Leadership Pipeline: Katie Nelson


Continuing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s professional development program.

Leadership Pipeline

When I was looking through my folder of assorted notes, instructions, and schedules from Leadership Pipeline, I found the handout I received on my first day at the RMASFAA Conference in 2016, with my mentor’s picture, biography, and quote. The quote that Brenda Hicks had chosen: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” by Winston Churchill. That quote really resonated with me this morning, as I drink my coffee and attempt to complete some work before the students wake up, start calling, and try pushing down the door to get into the office. It is the courage to continue that counts. We come in to work every day, not only because we love our jobs, but because we have the courage to continue. We all know that our jobs can be challenge at times. The most valuable thing Leadership Pipeline has given me is a network of colleagues, who have become friends, who can relate to the busy times with students and can provide support. Ironically, most of these people also drink coffee.

I am starting my 5th academic year as a financial aid counselor at Black Hills State University. My path to Leadership Pipeline started at the 2016 SDASFAA Spring Conference. Our Executive Board was really advocating volunteerism. They put these colorful little papers on all the tables, so you could sign up for what committees you wanted to be on. Then they spoke again about what Board positions would be opening up that fall. Up until that point, I had been involved with the regional association, but hadn’t done much at the state level. As the conference went on, I observed that the Treasurer seems to have to speak in front of everyone the least. I thought, I could probably do that job, since it was one of the open positions. I spoke with a couple people about it, and they were incredibly supportive, so I thought I’d send the email after the conference. At the Business Meeting portion of the conference, I actually paid attention, and discovered that SDASFAA offers a scholarship for Leadership Pipeline participants, and mentioned that South Dakota hadn’t had any participants in some time. After listening to Joe Donlay speak about the program during the RMASFAA update, I thought it might be a good learning opportunity, with a potentially new treasurer position. To conclude my already long story, I was offered the Treasurer position on interim in July, and started my official term and my year in Leadership Pipeline in October.  It has been an exciting ride of volunteerism. (I also learned that the Treasurer position is quite a bit of work, along with minimal public speaking J )

Brenda Hicks has been a wonderful mentor throughout this process. I give huge kudos to the Leadership Pipeline committee for their ability to match up mentors and mentees. Brenda and I first met in January 2013 at the Summer Institute planning session. We were paired together as roommates, and she helped me create my financial aid super hero name, which sadly, I cannot remember. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and utilizing her expertise. We have many things in common, we are both efficient, sarcastic, and enjoy red wine. I was also fortunate enough to have Brenda as the thought leader for the Association Management Pathway of the NASFAA Leadership & Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. this past March. We were able to meet before the conference, and enjoy an evening tour of the monuments, and discuss the upcoming sessions. Even though she had a lot going on with her role in the conference, she was always sure to touch base with me about previous sessions, and to see what I had learned.

I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is newly getting involved in their state or regional association, or to anyone who has no idea what to do to get involved. Leadership Pipeline is the platform to see what kind of involvement opportunities are out there. You can hear from mentors who have held every leadership position ever created. Even if you don’t see yourself as the next president-elect, Leadership Pipeline can help you to get more involved on your campus, or even within your own office, heading a financial literacy movement. There is something for everyone, and you will only find yourself wanting to do more. I think that was the biggest thing I was looking to come away with at the end of Leadership Pipeline. I wanted to learn from the best, how to do it all, their full-time jobs, their volunteerism, and their families. The Leadership Pipeline class of 2016-17 did not disappoint.

Leadership Pipeline: Kelly Whittekiend


Continuing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s professional development program.

KellyPic.jpg

 

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

I am the Financial Aid Manager at Dixie Technical College (DX Tech) in St. George, UT. I have worked in financial aid since March 2014.

Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor and describe your relationship with them.

My mentor is Julie Wilson, previous Financial Aid Director of LCCC.

The committee couldn’t have picked a better mentor for me. I am a very direct person and some individuals aren’t sure how to handle me. Julie has the amazing ability to handle all my questions and craziness. I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to work with her.

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I learned about Leadership Pipeline from the RMASFAA newsletter.  I wanted to join Leadership Pipeline to know more about financial aid and feel more comfortable in my role at DX Tech. After speaking with the Student Services Director and explaining to him what the program was all about, he wanted me to apply so I grow in my position.

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

The most valuable thing that I have learned so far is that we all struggle with similar issues like communication, gainful employment, what department is in charge of specific tasks, programs making changes without letting the appropriate people know. By having our monthly meetings I have learned how other schools deal with these issues. I have also learned that if I ever need any information, the mentees and mentors will always be there for me.

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program?

I know this program will help me become more comfortable in my position and grow as person. I have learned to delegate and say no to projects that don’t really belong to me, organize my day, have a Zero Inbox philosophy and how to communicate with difficult people.

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?

I would recommend the program to anyone that is new to financial aid and wants to grow in their position. This program has tons of valuable information and will introduce you to great contacts. Because of the monthly meetings with my mentor Julie, the monthly conference calls and the discussions that come from reading “You’re The Director” I have been able to grow in my position.

