Title: Executive Director, Residential Life and Housing
College / University / Organization: Indiana State University
Position for which you are applying: Director of Membership Development
In the space below, please describe your involvement with ACPA, including any leadership positions you have held.
I have been actively involved with ACPA in a variety of ways since I was a graduate student. It has always been important to me to give back to my profession in some way or another and ACPA quickly became my professional home. I have always been willing to step in to help in areas where volunteers were missing or where I felt I could use my skills to contribute to the success of the association. I have listed below some of my involvement with ACPA over the last fifteen years.
- Annual Convention Program Review: 2005 - Present
- Annual Convention Presenter: more than 30 annual Convention and Institute presentations
- Commission for Assessment and Evaluation Directorate Body: 2006 - 2012
- Commission for Assessment and Evaluation Chair-elect/Chair: 2012 - 2015
- Assessment Institute Planning Committee: 2006, 2014
- Assessment Institute Invited Faculty: 2006, 2014, 2015
- Residential Curriculum Institute Planning Team: 2009 - Present
- Residential Curriculum Institute Chair/Co-Chair: 2011 RCI and 2015 RCI
- Institute on Sustainability Presenter: 2011
- Institute on Sustainability Planning Team: 2012 (Institute canceled due to low number of registered participants)
- Champion of Sustainability Selection Committee: 2011
- Sustainability Task Force: 2011/2012 (just briefly before it was re-created)
- Membership Survey Planning/Implementation Team: 2014 - Present
- Membership Survey Analysis Team: 2014 - Present
- Piloting Certificate of Learning Acquisition for ACPA Professional Competencies Credentialing Team: 2015 Convention
- PCPA: Conference planning team – case study competition for 2005 - 2006
- Publications: Co-Editor and chapter Author: Best Practices in Assessment: A companion guide to the ASK Standards.
- Several articles for Developments
Please describe how you will work to advance ACPA’s Core Values if elected/appointed to this position.
Education and development of the total student.
As director of membership development, I need to develop a plan to determine key constituents that are working with students in the higher education setting that we are currently not serving. Additionally, I need to develop a plan to find out how we can serve existing members better in the work that they do with students. Through the development of a comprehensive membership/branding assessment plan, we’ll be able to determine where we need to focus attention and then pull the appropriate individuals together to develop programs and services that better meet these professionals. This will also have a direct impact on the education and development of the students we are serving in this profession.
Diversity, multi-cultural competence and human dignity.
I think one of the most important roles of the Director for Membership Development is to look and listen. This position must constantly be looking to see what voices may be missing from the dialogue, conversations and decisions and then to actively bring them to the table so that we can better serve our members. Secondly, in this role I will need to listen carefully and often. I need to be willing to hear feedback on areas where our actions are not in line with our vision, goals, and strategic priorities. I need to listen to members or past members who may have felt excluded or silenced by the actions of the association. Then, it is my responsibility to demonstrate strong advocacy at the governing board table and when working with the international office and entity groups to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and respected. Finally, when an area is identified where we may have not been inclusive or respectful as an association, I need to push for actions, decisions, or movement so that we learn from our mistakes, respond appropriately and operate differently in the future.
Inclusiveness in and access to association-wide involvement and decision-making.
In my role as Director of Member Development, I need to develop processes and procedures to better communicate with past, current or prospective members the strategic direction and goals of the association. I need to also develop processes and procedures to listen and observe responses to this plan, and to communicate responses and interest back to the leadership of ACPA. Finally, it is important as we identify prospective members or work to retain current members or bring back past members, to find ways to make the ACPA experience integral to their professional development, success, and satisfaction. I need to not only communicate opportunities for involvement, but to link individuals interested in involvement directly with projects that are currently happening. It is also important to develop teams that work to “check in” regularly with our volunteers to find out how the connections are going and what else they need or are looking for in an association. Finally, in this role, I will seek to have a strong understanding of the various task forces and entity groups as well as the work that they are doing. From this knowledge, I will be able to find intersections that may result in strong collaborations that will increase the number and quality of benefits to prospective and current members.
Free and open exchange of ideas in a context of mutual respect.
