TRENTON, N.J. – The New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools (NJCCVTS) has a new leadership team to guide efforts to expand career and technical education in New Jersey. The former assistant executive director, Jackie Burke, was promoted to executive director, following the retirement of Judy Savage after more than 20 years with the NJCCVTS. Savage will remain a consultant to the Council, and Anne Nicolas is the new assistant executive director.
NJCCVTS also has a new slate of officers, which include superintendents of county vocational-technical schools from throughout the state elected by their peers to two-year terms:
- President – Michael Dicken, superintendent of Gloucester County Vocational-Technical School District
- President-Elect – Dr. James Pedersen, superintendent of Essex County Schools of Technology
- Vice President – Dr. Chrys Harttraft, superintendent of Somerset County Vocational & Technical Schools
- Treasurer – Karen Homiek, superintendent of Ocean County Vocational Technical School
- Secretary – Gus Modla, superintendent of Sussex County Technical School
The NJCCVTS is entering an exciting period of growth among career and technical education (CTE) programs in New Jersey. In June, the state Legislature assigned $220 million in grants as part of the 2018 voter-approved Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act. That grant funding will support 17 projects at 15 county vocational-technical school districts, which will add new programming and space for more students. The 17 projects alone are expected to add 4,870 new seats for students over the next six years; approximately $50 million in additional grant funding has yet to be allocated and will further add to the impact.
“One significant role of the Council is to promote the value of career and technical education, and the approval of these grants sent a clear signal that CTE is valued for the role it plays in both our students’ education and the state’s economy,” said Burke. “The grant-funded projects will help county vocational-technical schools prepare students for technical roles employers throughout the state are struggling to fill.”
“Jackie Burke is uniquely positioned to lead the Council through a pivotal period as our schools expand to address student and employer demand,” emphasized Savage. “Her policy expertise, strong relationships in Trenton and deep commitment to career and technical education will ensure the continued success of New Jersey’s county vocational-technical schools.”
Successfully advocating for the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act was among the many goals Savage and Burke worked closely together to achieve. Burke first joined the NJCCVTS in
2016 as assistant executive director, bringing with her 15 years of public policy experience in New Jersey. She previously held positions with the Senate Majority Office and Women’s Policy Institute. Her career focused primarily on education policy, but also included employment as a prosecutor in Philadelphia and as a development associate at the Alice Paul Institute.
Nicolas filled Burke’s role as the NJCCVTS’s assistant executive director. Nicolas served on the boards of education for South Hunterdon Regional School District and Lambertville Public School, during which she played significant roles in developing education policy and organizing major initiatives. She is a former executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey and has years of experience working in and with federal, state and local governments.
Burke graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami. She earned a law degree from Harvard Law School. Nicolas has a master’s degree in Public Administration and certificates in Nonprofit Management and Association Management.
Dicken, who has worked with the NJCCVTS during his 10-year tenure as a superintendent, spoke highly of the support provided by past and current leadership.
“The county vocational-technical school districts in New Jersey are focused collectively on finding solutions to our state’s current and anticipated workforce needs,” said Dicken. “With guidance from Jackie, Anne and Judy, the Council continues to have a voice at the state level and make connections to ensure CTE works both for New Jersey’s students and employers.”