Apply Today: Leadership Pipeline 2019-2020

It’s time to apply and be a part of the award winning Leadership Pipeline Program!

The application for the 2019 Leadership Pipeline class is available now on the RMASFAA website: 

Leadership Pipeline application

 Selected mentees will spend a twelve-month period engaging in leadership training, group discussion, and informational reading and exercises.

Mentees are strategically paired with seasoned RMASFAA mentors and the mentee/mentor relationship is intended to enhance and solidify the experience in the program.

 Program kicks off at the 2019 RMASFAA conference in Billings, Montana.

 If you have questions, please contact Chelsea Springer at or 801-585-5828


January’s Training Tip

Happy New Year! For many of us the new year also means a new semester and a flood of students coming in and out of our offices. With that thought in mind, this year’s theme for the Training Committee is customer service. All of us know how complex financial aid policies and procedures are, and while we love to get together and mull over all these complexities between ourselves, it is often challenging to try to breakdown our financial aid lingo to the students and families we serve. That is why I have decided to go over a few tips and tricks I have acquired about how to give great presentations.

For many of us, public speaking is something we frequently get volun-told we have to do. And for many of us being able to meet our individual institution’s enrollment numbers means that we need to be financial aid rock stars on our respective stages. So here are a few fool proof tips to make holding that microphone a little more bearable:

  • Use a microphone. You never know if there is going to be someone in your audience who is hearing impaired, so by using a microphone it is easier for everyone to clearly hear what you have to say. Also, if you are speaking for a long period of time or have back to back presentations, using a microphone will help you to sound less strained after a lot of talking.
  • Stand to the left of your visual aid. English speakers read left to right, so it is easier on the eye if the presenter stands to the left of their presentation.
  • Keep your feet pointed towards your audience. Good presentation posture is generally to keep your feet pointed towards the audience with your shoulders very slightly turned towards your presentation. It is also helpful if you are using a clicker, to place your clicker in the hand closest to your presentation screen. If your clicker is in your other hand it can look awkward if you are frequently crossing your hand over your body to click to your next slide. If your clicker is in the hand closest to the presentation screen, you do not have to cross your arm over your body every time you change slides.
  • Avoid podiums. Podiums separate the speaker from the audience which can feel very impersonal. It is also common for people to grip the sides of their podium, lean against it, or look down a lot which can make you look nervous and less engaging to your audience.
  • Don’t over gesture. Over gesturing can make you look nervous and once again can distract from what you are trying to convey to your audience. Try to keep your hands at your sides or practice choreographing your gestures to important transitions in your presentation.
  • Wear your power clothes. Try to avoid clothes with busy patterns as they can distract from what you are telling your audience. Generally red and black are viewed as power colors, but I am sure many of us often wear our institution’s colors when we present which is very appropriate and helps to identify you as the presenter.
  • Find a few friendly faces. To avoid awkwardly staring at one spot in the room, try to find three or four friendly faces in the room and routinely try to make eye contact in their general direction.
  • Use your time wisely. On average you have about 18 minutes before you start to lose your audience’s attention. Try to incorporate pictures, stories, and screenshots to break up text heavy slides and keep the audience engaged.
  • Follow Art Young’s advice. Art Young, Financial Aid Director at Utah State University, said that a presentation needs three things: content that is meaningful to the audience, treats, and to end early.

I hope you find these presentation tips helpful. If you would like to hear more or would perhaps like to see a webinar about how to give successful presentations, please let the Training Committee know. In the meantime, I know many of us are very busy, so remember to take a moment and savor that cup of morning coffee or do something for your own enjoyment in the evening.

Faces of Leadership Pipeline: Class of 2019

January’s Leadership Pipeline mentee post features Emily Linn. Emily is a Financial Aid Officer at the University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana. Here’s what she has to say about LP!

  • Your current position and how long you’ve worked in FA.

I am a Financial Aid Officer at the University of Providence. I have been here at the University for 6 years with a little over 4 of those years in financial aid! I started working as the bookstore assistant, then moved over to be the financial aid assistant, then moved into a student service specialist position within our one stop, and then was promoted to financial aid officer!

  • Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I decided to join leadership pipeline for the opportunity to grow as a person and strengthen my leadership skills. Professional development is very important to me, and I want to continue to move up and around within Financial Aid! I wanted to learn more about how I can be the best leader I can be by understanding my current leadership style and ways to improve. I was very excited to hear each mentee is matched with a mentor who is there to help you throughout the program one on one. Knowing I would have someone there to guide me through tough situations and a personal contact to help me develop my leadership style was very exciting. Growing as a leader and developing my personal skills is very important to me, and I hope to someday move into a director position!

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

The program is just getting started, but I have already learned so much more about myself. Completing the Kiersey personality assessment was eye opening. I enjoyed learning more about how each personality type works with others and some strengths and weaknesses of my individual personality type. The monthly calls are also great! I love listening to things that other mentees are doing at their schools to make their offices more innovative and effective and how each person uses their own leadership strengths to make an impact within financial aid. I am already so excited for our future meetings.

  • What is it that you are hoping to gain at the end of the program?

I was really hoping to get out of my comfort zone and try something different. Leadership Pipeline is nothing like any other program or group I have been part of. I want to learn more about my own leadership strengths and weaknesses and make goals with my mentor on how I can continue to grow. I hope to continue to be able to work directly with my mentor navigating through difficult situations and gaining skills to navigate through the hurdles of financial aid after this program is complete.

  • Why would you recommend this program to others?

I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who wants to grow their leadership skills and continue to make a difference in financial aid. Not only is this program going to give you all the skills to grow as a leader, but it also introduces you to a great network of people who will be able to help you grow within the financial aid world and help you troubleshoot any issues that come up within financial aid.

emily linn picture2

December’s Training Tip

Customer Service Advice from Santa and his Elves

 As a child, I always enjoyed watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman” and the other children’s holiday classics. As an adult, I still enjoy watching some of them this time of the year. It puts me in the holiday spirit and, sometimes after a crazy busy day at work, it’s nice to watch something fun where you don’t have to think!

santa hat

In that child-like spirit, I got to thinking that there are some things we can learn from Santa Claus and his elves that will help us enhance customer service in our offices. This is what I imagine they would tell us…

  1. Review your list and check it twice! – As you’re gearing up for another semester, check your “to do” list to make sure you don’t miss something critical that needs to be done. While you’re at it, double check your work too! Accuracy and detail is key in making a good impression. You don’t want to inadvertently send a “suspension” letter to the wrong student! That won’t make a good impression.


  1. Take pride in your work! – If you enjoy what you do and take pride in doing a good job, your customers will recognize that. That sense of pride is reflected during phone conversations too!


  1. Work as a team! – Whether your office consists of two people or twenty people, everyone needs to work together to get the job done and provide quality service. This is especially true as we prepare for another semester. If you’re struggling to get a project done, recruit others to help. Teamwork is reflected in the customer service provided by your office!


  1. Be nice! – Dealing with the public can be challenging at times. Maybe it’s the student who is stressed because he’s transferring to your school in a few days and he didn’t realize he had to add your school code to his FAFSA. Being kind and empathetic goes a long way in making that student feel welcome!


  1. Take time to enjoy milk and cookies! – We all need to remember to take a break for a few minutes to get away from our busy offices and to refocus. What better what to do that than with milk and cookies!




 Marlene Seeklander


RMASFAA Training Committee

Lake Area Technical Institute