Season’s Greetings, RMASFAA Friends!
Can you believe that it’s mid-December already?! I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around the reality that 2015 is drawing to a close and that I am nearly two months into my new role as your 2015-2016 RMASFAA President! Between winding down the fall semester, managing all of the holiday “busy-ness”, and making plans for 2016, there is definitely no lack of activity to keep us all occupied in these weeks ahead. If I think about it too much, it just makes we want to take a LONG nap!!
Despite the frenetic pace this time of year brings, your 2015-2016 RMASFAA Board of Directors is hard at work to provide another year of fantastic training and programming to the Association. Be sure to visit the RMASFAA website often – and stay tuned to the RMASFAA Exchange Blog for updates on all things RMASFAA. Below are a few highlights and shout-outs on what’s been happening since we were all together in Colorado for our annual conference:
- The Annual Conference! Well, CAFAA and RMASFAA are officially “hitched”. Or, more to the point, the Conference Entertainment folks thought it would be funny to have me exchange mock wedding vows as RMASFAA President with my very own boss, Tom Biedscheid – who happens to be finishing out his second term as CAFAA President. Still not sure how I ended up in the role of the bride in that little union, but I suppose that’s a mystery best left unsolved… 🙂 For me, I’ve chosen to permanently file that entire wedding under “things that make you go ‘Hmmmm’….” – but it definitely made for a good laugh or two! I’d like to acknowledge and extend my gratitude to our fantastic 2015 Annual Conference Co-Chairs, Erin Brogan and Natalie High and their rockin’ committee. The conference was a tremendous success, with an exceptional program, great networking opportunities, and it was a whole lot of fun. Plus, we were able to celebrate five fantastic new graduates from RMASFAA’s Leadership Pipeline program! It really was a fantastic week for all.
- President-Elect Vicki Kucera (who just returned from a New Zealand vacation!) has identified committee vice-chairs for the next year who will assume committee chair duties at our 2016 Annual Conference in Rapid City. Needless to say, we have another stellar crew of up-and-coming RMASFAA leaders moving into the mix. Vicki is also finalizing committee members and working to place as many volunteers as possible into RMASFAA committees – I never cease to be amazed at how willing RMASFAA members are to volunteer their time and talent to our association!
- The Board of Directors has voted to approve the new Strategic Long Range Plan (SLRP), which is now posted to the RMASFAA website here. This document is designed to guide Association activities through 2018, with particular focus on:
- 1) strategically leveraging our strengths,
- 2) enhancing support, engagement, and service to our RMASFAA states and the membership at large,
- 3) comprehensively reviewing and revising financial policies of the Association, and
- 4) improving Association Governance and Board structure to meet current and projected needs of RMASFAA.
Your 2015-2016 Board will be actively reviewing the SLRP and connecting discussions, decisions, and activities back to it in intentional and measurable ways. Assessment of progress on the SLRP will be a key expectation; continue to stay tuned for updates as the Board works to advance these directives. This SLRP was a tremendous undertaking that incorporated feedback from the 2015 State Listening Sessions hosted by Past-President Art Young, as well as several needs identified by the Board of Directors. A special thanks to Past-Past President Jeff Jacobs and the 2014-2015 Association Governance Committee for all of their work in crafting a well-developed plan.
- In late October, I had the privilege of attending a two-day meeting with the five other regional Presidents at NASFAA’s headquarters in Washington D.C. This was a fantastic opportunity to discuss regional challenges with my counterparts, exchange ideas, ask questions, and brainstorm ways in which our associations might be able to better capitalize on our resources and increase service to our membership. My five counterparts and I have become fast friends and I look forward to working with them over the next two years on the NASFAA Board.
- Past-President Art Young and I recently attended the Fall meeting of the NASFAA Board of Directors in Scottsdale, AZ. Art will serve as the regional voting member through summer 2016, while I (along with the other five sitting regional presidents) serve as a board observer until that time. What an interesting experience! This meeting was right before the congressional House Oversight Committee Hearing on Federal Student Aid, for which NASFAA President & CEO Justin Draeger was called to testify. The Board gave Justin clear direction to communicate the increasing concerns from our community to the Oversight Committee (citing examples including GE implementation difficulties, enrollment reporting challenges, servicer issues, response times from FSA to institutions). If you weren’t able to watch the hearing live, it is recorded and available here. We should all be proud of how well our profession is represented by NASFAA Staff and our national board leadership.
Thank you for your continued support and participation in RMASFAA. I couldn’t be more honored to serve as your President this year and I am excited to represent our regional association and work on your behalf! Take Care – and Happy Holidays!!
-Joe Donlay, RMASFAA President