The Kentucky Association of Colleges and Employers (KACE) has a rich history with roots that extend as far back as the 1960s. The modern-day KACE organization, however, was formed from two organizations, the Cooperative Education Association of Kentucky (CEAK), and the Kentucky College Placement Association (KCPA), each of which began in 1974. These two organizations were comprised of members from Kentucky post-secondary educational institutions, as well as employers, who were interested in the career development and employment of Kentucky post-secondary students and graduates.

While CEAK membership focused on Cooperative Education and, or internship programs that provided “hands-on” experience and learning for students while still in school at the post-secondary level, KCPA members were primarily engaged in activities related to the “placement” of post-secondary students upon graduation. As many of the educators and employers involved in these two organizations held dual membership, discussions began in the late 1980s regarding how the organizations could work more closely together.

As a result of these discussions, in the 1990s, the two organizations decided to begin meeting jointly for conferences every other year. After holding joint conferences in 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1995, a joint task force was appointed with the purpose of reviewing the governing documents of the two associations, the activities in which each were involved, the services provided by each, and the fiscal considerations of a merger of the two. Further, the task force was asked to propose new governing documents, a new association structure, and a proposed timeline for adoption and “launch” of a new organization combining CEAK and KCPA.

In June of 1997 the new, combined organization, the Kentucky Association of Cooperative Education and Career Employment (KACECE) was formally approved and formed after a vote by the membership of each association. The most recent name change to the Kentucky Association of Colleges and Employers (KACE) in 2008 reflects a national trend at many post-secondary institutions to streamline career development services into a “one stop shop” model for students, alumni and employers. Additionally, the most recent name change aligns the state organization more closely with NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers.