State Conference Wrap-Up

Janet Riis

May Day….really…what happened to April!  And still no spring for Montana- it snowed on Sunday as I was on the driving range hitting golf balls! 

April was filled with state conferences and Department of Education trainings.  I was lucky enough to join Nebraska, Montana, Utah and Wyoming for their state conferences.  Hot topics included the Net Price Calculator, legislative changes, Direct Loan servicing and Pell Grants.  I was able to present a RMASFAA update and website tour at each of the conferences.  In addition RMASFAA was slated on each agenda to have the RMASFAA Training Committee present on diversity.  The Training Committee did a great job-thank you to Marge Michael and her committee! 

First on my flight plan was Nebraska for the “Modeling our Future” conference.  President Terri Graham and her Board put together a great schedule including a separate track for Business Officers.  Brett Lief was present for one of his entertaining NCHELP updates and I was excited to attend a round table for private institutions as my state only has 3 private colleges and Nebraska has over 13.     The philanthropic project, the Back-Pack Program was in honor of their beloved friend and colleague, Tammi Preston from the EducationQuest Foundation who passed away very unexpectedly this past February.  Also, many awards were given to deserving NeASFAA members at the Awards Banquet.

Next up was Montana (short road trip) for the “MASFAA’s Got Talent” conference.  President Loren Lancaster and his Board put together an agenda which included NASFAA’s Megan McClean, Deb Tarpley from the Department of Education and Brett Lief.  I extended congratulations to Brett- his final RMASFAA Update prior to retiring in June.  Our very own Cristi Millard from Utah taught us how to be nice- The Power of Nice.  Department of Education training was postponed due to a potential government shutdown but Deb was able to join us via conference call for an update.  Awardees were honored and World Series Bunco was undertaken.

Utah’s conference “Survivor: Financial Aid Island” was a one day whirlwind organized by Art Young and his Board.  The agenda was filled with federal topics such as loan servicing, program integrity rules, a Department of Education update from Deb Tarpley and Margaret Day and Megan McLean’s NASFAA Update.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet Megan from NASFAA yet, seek her out and request her for your future conferences.  She did a fantastic job explaining all the changes and excitement in Washington.  NASFAA certainly has their finger on the pulse and the opportunities we have to include them in our state conference training are a definite strength.  I had the honor of presenting the O.R. “Jack” Hendrix Award to Art Young at the Utah conference.  He is a very deserving recipient and will definitely be a leader in our future. 

Wyoming was the last state conference on my flight plan.  Their “Financial Aid Masquerade” lead by Kelly Svenkesen was a great conference to wrap up my travels.  They also had the Federal Update given by Deb Tarpley, a loan panel and the Net Price Calculator.  I was honored to present to Kelly Svenkesen the O.R. “Jack” Hendrix Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions this past year to RMASFAA.  Kelly will also be a strong leader for our region moving forward.  It was also my privilege and honor to present a special award in memory of Randy Thompson our dear friend, RMASFAA Treasurer, and mentor who passed away last December.  Randy was a longtime member of WYASFAA and the award recognized his years of service and dedication to his state and regional associations.  The award will be presented to his wife Patty by Sheridan College.

Thank you to Terri, Caroline, Loren, Val, Art, Amy and Kelly for your hospitality in April.  And thank you to Sharon Kienow who represented RMASFAA at both the North and South Dakota conferences and to Brenda Hicks who represented RMASFAA at the Kansas Conference.   It was a great opportunity to meet so many of our state members- what a warm welcoming group of professionals we are! 

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you as RMASFAA President!

Janet Riis

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