Leadership Pipeline: Dani Reynolds


Continuing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s professional development program.

Susan and I at 2016 RMASFAA
Susan and I at the 2016 RMASFAA Conference

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

I am a Financial Aid Counselor at Newman University.  I have worked in financial aid since October 2015.

Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor and describe your relationship with them.

My mentor is Susan Stephenson of Eastern Wyoming College.  

Despite her being a cat person to my dog person, we have built a wonderful friendship!  She greeted me at the 2016 RMASFAA Conference with the cutest outfit for my son who was born a few months later. Her generosity doesn’t just extend to gifts for cute babies. She’s always willing to offer support and I always look forward to our monthly check-ins.  

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I learned about Leadership Pipeline at Summer Institute and thought it sounded like fun. I was still pumped up from SI and wanted to get involved. At the time, Leadership Pipeline was happening every other year and I didn’t want to miss my opportunity. I’m so thrilled that they’re starting a new class at the upcoming RMASFAA Conference.

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

I love hearing what other challenges people are facing to see what we have in common. The longer I work in financial aid, the easier it is to find solutions or point at a resource that could help. Having a good network of people is wonderful for when I get stumped and they are able to do the same for me.

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program? 

I have loved Leadership Pipeline and I’m definitely coming away with everything I hoped for.  The call with all of the mentors and mentees is a highlight of my month. I’ve had several light-bulb moments during calls where I need to implement something immediately.  

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?

I would recommend Leadership Pipeline to anyone wants to stay in financial aid for the long term and get involved. I would especially like to recommend Leadership Pipeline if you are on the fence because you feel like you’re really busy but you want to participate anyway. I almost didn’t apply because I was having a baby a few months after our Leadership Pipeline year together began and didn’t know just how busy I would be after he was born. I am SO glad that I did. I even hope to be on the other side as a mentor someday.

Join Leadership Pipeline!


Have you ever thought about…

  • Presenting at your State, Regional or National Conference?
  • Becoming a Board or Committee member on your Financial Aid Association Boards?
  • Approaching your Vice President with an idea to increase productivity?
  • Applying for the supervisor position in your department?
  • How your mood sets the tone for the day?
  • Achieving your goals one step at a time?
  • Making a commitment to be a part of a team?
  • How great it would be to have a professional mentor one phone call away when you need them?

mentor

If you have pondered these thoughts, check out what RMASFAA’s Leadership Pipeline can help you achieve.  Leadership training and mentoring is available for RMASFAA members.

Applications are available NOW for October of 2017: http://www.rmasfaa.org/docs/forms/LeadershipPipeline_Application2017-18.pdf  .

Apply TODAY and meet a new mentor!

If you have questions, please contact Janet Riis (jriis@carroll.edu or 406-447-5423).

 

 

Leadership Pipeline: Darcy Johnson


Continuing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s professional development program.

Dj

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

I am currently the Student Loan Coordinator at Emporia State University in Kansas. I’ve been here 5.5 years.

Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor and describe your relationship with them.

My mentor is Peg Mason from Colorado School of Mines.

Picture this: I’m on the elevator in the Holiday Inn in Rapid City, SD heading down to attend my first Leadership Pipeline event. I say to a random stranger in the elevator, “I have that exact same shirt at home!” Then I look at her nametag and realize that it was Peg! We knew we were a perfect match from that point forward.

Peg is a great listener and gives wonderful advice when we have our monthly calls. In addition to business, we always take a few moments to discuss her grandchildren and my cat.

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

A colleague had completed the program a few years ago and I witnessed how it benefited him and was hoping for that same opportunity.

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

I am a Red on the PACE Palette, and I should sit next to Yellows in a staff meeting to temper my potential outbursts. Also, since returning from RMASFAA in October, I’ve done my best to adopt a Zero Inbox philosophy. I feel that it has helped me become more efficient and less stressed by my emails. (Full disclosure: there’s been at least two emails left there at all times).

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program? 

“REDs tend to be more concerned about what’s happening right now than in the future.” Throughout the work we’ve done so far, I’ve self-examined how much involvement I can volunteer to our state and regional associations at this time, brainstormed with Peg ways to improve my communication, and learned tips and tricks (and even shared some) on being more efficient in the workplace. I know that the next six months will continue to provide many more learning opportunities that I’m going to continue to absorb.

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?

None of us will ever know it all. Why not take the opportunity to learn from peers and leaders in the industry? From my own experiences, I feel that anyone who completes this program will learn a great deal about themselves, make lifelong friends with many financial aid peeps (and let’s face it, FAAs are the most fun!), and grow as an employee and a leader. Take the plunge!

Leadership Pipeline: Hayley Shipton


Continuing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s renowned professional development program.

hayley

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

I am currently a Financial Aid Counselor at the University of Utah and I have been here for about 2 ½ years.  Previous to that I have about 3 ½ more years of experience at other schools, so about 6 years total in financial aid.

Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor and describe your relationship with them.

My mentor is Carolyn Halgerson.  She is so much fun!  We have monthly contact in which we talk about my goals, self-improvement and just life in general. She is very invested in me and is there to help in any way she can through this process of trying to be prepared for leadership opportunities.

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

My main goal in joining the Leadership Pipeline was to do something that would allow me better opportunities for advancement.  Having it be based specifically in the financial aid field, to me, makes it more valuable than a management training with your HR department.  I have done both and this program makes me feel like I am gaining more specific information for what I want to do. It also provides amazing connections with other financial aid professionals.

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

Communication has been a really important topic that comes up in almost every subject that we focus on.  I have learned that not only is it important to make sure that we are communicating well with others but also stylizing how we communicate based on how others receive communication the best.  For instance some individuals want to have all of the information and facts about any changes that may be coming before they can feel comfortable with the change. Some people need to meet in person to discuss things while others prefer an email.  It is really important to be in tune with those around you so that communication is flowing the way that it should.

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program? 

The main thing that I want to have at the end of this program is a skill set and knowledge base for being effective in the workplace. I am already seeing improvements with what we have studied and discussed and look forward to additional tools that I will be gaining in the next few months.

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?

I think that in general self-improvement is important but with this there is so much potential for any professional goals that you might have. You create contacts, build your knowledge in financial aid as well as management, and in general it will create so many opportunities for you!

Leadership Pipeline: Brenda Haseman


Introducing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s renowned professional development program.

 

Brenda Haseman
Enjoy a butterbeer in Diagon Alley

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

I am the Scholarship Coordinator for the Northern Wyoming Community College District – Sheridan College, Gillette College, and Sheridan College in Johnson County.  I have been working in the financial aid office since 2013.

 

Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor and describe your relationship with them.

My mentor is Valerie Curtin, Director of Financial Aid at Helena College – University of Montana.  Valerie is a great mentor.  Upon meeting each other in October at RMASFAA, we found out right away we had something in common (other than financial aid of course): we are both originally from the Midwest!  We usually talk on the phone about twice a month and sometimes email in between.  She is a sounding board for my thoughts.  She is a great listener and provides me with a lot of insight into the world of financial aid and on being a professional financial aid administrator.  It is a comfort to know that I have someone I can bounce my thoughts off and she will provide unbiased opinions and constructive criticism to help guide me.  I know that our relationship will extend after my commencement from Leadership Pipeline.  She is and will be a valuable resource and a speed-dial contact for me no matter where my financial aid path may take me.

 

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I attended the new and aspiring director track at Summer Institute this past June.  It was a great experience and I learned so much from the conversations we had in the classroom (shout out to James and Mary!).  It was an awesome experience to have individuals from varying backgrounds and FA responsibilities come together and mesh with sharing our experiences, thoughts, and constructive criticisms.  I know that I have a firm grasp on FA and how to assist students, but I want to expand my knowledge, learn from others’ experiences, as well as share my experiences with others.  FA is ever changing and it is important to learn from others on how to deal with accepting the changes and how these changes affect our students.  Maybe, eventually, I’ll work my way up to being an officer within RMASFAA.  I felt that Leadership Pipeline would be the first step in finding the tools I would need to succeed on that path, as well as another outlet to network with other RMASFAA members whom share my desire to learn.

 

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

(Its not easy) being green.  This means I have a drive to know all there is to know about everything, but at the same time, I can be skeptical.  I am always asking ‘Why?’ and need to know how a decision will affect the end result.

This helps me understand what aspects of my work life and personal life I need to strengthen or just let go.  It helps me get a general starting point of how I interact with others and why I am the way I am.  Knowing how I fall into the Pace Palette spectrum is valuable because it helps me understand why and how I approach situations, what characteristics I look for in people as part of my daily interactions, and why I expect so much of myself.

 

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program? 

I look forward to having an extended network of RMASFAA members to add to my contacts list.  I look forward to having a lasting relationship with Valerie – being able to reach out to her at any moment with a question or need for feedback.  A personal goal of mine is to learn how to be a leader in an ever changing and fast-paced professional office.  I know that I have many strengths that I can bring to the table, but I am also aware of my weaknesses.  I look forward to learning ways on how to improve upon my weaknesses to turn them into strengths, to be more accepting of changes that are beyond my control, both in a professional office environment and my personal life, and how to be a leader for others using empowerment.

 

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?

Leadership Pipeline is a great way to get you in touch with your regional colleagues and to make connections within RMASFAA that you may not otherwise have the opportunity to make.  It makes you aware of how you approach various situations, where your strengths lie, and how you interact with others.  It is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and leave your shell behind.  We are all very busy with our day-to-day obligations, but if you ever have the opportunity to apply for this program and if you are offered a spot, take it!  Do not miss a fabulous opportunity to be paired with a mentor who can offer you an outsider’s perspective, provide feedback from their experiences, share their financial aid knowledge, and maybe even inspire you to be a mentor one day.