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Writer Bios

Biographies of the Knowledge & Skills Writing Team

Elizabeth (Liz) M. Russell

Elizabeth (Liz) M. Russell, retired in July 2010 as State Director of Career and Technical Education of Virginia. She is a former board member of NASDCTEc. Still active in education, she serves as Co-chair for her local CTE Advisory Committee, does consulting work for local, state and national projects for CTE, and as a supervising teacher for local student-teachers from Mary Baldwin College.

She received her Bachelor of Science and Master’s of Education degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also completed additional post-graduate studies in Administration and Supervision at James Madison University, Virginia Tech, and William and Mary College.

In addition to serving as State Director for CTE, her thirty-three years have included serving as a business teacher, local CTE director, principal of a Regional Technical Center and also a combined Regional Governor’s School and Technical Center, assistant principal at a comprehensive high school, and Virginia State Supervisor of Business and Information Technology. She has served on boards of several state and national professional organizations and as president of the Virginia Association of Career & Technical Education (VACTE), the Virginia Association of CTE Administrators (VACTEA), and Delta Phi Epsilon. She was recognized as Virginia’s Outstanding Vocational Educator in 1998.

Reba S. Poulson

Reba Poulson is the former Perkins State Director for the State of Louisiana and is currently an Independent Consultant. Her educational background includes: a BA, Elementary Education, Virginia Union University, Richmond, VA; an MPA, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Michigan; and is a Doctoral Candidate in Higher Education Administration, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Positions held include: Elementary Teacher Richmond, Virginia; several positions at Kalamazoo Valley Community College--Reading and Study Skills Specialist, Disabilities Coordinator, Learning Center Manager, Director, Project Focus; Federal Programs Coordinator, Louisiana Board of Regents; Project Administrator, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Southern University, Baton Rouge; Postsecondary Perkins Coordinator, LCTCS; and State Director, Perkins CTE Programs, LCTCS. Board Memberships: past board member, National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education, Multi-State Academic & Vocational Curriculum Consortium (MAVCC), and current board member, Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD).

She also was a member of the Board of Regents Advisory Committee; the Board of Regents Task Force to review the education/workforce needs of central Louisiana, participated in the writing of the Perkins III state plan and served led the state plan efforts for Perkins IV. As an active participant with the State Directors organization, she co-chaired the Career Clusters Committee and was an active participant in the development of the new vision for career and technical education. She coached the Northeast Louisiana Technical College in the development of the Information Technology Career Cluster™. Ms. Poulson has worked with grant-writing teams to develop proposals for submission to the US Department of Education (FIPSE, Title III), National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Board of Regents, and several US Department of Labor proposals.

Melissa Briscoe

Melissa Briscoe is currently retired from the KY Department of Education but continues to work on numerous curriculum projects for various states and national organizations. She began her tenure in curriculum work leading a statewide effort in competency-based education for technical programs, became Director of Curriculum for K-12 at the state level, and retired as the Associate Superintendent of Career and Technical Education for Secondary Programs. She served on the board for High Schools that Work at the Southern Regional Education Board and on the Vocational Technical Education Consortium of States Board (now CTECS) and assisted in the applied academic efforts with the Center for Occupational Research.

Since retirement, she has conducted numerous workshops at the University of Louisville to help teachers develop curriculum for the Integration of Academics in both academic and career and technical programs. She has also worked on numerous standards projects for the Career and Technical Education Consortium of States along with assessment projects associated with the cluster standards in Manufacturing for KY and in Business Management & Administration, Finance and Marketing for the national student organization of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America). She served as the coordinator of the nine pilot sites for the first Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications Career Cluster™ project, assisted with the Business Management & Administration Career Cluster™ development effort, and with the Consumer and Family Life Skills Standards Project, a forerunner to the Human Services Career Cluster work.

During the past eight years, Melissa has been working with Fran Beauman and the Illinois Office of Educational Services to assist teachers in the development of curriculum based on the Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Career Cluster™ standards and integration of academics. This work has been extended thru a project sponsored by the US Department of Transportation in Illinois and several other states. As a pioneer in the initial projects, Melissa has a strong interest in providing knowledge and skills that can be implemented by the classroom teacher while meeting the needs of today’s businesses and industries.

Seth Derner

Seth Derner is a professional development consultant for the States’ Career Clusters Initiative - an initiative established under the National Career Technical Education Foundation (NCTEF) to provide Career Clusters™ as a tool to facilitate a new vision for CTE and the reinvention of American schools. Seth brings a practical, real-world approach to standards, program of study, and curriculum design. He draws from his experience as a secondary CTE teacher, program manager for a national career and technical student organization, and director of FutureForce Nebraska – an organization designed to facilitate partnerships between education, workforce development and economic development.

Seth is president and development leader for Vivayic - a firm specializing in human capital development through the design of effective learning solutions. Seth co-authored the books, “Strategies for Great Teaching” and “Strategies to Integrate NOW: Academics in Career and Technical Education.” Seth was project manager of the 2008 revision efforts of the National Career Clusters™ Knowledge and Skill Statements.