July 15, 2020
I’m delighted to write you today, my first day of service as NACAC’s chief executive officer.
Never could I have imagined, when I began my career as an admission counselor, or served as a college counselor at a public school, that I would someday help steer the association that I’ve turned to for community, professional development, and advocacy. I am filled with energy, excitement, and optimism as I embark on this new journey and remain deeply grateful to NACAC staff, its board, and exemplary former CEO Joyce Smith for the thoughtful transition planning and counsel.
I decided to join the world of associations because I believe our work has significant impact on the world. I am inspired by the words of the late John Graham, former CEO of the American Society of Association Executives, who reminded us of the impactful role and responsibility of associations like NACAC: “They serve as important refuges and communities for people who want to come together for a common purpose and achieve results that are positive for our nation and the world.”
NACAC’s work has never been more important, and never more challenged. I am clear-eyed about the obstacles we face. COVID-19 is fundamentally upending society and creating uncertainties in the shifting tectonics of America’s educational landscape. Like many, NACAC must pivot and adapt immediately.
The core of our association’s work is about bringing people together, and the ability to do so is unlikely for the foreseeable future. As a result, NACAC faces significant logistical and fiscal challenges in the year ahead. I will work tirelessly with the staff, board, and volunteer leadership to ensure that despite the economic downturn, we continue to uphold NACAC’s mission and serve your rapidly evolving needs.
I am also keenly aware that I assume this position during a summer of protest against America’s long history of racial injustice. Our streets and our hearts have once again been in turmoil because of the enduring systemic racism that festers in our society. While I have dedicated my life to expand diversity, equity, and access, this moment in our history reminds me that it’s not enough. Black Lives Matter, and I must use my voice, privilege, and platform to help dismantle systemic racism, starting in the places where I have direct influence.
I will begin immediately by ensuring the NACAC staff in Arlington have the necessary tools to do anti-racist training and engage in the difficult conversations necessary to evolve. I will also work in collaboration with NACAC’s board and volunteer leaders to ensure we create an ecosystem of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all the spaces our organization oversees. The work will be ever-evolving, but I remain committed.
In the coming years, only one thing is certain. We will continue to face unprecedented change and challenge. As we look for solutions, I predict we won’t always agree. However, I promise to deliver what associations do best—provide the appropriate space, guidance, and educational context for all of us to grapple with the difficult work. Core to my leadership will be the guiding principles of transparency and embracing a diversity of perspectives. Not only are these the right guiding lights, but research shows we arrive at better solutions when different and relevant viewpoints are expressed.
To that end, you should expect NACAC to be more vocal in our advocacy in media and government. We'll take on timely critical issues, like standing up for the DACA program and protecting international students from discriminatory policies. And, we'll be more active on social media. Please feel free to follow me for updates. I believe in using social media as a tool to share, engage, and inform. However, I will not use it as a platform for debate. The issues we care so deeply about are too important and nuanced to be solved in 280 characters.
One of the first things I will do is embark on a member listening tour. While it’s difficult to engage all of our nearly 14,000 members, I hope to hear as many ideas as possible about the future direction of the organization, and how NACAC can serve your rapidly evolving needs. Every crisis brings opportunity for reinvention, and I believe NACAC is primed to adopt new ways of thinking. I can’t wait to hear your ideas. Together we will innovate and transform.
Our world is at a crossroads, and NACAC’s work is essential. Our members are chief architects in shaping the next generation of global leaders as they guide students to postsecondary education.
The students you serve today will be leaders in the next crisis. They will be the health care workers, politicians, researchers, educators, and community organizers who will shape our world. This is worth fighting for. I stand ready to serve as your chief advocate and ambassador.
Angel B. Pérez
CEO, National Association for College Admission Counseling
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