Our Team

We are business, education, and community leaders with expertise in partnering businesses and educators to develop work-based academic programs for young people to explore, learn, and earn money or college level credit.


Vickei Hrdina

Executive Director

Vickei works to align and support career-related initiatives while advocating to ensure all SW Washington students graduate career ready.

Melanie Walker

CTE/Career Readiness Coordinator

Melanie will be working with school districts to help facilitate the implementation of new CTE courses and pathways with a focus on the rural districts and aid with alignment of dual credits and connections to Career Launch and Registered Apprenticeship.

Chad Mullen

STEM and CLL Programs Manager

Chad works with educators, administrators, and community partners to manage and implement Career Connect Southwest’s programs, including Educator Externships, Flipped Internships, Community Teach-Ins, Teacher Connect and other educator professional learning in STEM PBL and Career Connected Learning. Chad also facilitates the Regional Sector Alignment work groups for business, postsecondary and K12 partners and is our liaison to the OSPI Career Connected Learning Coordinator group.

Sharon Purdue

Career Navigator

Sharon collaborates with districts to implement Career Exploration programs like career panels, resume writing workshops, mock interviews and also provide support on improving High School and Beyond planning and Financial Aid Literacy. Sharon also is the main point of contact for nPower Girls in STEM! Sharon mainly supports Pacific, Skamania and Klickitat counties but is happy to help support any district partner.

Christine Katon

Rural Career Navigator

Christine supports school districts in Cowlitz and Wahkiaum counties by connecting students directly to Career Explore, Prep and Launch activities in pathways of their interest. She supports school counselors and employers by streamlining the work-based learning system for the region.

Our Statewide Partners

Career Connect Southwest (SW) is one of nine regional career connected learning networks under the larger Career Connect Washington (CCW) as well as a partner network of Washington STEM.

Career Connect Washington

Career Connect Washington works statewide to combine classroom learning with practical career experiences for youth and young adults.

Washington STEM

Washington STEM advances excellence, innovation, and equity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for all Washington students.


Working with the state’s 295 public school districts and 6 state-tribal education compact schools, OSPI allocates funding and provides tools, resources, and technical assistance so every student in Washington is provided a high-quality public education.