President’s Column: Membership and Action, Modeling the Change We Want

By David Burge

I continue to be impressed by the leadership displayed from within the NACAC membership. Since the conclusion of the conference, I have seen many examples from those in our association who have taken the initiative and launched activities consistent with the values and mission of the organization. That’s one of the things I admire most about our collective work together—a proactive attitude. It’s not enough to simply lobby for the change we seek, rather we model it for others in our ranks to observe and find inspiration.

For the organization itself, building an environment for collaboration across membership lines is a core responsibility. It anchors our mission statement in a very profound way: “NACAC defines professional standards and provides leadership, knowledge, advocacy, research and a forum for collaboration to support admission and counseling professionals.”

Those forums now exist both virtually and physically for our membership. Affiliate conferences, national meetings, and special events are joined by Facebook groups, e-lists, and webinars. Some are sponsored by NACAC or the affiliates, others are grassroots efforts, but they are all opportunities for us to engage and learn from each other.

In those forums good ideas abound, each seeking the opportunity to grow and develop into something that benefits our students. There are times where it is appropriate to seek change or support directly from NACAC, and there have been passionate arguments made on the Assembly floor or at the Annual Membership Meeting that have amounted to positive action on behalf of us all. But that is not the only forum, indeed it isn’t even the primary forum, for collaboration and action.

For example, I’m pleased to see David Quinn’s announcement of a new flavor of the High School Counselor Challenge for the Salt Lake City conference in September 2018. The idea is simple, challenge colleges and universities to provide financial sponsorship for school counselors from Title 1 schools to attend the conference. This is not a formal NACAC initiative, just an example of one of our members leveraging his time, talent, and connections made through NACAC membership to do some good.

I am humbled by the work of the ACCEPT Facebook group to organize a day of college counseling to serve students in the hurricane-ravaged Houston area on Oct. 14. Heath Einstein, Marcus Johnson, and Molly Thompson-Vander Heyden have all done great work to build this program that will include 30-minute one-on-one sessions with students engaged in the college search.

Yes, there are NACAC links to each of these programs. But they are born directly from NACAC members who spied a problem in our community and organized for action. They used their personal networks, positively influenced by their membership in our organization, and are modeling the type of leadership we seek to nurture in all corners of our 15,000+ membership. They didn’t wait for someone else to do something or lobby others to solve the problem, they took it upon themselves.

I know that things like this happen every day in both big and small ways. So, keep it up. Don’t regret later that you didn’t take the action you thought necessary. I hope your membership in this organization gives you the confidence, and the network, to organize those around you to make a difference. 

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