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Remembering the journey

image The CEF staff: (seated, l-r) Joanna Noble, Jane Hanna, Lori Purviance, (standing, l-r) Jeff Porter, Patty Scroggins, Raelee Johnson, Jackie Coulson, Denise McIntire, Lily Gonzales, Kate Bossard, Beth Reynolds, Cindy Leslie and Robb Gentry

DALLAS/FT WORTH - Sometimes when things don’t work out, they do.Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) and Associated General Contractors (AGC) had unsuccessfully attempted a merger in 1994. However, just because the two associations weren’t combining into one didn’t mean they couldn’t train together, and Construction Education Foundation Inc. (CEF) was created.




    “Starting in the first quarter of 1995, there was a vision committee that met weekly for an entire year to try and figure out how to mesh the training programs that existed into one organization that would offer construction education,” CEF president and executive director Jane Hanna says. “There was no staff, no logo, nothing! But there were programs that had been successful for both groups, so that was the determination.”
    As the vision team continued to meet in 1995, the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) became CEF’s third sponsoring association. Hanna, who had been with ABC since 1977 and was serving its vice president of education at the time, was recruited to lead CEF. Under her two decades of guidance, she has grown CEF from a staff of three people, 50 training companies and a budget of $126,000 to staff of ten, a much larger budget and nearly 300 companies training.
    Hanna says CEF’s work isn’t just professional, it’s personal.
    “One side is what we do for industry,” she says. “Companies send these individuals to us to upgrade their craft professional skills, as in trades training, or their career development skills, like a journeyman upgrade. We have those individuals anywhere from one semester all the way up to eight semesters of trades training. Our job during that period of time is to pull their skills forward so that person can do the job well, safely, on time and on budget. On the craft side, our job is to turn out someone who is a journeyman and then master in their trade.
     “The heart issue of it,” Hanna continues, “is that we also know that when these people in training leave us, they leave with an enhanced skill set that helps them make a better living for themselves, a better living for their families and better citizens for our communities. It’s an add-on to the whole economic engine of the state of Texas and North Texas.”
    CEF is an industry-driven organization governed by a board of directors appointed by TEXO (ABC and AGC) and ASA.
    “Our job as staff is to listen to industry, work with industry experts to produce excellence in workforce development classes for the North Texas market,” said Hanna.
     To celebrate two decades of success, CEF hosted an anniversary dinner Apr. 27 at Las Colinas’ La Cima Club.
    “It was fabulous,” CEF’s special events and facilities manager Lori Purviance says. “We had the founding board members, the vision committee, the first group that started the trade councils and almost all of our past chairman from 1996 there. We had industry people there, along with ASA’s Beverly Reynal and TEXO’s Meloni McDaniel.”
    After walking down memory lane, staff that had served CEF for 15 and 20 years received tenure awards. For them and for the guests, the evening helped them see how far CEF had come.
    “We say this around here a lot, that we just climb the mountain, get to the top, stick the flag in the summit and go right back down the other side of the mountain so we can climb the next one. We never sit down or talk about the climb, the journey or how we got there,” Hanna says. “At the dinner, I told everyone that the intent of the night was that we were going to sit on the summit and remember these last 20 years, the jagged edges and rugged stones, but also those grassy knolls, lush valleys and smooth slopes. The best is yet to be” –mjm

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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net