Through our membership/branding assessment plan, our volunteer coordination, and implementation of decisions based on our assessment data, it is important to ask questions, listen carefully to feedback, and respond in a manner that is not judgmental, defensive or inappropriate. It is important to set ground rules and to ask tough questions. It is also important to work to provide a platform for individual members to share their concerns, thoughts, frustrations and successes in ways that matter. This should include using social media, the website, short videos, pictures, surveys, open discussion sessions, and time with leadership. It is important to advocate for opportunities to create regular face-to-face and virtual community meetings between the governing board and the membership for on-going dialogue.
Advancement and dissemination of knowledge relevant to college students and their learning, and the effectiveness of student affairs and student service professionals and their institutions.
Part of recruiting and retaining members is to offer resources that add value to or contribute to the individual’s professional growth. ACPA does a fantastic job developing strong scholarship, publications and resources. However, often it seems left up to the individual entity to market these materials. In this role, I would envision working with the international office and the entity groups to determine what resources exist and then to create targeted professional development plans or tracks that are targeting certain membership populations. Creating a toolbox of materials for community college professionals, student service professionals reporting to academic affairs, or new professionals and graduate students would be helpful. Right now, you have to know where to dig in order to find resources and the resources aren't often categorized in a way that that allows for quick and easy access for specific populations of members. Creating some specialized toolboxes that are easily accessible for individual or group professional development easily creates added value to the membership and individuals return when they find value.
Continuous professional development and personal growth of student affairs and student services professionals that includes the development of effective administrative leadership and management skills.
In this role, I would work with the international office, entity groups, and the credentialing team, and maybe even the technology task force to find additional ways to promote our professional development and personal growth opportunities to members who may have had difficulty finding their niche. Creating easily navigated systems for individuals to create an individualized professional development plan based on the competencies is essential in recruiting and retaining our members. This professional development plan should include a variety of options at various price points including publications, webinars, online learning, articles, face-to-face opportunities, etc. A lot of the work of the director of membership development should be in identifying strategies and then pulling the right leaders around the table to put the strategies into place. Secondarily, it is important to become knowledgeable in all the work of the association to help connect that is going on with one another so that we can better communicate that work in a consistent and a cohesive manner to the broader association in ways that allow members to connect back for professional development and growth.
Outreach and Advocacy on issues of concern to students, student affairs and service professionals and the higher and tertiary education community, including affirmative action and other policy issues.
Finally, using both existing and new data, I will seek out opportunities to outreach to new or small membership populations. For example, there are many service providers for higher education. Vendors like simplicity, campus labs, EBI, Map-Works, On Campus Marketing have a substantial investment in higher education. We often look to them as corporate sponsors, but should we be looking to them as association members with specific needs and interests? It is also important to look to global markets for new members. In order to do that, we have to assess how our current systems and structure may positively or negatively impact prospective global members. If most of the volunteer work of the association is done on EST, then how does a global member participate in a committee, task force or Institute planning team? If we are only examining student culture from the perspective of American college students, who are we inadvertently turning away or silencing. It is critical that we explore these new membership growth areas, but it has to be done carefully. More specifically, it will be important to learn the values, goals, and needs of these prospective global members and then examine our own current processes to determine how our current structures and frameworks discourage or encourage global membership. It is also important to carefully consider how adjusting our priorities, goals, or frameworks to better meet the needs of prospective global members may inadvertently have a positive or negative impact on meeting the needs of our current constituents. My responsibility is to make sure the governing board has this information at their fingertips when making decisions about the strategic direction of the association. There needs to be specific work done on the foundational structures and frameworks of our association in order to truly become a global association. It is important for us to identify what that may look like and how that may be done in order to entice and retain new engaged members to the association. It is important to begin this work through assessment and research and share that work with key constituents. Finally, my role is to listen to the feedback of disenchanted members and then act as advocates so that their concerns can be addressed, corrected, and improved upon. It is also my job to reach out individually or in groups to these individuals in order to draw them back into ACPA for a second experience and during that second experience to create scaffolding and supports to provide a better experience for these returning colleagues.
