After three years on ACTE’s board of directors as Health Science Education Division vice president, Linda Romano feels like she “grew into a leader.” Read her recent conversation with Techniques‘ managing editor. Romano shared her thoughts on ACTE’s inclusion, access, equity and diversity (IAED) initiatives and offered encouragement for aspiring leaders in career and technical education.
Describe the most valuable parts of your experience as ACTE’s Health Science Education Division vice president.
First of all, the relationships I built as part of ACTE’s board of directors matter so much to me. I have always felt like part of this CTE family. As a member, I always felt very welcome. But when I became a board member, it was a whole different experience. People embrace you. People understand you. They make you feel so valued. Fellow board members and staff at ACTE are always so supportive and they’re always there, a phone call away.
And the other part is VISION. The process to prepare for ACTE’s CareerTech VISION is so exciting and also kind of overwhelming when you see everything that it takes to put that whole event together. You know, being part of that, making decisions and conducting board activities… Having that come through successfully leads to a feeling of achievement.
Mostly, ACTE offered a place like home for me. It felt very welcoming and inviting. I have loved being part of pandemic-related change and challenges, which we faced together. I enjoyed opportunities to support members through webinars and the Dear Linda blog series. It has been my honor to make a difference and serve the members.
I’m really going to miss it. I’m going to miss every part of it.
How has your experience in leadership at ACTE informed & enhanced the work you do to provide high-quality CTE for all students?
I grew into a leader. I know I still have more work to do, but I’m not afraid anymore. Sometimes, classroom teachers feel voiceless. As I became part of the board, I developed a deeper, broader understanding of ACTE’s work. I started out thinking, I’m going to take care of my division. But then there are so many other opportunities. My time as ACTE’s Health Science Education Division vice president has encouraged me to get involved with my inner passion. There’s this committee, and that committee. I also serve as a mentor in ACTE’s Inclusion, Access, Equity and Diversity (IAED) Mentorship Program.
ACTE has helped to develop and discover different passions within me. That helps me when I go back to the table on curriculum work. If I think, I want to try this. I have an entire network of CTE educators in the United States — to benchmark with, to offer resources, to get support.
I feel like I grew so much and developed into a leader. The experience gave me confidence.
What advice would you offer someone who wants to become more involved in ACTE leadership opportunities?
I would tell them to put the fear aside. If you feel the slightest little glimmer toward leadership opportunities, go for it. Try it. It seems overwhelming. You think, I’m not going to be able to do this and balance work and school and family. But it can be everything that you dream is possible because of the support you will receive. You go in. And you enter a place filled with people who will embrace you. ACTE staff, members and the board of directors: Everybody is there to welcome you in and support you.
This week marks the anniversary of George Floyd’s death and the launch of a 21st century civil rights movement, how has CTE made improvements in the area of IAED? And where do you think there’s more space to change?
As leaders in CTE, we opened our hearts, eyes and minds. We strengthened our voices to speak on behalf of these important issues. The board of directors released a statement; I think that was a huge step. As was formulation of the IAED Advisory Group. We began to develop new and more diverse webinars. The ideals of inclusion, access, equity and diversity drove our professional learning opportunities. I feel very proud of ACTE for that.
ACTE has proven a willingness to have conversations that might be uncomfortable. They created a forum to have those conversations. And people are embracing it. So, yes, I think there has been strong movement toward increasing equity in our CTE learning spaces. I hope these efforts will continue among ACTE membership.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I want to add how grateful I am for the opportunity to have served on ACTE’s board of directors. And how grateful I am to know you.