Guy Cecil

Front Page Summary: 

An interview with former National TSA President, Guy Cecil, about the impact TSA has had on his personal and professional life.


Posted with permission by the Association for Career and Technical Education. Access the orginial podcast at

ACTE: So what was your experience in the Technology Student Association (TSA)?
Guy Cecil: I was an active member of TSA for six years, as part of the Florida TSA. I joined the organization as a result of a graphics communication class that was part of our elective requirement in junior high, and I immediately became involved, partly just because we had a very active teacher who was recruiting students to be a part of the organization. And since then, my involvement included running for local and state office. I served as the Florida TSA president. And eventually, my senior year of high school, I was the national TSA president, which gave me an opportunity to travel around the country talking about the importance of TSA, competing in competitive events, participating in leadership activities and community service projects. And really a lot of what I apply on a day-to-day basis today I learned as a result of serving in a leadership capacity in TSA.
ACTE: So what career and technical education courses did you take?
Guy Cecil: I took a graphics communication class. I took a manufacturing class, in seventh grade. A long time ago.
ACTE: Did you continue that in high school?
Guy Cecil: Interestingly enough, my high school did not have technology education courses until after I graduated. The student members of my high school chapter continued to be engaged and involved. We continued recruiting students to be a part of TSA, and we participated in competitive events and oftentimes would travel to our local junior high to put our events together with our adviser.
ACTE: So how did you get from there to your experiences now? We know that you’ve worked a lot in the political arena.
Guy Cecil: I did. I went to the University of Florida, and after I graduated, I taught high school and worked for an education nonprofit that developed partnerships between local public high schools in Boston and local corporations. And while I was working with the nonprofit, I went in to volunteer for a local congressional campaign, and after about two weeks of volunteering they offered me a job. My two most recent jobs were, one, I was the political director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and we worked to recruit and raise money and support Democrats who are running for the U.S. Senate around the country, and then, most recently, I was the national political director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president.
ACTE: So what are you doing now?
Guy Cecil: I am the president of a public affairs and issue advocacy firm, based in D.C., called Thomas Circle Strategies. We help nonprofits and corporations and different coalitions to develop advocacy campaigns. The idea being that, you know, campaigns are pretty unique. They usually run over a short period of time. They’re very intense. You often work, 18, 20 hours a day. You’re attached to your phone or your BlackBerry or your iPhone. And really, there is no such thing as time off or a day off.

And I think one of the things that I do now is apply a lot of the lessons I learned from political campaigns and use them to work with nonprofits and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and organizations, corporations, when they have issues. They may be government issues, they may be reorganizing issues. It may be a nonprofit that has a particular political issue they want to work with. I still stay involved in TSA. I’m a sponsor of a competitive event. I’ve traveled to a couple of national conferences and state conferences since I graduated, and I’m always looking for new ways to get involved.
ACTE: Now that we have a new administration and a new education secretary, what do you think is the future of CTE funding and support for science, technology, engineering and math?
Guy Cecil: Well, I’m cautiously optimistic. I think that the Obama Administration and Secretary Duncan are very focused on education. We’ve seen that with the stimulus package and the amount of money that they are using specifically for school reconstruction. So I think we have a unique opportunity to make our case. The caution comes because we all need to do our part. There are lots of organizations and interests that are all competing for the attention and time and money of the decision-makers here in Washington. And I think that it’s really important for educators and members of your organization and members of CTSOs to call and write and communicate with their members of Congress to express to them why it’s important that we increase funding and why we pay particular attention to science, technology, education and CTSOs and the Perkins Act. Because, again, I do think that we are in a pretty unique position to make a difference in the classroom and beyond.
ACTE: So with your experience with campaigning and with working on issues advocacy, do you have any advice on what kind of message we should be getting out there about the benefits of CTE and CTSOs?
Guy Cecil: I certainly know the impact that TSA had on me and my life, and I know that there are thousands of people who can share some of their stories about FFA or FBLA or other organizations that they were a part of. And so I think it’s important that people share their personal story, because I think one of the things that gets lost in these discussions, a lot of times, is that story, because we focus so much on how many millions of dollars that we lose sight of the impact that we can have.