About Us

ABEC, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, statewide membership organization, is focused on K-12 public education, while recognizing the importance of:  Early Childhood Development, K-12 Post-Secondary Education, and Workforce Development.

ABEC, with support from community and business partners, is bringing classroom support and tools to students across the State of Arizona.

ABEC’s Career Exploration & Development (ACED) Program is a well-established, robust middle school career exploration program.  The ACED Program was developed to assist students in grades 7-10 in making informed decisions regarding their education and in understanding critical employability skills and workforce credentials.  The Program incorporates a rigorous learning environment and elevated expectations for high school graduation, postsecondary education and training, and ultimately successful entry into the workforce.

“Providing opportunities for young students to experience hands-on, real work experiences is crucial to their future success in developing career goals. Through this exploration, students can begin to understand the importance of their education and relevance to achieving future success in the workforce. The ACED Program provides a framework for engaging business partners and community leaders in meaningful collaboration with our local schools that could help improve student success in school and strengthen the pipeline of a skilled workforce for Arizona.“
Tom Tyree, STEDY Superintendent

Our Vision

Through the ACED Program, ABEC is working to reshape how students are prepared for the future world of work.  The approach involves strategically aligning career exploration activities with local high-demand occupations and integrating work-based learning experiences in the classroom.

The ACED Program can be found in six counties – Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, Cochise, Coconino, and Yuma – within numerous districts and schools. ABEC’s goal is to have ACED in every county in Arizona. ACED currently impacts approximately 5,000 middle school students across the state every school semester!

“Research has identified middle school as a time when students can benefit the most from career exploration, a process of building self-awareness, learning about potential careers, and developing a plan for reaching future goals. Career exploration engages middle school students at a time when they are at a higher risk for disengaging from learning due to challenges in forming identity, coping with puberty and navigating new environments. (Association of Career & Technical Education, May, 2017, Career Exploration in Middle Schools: Setting Students on the Path to Success, p. 1.)”

Our Mission

Through these experiences, students gain real-world insights and acquire essential, basic skills exciting students about future career pathways and providing relevancy to their education. Through the ACED Program, students: 

  • Explore understanding personal interest and passions and how they translate into future career goals and aspirations; 
  • Research and evaluate career options;  
  • Set goals and make plans for achieving career options through the development of an Education Career Action Plan (ECAP) that will follow them into high school and beyond. 

Our Leadership


Vice President - ACED Project Director

Over the past 12-years, Debra Raeder has developed and is the statewide Director for the ACED Project, which provides a model for community-based partnerships between business and education. Immediately prior to working with ABEC, Debra served for six years in the Governor’s Office as part of the education policy team working collaboratively and in partnership with a wide spectrum of education, business, philanthropic and community leaders, as well as policy makers, to strengthen the education continuum in Arizona.  Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Debra served for four years as the Director of Policy for the Arizona Department of Commerce’s Workforce Division.  Debra also served for 12 years as an elected member of the Peoria Unified School District Governing Board. Debra is married, has four sons, and seven grandchildren.


Program Manager

Tyler is a graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in History. He joined ABEC in April of 2022 as a Project Manager and is a valued member of our ACED team. He is a proven leader in his field. He has almost a decade of customer service experience with nationwide companies. Tyler is married, a father of three and enjoys fishing in his free time.