Building Trades on a Roll: Female Academy Class Visits the Carpenters

The Mentorship Academy’s female class held its first career site visit this past week, and our hosts, Local 432 of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, did not disappoint! Students’ heads were spinning after hearing about and seeing what the carpenters trade has to offer.

Carpenters lead presenters Alex and Rich walked the class through all the varied careers that membership in the Carpenters would offer: commercial carpentry, residential carpentry, heavy highway, pile driving, floor laying, cabinet making, and more. After questions, our class split into groups to tour the impressive and state-of-the-art carpenter training center off the Parkway West. The facility buzzed with activity all morning as the next generation of our region’s carpenters were refining their skills at different stations.

Guest speaker Jillian gave a powerful, personal talk to the class; explaining how she decided to join the Carpenters, what it’s like to be a woman in the craft, and how her profession allowed her to live her life as she desired. She shared a great video titled “Sisters in the Brotherhood” that everyone should watch (check it out here).

The class discussed the difference between a job and a career/profession, and how the latter sets the individual up for great wages, differentiated skills that are mobile and in demand, and a sense of pride in performing their skill daily.

We also reviewed how to evaluate different career options when it comes to wages, health care, pensions, 401ks, and profit sharing. Lots of new, technical terms were thrown out there and minds were swimming. However, over the course of the next few months these terms will become second nature to the students, and that knowledge will provide them a leg-up to stand out from the crowd when opportunity knocks.

Another great day for the Mentorship Academy. Now that we wrapped our first site visits for each class, we are going to make a few improvements and make the next visits even better (one of the most important: mandating pizza for lunch for all site visits from here on out!). Stay tuned for a report from our next experience. Till then…best.

The Mentorship Academy is an initiative of CNX Foundation and part of CNX’s commitment to investing in its local community. Designed for high school students who do not plan to immediately attend a four-year college, the Academy is focused on providing urban and rural youth from economically disadvantaged regional Appalachian communities with greater opportunities—helping provide these young adults a bridge to family-sustaining careers. Following the mentorship program, students will have developed new relationships with peers and business leaders across western Pennsylvania, a new excitement for the region’s career opportunities and an understanding of how to pursue those careers.

Trades Showcase Rewarding Careers to Academy Students

The Mentorship Academy’s male class held its first career site visits this past week. Pittsburgh’s Steamfitters Local 449 and Iron Workers Local 3 were exceptional hosts for the day’s two sessions. Thanks to these hosts, our young adults enjoyed eye-opening experiences that will impact how they think about their career paths.

At the morning session, Tom and Mike from the Steamfitters spoke to the class about the different variations of career paths working in this wide-ranging building trade. Steamfitters do everything from welding and threading pipe to HVAC and power plant turbine installations. If it involves heating or cooling, a steamfitter is a go-to skill required to get the job built or maintained.

Students asked Tom and Mike a range of questions about pay, the training required to become certified, how jobs are scheduled, and the impressive suite of benefits that include healthcare, pension, and 401k. The class next went to the state-of-the-art training floor Local 441 built in Harmony, Pa., to do some hands-on welding under the supervision of Mike and team.

Following their introduction to welding, the class heard from Paul and Rick of Iron Workers Local 3 during a quick lunch in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Anytime you see a construction crane, structural steel being erected, or the long cables of steel rebar being set for a big concrete pour, rest assured the iron workers are getting it done. If I had to describe the culture of Iron Workers Local 3 in one word, it would be ‘proud.’

Similar to the morning session, Paul and Rick fielded a flurry of questions from the class regarding a career in iron working. The class was escorted through different instructional stations where they learned about rigging, cranes, tying rebar, and scaling steel beams (we even had a student who made it to the top of the steel beam at the training station and rang the bell).

The day concluded with a pair of talks by Taili and Eric, special Academy guest speakers. Taili spoke about his life journey: from a basketball star and student leader at Pittsburgh’s Perry High, to incarcerated in federal prison for years, to a returning citizen living a productive and fulfilling life. His message hit home to the class: think carefully about what you choose as your identity/association in life and when circumstances change, make sure you refine that identity/association in positive ways. Listening to Taili had me thinking about ways to get his impactful message broadcast far beyond the Mentorship Academy classes.

We wrapped the day with an exercise by Eric where the students thought about the core attributes they want people in their lives to associate with them. And how those attributes could craft a life mission. Food for thought that will hopefully stay with the young adults through the year and beyond.

Key takeaways from this long but productive day: careers that pay family-sustaining wages get young adults’ attention and hand-on experiences (welding, scaling beams, tying rebar) excite. Dynamic site visits, such as today’s, are what the Mentorship Academy is all about. We look forward to continuing to showcase rewarding careers and exciting students for their bright future.

Second Academy Kick Off Session Reveals Importance of Mentors

We launched the female class for the Mentorship Academy this past week. Fifteen young women, mostly high school seniors, from districts across the region’s urban and rural zip codes. The day’s discussions left me with three significant takeaways; including the vital role of mentors, a role if you’re reading this you might be able to help serve.