After reviewing the qualifications of the position for which you are applying, please describe briefly below how you believe you meet each qualification.
I have been a member and involved in ACPA for close to fifteen years. I have had extensive experience working with the International Office and the Association through my role as Chair of the Commission for Assessment and Evaluation as well as my role working on planning teams for the Assessment Institute, Residential Curriculum Institute, and the Institute on Sustainability. I have most recently been working with the International Office on the Membership/Branding Survey planning and implementation team.
Through my institutional responsibilities, I have worked to develop several campus recruitment and retention plans. My assessment experience allows me to develop assessment instruments that can collect the appropriate information to inform our practice around branding the association and developing a plan for recruiting and retaining talented colleagues. My years of assessment work have also taught me how to use assessment data to inform our practice and how to share results with key leadership in order to promote or encourage good practices or make changes to existing practices to better meet the needs of our membership. My extensive experience in a variety of areas of ACPA will allow me to bring an understanding of the core values, association goals, and the current and prospective constituents of ACPA. I am very inquisitive and curious which will be an asset to developing a recruitment plan because I actively seek individuals out to hear their stories and learn about their experiences. Finally, my love for ACPA and higher education allows me to reach out and attract others into the organization and strive to accomplish tasks that will make ACPA a stronger and more successful association.
I am also an “outside the box” thinker. It is important to me to identify individuals who currently do not look to ACPA as their professional home and find meaningful and creative ways to connect them to the association and more importantly to individuals within our association so that they can begin to identify ACPA as their professional home. I have done this through inviting vendors to partner with us on a variety of projects such as CAS, EBI, Map-Works, Campus Labs, Academic Impressions, and others. I have met with graduate students to discuss the importance of getting involved in professional associations, and have promoted our work through other institutes and conferences that I have attended.
Finally, as a current chair of the Commission for Assessment and Evaluation and having formally chaired several Institutes within ACPA, I have learned how to manage committee work via distance and through the use of technology in an effective manner. I have learned how to manage task assignments to put individuals in positions that align with their strengths and how to appropriately meaningful work to those volunteers while retaining responsibility for the outcome and conclusion of that work. Through these various roles, I have built a strong network of individuals within ACPA and the International Office that will allow me to develop strong teams. Despite having strong connections, I also have a strong desire to cultivate new leaders within the ACPA association and will also intentionally reach out to identify and connect interested members into volunteer opportunities with the Association. I think this has been demonstrated in pulling in several CAE directorate members with no prior involvement with ACPA.
I believe that I meet all the qualifications that are necessary to be successful in this position.
As a leader, how will you contribute to the work of the Association?
- I will use data, have conversations, and work with the International Office to identify service gaps and population gaps and create an intentional plan to provide scaffolding and services that attract individuals to feel these gaps.
- I will use my assessment skills to develop a comprehensive assessment plan that allows us to better understand our association members, their needs, and the areas where we are failing to meet these needs. Develop a reporting plan so that the information is shared in a timely manner with a variety of audiences in an appropriate format so that real change can be implemented to reduce service gaps and increase services to key constituents we may be missing.
- I will work to develop relationships across the association to increase timely communication to members interested in seeking involvement or professional resources. We don’t want to lose members due to communication black holes.
- I will begin conversations with the credentialing implementation team, Commissions and Standing Committee groups and the International Office to think about how we do professional development differently. How do we create a variety of options and/or packages that get necessary professional development resources into people’s hands when they need them at a price that is affordable to them? If we package the professional development resources in the right way, we will attract audiences we may have been missing in the past because of price points, learning styles, career levels, or institutional values. Secondly, if we can attract audiences to professional development opportunities and then offer phenomenal content during those opportunities, we are likely to retain their interest beyond that particular event. Finally, how do we sequence learning opportunities to keep people coming back time and time again to build on learning that they had previously acquired through other professional development opportunities.
- I will think strategically at the 10,000 foot level about the approaches the association uses to recruit and retain members and intentionally tie that strategic vision to specific action steps at the committee, task force, entity group, and international office staff level. I will do my best to use my position to coordinate work within the association to further our strategic goals, priorities, and values.
