NCDA Government Relations: A Strong Foundation From Which To Build a Strong Future For Our Profession

By Niel Carey and Thomas Stowell

“We The People” – three simple words that are at the very core of our democracy. When the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution of the United States, they did so recognizing that any newly formed government must be representative of the people and that the people would drive the country forward.


By design, then, the Founders supported and encouraged active participation in government. Throughout time, it is “The People”, who have been responsible for actively engaging and advocating for the ideas and ideals that have propelled us forward. Progress is not always quick, but the core of our democracy is the ability of citizens to stand up and make their opinions known.


As the National Career Development Association celebrates 100 years of service and advocacy in 2013, we all must stand up and advocate for solutions to some of our current economic, education, and workplace challenges. Advocacy, however, is not a new phenomenon for our members. It’s important to remember that, over the years, our members have been practitioner-leaders who have been involved in advocating for passage of some of the most important career guidance legislation in our history. From developing state-adopted blueprints for career education to lobbying for the inclusion of GCDF’s in one state’s schools, our members have shown that advocacy does make a difference.


Call to Action

Now, with the world of work changing before our eyes, members of NCDA are once again called to action. With specialized experience and knowledge of best practice, members can help craft solutions to growing unemployment, persistent underemployment, and a wide-range of education and workforce issues on the forefront for today’s global workforce. In the coming months, members have the opportunity to help shape legislation at the national level ranging from the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act to revisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It is important that our collective voice be heard.


Since the first NCDA Legislative Platform was adopted in 2008, the Government Relations Committee has worked to develop relationships in Washington, DC, educate state leaders about the advocacy process, and provide resources to our members to make individual advocacy easier. This past year, we have worked closely with Advocacy Associates; a small firm in Washington, DC that has helped us to develop a robust strategy for how to best be involved in advocating for our profession. I’m pleased to announce that Stephanie Vance and her team have agreed to continue to work with NCDA for the next two years to continue the momentum we have generated with our newly revised legislative platform and goals. If you’re looking for a good resource that takes the mystery out of the legislative process, you might consider reading Stephanie’s new book: The Influence Game.


NCDA is now well positioned to be a leading voice in Washington, DC for our profession. The Government Relations Committee can’t do it alone, however. For that reason, we must band together and collectively advocate for the needs of our profession. We all have stories to tell, best practices to share, and professional needs that are unmet. Through dedicated advocacy and education of our leaders at the local, state, and national levels, we can all make a real difference for our profession so that 100 years from now, NCDA remains a vital resource representing the needs of working Americans as they make critical career decisions throughout their lifetime.


New Government Relations Webpages

As we head into this election season, it is quite timely that NCDA has  launched a new resource for members through a dedicated government relations webpages.  These pages include a link to the NCDA Legislative Priorities and Goals, information on how to effectively advocate, suggestions for how to connect with elected officials, and the latest updates from Washington, DC. Please bookmark this site and check back often for new resources and information.


Access these new pages under About NCDA: Government Relations.


NCDA/MD CDA Legislative Meeting

Niel Carey, NCDA Government Relation Chair-designate, and China Wilson, MD CDA Legislative Chair, met recently with Brent Palmer, Senior Legislative Aide for Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD). Senator Mikulski is a member of the Appropriations and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees of the U.S. Senate.

China Wilson Brent Palmer Niel Carey


The purpose of the meeting was first, to provide the Senator with information about NCDA’s preparation to celebrate 100 years of professional service, and the range of services provided by NCDA members and associates to help individuals across the life span prepare for, obtain and advance in meaningful jobs and careers. Carey discussed the various settings in the public and private sector where these services are provided including schools, technical centers, VA centers, community colleges, one stop career centers and universities. Wilson elaborated on the K-12 career development guidelines, the college career consortium, and the extensive use of technology in Maryland. The second purpose of the meeting was to explore ways that NCDA members might be involved in the re-authorization of legislation of importance to NCDA members: ESEA, WIA and Perkins.


Brent Palmer was very receptive to the information presented. He commented on the need as part of K-12 education, to help individuals identify their own interests and strengths, and to learn about and explore the options likely to be available to them. He said that Senator Mikulski would be receptive to NCDA’s comments and recommendations as legislation is being considered. He also agreed to ask the Senator to place information about National Career Development Month and NCDA’s 100th anniversary in the Congressional Quarterly. Palmer was presented with the recent issue of Career Developments which focused on career transitions.


Niel Carey, who is Executive Director Emeritus of NCDA, and China Wilson, who is Director of Career Services and Experiental Learning at Trinity Washington University, were very pleased at the meeting as a means of establishing a communication link and an ongoing working relationship with a key member of Congress. It also served to strengthen the working relationship between a key NCDA committee and a state CDA. They recommend a similar process to NCDA leaders and members and their state CDA counterparts as a means of communicating information about NCDA and state CDA’s century of professional service!



Niel CareyNiel Carey, 2012-2014 Chair of the Government Relations Committee





Thomas Stowell, 2009-2012 Chair of the Government Relations Committee


Printer-Friendly Version