Enjoy this follow up on Justin Chase Brown
I understand you consider yourself a Leadership Pipeline “dropout!” Tell us a little bit more about this.
I was at the University of Kansas when I started in Leadership Pipeline and then halfway through the year I moved to Wisconsin for a new job. I stayed engaged with the program and with my mentor, but I was unable to make it to the graduation ceremony at the RMASFAA conference. It was hard having to miss that graduation ceremony!
What was it like moving to a different region?
Having moved from RMASFAA to a different region and then moving back was difficult. You build up a network, then you lose it for a while because you lose touch without seeing people every year. Then you come back and there are a lot of new faces and you have to try to pick up where you left off. There are a lot of people who still remember and know you, but there are also plenty of people who are new and have no idea who you are. It’s difficult jumping right back into things as you know there are people who have been working hard for the association who deserve a chance to shine!
Tell us a little about your career path before, during, and after Leadership Pipeline.
I took a lateral move during the time I was in LP. I was an Assistant Director at KU, then I moved to the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh to be their Assistant Director. Professionally, I felt limited at KU. I was in charge of SAP, which dominated most of my time. I had exposure to different areas of financial aid, but didn’t feel like I was getting enough experience in the other areas. I chose to leave so I could experience a smaller school and get more experience. I went from an office of about 25 people to an office of 10 people. This was a good career move for me looking back because I gained a lot of experience. Personally, my wife and I had our first child and the move allowed us the opportunity to have her work from home.
How was your experience while you were in Leadership Pipeline?
It was great! I remember it was the first time I ever had a one-on-one conversation with Justin Draeger. He came to the conference when we started the program. At the time, he was fairly new in his role as President and CEO of NASFAA. I was still new in the field and it was great to get that exposure for advice. Jim Swanson was my mentor for the LP, so that was also great! He is a legend in the financial aid world. Getting to work with him was a great experience.
What has your career path been since you have been out of LP?
I was really only at UW Oshkosh for 18 months before I was approached for the Associate Director position at University of Missouri. While I was at Mizzou, I had my eye on Nebraska. Then Nebraska’s previous Director retired earlier than I expected. When that happened, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by. I didn’t think I would get the job, but I wanted to experience the interview process and put my name out there as someone who wanted to be a Director. It was an exciting time to be offered the position and then also very scary! There were several leadership changes before and after I arrived. Everyone up the chain of command was either an interim or was new to their role. Although, it was a great experience to have negotiated the terms of the job with who is now the Chancellor. It was great to have that connection to him right away.
Do you have any advice for people who are considering becoming a Director?
There are folks out there who wonder if it’s the right fit for them or if they are ready. I would say, if you are waiting for the right time or a time when you think you’ll be ready, you’ll never be there. You just have go for it. Put yourself out there. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by because you don’t want to regret not doing something. Personally, I’ve never applied for a job I thought I was ready for. I think you can grow into every job you take on. If you’re waiting for that right moment, it’ll never come to you! It’s like when folks try to plan a family and want to wait until you’re prepared to be a parent. It’s not something you can fully prepare for and appreciate until it happens!
What are your goals moving forward?
I wanted to come to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln for the job and for my family. I like Nebraska, and I wanted to get somewhere stable for my kids to go through school. I plan to be here as long as Nebraska will continue to have me. I’m also in my second year in a PhD program. I definitely wouldn’t consider looking elsewhere until I’m finished with the program. I’ve seen too many people struggle with finishing their doctorate after taking on a new job and I don’t want to have to go through that. Lately I’ve been drawn more to federal and state aid policy, so if I were to ever do anything differently, that might be the direction I would look toward.
Submitted by Sarah Standley