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Securing Our Nation, Building The Future: Registered Apprenticeship Accelerator Business Learning Event

October 11, 2023 @ 8:00 am - 11:30 am

Businesses, educators, community leaders, partners and legislators are invited to Securing Our Nation, Building the Future: Semiconductors, Nano Technology, and Manufacturing Supply Chain Registered Apprenticeship Accelerator, a free business learning event,

Learn About Registered Apprenticeships and Network with Industry Leaders at this Free Business Learning Event

Businesses, educators, community leaders, partners and legislators are invited to Securing Our Nation, Building the Future: Semiconductors, Nano Technology, and Manufacturing Supply Chain Registered Apprenticeship Accelerator, a free business learning event, happening on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 from 8:00 am to 11:30 am at Canaveral Port Authority.

Continental breakfast, Networking, and Interactive Discussions

Learn about the CHIPS Act Initiative, protecting our economy and national security, hear from Mack Technologies Inc., Florida’s first Semiconductor Registered Apprenticeship, get an update on Florida’s Apprenticeship program from the Florida Department of Education, and more.



Mike Russo NIIT

Mike Russo, President – National Institute for Innovation and Technology (NIIT)

Mr. Russo is the President and CEO of the National Institute for Innovation and Technology (“NIIT”), a 501c3 with a mission, which is to identify roadblocks to innovation in strategic industry sectors and ensure they are eliminated. Under his leadership, the NIIT is responsible for executing the strategy to develop the nation’s talent pipeline for tech-based industries and advanced manufacturing with a major focus on the semiconductor sector and nanotechnology related industries. Prior to the NIIT, Mr. Russo served for more than a decade in senior leadership positions in the semiconductor industry in policy development, government affairs and the development and execution of strategies to support infrastructure and workforce development. Mr. Russo has also served as a private sector advisor to the U.S. government in the areas of manufacturing and industrial base policy, and lead the private sector advisory group for the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation Institute (now Manufacturing USA) under the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP). Mr. Russo has also served as a senior staffer in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. With more than 3 decades experience in manufacturing, Mr. Russo is a subject matter expert in skills-based learning and has extensive experience in workforce and organizational development, supply chain innovation and security, and infrastructure development.

Martha Ponge

Martha Ponge, National Director of Apprenticeships – National Institute for Innovation and Technology (NIIT)

Martha Ponge is the Director of National Apprenticeships for NIIT, leading the Institute’s team supporting programming related to developing the nation’s workforce for strategic industry sectors. She is responsible for the development and execution of the apprenticeship programs across the US in strategic industry sectors, including supporting NIIT’s GAINS (Growing Apprenticeships in Nanotechnology and Semiconductors) Program, under a national contract with the US DOL. A workforce development professional, Martha has more than 25 years of experience supporting individuals of all ages and experience levels as they explore career ladder employment opportunities in high tech, high demand industry sectors. Prior to joining NIIT, Martha served as the Director of Apprenticeship for the NYS Manufacturer’s Association (MACNY), a statewide alliance of manufacturing associations supporting manufacturers’ ability to maintain global competitiveness. While there, she was instrumental in establishing MACNY as the first manufacturing association to act as a group sponsor and intermediary for registered apprenticeships in NYS, missioned to increase the skills of the current and future workforce. While at MACNY, Martha also served as the COO of Partners for Education & Business, their K-12 programming and workforce development affiliate. Before joining MACNY in 2016, Martha was a dedicated high school Career and Technical Education teacher devoted to preparing students for engineering careers. She also served as an adult training instructor for BOCES and as tenured faculty member at State University of New York Broome County in the Engineering Science Department. A graduate of Clarkson University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Martha also holds a Master’s degree in Vocational and Technical Education.

Scott Ellsworth

Scott Ellsworth, Principal & Owner – Ellsworth Consulting

Scott Ellsworth is the Principal and Owner of Scott Ellsworth Consulting and Sherpa Management Solutions. His work with NIIT is to support employers in the development and implementation of effective apprenticeship programs to build their workforce in the semiconductor, nanotechnology and bioenergy sector. This work is also focused on driving greater inclusion of all populations in the workforce. Prior to founding Scott Ellsworth Consulting, Scott was the Director of Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU), a Washington DC-based advocacy and education organization. He also has over 25 years of experience in managing a variety of manufacturing firms both large and small, including most recently as VP and General Manager of US Operations for Tipco Punch in Hamilton, Ohio. Scott holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Louisville and an MBA from LSU-Shreveport.

Anne Everly

Anne Everly, MPM, Apprenticeship Training Representative – Florida Department of Education

Anne Everly serves as the Florida Department of Education Apprenticeship Training Representative for Region 6 which supports Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, Port St. Lucie, Martin and Ocheechoobie Counties. Anne has more than 15 years of experience working in Secondary Education as the Program Manager for the Take Stock in Children Scholarship and Mentoring Program for Middle and High School Students and the Preapprenticeship and Student Internship Coordinator for the Brevard Public Schools Career and Technical Education Program. Anne also serves on the Brevard Schools Foundation Take Stock in Children Leadership Council and has a passion for helping students find successful career paths.

