Member Spotlight - Focus on CPLP

Every month the Metro DC ATD chapter turns the spotlight on members who are making an impact in their professional field and ATD. These members exemplify the mission of ATD. For the next few months we will be focusing on the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) members in our Chapter. If you would like to nominate a member for the spotlight, please contact the VP of Membership at

Margie Hamner

Treca Stark

Ronda Davis

Mary Saunders

Tom Coffey

Mary Lynn Billitteri

Deadra Welcome

Background as a CPLP Recipient

I received my CPLP certification in May of 2010. At the time I was working for the Prince William County Service Authority as their Human Resources and Organizational Development Manager and I was given this development goal.  My work product was on Managing the Learning Function since this was one of my key responsibilities at PWCSA.

Benefits of CPLP 

I gained a broad and thorough overview of the various talent development functions. I also experienced prestige and the ability to put “CPLP” after my name. Now that I run my own leadership development and coaching business, the designation offers me credibility with my clients.

CPLP Fit With Career Plans

When studying for the exam, I learned and gained knowledge in areas of talent development that I had no prior experience, i.e. coaching. This led me to pursue and achieve my ICF Coaching certification.

Experience of Process (study & exam)

I joined a CPLP study group where I was matched with two other ladies, in different industries, who were also pursuing their CPLP certification. We met virtually and divided up the content and took turns teaching each other the material.  All of us passed on the first try!

One Most Important Thing You Wanted to Let Others Know 

It’s an honor to have this designation and I enjoy my continued learning of the talent development field through my membership and participation in the Metro DC ATD Chapter.

Background as a CPLP Recipient

Dr. Treca Stark, CPLP® is committed to helping people learn and leverage technology. She does this in her role as Manager, Technology Training and Multimedia Development and Adjunct Faculty at Prince George’s Community College, where she leads a team of designers, developers, technologists, and trainers and facilitates undergraduate technology courses.

 Stark previously served in training, technologist, and teaching roles at University of Maryland University College, Chesapeake College, ICF, and Strayer University. She has volunteered, published, and presented for organizations such as American Association of Community Colleges via the National Council on Black American Affairs-Northeast (NCBAA-NE), Association for Talent Development, EDUCAUSE, and The League for Innovation in the Community College.

Benefits of the CPLP®

With the CPLP® you become recognized as a leader in the field, and you can have better prospects for roles that call for the credential as mandatory or preferred.  You are also called on for leadership opportunities with national and local chapters of ATD.  Furthermore, you have added structure for your professional development efforts given that it is a requirement for continued identification as a CPLP®.

Fit with Career Plans

I am an information technology, higher education, and training and development professional.  I work in IT, teach undergraduate IT courses, and lead a training and e-learning (instructional multimedia development) team.  Even though I work and identify across three professions, I knew that my work would continue to align with the areas of expertise related to the CPLP® credential.  Each year I engage in work that relates to performance improvement, instructional design, training delivery, learning technologies, evaluating learning impact, managing learning programs, integrated talent management, coaching, knowledge management, and change management.  Although I work in IT, I often partner with our Professional and Organizational Development and Teaching, Learning, and Student Success departments to provide a holistic and technology-enhanced training and development experience for our employees, which include faculty and staff.      

My Experience with the Process

I studied for the CPLP® Knowledge Exam during breaks in between my doctoral classes using the CPLP® Learning System, and I took a week of vacation the week of the exam. I treated myself to a night’s stay at a quiet retreat and breakfast near the testing location to avoid traffic the day of the exam. I also wanted to spend the last night studying in a peaceful environment, and then wake up, be treated to breakfast, and head out to take the exam.

After I successfully passed the Knowledge Exam on the first attempt, I enrolled in an ATD course on preparing for the CPLP® Work Product submission given that I took the exam when the Work Product was still a requirement. However, in 2016 I was also a part of the CPLP® Reviewer team that helped with writing and reviewing the new version of the CPLP® that includes the Skills Application Exam in place of the CPLP® Work Product.  Similar to the Work Product, successfully passing the Skills Application Exam is contingent on your ability to apply what you know to real world scenarios.

 One Most Important Thing to Let Others Know

The CPLP® is a professional certification that requires maintenance.  Therefore, if you will attain it, make sure that you are committed to the profession and will plan on continuing to develop yourself and engage in activities that are required to maintain the credential.  Not all certifications require professionals to keep their knowledge and skills up to date, this is one that does!

