Construction Career Pathways

The Construction Careers Pathway (CCP) Alliance is a collaborative effort to provide year-round construction career exploration opportunities for MN youth. The intent of CCP is to provide work-based learning exposure starting in middle school and concluding with a career in the Minnesota construction industry. An additional intention is to ensure outreach emphasis is given to females and members of minority and immigrant groups who historically have been under-represented in the construction industry.

In 2016, the Minnesota State Legislature appropriated funds to the Construction Careers Foundation (CCF), comprised of contractors, trade associations and labor leadership to support CCF in guiding the overall CCP implementation phases and program expansion. *

The CCP Alliance has multiple strategic partners within the construction industry, labor, community, education and government.

*Funds for this project were appropriated in 2016 Minnesota Session Laws, Ch. 189, HF. 2749, Art. 12, Sec. 2, Subd 2(x).

Construction Careers Foundation

The Construction Careers Foundation (CCF) mission is to “Increase the diversity of entrants into the construction trades and to enhance young people’s access to construction-related employment opportunities”

Founded in 1994, CCF, a 501 c 3 not-for-profit organization, is guided by a volunteer board comprised of construction-business owners, management firms trade associations and labor leadership. Individuals representing the following groups serve on the board of directors: Carpentry Contractors, MN Drywall & Plasterers, MN Environmental Contractors, Floorcovering, Painting & Wallcovering, MN Mechanical Contractors the Minneapolis and St. Paul Chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association, Thermal Insulation and the Minneapolis and St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Councils.

As employers of our current and future workers, and experts in the construction industry, the CCF board members are committed to creating opportunities to recruit, prepare and retain motivated individuals who are representative of Minnesota’s future workforce.

CCF is one of the few organizations in Minnesota in which multiple construction trades and their related trade association’s partner with schools, teachers, students, parents, labor and business. Our shared vision is to motivate underrepresented youth to graduate from high school, afford them the opportunity to explore the various opportunities in the construction trades, and facilitate their entrance into careers in their chosen trade.

Team Members



Pat Wagner is the Construction Careers Foundation (CCF) Executive Director. She serves as a visionary for CCF and, as a result, is responsible for achieving the mission and goals of the organization through collaboration with the CCF Board of Directors, staff, consultants and strategic partners. In addition, Pat is responsible for fund-raising to ensure that all programs and activities are adequately supported.

Pat grew up in Racine, Wisconsin, earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her master’s degree from Mankato State University. She is an avid hiker and tree hugger.

Her passion is to impact equal access to jobs that can sustain individuals their family members and their communities.



Senior Director of Construction Careers Foundation (CCF), is deeply passionate about co-creating sustainable equity work for Minnesota families. She believes in the butterfly effect, where a sustainable wage for one individual will impact a whole community. Before joining CCF Sarah worked as the Program Director for Trading UP, was a Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Saint Paul and was Adjunct Faculty at North Hennepin Community College.

Sarah grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota and earned her Masters Degree in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota. In her spare time you may find Sarah on motorcycle adventures, exploring the outdoors with her two children or learning new skills such as glass fusion and SCUBA diving.

Leigh Combs

Outreach and Media Coordinator, Construction Careers Pathways

Leigh Combs is the outreach and media coordinator for Construction Careers Pathways (CCP). She has a long and solid career working with, and for, Minnesota’s youth and families in many different capacities. She is excited to bring her experience, skills, networks and passion to the CCP team. Leigh has been involved in the arts in the Twin Cities producing live theatre, performing on stage and in film, producing radio shows, and performing as an on-air radio personality. In addition, community organizing, board participation and volunteering have been lifetime passions motivated by a desire for social justice and equity. Leigh has lived in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood in South Minneapolis for more than 20 years and relishes her time up north in the woods.



