Day Two – RMASFAA 2020 Virtual Conference


Recording of Day Two Wrap Up
Corporate Support Rockstars!! – Thank you for all you do for us!

“Because no matter how small an act of kindness or generosity or simple positivity you put out into the world, it will make a difference.”
—Wonder Woman comic
This is w
hy we all do what we do – to make a difference!

Virtual Social Hour – always fun, and hopefully Rob Smith from Elm Resources
doesn’t leave his day job to become a DJ. (bottom center)

Time to celebrate RMASFAA!! Get up and dance! We’ve made it this far thanks to the relationships that we’ve built and maintained. Ya’ll are superstars!!

Day One – RMASFAA 2020 Virtual Conference


RMASFAA Welcome and Conference kickoff with James Broscheit, RMASFAA President
*photo courtesy of Robb Cummings

Day One is in the books! Although we were not in person, one thing remained the same. RMASFAA providing stellar content for the larger membership. We got to reconnect with Sara Vancil, FSA – Department of Education who led a great training session on Academic Calendars, Modules & Title IV. We also heard from NASFAA in both their annual update to us as well as part of a town hall discussion.

“LOVE all the dogs that were able to join in the presentations!!!” –
Judy Hager, University of Jamestown

Mary Sommers provided us with a reminder of Administrative Capabilities and how important it is to our offices. Really, really important!! We also heard a great presentation from staffers at University of Nebraska – Lincoln on their program that breaks down barriers for first generation students. Very insightful and kudos UNL! We also got to hear from several of our new four-legged coworkers; even Justin Draeger’s pup showed up to the conference. It’s RMASFAA – always room for comic relief and a lot of those four-legged friends is what helped a lot of us maintain our sanity since March.

Update with NASFAA President & CEO Justin Draeger
As always lots of valuable information but this time presented with “itty-bitty living space.”
Brenda Hicks, NASFAA Chair during the RMASFAA/NASFAA Town Hall

Last but not least, we wrapped up the day with a fun little social hour in which we had a good ‘ol scavenger hunt. Will tell you, they did not make it easy for us but was so much fun to have some virtual laughs along the way.

Sara Edwards from Citizens Bank and her pup during the virtual social hour
Little guy was one of her scavenger hunt finds!

Montana: State of the State


Julie Watson, Montana Delegate

During this last year the MASFAA Association received funding from OCHE (Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education) for professional development.  The board has designated some of the funds for scholarships to Summer Institute and RMASFAA Conference attendance. 

During this last year the MASFAA Association received funding from OCHE (Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education) for professional development.  The board has designated some of the funds for scholarships to Summer Institute and RMASFAA Conference attendance.  Also reviewing training opportunities for the membership such as NASFAA U credentials, outreach needs and the like.  We were able to send an additional three people to Summer Institute as well as a sending a member to the NASFAA Conference.   We also continue to support sending members to the Leadership Pipeline and have scholarship funding available.

In moving forward, since the current year’s circumstances have canceled or postponed many of the training events, we will look for new ways to provide professional development for this upcoming year.

MASFAA has updated our website using Wild Apricot.  This allows us to move away from the more static website to a more interactive and up to date resource. 

 We have also added a new position to the Board of Treasurer – Elect.  It was determined that there was a significant amount of training and the passing on of information and processes that the board approved the addition on the treasurer elect which is similar to the RMASFAA model.

Ongoing long-range strategic plan is continue updating and reviewing the policy and procedures.

This most recent election was the first electronic vote for MASFAA Board members.  We have also added a new position to the Board of Treasurer – Elect.  It was determined that there was a significant amount of training and the passing on of information and processes that the board approved the addition on the treasurer elect which is similar to the RMASFAA model.

