The Power of Maritime Academy: An LCAN Coordinator’s Experience

Since 2012, the Michigan College Access Network has hosted Maritime Academy, a three-day, intensive dive into the Collective Impact framework as applied to Local College Access Networks.  This invite-only, intimate gathering of LCAN Coordinators from across the state and country are selected to join the staff for a comprehensive training. Last week marked the fourth year of Maritime Academy. The following is a testimonial from Laura Heohn, Livingston Career and College Access Network Coordinator and a 2015 Maritime graduate.

In August of 2015, I was hired as the Career and College Readiness Coordinator for Livingston County. One of the major responsibilities listed in this job description was to build and activate an LCAN. As a former school counselor, leading the creation of a Local College Access Network (LCAN) would fit well in my wheelhouse of interest and experience; I just didn’t know exactly what it was or where to start!

Prior to my first official day on the job, I was handed a manual called “Charting the Course”. I learned that we were in the midst of the planning process, but couldn’t seem to get a lot of traction to move the network forward. I was also asked to spend my first official three days of work in the lovely Traverse City at a training called Maritime Academy in the company of several strangers (the staff at Michigan College Access Network as well as other LCAN Coordinators), who would later become some of my strongest work allies.

Being an eternal nerd, I attempted to read the entire manual prior to arriving at my training on Sunday night. While this was somewhat helpful in giving the direction in what I would be doing, it also produced heart palpitations in fear of how it would be accomplished. This fear was mixed with relief, however, as “Charting the Course” walks the coordinator through a step-by-step process of accomplishing the tasks necessary to create the network. This was, to date, the first job I had that provided detailed instruction in how to be successful!

At Maritime Academy, we were coached through examples and hands on activities to teach us the details of successful Local College Access Network building. I learned I was an “acorn” (MCAN’s term for the newly-developed network) and was privileged to sit in the company of many “oak trees” who were willing to share their best practices as well as their mistakes. Maritime Academy is organized in such a way that you learn from each staff member at MCAN, and have the opportunity to receive guidance from them as well as build relationships critical to the success of our LCAN moving forward.

Upon returning to reality from the up north beauty, I came back to work at Livingston Educational Service Agency (LESA) energized and ready to hit the ground running. By September, we had built a fabulous Leadership Team with many powerful players from Livingston County collaborating around the necessity of post-secondary attainment and completion. In October, this team spent time scouring over data to mine our priority areas. In November, we developed a Common Agenda, and by February, we applied for the Implementation Grant, which was accepted.

Attending Maritime Academy my first day on the job was a huge attribute to the success of our network growth, so I am thankful that LESA had the vision to begin my position this way. Similar to taking golf lessons prior to going out on the course, there was no opportunity for me to pick up bad habits that would later have to be undone. I am happy to say that our grant was accepted and the Livingston Career and College Access Network has been officially activated! 


Guest Author: Laura Heohn, Livingston Career and College Access Network coordinator and 2015 MCAN Maritime Academy graduate

Posted: Sept. 1, 2016


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