Director of Minnesota Trades Academy, first served as a Youth Crew Leader for this program for 7 years; and in 2015, he became and has been honored to serve as the Director over all the crews. Originally from Nigeria, Sam came to the United States in 1983 and lived in Menomonie , Wisconsin, before moving to the Twin Cities area in 1986. Sam is deeply committed to working with our youth. He has been involved in the high school education system since 1997 where he has focused on behavior intervention and youth counseling. Through MTA, Sam hopes to be an ambassador for young men and women to create a pathway for a possible career in the construction trades.



Joel Welter is the Minnesota Director of the Helmets to Hardhats program. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, a member of Pipefitters Local 539, and an Army Reserve Soldier. He is excited about this position because it is an opportunity for him to help veterans find quality careers. He lives in St. Anthony Village with his wife and their two children, and two German Shepherds.

Justin Rost

Interim Director, Helmets to Hardhats

Justin Rost is the interim director of the Minnesota Helmets to Hardhats program. As a United States Marine Corps veteran and a second generation local 10 sheet metal worker in the Twin Cities, he has seen first hand the opportunities the construction trades have to offer. Justin is excited to help veterans who may be unemployed or underemployed find a career with the union construction trades. Justin is an avid outdoorsman and car enthusiast. Justin lives in Zimmerman, Minnesota with his wife and two daughters.



Donna Kusske is the Director of the Building Minnesota Apprentice Program (BMA). Her focus is on increasing awareness and participation of building construction apprenticeship programs throughout Minnesota. Donna raises the visibility of BMA by promoting the program within the construction industry. She was born and raised in Minnesota and attended Inver Hills Community College. Prior to joining BMA, Donna owned & operated a Mechanical Contracting Company for 19 years and worked as a Senior Buyer for a General Contractor in Minnesota. In her spare time she enjoys golf, fishing & the outdoors. Donna, her husband & their black Labrador live in Hastings.



Vicki Sandberg currently serves as a CCF industry consultant with over 26 years of professional experience in the organized construction industry. Vicki was born and raised in Virginia, MN and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Communications and Sociology. Vicki’s expertise lies in marketing, building collaborative partnerships and bringing labor, management, education and community together for the advancement of equal employment, training and career opportunities. Her passion is to expose youth to fun and educational construction related events and activities. She is the proud mom of two teenagers and a rescue mastiff lab. She is a huge Disney fan, tap dancer and scuba diver who loves the beach and the ocean.

Construction Careers Foundation Board Members


Gary Thaden

MN Contractors of the National Electrical Contractors Assoc.


Matthew Marquis

MN Mechanical Contractors Association


David Manderson

National Electrical Contractors Association - Minneapolis


Tom Holmberg

Hunt Electric Corp

Luke Kuhl

National Electrical Contractors Association – Saint Paul

Jay Long

Rainbow, Inc. - Industrial/Commercial
Painting Contractors

Dan McConnell

Mpls Building and Construction Trades Council

Don Mullin

Saint Paul Building and Construction Trades Council

Ammanda Neitz

Harris Companies

Construction Careers Foundation Strategic Partners

Association of General Contractors (AGC)
Apprenticeship Coordinators Association of MN (ACAM)
Bloomington Career Academy
City of Minneapolis (STEP UP)
City of Saint Paul Facilities Department
City of Saint Paul (Right Track)
City of Saint Paul (HREEO)
Clifton Larson Allen
Construct Tomorrow
Department of Employment and Economic Development
Eagan High School
Greater Twin Cities United Way
Helmets to Hardhats National
JE DUNN Construction
Irondale/Moundsview Public Schools
Kraus-Anderson Construction
McGough Construction
MN Department of Labor & Industry
MN State Legislature
Minneapolis Building & Construction Trades Council
Minneapolis Public Schools
Minneapolis YWCA
OPUS Foundation
PCL Construction
Pocket Hercules
Ramey County (Youth Lead)
Roseville School District
Ryan Companies
Saint Paul Building & Construction Trades Council
Saint Paul Public Schools
St. Louis Park Public Schools
White Bear Lake Public Schools