the lead in organizing events, delivering speeches, greeting government officials and more, a great start to what will be a productive, inspiring year. As college/postsecondary vice president Katahdin Javner exclaimed while speaking at WLTI’s CTE Rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, “There is a skills gap in our nation that needs to be filled, and our time … is now!”
COLLEGE/POSTSECONDARY DIVISION OFFICERS
President — Abby Vandiver
Trade Area: Culinary Arts
School: Autry Technology Center, Enid, Okla.
Advisor: Cheryl Cooksey
“I can’t wait to promote SkillsUSA so that more people realize what a fantastic organization it is and how much it will help them gain experience that will prepare them for their future careers.” — Abby Vandiver
Vice President — Katahdin Javner
Trade Area: Business Management
School: Eastern Maine Community College, Bangor
Advisor: Cathy Crise
“Climbing a mountain is not an easy task, but there is no greater reward than taking someone to the summit that they never thought they could reach! This is how I would describe what I want to do as a national officer. I want to guide our members to reach the summit of their potential!” — Katahdin Javner
HIGH-SCHOOL DIVISION OFFICERS
President — Grace Smith
Trade Area: Early Childhood Education
School: Elma High School, Elma, Wash.
Advisor: Tyler Ren
“I would not be here in the position I am, with the skills I have today, without SkillsUSA, and I want to use my influence and connections as a national officer to further the power of education for others.” — Grace Smith
Vice President — Joseph Price
Trade Area: Architectural Drawing and Design
School: Union Grove High School, McDonough, Ga.
Advisor: Amanda McClure
“For me, SkillsUSA is a place of joy, growth, and inclusion. Being here made me feel included and that my experiences truly do matter. That feeling is the primary purpose for me wanting to serve as a national officer.” — Joseph Price
Secretary — Lili Valencia
Trade Area: Graphic Design
School: Higley High School, Gilbert, Ariz.
Advisor: John Lebsock
“As a national officer, I have the platform to be another voice that supports and encourages others — on an even larger scale — to become the best versions of themselves.” — Lili Valencia
Parliamentarian — Hunter Claflin
Trade Area: Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR)
School: Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical School, Upton, Mass.
Advisor: Robert Jordan
“My goal as a national officer will be to instill and promote the SkillsUSA mission, motto, and these leadership skills that I learn into as many SkillsUSA members across the country as I am able to reach.” — Hunter Claflin
Region 4 Vice President — Laney Blacketer
Trade Area: Automotive Technology
School: Lex-a-Ray Technical Center, Lexington, Mo.
Advisor: Rodney Wolken
“The sole purpose of being a SkillsUSA national officer is to represent SkillsUSA members at the local, state, and national levels. Leadership is not a position, but a way one can positively influence those around oneself.” — Laney Blacketer
Photos by Craig Moore.
Legacy of Leadership
Laney’s mom, Cynthia Weeks, was also a SkillsUSA national officer. Weeks served during the 1995-96 school year. “I’ve always heard the stories and experiences from my mom about being a national officer,” Blacketer says. “Now I’m in the same position, but I’m seeing it from my point of view; the past and the present are coming together in front of my eyes.”
“Seeing Laney become a national officer is like taking a glance in a mirror to the past,” adds Weeks. “I get to relive my memories, such as WLTI and my first conference, all over again.”
Look for much more from SkillsUSA’s new national officer team all year as they build their own special memories during their year of service.
For more on the SkillsUSA 2022-23 National Officer Team, visit: www.skillsusa.org/about/national-officers/nationalofficer-bios/.