Background as a CPLP recipient

I have a technical background, having worked in application programming roles prior to transitioning into technical training.  My formal education was focused on technology and management. At the time, I had BS in Information Systems and Operations Management and a MS in Information Technology and Management from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  I had already obtained my PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification as well as multiple CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster) certifications.  While I had worked in learning and development roles and participated in talent development workshops, training sessions, and conferences, I wanted something that validated me as a learning and performance professional.

Benefits of CPLP 

The greatest benefit I have received from my CPLP is credibility, which has benefited my professional and speaking career.  I earned my CPLP a month before I presented a session at the ATD (Association for Talent Development) 2016 Asia Pacific Conference and Exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan.  It was amazing to see the level of respect I received by presenting at the conference and having obtained the CPLP credential.

CPLP Fit With Career Plans

I made obtaining the CPLP one of my personal professional development goals.  Since becoming a CPLP, I have received recognition and have been able to take on more exciting (and challenging) responsibilities in my role as the Training Manager at MicroPact, a software company based in Herndon, Virginia, and have received additional professional opportunities.   I feel that I have been consulted more for my “expert opinion” since obtaining the certification.  I am preparing to launch my new business, Elevation 52, where having expertise and credibility will be essential.

Experience of Process (study & exam)

To prepare for the CPLP Knowledge Exam, I studied all the materials provided by ATD, which is now called the CPLP Learning System, that covers the areas of expertise included in the exam.  I took the practice exams available on the ATD website to learn which areas where I was already strong as well as which areas where I needed more work.  I devoted a large part of my study time to the areas where I had the most room the improve. Another great resource that I found helpful as I was preparing was a free e-book by Trish Uhl called “Mastering the CPLP: How to Successfully Prepare for – and Pass! – the CPLP Knowledge Exam.” I also reached out to others who had already obtained their CPLP to gain insights from their experiences.

While I passed the Knowledge Exam on my first attempt, I missed passing the second portion of the CPLP, the Work Product, by half of a point.  Around this time, ATD was in the process of redesigning the CPLP and I was invited to participate in the pilot rollout of the new Skills Application Exam (SAE). I jumped on the opportunity.  As for preparation, since it was a pilot, there were no new study materials provided, so I just studied the Learning System.  Several weeks after I took the SAE, I found out I had passed the exam and I was now a CPLP!

One Most Important Thing You Wanted to Let Others Know

While preparing for the CPLP exams, take advantage of all the resources available to you: information on the ATD website, the CPLP Study Group offered through the Metro DC ATD Chapter, and by reaching out to those who already gone through the process.  Once you become a CPLP, utilize the benefits available to you: a private CPLP networking group, CPLP-only sessions as well as priority seating at the International Conference & Exposition, and being part of an awesome group of CPLPs.

Background as a CPLP Recipient

I have been in the training field for twenty years. As with most training professionals of my generation, I became a training professional by chance. My Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are both in English Literature. So, naturally, reading, writing and presenting are my passions. How did I become a training professional? Someone saw something in me and gave me a chance, taking me under her wing and giving me a project much too large for my experience. My first training job in 1998 was to write a technical training guide for Kronos, a time and attendance software. I then travelled the country with a trunk of laptops teaching from my training guide in hospitals and nursing homes. I knew I had found my career and never looked back.

Benefits of CPLP

My CPLP credential has definitely given me more confidence when considering and speaking about training at work. It has also allowed me to think about other areas of expertise and how to integrate them into my work. My brain just naturally goes now to the ATD Competency Model and Areas of Expertise when I work on projects. These tools go beyond just training and talent development. I apply them every day as I write instructional material for my clients.

CPLP Fit with Career Plans

My career plans are to continue providing the best technical writing and training that I can at American Woodmark Corporation. Having my CPLP credential gives me the confidence to lead writing and training projects, which will hopefully give me the exposure to advance at my company.

Experience and Process

I passed the Knowledge Exam the first time I took it November, 2014. I was surprised when I passed it. I thought the test was very difficult. I prepared by simply reading and taking notes using The Learning System, but I am mainly a visual learner. I also joined the CPLP Candidates group on LinkedIn®, which helped a lot because I could post questions and receive exam tips and tricks. This gave me the outlet I needed for having discussions about the exam and satisfying my auditory learning style.

