About the Character Focus Initiative at NACAC 

As part of NACAC’s education and training offerings, the Character Focus Initiative encompasses opportunities to support college admission counseling professionals as they advance their practice of elevating non-academic factors and character-related attributes in the admission process.

The Character Focus Initiative exists because of the importance of character assessment in the college admission process. The work of the initiative is to develop research-based resources and proven best practices for advancing the identification and consideration of positive character attributes in the admission process.

Resources and Training 


In 2023, NACAC acquired the work of a volunteer organization known as the Character Collaborative. This acquisition led to a NACAC program called the Character Focus Initiative. The Character Collaborative, established in 2016, encompassed 74 member organizations and 300 active participants at the time of its acquisition.

The vision of the group at its founding was to promote the use of character attributes in the evaluation of candidates for admission to colleges and independent schools. Members of the group presented on character in admission at various conferences and built three virtual courses designed to help admission offices recognize and assess student character attributes in their process. The Character Collaborative also held an annual meeting in tandem with the annual NACAC Conference.

Read more about the history of the Character Collaborative

Get involved

Involvement in the new Character Focus Initiative is open to all NACAC members. A community on NACAC Engage will be available for any member interested in staying informed and being involved with the initiative.

An advisory group made up of former Character Collaborative board members and other NACAC members interested in the assessment of character in college admission meets regularly to discuss the initiative and continue advancing the work of this initiative.

News and Publications

Character Focus Initiative Advisory Council

Lee Dieck
Former Character Collab. Board Member

Nathan Kuncel
University of Minnesota

Candice Mackey
LA Unified School District

Ericka Mathews-Jackson
Wayne State University

Erby Mitchell
Hotchkiss School

Kenton Pauls

Kathy Pivonka
Cathedral High School

Trisha Ross-Anderson
Making Caring Common

Mark Sklarow

Whitney Soule
University of Pennsylvania

Kris Tesoro
University of Michigan

Jonathan Williams
New York University

Joe Zachrey
Center for Leadership Development