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Conference Highlights Cross-Sector Collaborations in Central Valley/Mother Lode Region


As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, education must follow suit. Industries are collaborating in new ways every day, and students need to be prepared to enter that environment. An event earlier this fall demonstrated how those integrations are happening in the Central Valley/Mother Lode Region.


More than 200 high school and community college counselors learned about Strong Workforce initiatives and career pathways happening throughout the Central Valley at the Regional Counselor Conference and Industry Tour on September 12 and 13.


The events were organized by Alese Campbell, Regional Director for Business and Entrepreneurship in the Central Valley/Mother Lode Region and Krista Vannest, Regional Director for Agriculture, Water & Environmental Technologies in the Central Valley/Mother Lode Region.


The tour included stops at Pacific Coast Packers, High Water Brewery, Mitsui Home, and Good Mills Winery. Counselors had the opportunity to talk with employers about what they are looking for in new hires.


“The counselors were taking advantage of every opportunity to engage with employers and hear about jobs, careers, hiring opportunities, and challenges to help them with student success,” Campbell said. “They saw firsthand how automation is creating efficiency and also more demand for jobs in technology, industrial maintenance, and entry-level management.”

The conference began the next day with a keynote address Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, Founder and President of Educational Achievement Services. Kickbusch took the audience on a journey from her childhood in a barrio to becoming one of the U.S. Army’s highest-ranking Latino women to starting her own business.

Campbell said Kickbusch exemplified the conference theme of “Find It Be It.”

“She had the entire audience cheering, laughing, and crying,” Campbell said. “Consuelo highlighted along the way how the counselors may relate her story to their work with students.”

The event also highlighted cross-sector collaborations that are happening across the state, from healthcare working with manufacturing to global trade working with hospitality and tourism. Counselors had the opportunity to hear about how these collaborations unfold and how students can benefit from them.


Other sessions included a presentation from Teresa Quillici, a counselor at West Hills College Lemoore about faculty externships, and a panel featuring CTE community college counselors on preparing high school students for college.


The event concluded with a presentation from Scott Vernon of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on “A New Student, A New World: endless Opportunities,” which challenged counselors to understand the factors in a student’s life that might be blocking them from success.


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