The next phase of the exam for me was the Work Product, which I chose to be Instructional Design. This was a very long, arduous process which ended with a failing grade, which was very disappointing as the time and effort for this part of the exam was enormous. I attended an online class presented by ATD to prepare for it, but it just wasn’t enough. The problem that I discovered as I prepared was that my work does not involve all the phases of Instructional Design, particularly as it involves needs analysis to prove that the project’s worth. So, I could not produce proof that I perform all phases of instructional design.

Then, ATD announced that the Work Product was being replaced by a Skills Application Exam (SAE), and I had a renewed focus on passing as it was now obtainable. I always knew the methods used in the ATD Competency Model and followed them as much as my work allowed, but now I could prove it. I selected the Training Delivery SAE and began studying the relevant sections of The Learning System again. I also attended an online class presented by Trish Uhl from Owl’s Ledge LLC, which proved to be invaluable. As the first cohort to take the exam, there were no inside tips about the exam. But, Trish’s class gave me the outlet I needed to discuss and learn as I prepared. I took the exam in August 2016, which was my last chance to pass before my Knowledge Exam score expired – pressure! I was relieved to find out that I has passed the exam in October 2016, making me the first person at American Woodmark to be CPLP® certified.

Most Important Thing

Being CPLP® certified is one of my proudest professional accomplishments and will be yours, too. You can do it if you try! I have helped two of my colleagues study for (and pass) their exams since I achieved my certification. I’m happy to help you as well. Feel free to reach out to me at

Background as a CPLP Recipient

I have held several Training Management positions throughout my career in several industries, so as a trainer I was definitely motivated to apply.

Benefits of CPLP

CPLP certification is confirmation of having knowledge that is directly applicable to the training profession. The certification has become a preferred requirement in many position descriptions relating to learning and performance as organizations recognize its value. I can personally attest to this, as one of the deciding factors for my selection for a position was based on having the CPLP.

However, I believe the underlying value is in the process of preparing for the exam. It is my experience that few, if any, professionals in the learning and performance arena use all of the areas of expertise in their organizational function. Preparing for the exam led me to develop more proficiencies in the areas that I did not normally utilize, which enabled me to expand my capabilities, adding value to the organization as well as increasing my career marketability.

 CPLP fit in Career Plans

As a learning and performance professional, the CPLP designation is an ongoing component in my professional development. I just recertified for 3 more years, and will continue to maintain the credential.

Experience of Process (study & exam)

I was in the first cohort of applicants for the certification in 2005, receiving the designation in 2006. The program has come a long way since that time. I have previously instructed several cohorts online for ASTD (prior to becoming ATD) for those who were preparing for the exam. The learning system that is now available is an excellent resource if not an essential for preparing for the exam. The Metro DC Chapter has incorporated study groups for several years, and has offered other resources within the chapter as well.

One Most Important Thing 

I am also instructing online prep classes for SHRM, and one piece of advice I can offer for anyone sitting for a professional exam is to collect as many sample questions that you can to practice and review. Having the overall subject knowledge is important, but it is extremely valuable to have a bank of practice questions that are formatted as they appear on the exam.

There are many resources for these through ATD, training providers, independent consultants, etc.

Just doing an internet search can provide a good list. Many providers have a fee to get some resources, but I have found several that will give you a few (10 or so) free, with the answers and rationale. So even doing a search and collecting the “free” resources can add some depth to your bank. 



I had been in the field of talent development for twenty years before receiving my CPLP. Previously I managed sales training programs, worked in human resource management positions, and designed and directed leadership development programs and seminars.  Currently I manage the educational programming for the American Physical Therapy Association, the national membership association of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and educators.


After pursuing courses toward a master’s degree in human resource management, I found that earning the CPLP certification was a better fit for my professional goals. Having specialized in a few areas of expertise over the years, I wanted to broaden my education and knowledge of other areas. I also wanted to build on and validate my years of experience in the field and be able to identify best practices that I could incorporate in my professional position. I would say that turned out to be one of the greatest benefits, being able to apply what I learned in my day-to-day role, and to be viewed as an expert in talent development.

 Career Plans

My organization has an excellent benefits program and really values lifelong learning. Being surrounded by licensed health care professionals I can see how they immediately apply what they’ve learned to benefit their clients, and continuously seek out evidence to support their practice. This rang true for me too. I wanted to know that I had the most current information, and evidence, for the various areas of expertise in our field. The ATD Learning System is a great resource to get you started.

