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Contact: Shanda T. Ivory

NACAC Announces 2021 National Award Winners

Arlington, VA (Sept. 30, 2021)  The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) each year honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding contributions to the field of education, to the profession, and to our organization. This year’s winners were recognized at the 2021 National Conference in Seattle, the association’s first hybrid—in-person and virtual—national conference. 


The Margaret E. Addis Service to NACAC Award

The Margaret E. Addis Service to NACAC Award honors association leaders for their commitment to ensuring ethical practices while providing unique and outstanding service to the association. 

Winner: NACAC Admission Practices Committee 

The NACAC Admission Practices Committee, under the leadership of chair, Aaron Salesak, director of outreach and recruitment at Inver Hills Community College (MN), was recognized for its work as “interpreter, coach, and teacher for NACAC members in the aftermath of the Department of Justice civil antitrust complaint and the subsequent vote by the 2020 Assembly to shift NACAC’s ethical stance from enforcement to best practices. Their thoughtful work created the groundwork for a new approach to ethical college admission that will help move NACAC from a system of mandatory requirements toward education and advocacy.  


Joyce E. Smith Excellence in Education Award

The Joyce E. Smith award honors an individual or individuals who have improved the field of education and/or the way students are served.

Winner: Nepal Justice League 

The Nepal Justice League was honored for its support of 60 Nepalese students who lost their full-ride scholarships four years ago to a US university. The league, led by Joan Liu, a counselor from the United World College of Southeast Asia who mobilized the counselors and admission professionals in the international community, was made up of eight women who rallied to work with universities across the world and the students whose scholarships were suddenly withdrawnat a time so late in the cycle that these students had already turned down acceptances at other institutions in the US and Nepal. 

The Justice League found new placements for the students, resurrecting their futures. 


Gayle C. Wilson Service to Education Award

The Gayle C. Wilson Award honors NACAC members who, over a period of years, have performed outstanding service to our profession.

Winner: Thomas Butler

Butler is the founding director of Advancement and Operations of the Philadelphia College Prep Roundtable. Throughout his 30 years in college access and success, he has served as a collaborator, convener, advocate, agitator, and advocate of college access and success work. He found his passion in "helping the helper" finding, leveraging, and creating opportunities for professionals and volunteers to be stronger stewards for college prep and retention information. 

Winner: Sean Callaway

Since 1996, Callaway has served as director of college placement at the Center for Urban Education at Pace University (NY). He established the college guidance program featuring multi-year individual admission strategies for high school students in the center’s federal and state grant-based programs. They were designated by Pathways to College as one of the national models for improving access to college for underserved students. 


Government Relations Award

The Government Relations award honors NACAC members who have made outstanding efforts in support of policies that promote equal access to higher education, encourage student achievement, promote counselor excellence, and further the government relations priorities of NACAC members. 

Winner: Ashley Young 

Young, a college counselor at Charles R. Drew Charter School (GA), who has 13 years of experience in college access and the field of college admission, focused on supporting under-resourced and first-generation college students, was honored for her life-long dedication to serving others and creating equitable opportunities for all students. 


Inclusion, Access, and Success Award

The Inclusion, Access, and Success (IAS) Award celebrates persons who have been leaders in making postsecondary education opportunities available to historically underrepresented students.

Winner: Yvonne Espinoza

Espinoza has dedicated her career to guiding students and families through the college admission process. Through her counseling service, she is a full-time college counselor for several high schools in Austin, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Colleges That Change Lives. 


John B. Muir Editor Award

The John B. Muir Award recognizes the efforts and talents of members writing blogs, recording podcasts, creating videos, and using other innovative formats. 

Winner: Ken Anselment

Anselment, vice president for enrollment & communication at Lawrence University (WI) and the creator, producer, and host of his Admission Leadership Podcast was recognized for “his intelligence, knowledge, sense of humor, and his obvious love for his job [which] help to make the programs lively, accessible, and engaging for any audience.” The 39 episodes of the podcast that have been released so far offer an important service to, and inspiration for, the members of our profession. 


NACAC Rising Stars

The Rising Star Award honors individuals and programs that exemplify excellence and dedication to serving the needs of students and those who guide them in transition from high school to college. The Rising Star Award encourages affiliates to look within their association and identify and support new members who are deserving of this honor. The award may also be presented to new programs offered within an association. 

Individual Awards

Winner: Jonathan Gowin (Potomac and Chesapeake ACAC)

Gowin’s rural, first-generation background fuels his passion for student success and led to his active engagement in NACAC’s Rural & Small-Town Special Interest Group. He recently was named an assistant director of admission at Carnegie Mellon University (PA), where he’s focused on collaboration with high school counselors and colleagues across the profession. 

Winner: Noor Haddad (Western ACAC)

Haddad is an associate director of college counseling at The Bishop's School (CA). She was honored for her work around equity and access issues, including providing one-on-one support for low-income students through the college application process and with community-based organizations across Southern California to help support college access among historically underrepresented students. 

Program Awards

Winner: Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling’s “Elevate: Women in Enrollment Management Seminar Series”

Elevate is a professional development seminar series created for women in higher education enrollment management who are looking to take the next step in their professional career or expand their professional portfolio. According to a 2014 NACAC survey, women are overrepresented at entry- and mid-level positions, comprising about 70 percent of counselors and assistant/associate directors, but become increasingly underrepresented at more senior levels. 

Winner: Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling’s “Promoting Inclusivity & Equity Lunch and Learn Series”

The Promoting Inclusivity & Equity Lunch and Learn Series began last fall, and its curriculum focused on promoting inclusivity and equity through self-reflection and professional, local, and state spheres of influence. It then expanded in the spring to topics, such as supporting students/colleagues of color, intersectionality, and learning differences. The free series was available to members and nonmembers. 

Winner: Texas Association for College Admission Counseling (TACAC)

The TACAC Member Relief fund was established to raise funds and provide aid after the record-breaking snowstorm in Texas in February 2021. The fund is now in place for TACAC members on a permanent basis. Over $18,000 was raised to support relief efforts. 

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About NACAC
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 25,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education.

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