COABE Conference 2019Speakers

Baylee Sullivan


Baylee Sullivan is an 18 year old singer/songwriter from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has been singing since she was a little girl, and released her first self-written EP in 2014, when she was only 13 years old. Because of her talents, Baylee has earned many titles such as Ascension Idol and Country Showdown Regional and State Champion. She will be traveling to Nashville, Tennessee this summer, in hopes of taking home the National title. Baylee is also a senior at Dutchtown High School where she is an avid member of both the Choir and Drama departments. She has starred in productions such as “Hairspray” and “High School Musical” at her school. She is honored to be performing at the 2019 COABE Conference.

Irma Thomas
Delgado Graduate and Grammy Award Winner

Photo by: Rick Oliver

Photo by: Rick Oliver

She was born Irma Lee in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Soon afterward, she and her parents moved to New Orleans. As a teenager she sang in her church choir and attended McDonogh 41. Many would think that as a Grammy award winning performer Irma Thomas has never had a difficult day in her life. This is far from the truth, and she shares her personal experiences not only with the women of Delgado Community College, but with the community. She was a mother at age 14 and had four children by age 19.

Ms. Thomas received her GED while working at Montgomery Ward as a sales clerk, raising her four children and performing on weekends. At age 61, Ms. Thomas earned an associate degree in Business Studies from Delgado Community College. Her experiences reflect the experiences of many of our students — raising a family, working and trying to obtain an education. Irma is a role model and symbol of how persistence and hard work can allow people to achieve their goals. For 15 years, she balanced work, her family and school to obtain her degree.

Irma celebrated over 50 years in the music business. She began her singing career in the early 1960s and she gets better every year. As an accomplished performer, she sings gospel, blues and pop music and has earned the title “The Soul Queen of New Orleans.” Internationally known, she is the recipient of numerous awards, which include several Grammy nominations, a 2007 Grammy for After the Rain, Best Contemporary Blues Album, the W.C. Handy Award, an Offbeat Magazine Award, a Big Easy Award, a Family Services Award and a Mo Jo Magazine Legends Award. Ms. Thomas was recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

The Irma Thomas Center for W.I.S.E. (Women in Search of Excellence) Women opened in 2006, and Ms. Thomas volunteers on a regular basis in the center she helped to found. As a spokesperson for the W.I.S.E. Women program, she gives motivational speeches and promotes the importance of an education in the community. As a graduate of Delgado Community College and a citizen of New Orleans, she shares her personal trials and tribulations as a student, a teenage mother and a business woman. The one most important thing she provides is the opportunity for women to see that no matter what their circumstances, they can be successful in college and that it may take a number of years to achieve their goals.

At Delgado, Irma reaches hundreds of students, but her community work reaches thousands. She lost two homes and a business to Hurricane Katrina and the resulting flood. Her story is our story and she shares that common bond with the citizens of New Orleans. Her encouragement and music inspire all of us to continue to rebuild our homes and the city as well as our lives. She has been the direct reason for many women to enroll in college and become successful. A tireless promoter for the City of New Orleans, she brings attention to the plight of our musicians and citizens since the storm. Through her music, people are reinvigorated to continue the daily struggle to survive and rebuild our city. Her work in this area cannot be measured. As a local musician, who is one of us, she spends hours talking to her fans in addition to performing her inspirational music. Irma Thomas is a much loved icon in the city.

Director, Community Initiatives at Dollar General


Denine Torr joined Dollar General in the fall of 1999. As Senior Director of the Community Initiatives division, she oversees corporate and foundation giving, employee volunteer engagement efforts, and assists with the development of cause related partnerships for Dollar General’s forty-three state market. Denine has designed and executed funding initiatives for Dollar General that have raised more than $100 million for charity. She has been instrumental in the creation of Dollar General’s Employee Assistance Foundation and growth of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Since 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $143 million to literacy initiatives that have helped more than 9 million individuals learn to read, receive their high school equivalency or learn English.  

Scott Stump
Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education at OCTAE

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Prior to assuming the role of Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education, Scott Stump served as the Chief Operating Officer with Vivayic, Inc., a learning solutions provider devoted to helping individuals, organizations and corporations do good in the world.  Before that, Scott served as the Assistant Provost/State Director for Career & Technical Education (CTE) with the Colorado Community College System. Over his tenure with the system Stump also served as State FFA Advisor, Agriculture Program Director and interim President of Northeastern Junior College during the institution’s presidential search process.  

