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

Barkett was honored recently by NAWIC’s Jackson chapter for his inspiring leadership and drive to provide a safe, happy, and productive work environment for employees.

“Mike has created a ‘family’ atmosphere that goes beyond merely being a place to work,” said NAWIC member Dianna Zendejas, who also serves as MCEF’s assessment administrator and marketing and public relations director. “He’s an educator at heart, always encouraging staff to grow personally and professionally, to do our best and to be our best. He never refuses a request that will make us stronger as an individual or as an organization.”

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’s 112 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 state-of-the-art training centers for adult craft learners in the Jackson metro area and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, launching a comprehensive summer construction camp for eighth through 12th graders, and working to create a training program for veterans and inmates that supports the construction industry and provides a true second chance to participants.

“Receiving this prestigious award from NAWIC 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 appreciate the opportunities to partner with their members on local projects and look forward to working with them in the future to help build Mississippi’s construction workforce.”

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