 Experience of Process

This was a multi-year process for me. I took an ATD instructor-led online course that was very helpful. The following year I participated in the Chapter CPLP Study Group. Having to teach some portions, and being prepared to discuss others, really reinforced my knowledge. Also, I viewed several ATD webcasts pertaining to studying for and taking the exam. There are numerous ATD resources including: an interactive guide, study plan, practice test, handbook, and self-paced on demand courses. Time management and sticking to the plan is key! I took the study plan and at the end of it wrote down when I was going to take the knowledge exam and then back-tracked from that date to include blocking out study time for each area of expertise, vacations, and work-related commitments.

 Most Important Thing

Keep trying! I passed the knowledge exam on my first try but did not pass what was then the “work product submission.” You are offered another chance to pass the 2nd part, and I pursued that. At that time, ATD was just switching over to the Skills Application Exam, and I studied for and passed that.  Taking exams can be anxiety-producing. Give yourself time to study, review, and relax before the exams.

My Background

I am the Founder and CEO of Concerning Learning LLC, who is a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP), Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM), and a Kirkpatrick Bronze Level Certification credential holder. I use my over 20 years of experience and passion for learning and development to help others make learning extraordinary!

I have trained thousands of people in corporations, non-profit entities, and government agencies on business, human resources, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and leadership development topics to achieve improved organizational and individual performance. I am also the author of "Don't Get Left Behind and founded the Extraordinary Learning Academy where I train other trainers to design, develop, and deliver inspiring, engaging, and actionable learning experiences.

In addition to being a training consultant, I am an active Metro DC Association for Talent Development (ATD) Chapter member, speaker, and leader as well as a content contributor and past member of the ATD Leaders Conference Program Advisory Committee (ALC PAC).

In my spare time, you can find me with my family and exploring different restaurants.

Benefits of CPLP

Earning the CPLP credential has been a rewarding experience. It differentiates me from other talent development (TD) professionals by proving that I have demonstrated the knowledge and skills in 10 areas of expertise (AOE) covered by the certification. The CPLP credential has given me an advantage with seeking CPLP-preferred jobs as well as allowed me to stand out and be chosen as a thought-leader and content contributor for ATD’s Learning and Development Community of Practice.

How Being a CPLP Fits into My Career Plans

I cannot describe the amount of learning that takes place as I prepared for the CPLP exam. Although I was in the TD field for 15 years before deciding that I wanted to earn my CPLP credential and already seen as an expert in the field, I felt like there were so many AOEs that I had not mastered. My work had not been proven or reviewed by other experts in the field. My primary reason for acquiring the credential was to be able to validate my existing knowledge and skills. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of new knowledge and skills I gained! For me obtaining my CPLP credential, has been a career game-changer because it has boosted my confidence and elevated my status amongst my peers.

Experience of the Process

I obtained my CPLP credential when there was a knowledge exam and submission of a work product. Not only did I have to demonstrate that I knew the 10 AOEs, I had to show that I could complete an actual instructional design work product. The hardest part of the process, for me, was the knowledge exam because I was already doing the work without knowing all of the foundational theories and principles.

I decided that I would seek my CPLP credential after determining that the demands of Master’s program were not conducive to my personal life. Unfortunately, the on-line prep-course in which I invested was not effective in preparing me for the exam. So to study for the knowledge exam, I tackled one AOE per week and then spent the last four days before the exam locked in my room to review, review, review. In addition to reading the content, I tested myself with study cards and took numerous practice exams.

The hardest part of preparing was the lack of a support system with my peers. To ensure that others within the Metro DC ATD Chapter felt supported while obtaining their credential, I started the first CPLP study group and scholarship. It was my way of giving back to the profession and preventing others from going through the process without support. I am proud to say that the first year of the study group, the Metro DC ATD Chapter was awarded the CPLP Chapter Excellence Award at the ATD International Conference and Exposition.

One Thing You Should Know about Preparing

The one thing that I would share with anyone seeking and preparing for the CPLP credential is to use the resources provided to assist you. Resources such as study groups, the learning system, and practice exams, are there to help you. There is nothing like going through a certification program with others at the same time as you. Take advantage of the Chapter’s virtual study group to obtain knowledge and share experiences. It’s an invaluable time in your career that’s too huge to just go through by yourself!

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