As TASFAA’s current President-Elect you afforded me the opportunity to attend the NASFAA Leadership Conference held in Washington D.C. February 23 – 25th.
NASFAA provided three conference tracks, including the Association Management Pathway. The sessions were led by financial aid professionals who have current and prior state, regional and national association leadership roles. The session topics were thorough and relevant to responsibilities of an association board member. I came away with increased confidence and knowledge of the year ahead in my role as your President for 2016-2017.
A dynamic and interactive presentation was made by Dr. Michela Perrone, faculty member at Georgetown University and president of MMP Associates. Other pertinent sessions offered time to examine our governing documents, strategic planning one year at a time, the fiscal business side of our association, and volunteer management. Many of us in attendance wrestled with maintaining board continuity year to year while introducing new board members and listening to new fresh ideas. Each session included time for in-depth discussions and networking with other association President-elects including our own Marian Huffman, current President-Elect of SASFAA.
It became evident early in the conference that TASFAA is financially sound with a legacy of leadership provided by those colleagues who have and are serving our association. It is reassuring that moving TASFAA forward will not be a difficult undertaking. We have great leaders and colleagues in our association that are willing to offer counsel, walk beside one another, lean in together to keep our association strong during challenging times in higher education.
Wednesday, February 25 my trip to Washington D.C. ended with a productive visit to Capitol Hill. While the thought of meeting with legislative staff members of our state representatives in a historic city felt intimidating I was assured that they would be receptive to hear from a professional in the field of student financial aid. I met with educational policy advisors Kathleen Smith, Andrew LaCasse, Lauren Davies, and Peter Oppenheim education policy director and counsel for the US Senate HELP committee. In this meeting it was stressed that the biggest concern is the perception that students are not completing the FAFSA and therefore unaware of the aid that may be available to them. The group also expressed that Title IX is at the front of HEA. It was encouraging to hear them support a reduction of verification requirements with the PPY and DRT inception. The afternoon allowed visits with Justin Tooley from Representative Jim Cooper’s office and Kathleen Carlson from Representative Stephen Fincher’s office.
The conference followed by Hill visits was certainly a highlight of my 20+ years in financial aid. It allowed me the chance to step into an advocacy role where I could represent our education community at a different level. I realize with fresh insight that in our service we provide to our students, the support we provide to our institutions and the time volunteering in our TASFAA organization makes the world better each day.