Dr. Sarah Heath, Colorado Community College System (CCCS) associate vice chancellor and state director for Career and Technical Education (CTE), was named an Equity Champion by the Colorado Association for Career & Technical Administrators (CACTA), a branch of the Colorado Association for Career and Technical Education.
Bringing more than 20 years of experience in CTE, Dr. Heath has served as state director since 2015 and sits on the executive committee of Advance CTE, a national CTE advocacy organization. During the award presentation, CACTA members praised Dr. Heath’s relentless focus to improve access to CTE programs.
“Sarah has continuously embraced critical conversations with her peers regarding how to create more inclusive learning environments for our CTE students statewide,” said Chris Duran, assistant principal at FutureForward Bollman of Adams 12 Five Star School District who co-led the CACTA Awards Program. “Her bold and fierce stance to engage in this work is no easy feat as our State CTE director, but her commitment to ensuring equitable access points for CTE program has been proven over time.”
Sarah has continuously embraced critical conversations with her peers regarding how to create more inclusive learning environments for our CTE students statewide.” – Chris Duran, assistant principal at FutureForward Bollman of Adams 12 Five Star School District
Under Dr. Heath’s direction, CCCS conducted gap analyses and identified groups that have historically lacked resources and access to CTE. To increase participation, program directors are partnering with K-12 school districts and colleges to market CTE programs to underserved students and families. Dr. Heath brought also in Brave Dialogues training that tackles systemic racism in vocational education, which historically “tracked” students of color into low-quality CTE programs.
“We are working hard to ensure that all learners across Colorado can have meaningful career experiences regardless of their location,” said Dr. Heath. “Learners should not be limited by lack of privilege or access to opportunities.”
CCCS is the only community college system in the country that manages and approves federally funded CTE programs, serving about 208,000 Colorado students from middle school through college every year. Including its 13 colleges, CCCS partners with six other postsecondary institutions, more than 160 school districts, and the Colorado Department of Corrections to offer over 2,000 unique CTE programs in all corners of the state.
“Dr. Heath has dedicated her work to ensuring and expanding equitable access to high quality postsecondary CTE programs across the state of Colorado,” said Dr. Landon Pirius, CCCS vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “I can’t think of a more deserving person to have won this award.”
CTE programs lead to lifelong career success. Among CTE completers, 98% enrolled in postsecondary education or training, enlisted in the military, or entered the workforce after a year. Nearly 80% of employed graduates work in their chosen CTE field.
For more information on CTE in Colorado, visit the CCCS website.