Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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Don Black is a blue-collar guy at heart.

Black, WECA's new apprentice training director, is a self-professed outdoorsman, handyman, and lover of all things career education. "I love the trades, and I love anything that requires your brain and hands to get in sync," said Black.

Black - a native of tiny Jasper, Oregon - majored in sociology at Humboldt State and earned a master's degree in business from Regis University. With these degrees under his toolbelt, Black forged a successful career in the financial aid sector and the operations sector, respectively, at institutions such as Humboldt State, George Fox University, and the Universal Technical Institute.

"I have loved being a part of helping others achieve their career goals, am passionate about education that is directly connected to a career and love that WECA connects its apprentices and trainees directly with a career," said Black.

For Black, his new job isn't just a job. It's a deeply held conviction and passion, one that extends all the way back to his pre-college days when he set his sights on becoming a carpenter.

"I believe I am on this earth to help others achieve things they may not have thought possible, and [to help them] be the best version of themselves," said Black. "I am a coach and a mentor - my job is to help the instructors be the best they can be in connecting content to students to ensure understanding of the training, and to connect the content to the learner so that the learner can engage with and absorb the material."

And it seems that Black's contemporaries - such as WECA executive director and CEO Terry Seabury - agree with his sentiments.

"Don has contributed to the association from day one," said Seabury. "He recently held a comprehensive and much-needed three-day apprenticeship instructor meeting and led his team in many collaborative discussions on issues and opportunities for improvement. The future progress and continuous improvement Don and his team are already planning are sure to impress us all."

According to Black, his approach ensures "an environment that allows for students' differences" and states that "students will learn all that they need, and our members will have great apprentices and employees".

Black's approach to success, however, doesn't stop with WECA. He also considers the long game - life after WECA.

"Take your training seriously, and don't dismiss the soft skills," said Black. "90 percent of success is showing up on time, being able to learn, working as part of a team, and problem solving. These are critical skills that will grow your career and your paycheck."