New chapter marks unprecedented collaboration for NCDA

At the end of June, the National Career Development Association (NCDA) announced the formation of the Vermont/New Hampshire Career Development Association (VT/NH CDA).

According to Doug Cullen, who was voted founding president of the chapter by NCDA membership, it is the first time two states have ever collaborated within one chapter.

“There was actually a by-law change voted in by members at this year’s national convention in Chicago to even allow such a non-profit creation to occur,” he noted. “We are literally making history in its creation.”

NCDA Executive Director Deneen Pennington referred to the new chapter as “an important addition to NCDA’s state presence and voice in the New England area.”

“State divisions deliver significant services to the membership, help identify the leadership of the future, and provide essential feedback to NCDA,” Pennington noted. “This vibrant new division will help to establish and improve the standards for professional service in the field of career development in those respective states.”

VT/NH CDA liaison to NCDA, NCDA Trustee Wendy LaBenne said the new state division will provide career practitioners with meaningful opportunities to connect with others in the field and hold professional development events at a state level.

“The state division will also provide a platform for those interested in building leadership skills an avenue at the state level,” she said. “We look for all state divisions to promote career development in their state as well as provide leaders for consideration at the national level.”

Citing his belief that VT/NH CDA will help to endorse “the incorporation of theory and effective practice models into career development services” across both states, Cullen said his vision also includes greater bridge-building efforts between Canada and international NCDA affiliates.

“Given declining populations in both states, understanding best practices involving people from different cultures may assist career development practitioners working with a potential increase in students and clients coming to northern New England or being intentionally recruited by Vermont and New Hampshire industries from different nations,” he said.

As an initial step for the new chapter, Cullen expressed enthusiasm for its first official Chapter Networking Session as part of the Tri-State CTE Director’s Conference on July 29 in Burlington, VT. At the conference, Dick Knowdell, well known for his work with the Career Values Card Sort, Motivated Skills Card Sort, Occupational Interest Card Sort and the Leisure/Retirement Activities Card Sort that began in 1977, will speak about recent changes in the Career Development industry.

“It will provide new and existing practitioners with a perspective on how their jobs and the students/clients they support have changed and potentially how to adapt to those changes to be most effective,” he said.

According to Cullen, though, the formation of the VT/NH CDA is just one of many “exciting developments” in the industry that he feels could benefit CTE participants in the long term. One such development relates to a formal partnership between NCDA and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

“I feel ACTE alignment may enable greater CTE association involvement by CTE faculty/staff looking for more national and international exposure/best practices,” he said. “It may provide the most engaged CTE staff with a greater opportunity to interact with a broader and deeper set of CTE professionals as well as broadening and deepening the depth of CTE curriculum and student experiences in New Hampshire.”

Pennington also express optimism at the partnership, as she said both organizations serve “separate, yet overlapping constituencies with a similar focus related to career development priorities and support of practitioners in the field.”

“This partnership provides the basis for a formal collaboration between the two organizations that is be mutually beneficial,” she added. “Benefits include membership collaboration, professional development opportunities, and joint marketing efforts. The benefits to the local CTE stakeholders include access to all NCDA research, advocacy, professional development, and career resources at reduced membership rates.”

For more information about VT/NH CDA or the upcoming Tri-State Conference, visit To learn more about the NCDA, visit

This is the first part of a three-story series where we look at the recent formation of a new chapter of the National Career Development Association and related issues.