NCW Libraries STEM Services Manager Recognized with Regional Career Connected Learning Award

Published On: June 8th, 2023|Categories: Awards, News, Program News|
NCW Libraries STEM Services Manager Recognized with Regional Career Connected Learning Award

North Central Career Connect Washington Network Celebrates Champions Across the Region

The North Central Career Connect Washington (CCW) Regional Network, established in 2019, unites more than 400 community members for the purpose of expanding access and alignment of career paths for young people in the region. The regional effort is the collective impact of many leaders from different sectors and roles who have contributed in significant ways to career-connected learning efforts across Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties.

On June 6th, the Regional Network formally recognized three individuals during a virtual celebration event:

The inaugural 2023 Spark Award was presented to Ash Kunz, STEM Service Manager for the NCW Libraries. The award was presented by Barbara Walters, Executive Director for the NCW Libraries.

The Spark Award, newly introduced this year, celebrates individuals who possess a unique vision and skill set for curating transformative experiences that leave a lasting impact on students. These visionaries are pioneers who illuminate the path for students, igniting their enthusiasm and setting them on a trajectory of success. Through their creativity, dedication, and commitment to excellence, recipients of the Spark Award have positively influenced the lives of countless students, leaving an indelible legacy that will shape the future leaders, innovators, and changemakers.

This year, Kunz is recognized for the exceptional ability to create unforgettable experiences for students. Whether it’s organizing station activities, facilitating Hour of Code sessions, leading STEM clubs, or curating event series such as the 2023 Tech and Tiaras, Kunz ensures that career-connected learning events have the power to inspire and leave a profound mark on literally hundreds of youth across the region. 

Barabara Walters, Executive Director of the North Central Washington Libraries shared that community partners like NCW Libraries, play a crucial role in fostering collaboration across the diverse communities in the region. With a background in education and environment with a focus on Social Justice, Kunz has worked tirelessly to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in programming. They understand the transformative power of inspiration in shaping the lives of students. Walters added, “They are a truly exemplary community leader and bring a wealth of experience to the library.”

Tami McBride, Career Connected Learning Specialist at North Central ESD said that Kunz’s unwavering support and dedication for career connected learning and STEM education has been invaluable this last year.

“Ash’s commitment to blending elements of STEM education, personal growth, and pure joy results in experiences that combine excitement and fun with thought-provoking content,” said McBride. “These carefully curated events spark curiosity, encourage exploration, and foster a passion for lifelong learning.”

Kunz’s attention to detail and ability to create powerful moments have a profound influence on the lives of students; and because of that attention to detail, hundreds of young learners in North Central Washington have had opportunities for growth, empowerment, and inspiration. Each of these moments has provided a chance for students to discover their passions, explore new possibilities, and embrace their full potential.

About Career Connect Washington

Career Connect Washington was created by Governor Jay Inslee, with support and funding provided by the Washington State Legislature, to provide our state’s young people with expanded opportunities to gain real-world experience through a fully integrated career connected learning system. Business, labor, educators, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and many others have come together to create a strategy for making these opportunities available in every part of our state to every student as part of their academic journey.

Locally, the Career Connect Washington North Central Network is co-led by the Apple STEM Network (North Central Educational Services District) and the SkillSource Regional Workforce Board. For additional information visit:

About the Apple STEM Network

The Apple STEM Network is a three-dimensional alliance of K-12, Higher Ed and community partners in North Central Washington. We represent a diverse region with tremendous potential for STEM industry in agriculture, energy and innovation. With our collective effort we intend to: provide a constructive support system for educators who aim to meet the rising challenge for all students to develop 21st century skills and STEM literacy, to integrate community mentorship and promote authentic project-based learning and field experiences for all levels of education, and engage students in exploring the world of opportunities on the horizon through STEM. For more information visit

About the North Central Educational Service District

The North Central Educational Service District is a resource to the 29 districts within the four-county service area, providing professional and timely tools to meet the needs of individual schools and districts, and a reliable point of education-related information for the communities served. The NCESD is a respected resource to other ESDs throughout Washington State. For more information, visit

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NCW Libraries STEM Services Manager Recognized with Regional Career Connected Learning Award