MASFAA Board for 2020

President: Jaime Borrego – Carroll College / Helena

President-Elect: Justin Beach – Dawson Community College / Glendive

Past-President: Julie Watson – Montana State University / Bozeman

Vice President / Secretary: Kalie Porter – Montana State University / Billings

Treasurer: Emily Smith – The University of Providence / Great Falls

Treasurer-Elect: Alora Blue – Montana State University / Billings

Member-at-Large: Tristan Sewell – Montana Tech / Butte

Member-at-Large: Kelli Englehardt – The University of Providence / Great Falls

Associate Member: Nick Martinez – Inceptia

The new Board was installed at the Spring MASFAA Conference held at Fairmont Hot Springs from March 11-13, 2020.  Our conference fell just before the state and country went into full “stay at home” mode which ultimately went into effect in just the week that followed.  We made it just under the wire and the good news is that there were no known or reported cases of COVID-19 from our gathering.

A big part of the fall 2019 was our outreach efforts throughout the state for FAFSA filing and financial aid support to the area high schools and counselors.  There had been changes in the state of Montana with the existing organization Reach Higher Montana.  Reach Higher Montana redirected their emphasis to other areas of college and career planning.  This change left a void that the high schools then turned to MASFAA for support.  This last year was the first year so it was a time of learning and developing new strategies for support and outreach.  We will continue to develop these resources and seeking the best outreach methods as we move forward in this new role.

Meet Leadership Pipeline Mentee: Melissa Simpson


What is your current position and how long have you worked in financial aid?

Hi RMASFAA! I am Melissa Simpson and I am a financial aid counselor at Black Hills State University. I began my financial aid career as a workstudy student in the Financial Aid Office at South Dakota State University back in 2008. After I graduated, I worked a short stint at National American University in Rapid City before settling here at BHSU for the last 8 years.

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I was exposed to Leadership Pipeline at Summer Institute but back then that seemed way too advanced for me! A couple years ago, I witnessed one of my coworkers go through Leadership Pipeline which made me consider applying but making this kind of commitment still terrified me! Since that time, I have seen more and more of my SDASFAA colleagues go through the program and after hearing their testimonies I thought maybe someday I will do that. Then a dear friend and mentor of mine finally convinced me to apply. Her encouragement got me to squeeze my eyes shut and hit send!

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

I am capable. When we had our first Leadership Pipeline meeting in Billings last fall I had some serious imposter syndrome! I thought “What the heck did I do? I don’t belong here!” I am not sure at what point my perception changed but now that the program is almost over I couldn’t have been more wrong! During our monthly conference calls, I learned that I do not always have to have my own personal experience with a certain discussion topic to contribute. I don’t need to have an earth-shattering opinion to voice. Sometimes being part of a discussion can simply be listening and contributing to the discussion can just be agreeing with others.

What is it that you are hoping to gain at the end of the program?  Personal goal?  Skill set?

I have already gained more confidence in myself. I have had great opportunities to learn from of best people in SDASFAA but you can never have enough professional development opportunities! My hope is that after Leadership Pipeline, RMASFAA won’t feel so intimidating and that getting more involved won’t be overwhelming! 

Why would you recommend this program to others?

Without a doubt! I can’t say enough about this program! Are you looking for an opportunity for personal and professional development? Leadership Pipeline offers that. Are you looking to network and make more connections within RMASFAA? You can through Leadership Pipeline! Are you craving a bigger sense of community? Check Leadership Pipeline out. Interested in broadening your horizons by learning from different institutions in the region? Leadership Pipeline has got it! Searching for ways to become more involved with RMASFAA? Yep, Leadership Pipeline is where it is at! You will get out what you put in. Just do it – you won’t regret it!

Meet Your RMASFAA Candidates . . . .


President-Elect Candidate: Angela Karlin

Angela Karlin, University of Kansas

 I’m honored to have the opportunity to be nominated for  President-Elect for the 2020-2021 year for RMASFAA.  The association is nationally known for our training, continual investment in our membership and caring culture.  When I moved to RMASFAA more than three years ago, I was welcomed with open arms and was excited to join the association.  Not one to shy away from a challenge, my first volunteer opportunity with RMASFAA was teaching Summer Institute!  Experiencing the energy and intense passion that our members have for each other and the industry gave me a renewed sense of purpose. 

