PEARL ― Dianna Zendejas of Brandon is a 2020 recipient of the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation's President’s Hard Hat Award for her role in improving the quality and outreach of Mississippi’s career and technical education programs.

Zendejas serves as MCEF’s assessment administrator and marketing and public relations director. She has more than 20 years of experience in both workforce development and the construction industry, including six years with MCEF.

“Since Dianna joined MCEF, we have seen a significant improvement in public awareness about the benefits of CTE along with steadily rising student enrollment in CTE programs statewide,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “She brings outstanding project management skills to our team and manages a broad range of responsibilities with enthusiasm and professionalism. She is a true champion for CTE in Mississippi and a valued member of the MCEF team.”

Accreditation by the National Center for Construction Education and Research is a key benefit of Mississippi’s CTE programs. To ensure that students are on track with national standards, Zendejas works with high school programs and counselors to administer tests at the beginning and end of each school year to measure student progress. She also oversees MCEF’s assessment center where adult trainees are tested for NCCER certification.

As MCEF’s director of public relations and marketing, Zendejas coordinates special promotions and events year-round, including the Passport to Careers Expo held in conjunction with the MCEF/SkillsUSA State Championship.

During the Expo, hundreds of eighth graders participate in hands-on craft skills and see the latest tools, equipment and technologies used by Mississippi-based construction companies. Under Zendejas’ direction, MCEF added a workshop to the Expo specifically for counselors, CTE directors, and superintendents, as well as elected officials, to enhance their knowledge about CTE and its role in workforce development.

She also provides support for the Building Futures Summer Camp co-hosted by MCEF and the University of Mississippi, which invites eighth through 10th-graders to explore the design and construction industry; and MCEF’s Trade Up! initiative to raise awareness about the variety of stable, well-paying career paths made possible by CTE.

“It has been very rewarding to be part of a team that is changing perceptions about career and technical education and opening new worlds of opportunity for Mississippi’s students,” Zendejas said. “I look forward to building on our successes and doing even more to strengthen Mississippi’s CTE construction and manufacturing programs through my work with MCEF.”

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more about MCEF at