During his seven-year tenure as a State CTE Director, Scott served as an officer in the National Association of State Directors of Career & Technical Education.  Through this role, he served on the National SkillsUSA Board of Directors as the NASDCTEc liaison. 

Stump served two terms on the Prairie RE11-J school board and one year on the Colorado Association of School Boards Board of Directors. 

Stump received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from Purdue University and taught at Manchester High School in North Central Indiana.  Before coming to Colorado he also worked for the National FFA Organization managing the national officer team and the national FFA convention. In May of 2018, Stump completed his Master of Business Administration through Western Governor’s University.

Tim Lawrence
Executive Director, skills usa

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Having been involved with SkillsUSA for most of his life, Mr. Timothy Lawrence firmly believes that being involved in technical education and joining SkillsUSA in high school set his course for a successful future.  He worked in both labor and management positions in the manufacturing industry for nine years while continuing his education, graduating Magna Cum Laude from James Madison University with a degree in Administration and Training. He fulfilled one of his life dreams when he became a teacher in Virginia in 1978. He achieved another life goal when he was named the National Trade and Industrial Education Teacher of the Year in 1983. 

In 1987, he joined the Virginia Department of Education as a career and technical education student specialist and chief executive officer of the state SkillsUSA organization.  He also served other youth initiatives with the National Safety Council’s Youth Division, Students Against Driving Drunk and numerous community service organizations.  In 1996, Mr. Lawrence joined the national SkillsUSA organization as Business and Industry Partnerships Director at their National Leadership Center in Leesburg, Virginia. In January, 2001, Mr. Lawrence became the Chief Executive Officer of SkillsUSA, one of the nation’s largest individual membership organizations.  In this position, he feels he works for the students and teachers of America’s technical education system.   

In addition to his duties for SkillsUSA, Lawrence currently serves on several national boards and committees, and is proud to have been a member of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council. He currently serves on the Career Readiness Taskforce with the Council of Chief State School Officers. On the federal level, he most recently served as a member of the independent panel on the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education and the Job Corps National Advisory Committee, both of which made reports and recommendations to the U.S. Congress.

Dr. Monty Sullivan
president, louisiana community and technical college system

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Monty Sullivan was selected as the fourth President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System in February 2014.  Prior to being selected president, he served as Chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans. He also served as Executive Vice President for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Before joining the LCTCS, Sullivan served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Services and Research for the Virginia Community College System. 

Monty is married to Kelley Miles Sullivan, a Registered Nurse and a graduate of John Tyler Community College. The couple has four daughters.

Jason Rainey
General Manager for NAPA AutoCare program


Jason Rainey is the General Manager for NAPA AutoCare program, the industry’s primer banner program for installers partnered with NAPA. 

Jason honorably served in the Marine Corps from 1992-1996. Upon completion of his service, Jason joined Genuine Parts Company. 

Throughout his 20-year career in the aftermarket industry he has accumulated a wealth of experiences, which he now leverages to lead the AutoCare program with over 17,000 independently owned and operated automotive shops. 

Taking to his background, Jason established NAPA’s partnership with the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Over the past four years, this has raised over $5 million for military personnel and their families.

Josh Davies
Chief Executive Officer,
The Center for Work Ethic Development

Josh Davies is passionate about helping others make a difference in their lives, jobs, and community. Through his work as a speaker and trainer, he has engaged and encouraged professionals across North America, the Middle East, and Asia. His engaging and connecting speaking style combined with relevant content make him an in-demand speaker, giving more than 75 keynote presentations and workshops to education, workforce, and corporate events annually. For the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Josh led the training for all 10,000 volunteers and more than 4,000 local service professionals for the event. Training Magazine named him as one of the top 10 trainers under 40 in America and the Denver Business Journal tapped him as one of Denver’s 40 Under 40.

Davies is currently the CEO of The Center for Work Ethic Development, an organization committed to developing workplace skills in the global workforce. Partnering with organizations in 49 states and 6 countries, they equip trainers and teachers to build the workforce of the 21st Century. An avid runner, Josh has been awarded the Mile High Energy Award by Visit Denver, and an honorary Doctorate of Foodservice by the North American Food Equipment Manufacturers Association for his contributions to the industry. He has been appointed by the Governor to serve a second term on the Executive Board of the Colorado Workforce Development Council, and to Chair the State Education and Training Steering Committee. He also chairs the P-Tech Selection Committee for Colorado, and serves on the board of the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative. Josh previously served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, was President of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (CHART), and co-chaired the Colorado State Youth Council.

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