As we move forward as an organization, it is critical for us to continue to embrace and enhance our place as a national leader for training and development.  As President, I would continue to rely on our membership to guide our path for training and networking. Our delivery may look different, and we may have to wait to more than we’d like to get and give in person hugs, but make no mistake – we will continue to show the nation our resilience and ability to develop the best FAAs in the nation. 

As a 26 year veteran in higher education, I realize that the only constant is change.  Our current reality is pushing the aid community to change in a matter of minutes (CARES Act anyone?) and in an environment that has not been seen before in our lifetime.  RMASFAA’s role during the pandemic and economic downturn is to continue to be the place for strong relationships, networking, and education.  I hope to have your support to continue the amazing work that defines RMASFAA and would be honored to lead this organization. 

Vice President-Elect Candidate: Justin Chase Brown

Justin Chase Brown, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

I am honored to be a nominee for the Vice President position on the RMASFAA Board of Directors and would be eager to serve our regional association in a position that requires great responsibility, communication, and passion for service. In a time of financial uncertainty due to COVID-19, this is an important role for the financial security of our association.

I began my financial aid career in RMASFAA while at the University of Kansas and appreciate the training and camaraderie from KASFAA and RMASFAA. Our regional association is a pillar of support for so many financial aid administrators and boasts programs that have been emulated by fellow state and regional financial aid associations, including Summer Institute and Leadership Pipeline. These are two exemplary programs that demonstrate RMASFAA’s value in training and leadership preparation provided to our members that enable you to lead, serve, and administer financial aid effectively to support our students throughout the region.

RMASFAA instilled in me a spirit of volunteerism and provided me with experience and knowledge to advance in my career to not only succeed in aid administration but also to serve in leadership roles on state and regional association committees and boards. It is with great fortune that I returned to this region that played such a pivotal role in establishing my career when I joined the University of Nebraska.

I am deeply committed to excellence in our profession and in advocating for high-quality training, leadership, professional development, and support for evidence-based innovation. Responsibility for the association’s stability and posterity is a significant charge of our regional association leadership, especially in this time of economic austerity. Our association will endure and thrive for years to come without sacrificing the strengths of our organization. The changes we have been experiencing in the financial aid industry only deepen the importance of a strong regional association. It is more important than ever that, as financial aid professionals, we stay connected to our colleagues at all levels of governance.

As our profession moves forward and overcomes the challenges presented by university budget shortfalls and shrinking resources, we must remember the qualities and characteristics that make us strong in supporting the growth and development of our profession and in advocating for college access and affordability for our students. Our members and institutions across the region are diverse and have their own needs yet each contributes in unique and significant ways to strengthen our association and profession. I will support the vision and mission of RMASFAA and the efforts of the Board of Directors to implement our goals and objectives for the region and for financial aid administration.

It would be a privilege to serve as your RMASFAA Vice President.

Secretary Candidates: Ashley Jost & Vanessa Martineau

Ashley Jost, Johnson County Community College

I am the Financial Aid Communications Manager at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS. I studied business and Spanish at Emporia State University, while working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Distance Education.  I hold an undergraduate and master’s degree in Business Administration from Emporia State.  After a few years working at the University, I expanded my business expertise in the insurance and restoration industries.  My passion for higher education led me back to JCCC in 2012.

In my current role, I love finding new ways to be creative and innovative while making the financial aid process easier and communication clearer for JCCC students.  My most favorite part of my job are the financial aid outreach events.  I enjoy every opportunity I have to work with students and families one-on-one.

I was proud to serve as KASFAA Welcome Committee Co-Chair, then Chair from 2016-17.  I promoted the 2017 RMASFAA Annual Conference in Wichita, as Publicity Co-Chair and presented at the 2018 Conference.  Recently, I was a member of the Spring 2018 KASFAA Conference Planning Committee, then KASFAA Secretary, and just ended my term as KASFAA Vice-President.  I am currently serving on the 2021 KASFAA Conference Planning Committee. 

