Celebrating Our Community’s Commitment to Career Connected Learning

Published On: June 12th, 2024|Categories: News|
Celebrating Our Community’s Commitment to Career Connected Learning

On Tuesday, June 4th, the Career Connect Washington regional network brought together educators, industry leaders, and community members for a virtual celebration. This event recognized the dedicated efforts and strong partnerships that have supported students across Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties.

Attendees had the chance to appreciate the contributions of over 400 community members, whose involvement ranged from participating in single events to investing hours in developing Career Explore, Career Prep, and Career Launch programs in the region.

During the celebration, the Regional Network also honored three exceptional leaders with the 2024 Legacy, Visionary, and Keystone Awards.

2024 Legacy Award – Yuritzi Lozano

The 2024 Legacy Award was presented to Yuritzi Lozano by Maria Navarette, migrant health coordinator for the North Central Educational Service District.

It is really not possible to measure the impact of someone’s legacy, but this award is intended to recognize one person whose career impact has been profound, and will have a lasting legacy in North Central Washington. This year’s Regional Legacy Award goes to someone who has been described as a force of nature, Yuritzi Lozano.

Yuritzi Lozano has had a tremendous impact on this region through a variety of roles. While serving as the Director for CAMP at Wenatchee Valley College (WVC), Yuritzi was a champion for students. She quickly identified barriers for migrant students and families and grew a model of support leading to improved outcomes. She personally mentored countless students and staff during her time as the Director. When she transitioned to the Dean of Allied Health and Workforce at WVC, she immediately set to work revitalizing more than a dozen programs through Career Launch endorsements and program builder resources. She breathed new life into professional technical programs at the college and became a champion for the faculty. 

Yuritzi’s impact will endure for decades. She is a fearless leader willing to engage in the critical conversations for the growth and vitality of our students and our community. Her heart for this work is apparent to all who encounter her. Although she is no longer leading in our region, her legacy will live on to inspire other leaders.

2024 Visionary Award – Meghan Francis

The 2024 Visionary Award was presented to Meghan Francis by Kamea Pino, curriculum developer for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

The Regional Network Visionary Award is a prestigious recognition bestowed upon individuals who have demonstrated exceptional foresight, innovation, and groundbreaking contributions to the regional career-connected learning efforts in North Central Washington. This award acknowledges the ability to envision and implement transformative ideas that have a significant impact for young people who are farther from opportunity. Recipients of the visionary award often exhibit a unique ability to think beyond the current boundaries, challenge conventional wisdom, and inspire others to embrace new possibilities.

Meghan’s visionary leadership in the Colville Confederated Tribes K12 Youth Development Program has been innovative and transformational. She has worked to integrate programming in partnership with WWU’s Sustainability Pathway Fellowship Program. This collaboration was borne out of a community of practice for sustainability and sovereignty co-led by Joshua Porter and Shandy Abrahamson. Meghan advocated for integrating sovereignty at the inception of pathways rather than as an additional step needing to be discussed after it is constructed. She has set an example for this region how to approach tribal consultation and grounding future programming in sovereignty. She truly is a visionary who can see how it should be built before it exists.

2024 Keystone Award – Wendy Brzesny

The 2024 Keystone Award was presented to Wendy Brzezny by John Schapman, executive director for Thriving Together NCW.

The Regional Network Keystone Award is a distinguished recognition that honors individuals or organizations that have played a pivotal role in supporting and advancing career-connected opportunities and experiences for young adults in North Central Washington. The term “keystone” refers to the central, vital component that holds everything together and ensures stability and strength. Similarly, a Keystone Award acknowledges the significant contributions and efforts of its recipients in shaping and fortifying the foundation of their respective fields. Recipients of a Keystone Award are recognized for the way that they serve in ways that are often unseen, but their contributions and efforts have had profound impacts on the lives of young people. The Keystone Award serves as a symbol of appreciation and acknowledgment for those who have become the cornerstone of progress and success in their area of expertise.

Wendy Brzezny has been an anchor point in this region for health and well-being. She has made invaluable contributions behind the scenes and in partnership with other organizations. Wendy single-handedly embarked on an 18-month journey to gain approval from OSPI for an Industry-Recognized Credential for Career and Technical Education at the K12 level for certified peer counseling curriculum. This allowed for a CTE career pathway for future behavioral providers to begin at the high school level. This is groundbreaking work.

Additionally, Wendy worked closely with Dean Yuritzi Lozano at Wenatchee Valley College and Dean Daneen Berry-Guerin at Big Bend Community College to create a proposal for program builder funds to create a Bachelor of Applied Science in Behavioral Health in our region. This consortium was successful in its proposal and work continues on this degree, which will provide a regional postsecondary pathway that meets critical behavioral health needs.

Wendy is a systems change agent with a passion for the health and well being of the people in our communities. Her steadfast dedication and invaluable contributions to this region have earned her this prestigious recognition.

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: http://www.ncesd.org/service/career-connected-learning/

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 www.applestemnetwork.org

About 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 www.ncesd.org

About SkillSource

SkillSource is a nonprofit agency that provides leadership, administration and oversight for programs devoted to the development of a skilled workforce in the North Central Workforce Development Area. We provide direct services in Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Adams counties, and contract services in Okanogan County. These efforts are overseen by the SkillSource Regional Workforce Board, which is made up of local community and business leaders. SkillSource helps people get established in the workforce, retrain for a new career or upskill for a promotion. SkillSource partners with schools and companies to make sure education and training delivers the skills employers want. SkillSource graduates go on to earn high school diplomas or equivalency, hone computer skills, graduate from vocational/technical school, or gain experience and skills training on-the-job. For more information, visit www.skillsource.org.

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