PAACE was created in 1978 and now serves nearly 1,000 members. PAACE is the only statewide professional organization in Pennsylvania which serves as an advocate for adult and continuing education. The membership includes professionals and volunteers from all aspects of adult continuing education, that is adult basic and general education, English as a second language, continuing higher education, literacy education, and workforce development. These cohort groups are the basis for the association’s programming structure with each group having its program division director on the board of directors.
In February 1998 the CEA/PA Board of Directors voted to join forces and partner with PAACE. The partnership was initially discussed by Dr. David Dentler, then president of PAACE, and Dr. Jan Orris, then president of CEA/PA. The two were brought together by Dr. Evelyn Mayer, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (now retired). After a number of meetings, there was consensus that this would be good for all concerned.
The next step was for the boards of PAACE and CEA/PA to consider this proposal for a partnership. Each board met numerous times before an agreement was determined. The partnership, which was announced at the 1998 Midwinter Conference in Hershey, essentially made CEA/PA the Continuing Higher Education (CHE) Division of PAACE.
The benefits have been good for both parties. For PAACE, there is now an active CHE division. For CEA/PA, there is access to the benefits of a larger organization: a large annual conference, a larger membership, and access to an active political and legislative effort.