Driving Transformative Education Through NCLA-CTE

At NCLA, we strongly believe in the power of collaboration. As a national network of passionate career and technical education (CTE) administrators, our mission is to connect visionary education professionals, drive the nation’s economic growth, and foster transformative professional development opportunities.

By harnessing cutting-edge ideas, innovations, and best practices, we proactively address local challenges with national solutions, shaping a future of collective excellence. Through our unified efforts, we are revolutionizing the CTE paradigm and elevating outcomes for our students, organizations, and communities.

Join us at NCLA, where we’re redefining what’s possible in CTE education. Together, we can create a brighter future for all!

NCLA Staff


Tom Applegate

Executive Director

Shaping the Future of Work through Leadership in Career and Technical Education

As a prominent figure in the realm of Career and Technical Education (CTE), Thomas N. Applegate boasts an expansive and illustrious career dedicated to nurturing the workforce of the future. In his current role as the Executive Director of NCLA-CTE, he spearheads initiatives and strategies to bridge the gap between education and industry, fostering a collaborative ecosystem where business and education thrive in unison.

As a steadfast proponent of Career and Technical Education (CTE), Thomas has graced various educational platforms with his expertise. His journey began as a high school instructor specializing in marketing education, gradually ascending to roles of greater responsibility and impact including adult education instructor, revered college professor, and esteemed college dean. These roles cemented his status as a frontrunner in the NCLA-CTE sphere.

In his tenure as the Executive Dean at Austin Community College, Texas, Thomas was instrumental in crafting a competency-based curricula system, setting a precedent for educational institutions to align more closely with contemporary business and industry demands. His visionary leadership was further exemplified as he helmed the WorkKeys Service Center and the Business Assessment Center, optimizing the synergy between educational establishments and the corporate sector.

During his stint as the Associate State Director for Career and Technical Education in Ohio, he championed the development and promotion of business and industrial training programs. His innovative approach led to the creation of a statewide network of 40 WorkKeys Service Centers, a landmark initiative that streamlined communication between the educational and industrial sectors, thereby bolstering Ohio’s workforce preparedness.

Thomas N. Applegate’s influence extends to the international stage, where he has been a beacon of knowledge and expertise in workforce development and career and technical education. As a distinguished consultant, he has lent his insights to numerous countries, states, universities, and school districts, fostering a global community that values education as a cornerstone of societal progress.

An alumni of Ohio State University, Thomas not only completed his undergraduate and graduate studies there but also undertook additional postgraduate work, honing his skills and knowledge to become a leading voice in the NCLA-CTE community. His commitment to the field is further underscored by his involvement with various local, state, and national boards, epitomized by his tenure as the National President of the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Thomas N. Applegate’s biography stands as a testament to his unwavering dedication to advancing the goals of the National Council of Local Administrators of Career and Technical Education (NCLA-CTE), fostering a future where education meets innovation at the crossroads of success.



Rachael Mann

Director of Member Management

Pioneering Career and Technical Education with a Focus on AI

Rachael Mann is a national authority on career and technical education and champions forward-thinking in artificial intelligence and the changing landscape of work. Rachael is a frequent keynote speaker at education and workforce development events, and she speaks and writes about disruptive technology, education, and careers. She is the author of Pack Your Bags for an AI-Driven Future, The CTSO Competition Companion, the children’s books The Things You’ll Grow and The Spaces You’ll Go, and co-author of The Martians in Your Classroom. She is passionate about all things related to education, technology, and science. She believes in the importance of shaping today’s educational philosophies and spaces by looking toward tomorrow’s innovations.

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 has served on numerous national and state boards dedicated to ensuring that kids are future-ready. She lives in Hershey, PA 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!


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