My involvement at the local and regional level has continued to be an incentive to become better professionally and as an advocate for the Financial Aid profession.  I know how amazing RMASFAA is – thank you 2019 Summer Institute!  As RMASFAA Secretary, I promise to use  finely-honed skills in minute taking and will work hard for the group, taking copious notes.  I look forward to having an opportunity to be involved on the RMASFAA Board! 

Outside of financial aid, I love to spend time with family, travel, and entertain.  My husband and I are parents to two precious girls; Adrianna and Alexandra

Vanessa Martineau, Western Governors University

My name is Vanessa Martineau, and I am running for RMASFAA Board Secretary. I currently serve as the Associate Director of Financial Aid at Western Governors University (WGU). Before starting at WGU in January 2019 I worked in financial aid for just over five years at Neumont College of Computer Science, most recently as the Associate Director of Financial Aid. My professional association experience includes currently serving as the UASFAA Co-Chair for the Professional Development/Training Committee, and volunteering on a NASFAA Online Technology Review Group. Outside of financial aid I have served on the Board of Directors for the Utah Arts Alliance for nearly eight years occupying the roles of Secretary, Vice Chair, and Chair (current position).

I am thrilled for the opportunity to get more involved in RMASFAA, an association that has provided me with so much including a strong network and professional development. I hope to be able to use my experience and willingness to learn to give back to this organization.

Associate Delegate Candidate: Nick Martinez

Nick Martinez, Inceptia

Hello friends, I am truly honored to be nominated & look forward to seeing you all again soon.  I remain passionate about finding strategic solutions to the problems facing challenges within today’s financial aid offices. As Inceptia’s AVP of Business Development, I stand ready to tackle challenges hand-in-hand with my school partners in order to ultimately help guide students towards financial success.  My background includes more than 23 years in higher education and I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

I serve institutions across New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

Stay Safe!

______________________________________________________________________________

For this election, we were unable to secure candidates for the Treasurer-Elect position.  After meeting with the Association Governance Committee and the Executive Board, Merrill Worthington –Treasurer and Lindsey Benson – Treasurer-elect have agreed to serve in their current roles for another year. 

Please watch your email for instructions on how to vote.

Thanks,

Christal D Williams, RMASFAA President-Elect

Meet Leadership Pipeline Mentee: Eleanor “Ellie” Roberts


What is your current position and how long have you worked in financial aid?

Hello, RMASFAA! My name is Ellie Roberts and I am a financial aid counselor at Brigham Young University in beautiful Utah. We operate under a OneStop model, so I also advise on admissions, registration, and student accounts. Prior to this position, I worked in multiple financial aid roles at BYU for 13 years. I have truly fallen in love with and found a home in higher education.

 

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I was encouraged to join by a mentor and numerous friends I’ve made through RMASFAA. I knew it would be a great opportunity grow personally and expand my financial aid network. I’m also currently working on a master’s program and thought the pipeline would be a great addition to my education.

 

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

I’ve been hesitant in the past to apply for management positions because of my lack of formal leadership experience. Through our group discussions, and my one-on-one calls with my mentor, I’ve realized that it’s not necessary to be fully developed as a leader and have all the answers before you take on that role. If you have the foundational skills and are willing to learn from your staff, everything will fall into place.

 

What is it that you are hoping to gain at the end of the program?  Personal goal?  Skill set?

An overall confidence to take the next step in my career, whatever that looks like. I also have an affinity for mentoring and hope to be able to help others in their personal and career development.

 

Why would you recommend this program to others?

The Leadership Pipeline experience has allowed me to connect with a variety of talented individuals from different backgrounds. By far the most enriching relationship is the one I now have with my mentor. It is such a boost to know someone has your back as you are trying to develop professionally. Big shout out to Carolee! We are lucky to have such a unique program at a regional level and I encourage others to take full advantage of it