Melissa Byers CareerSource Brevard

Melissa Byers, Business Liaison and Apprenticeship Navigator – CareerSource Brevard

Melissa Byers has more than six years of post-secondary technical school education from working at the Motorcycle/Marine Mechanics Institute. While there, she successfully implemented the integration of OEM manufacturer’s certifications into the student curriculum to enhance the learning experience and ensure the training met manufacturers’ standards. Today, as a Business Liaison with CareerSource Brevard, Melissa serves the workforce needs of Brevard’s construction and hospitality employers. Additionally, Melissa was selected by the State of Florida to serve as the State of Florida’s Apprenticeship Navigator for the Brevard County area, which falls within State Region 6. Region 6 includes three workforce boards: CareerSource Brevard, CareerSource Flagler Volusia, and CareerSource Research Coast. As an Apprenticeship Navigator, Melissa is tasked with raising awareness of and educating the area’s businesses on the benefits of an apprenticeship program. Since becoming an Apprenticeship Navigator, Melissa has formed regional partnerships, resulting in a robust network focused on paving logical apprenticeship pathways. One such partnership includes Anne Everly, Apprenticeship Training Representative with the State of Florida. Together, their efforts helped launch the region’s inaugural Virtual Apprenticeship Career Fair in partnership with CareerSource Flagler Volusia and CareerSource Research Coast. They have created the first registered apprenticeship within the Healthcare sector in Brevard County. They are finalizing a new registered apprenticeship program that is the first in the nation for Surface Mount Technician (SMT) Operators. This duo has gone on to present, train, and speak at many events on apprenticeship at the local and state level and has had some interest from those at the national level. Melissa credits much of her apprenticeship knowledge, including the funding opportunities and policies involved, to Susan Bosse, Director for Apprenticeship at CareerSource Florida, and Anne Everly.

Christina Slate

Christina Slate, Co-Owner, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer – Peay’s Electric II, Inc.

Christina, co-owner, serves as Vice President, Secretary & Treasurer for Peay’s Electric II, Inc. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from North Carolina State University. Christina’s background is in the retail grocery business. She was employed by The Kroger Co. starting as a cashier during college and was quickly promoted through the ranks in management from store level in North Carolina into the division office in Virginia. Her last position was as Deli/Bakery Merchandiser for the Mid-Atlantic region overseeing 133 locations. She was employed by Kroger for 14 years before relocating to Florida for family reasons. She acquired her Journeyman’s license in 2009 and her registered electrical contractor’s license in 2010. She graduated in 2011 with electrical certifications for completing the Brevard Electrical Apprenticeship Program from Brevard Community College and the Florida Department of Education. Christina is the current qualifier/license holder for Peay’s Electric II, Inc. Christina’s main responsibilities include overseeing office operations including job bids/estimating and customer service, financial planning and management, electrical code changes and implementation/compliance and scheduling. Christina is also active in the community serving as Secretary for the Brevard Electrical Apprenticeship Program Advisory Committee as a strong supporter of the trade and education and is the past President for the Home Builders and Contractors Association of Brevard.

Lola Giacona

Lola Giacona, Program Coordinator – Brevard Electrical Apprenticeship Training Program

Lola serves as the Program Coordinator of the Brevard Electrical Apprenticeship Training Program and has worked for the Program for over 20 years. In her role as the Program Coordinator she is responsible for the successful operation, monitoring and compliance of the Registered Electrical Apprenticeship Program with the State of FL, as well as with the Veteran’s Administration. Lola’s passion is working closely with the Apprentices supporting them and helping them as they each pursue and achieve their goal of Apprenticeship Program Completion; and then hopefully to further their career by obtaining their Journeyman, Masters and/or Contractor’s license. Lola has a past relationship with apprenticeship since her father, after leaving the Air Force, was a student of the HVAC program at Melbourne Community College; and her husband took both the Machining program and the Auto Mechanics program at Brevard Community College. Lola fully believes that all good, strong and growing communities have a foundation of trade education within its midst, which motivates her to pursue local high schools in Brevard County to request that they have job fairs for their graduating students. Lola was born and raised in Melbourne, and has lived in Brevard County for all of her life. She enjoys church activities, spending time with her husband Lou, of 39 years, and traveling.


This event is brought to you by:

Florida Department of Education, National Institute for Innovation and Technology (NIIT), FloridaMakes, and Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast


October 11, 2023
8:00 am - 11:30 am
Event Category:


Canaveral Port Authority
445 Challenger Road, Suite 301
Cape Canaveral, FL 32920 United States
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