These high schoolers have drive and ambition. Much like their Academy male peers, when you observe and listen to their interactions, you hear leaders, insight, creativity, individuality, and the desire for independence. It’s truly impressive when you consider these are 17 and 18 year-olds, placed in a group where they enter not knowing those around them, and sit in a new environment not knowing for certain what comes next. No doubt, the raw potential is there.

Second, these young women and men from our region’s underserved communities are keenly focused on figuring out how to progress up the economic ladder to bigger and better things. They see one of two paths: ‘making it’ ala professional sports, music, etc. or being caught in the viscous box that too many of our urban and rural neighbors are trapped in. To most of these young adults, there is an assumption that a traditional path to the middle class is not an option: either make it big or be resigned to not moving forward.

Changing this perception of these high potential individuals is the core purpose and justification for the Mentorship Academy.

Once they see what career paths are open following high school, and what those careers provide for standard of living, the light bulbs will surely go off. Couple that realization with the untapped potential of each student, and great things will begin to occur—for the person and the region.

Third, it is becoming increasingly clear that the success of this effort will hinge on what will link the raw potential/talent of the individual student to the structured program of the Mentorship Academy: the mentor.

The reality is that despite raw potential and a great program design, there are dozens of constant and ominous distractions looking to pull these young adults off the proven path. We convene once every few weeks for a day and achieve great things, but every minute of every other day is filled with pitfalls and perils that are real and entrenched.

The mentor is the key to assuring the student stays on course with the Mentorship Academy and avoids the distractions. And since every young adult is different, that means every mentor-student relationship is going to be different.

We are blessed to have a core team of mentors that know this and are all-in when it comes to focusing on keeping the participants on the critical path. The mentors are about as diverse as one can imagine: sports coaches, corporate professionals, moms and dads, educators, rural residents, urban residents, etc. All of them sharing one thing in common: experiencing a similar journey in their lives to that of the students.

We know the students of the Mentorship Academy’s inaugural class are stacked with potential. We are convinced the program is wired with experiences and content that will yield exciting career and life paths exiting high school. We are sober in recognizing real life out there is going to challenge our campaign. And we are certain the mentors are going to be the answer to that challenge.

If you hail from urban or rural roots and have a passion for mentoring young adults looking to embark on a life career in western Pennsylvania outside of college, please contact us at

Let’s Get It Started – Mentorship Academy Kicks Off

The wise inform us that every day is a gift. Some days I make the most of the gift and other days I fall short.

Then there are those precious few days that stand out above all others. The ones you know you will remember until you, as Shakespeare put it, ‘shuffle off this mortal coil.’

During my 30-plus year career, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain (James Taylor), experienced good times/bad times (Led Zeppelin). And if I took stock of my top ten best, most magical, career days, August 21, 2021, would be on that list.

That’s because that August Saturday was when we put our grand plans for the mentoring academy into action. We went live. It was…awesome. It was the definition of tangible, impactful, and local.
Fifteen dynamic young men. Rural and urban, black and white, all from western PA.

Ten program leaders. Fellow CNX employees, clinical psychologists Shani and Krysta, elite diversity and inclusion experts Dr. Clyde and Ron, businessmen and entrepreneurs John and Jamal.

We gathered to get to know one another, discuss a range of issues, and look ahead to what the mentor academy program will achieve. We settled in at ease, became a bit vulnerable, expressed opinions and thoughts.

The individuals feel the group dynamic and then commit all-in. A virtuous self-fueling cycle of individual-group-individual.

What gets discussed within our sessions stay within the sessions, so I’m not going into specifics. But I can report back on my resolute takeaways:

  • Our youth in underserved communities have massive potential.
  • These young men are smart, and I don’t mean just book-smart or street-smart. I mean smart in the context of awareness and savvy: they know the big issues inside and out, and they can read situations.
  • As wise as they are and as deep as they assess, there are wide swaths of this world and life they have not had the benefit of being exposed to yet. That we can change.
  • They are driven and motivated, but they are unsure of ‘to what’ and ‘how.’ Take their dreams and aspirations, help define a path of ‘to what’ and ‘how,’ and watch achievement in action.
  • If I’m betting on this region, then I am betting on these individuals.

We intended to limit the size of the program to twelve this year. Based on what we saw that Saturday, the only logical answer is to offer admission to all fifteen. This creates a logistics issue, but a good challenge we can solve.

Next up, the kick-off event for the female portion of our program, and then our first formal site visit in late September at the Carpenter’s Training Center with our partners at the Builder’s Guild of Western Pennsylvania. Stay tuned for reports on both.

Yeah, every day is a gift. But some days are better than others (U2).

Deiuliis Addresses 2021 PIOGA Spring Meeting

On Wednesday, May 19, Nick Deiuliis served as the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association’s (PIOGA) keynote speaker for its annual spring meeting.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covered the meeting and Nick’s remarks, writing, “They [attendees] knew what to expect when CNX Resources’ CEO Nick DeIuliis took the podium for his keynote address. He would be the one to speak for them, unapologetically…A self-styled advocate for capitalism, the middle class and for developing nations — which he says will be hurt most by a move away from fossil fuels — Mr. DeIuliis predictably went after the ‘elites’ and ‘academia’ in his speech and said the pursuit of renewable energy gives power to the Chinese Communist Party…”