Barkett Receives National Award for Education Leadership

PEARL, Mississippi – Veteran educator Mike Barkett, president of the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation, is the recipient of the National Association of Women in Construction’s Carol A. Kueker Construction Education Visionary Award.

Barkett was honored by NAWIC for his visionary leadership and outstanding contributions to construction education during a ceremony in Atlanta on Aug. 23.

“I have witnessed Mike’s passion for the construction industry and his efforts to raise awareness about the importance of career and technical education in Mississippi,” said NAWIC member Peggy Harthcock, who has worked closely with Barkett since joining MCEF’s board in 2003. “His leadership has made a positive difference in building up MCEF programs and membership, and he has also been a dedicated supporter of the local NAWIC chapter.”

A resident of Rankin County, Barkett joined MCEF in 2002 after a 25-year career at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Ridgeland. Today, he directs all MCEF programs, which include training and credentialing for approximately 8,000 secondary students and community college and adult craft professionals. He also works closely with the Mississippi Department of Education and the state’s109 CTE centers to ensure quality utilization of the National Center for Construction Education and Research curriculum.

Barkett has influenced thousands of students seeking careers in Mississippi’s growing construction industry. Under his guidance, MCEF has held annual SkillsUSA competitions for students in secondary, post-secondary and apprentice-level training. MCEF also offers workshops for CTE counselors to increase their understanding of career pathways for construction and manufacturing jobs. In addition, MCEF organizes the annual Passport 2 Careers Expo attended by thousands of eighth graders from across Mississippi and provides a booth to NAWIC.

Barkett’s achievements also include spearheading a state-of-the-art training center for adult craft learners, launching a comprehensive summer construction camp for eighth through 12th graders, and working to elevate the lucrative, stable and diverse career opportunities available to students who complete technical education programs.

“Receiving this prestigious award from the NAWIC Education Foundation is definitely a career highlight,” Barkett said. “I have always been impressed and inspired by their efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of education for the construction industry. I also appreciate opportunities to partner with NAWIC Chapter 28 in Jackson and look forward to working with their members in the future to help build Mississippi’s construction workforce.”

Barkett’s award is named in honor of the late Carol A. Kueker, a long-time trustee and volunteer who served as president of the NAWIC Education Foundation. Founded in 1972, NEF administers a variety of K-12 programs that encourage youth to pursue construction careers and offers a full range of self-study construction industry programs for adults.

The mission of the non-profit MCEF is to promote careers, recruit capable individuals and train a quality workforce for the construction and manufacturing industries in the state of Mississippi. MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades.

Learn more about MCEF at