Some examples of the types of specific strategies that I think may be helpful to recruit and retain association members:
Institutional Packages: What if we offered institutional registration packages at the beginning of the new fiscal years. Institutions could purchase a variety of registrations/resources in bulk and then assign individuals to the registrations at a later point in time. They get a price reduction by purchasing in bulk and we get a variety of professionals attending live/virtual events and/or utilizing publications or resources differently.
The credentialing team is very important component to membership recruitment and retention. Offering a certificate program in a variety of professional competencies can attract individuals over time. For example, the Association of Physical Plant Administrators offers a certification program that involves several two week sessions, projects, and exams that keep people coming back multiple times and then also allows them to get connected with the broader association. We need to be looking for ways to attract and retain individuals through opportunities that (1) build professional skill sets, (2) build individual relationships, and (3) promote long-term connections/involvement.
Another approach would be to allow people to attend an Institute like the Assessment Institute, and then have follow-up webinars/instruction to expand on the Institute, and then wrap up with Convention sessions and/or reunion events at Convention. This on-going learning allows folks to continue to stay connected with ACPA, build relationships that will keep them engaged and involved, and allow us to meet many of the association goals and values such as developing the whole student, open sharing of ideas, and the dissemination of knowledge.
While it may not specifically be the work of this position to create those various packages and tracks, it is this person’s responsibility to use the data collected to think in a big picture way about how the data translates to the work of the association. It is also important to share the data in ways that prompt action and to pull the right people around the table to respond to the data in ways that promote membership, recruitment of new members, and retention.
After reading the introductory statement about the ACPA Leader Selection Process, take a moment to reflect on your own experiences at the intersections of equity, inclusion and diversity. How will your experiences help you in our work to champion equity, inclusion and diversity within and outside the ACPA community?
Immediately after my master’s program, I accepted a position in Juneau, Alaska. I excitedly packed my belongings to travel from the Mid-West up to the great North. In my mind, I saw beautiful scenery, cold winters, amazing wildlife, and college students that looked and acted just like my students in the Mid-West. Yes, I knew that I would have many Native Alaskan students in my class, but I was completely unprepared for the fact that my understanding of United States history completely neglected their story and their voice. Nor was I aware how much this ignorance would challenge my success in the first year of my professional practice.
After spending the summer getting acclimated to my first professional position and learning more about the various student populations I would be working with, I excitedly discovered that I would have an opportunity to teach a first-year seminar class. At this point, I had learned that our campus offered support services for our Native Alaskan students such as individual mentors, special academic advising, and community events. I had even learned that we offered many unusual classes such as language classes for Tlingit, literature classes on Native Alaskan authors, and science classes on Alaskan wildlife. I was thrilled with all the “diversity” I was learning and eagerly embraced learning Tlingit phrases, trying traditional Athabaskan food, attending cultural events, etc. I prided myself on my multi-cultural competence because I was actively exploring language, music, crafts, literature, and food. And then…..I was offered the opportunity to teach a first-year humanities seminar that was required of all first-year students. The class was aimed at exploring their identities and the wonderful Alaska culture that was surrounding campus.
I distinctly remember walking into class the first day. Probably 2/3 of my class were Native Alaskan students, while the other 1/3 were non-Native Alaskan students or student from the lower 48. I quickly assigned my very first writing assignment, which was rather simple. The assignment was to tell me about themselves and their background. What led them to higher education, to this campus and what did they want to accomplish as a student at the institution? What were their dreams and goals? I made the assignment on Thursday and the assignment was due the following Tuesday. It was only 2-3 pages, how hard could it be? The following week, the assignments were due and I could not believe that I only received the assignments back from 1/3 of the students. I was so angry and did a huge speech about being successful academically and getting work in on time, following a syllabus, and taking your academic work seriously. The students in the room that did not turn in their assignments said nothing and did not look me in the eye. They barely participated in the discussion that day and I immediately thought, “Well great, they didn’t do their assignment and they didn’t even attempt to do the assigned reading for discussion. This is going to be a long semester.”
