About NCLA

NCLA: Synergizing CTE Administrators Nationwide.

At NCLA, we believe we're better together. As a national synergy of career and technical education (CTE) administrators, we connect forward-thinking education professionals, contribute to the nation's economic prosperity, and create opportunities for transformative professional development.

Through next-gen ideas, innovations, and best practices, we bring national solutions to local challenges — building a future of shared excellence. Together, we are changing the CTE paradigm and improving the outcome for our students, organizations, and communities.

NCLA Adds Value

As a highly specialized association catering only to CTE administrators, NCLA is uniquely poised to uncover and share the most innovative and valuable best practices and strategies in the field. We bring national solutions to local challenges.

NCLA Staff


Tom Applegate

Executive Director

P.O. Box 2473
Westerville, OH 43086-2473

Tom Applegate

Thomas N. Applegate is a lifelong educator and workforce development professional having served as a high school career and technical education (marketing education) teacher, adult education instructor, college professor and college dean. Currently he serves in a variety of capacities which include the Executive Director for the Ohio Association of Career and Technical Superintendents and Executive Director for the National Council of Local Administrators of Career and Technical Education.

Previously Mr. Applegate was the Executive Dean at Austin Community College (ACC), Austin, Texas. While at ACC he developed a competency-based curricula system which enabled the College to more adequately respond to business and industry needs. He also directed the WorkKeys Service Center, the Business Assessment Center and the ACT Center and served as COO for two of the college’s campuses.

Tom has also served as the Associate State Director for Career and Technical Education in Ohio. His responsibilities included business/industrial training and development, adult basic and literacy education, the marketing of career and technical education and intra state agency linkages. While at the Department of Education he developed a statewide system of 40 WorkKeys Service Centers designed to serve as a major link in Ohio’s education system for communication between business and industry and education to meet the needs of the workforce. The system was selected as one of the 10 outstanding innovations in state government.

Additionally he has served in many leadership roles including that of President of the national Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

A noted authority in workforce development issues and career and technical education he has worked nationally and internationally and has provided consultant services to numerous countries, states colleges, universities and school districts.

Mr. Applegate has served on the faculty of The Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College, Austin Community College and Franklin University. He has served on many local, state and national boards. He is a past national president of the Association for Career and Technical Education. Tom completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as additional postgraduate work from The Ohio State University.


Rachael Mann

Director of Member Engagement

1433 E. Hoover Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Rachael Mann

Rachael Mann is passionate about all things related to education, technology, and the future of work. She believes in the importance of shaping the educational philosophies and spaces of today by looking toward the innovations of tomorrow. Rachael is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and events, and she speaks and writes about disruptive technology, education, and careers. She is the author of the children’s book, The Spaces You Will Go and coauthor of The Martians in Your Classroom and Own The Microphone.

Rachael holds an MA in educational leadership and has 14 years of classroom teaching experience in a range of subjects, including child development, science, technology, and culinary courses. Ms. Mann’s experience includes her work as the Network to Transform Teaching State Director, the Professional Learning Director of STEM, and the Arizona State Director for Educators Rising. She is a founding member of the Council on the Future of Education and serves on a number of national boards that are dedicated to ensuring that kids are future-ready.

As the Director of Member Engagement for NCLA, Rachael plans, implements, and monitors the organization's social media and online platforms and produces the NCLA podcast and webinar series.

She lives with her husband in Phoenix, Arizona and enjoys tennis, hiking, good eats, and traveling.

From professional growth to motivational talks to workshops, Rachael loves to inspire audiences to think bigger and dream beyond. Connect with Rachael on social media @RachaelEdu to learn more about her work.