After class, a Tlingit student that I knew well stayed after class. I asked her what had gone wrong. She explained to me that for many of the Native Alaskan students, they were here at school representing the hopes and dreams of their entire village. She reminded me that up until a few years ago, they were not permitted to speak their language, to dress in their traditional dress, or to practice their culture/religion how they wanted to. They were forced to speak English and often taken away from their homes at a young age so that they could be transformed into “civilized” Americans that dress, think, worship, and speak in the “right way”. The pain of that very recent oppression ran so deep. The elders, out of fear of returning to those days of oppression, were very concerned with how their village, their people, and their culture were perceived. I “understood” all of that, but was still confused what that had to do with getting their writing assignment in on time. She explained to me that the assignment required them to write about the student’s background and identity. Since the students’ words were representing not only their own experience, but the experience of an entire people group they had to have their paper “approved” by the village elders. The elders wanted to make sure that their people were represented in a proud, positive, and respected manner. I had not given the students enough time to have the work cleared by the village elders, and so the students were not able to successfully complete the assignment. As students who felt like that their college experience contained the hopes and aspirations of their entire village, they would not submit an assignment that had not been vetted by the elders of the village. I stood there silently with tears in my eyes as I recognized my ignorance and my mistake. In my excitement about learning and reading about their experiences and backgrounds, I had instead silenced my students and by extension the story of the communities from which they came. In that moment, I learned so much about diversity, equity, and inclusion that has changed my approaches and professional practice significantly.
I learned in that experience that I cannot come to the table thinking that I have all the answers because I have sat through hours and hours of diversity training. You see, despite all that training, I have had a different story and a different experience. Instead, I need to come to the table owning my own experience and intentionally working to create a space where others feel comfortable coming to the table to share their story and their identity. I need to be aware that despite my best efforts, because of a multitude of circumstances, incidents, and history that at times people will still not feel invited to the table. It is important as a leader to always be on the lookout for those moments. To actively invite voices to the table and to identify voices that are missing and actively seek them out. As a leader, I also need to know that I am going to make mistakes despite all my efforts because I was raised in an environment with privilege and oppression. Because there are times where I will not even know when my privilege is contributing to a situation. In those moments, it is important for me to be open and honest. To admit when I have made a mistake, to genuinely offer an apology, and to listen openly to feedback that may be challenging and difficult to hear. From that feedback, I need to continue to reflect on my contribution to the issue at hand and to take immediate actions and steps to resolve the situation, to create additional space for more dialogue and conversation, to learn more, to further action, and to make changes that reduce the likelihood of a similar situation happening in the future. I am not permitted to put my head down and say that it is not my issue, or not my fault. As a leader, it is my issue, it is my responsibility to further engage in conversation, to bring people to the table, to acknowledge when the space is not inclusive, and to develop and create policies and protocols that create a more inclusive environment.
It is also important that I do not wait to “react” to something, like I did in that humanities class, rather I should have been proactive. I should have been constantly scanning my environment to see what I could do to make a more inclusive environment. I should have been examining my own knowledge and actions to make sure that I am not unintentionally excluding one’s story from the table. And finally, I should be constantly seeking the input of others whose stories are different from mine. What am I missing? Who should I be connecting with? Where are the areas of concern? As a leader, I need to be constantly learning, thinking, growing, and reflecting.
This important lesson will help me champion equity, inclusion, and diversity within ACPA because I have learned to listen before speaking. I have learned to seek to understand rather than judge. And I have learned to admit mistakes and commit to learning more. I have learned to actively seek out other’s stories and experiences and to think carefully about whose voices I may be unintentionally silencing and then to take steps to actively seek out those voices to make sure that my practice is transparent, inclusive, and not silencing. And finally, I have learned that I still have a tremendous amount of learning, growing, thinking, and responding to do in order to make sure that the work that I am doing within ACPA and my institution is inclusive, equitable, and embracing diversity. My genuine desire is to continue to engage as an association in this important dialogue regularly. To listen, reflect, and respond in meaningful ways, to learn from past mistakes and to become a better organization as a result of this, and to constantly seek to do better. The lesson I learned one fall day in Alaska is one that I still reflect on in my work today, more than ten years later.