NACAC Honors College Admission Leaders for Service to Students and the Profession

Media Contact:
Shanda Ivory 

Arlington, VA (Oct. 1, 2018) — Leaders from across the field of college admission were recognized last week by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) for the contributions they have made to students and to their profession.
A wide array of individuals,programs, and groups were honored during the association’s 74th National Conference in Salt Lake City.

Award recipients are as follows:

Gayle C. Wilson Service to Education Award
(Two individuals were honored.)

Sue Biemeret, who retired from her position as a college counselor at Adlai E. Stevenson High School (IL) in 2016, served as a mentor to countless admission professionals. Most notably, Biemeret founded the Academy for College Admissions Counselors. Now in its 19th year, the Illinois-based organization offers a variety of workshops, seminars, and classes to help college counselors better serve students and families. A leader within the profession, Biemeret previously served as president of the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling and a board member on the Midwest Regional Council of the College Board. Watch the video.

Lynn Slaughter, who passed away in February, was a tireless advocate for students and a thoughtful leader within the profession. Over her 40 years in public and private schools, Slaughter taught students throughout the state of Texas in a variety of roles and found college admission counseling to be particularly fulfilling. Her passion for education carried over into her involvement with professional organizations, such as the Texas Association for College Admission Counseling, where she served as president in 1994, and NACAC, where she was elected to the Board of Directors in 2008.
Established in 1973, the Gayle C. Wilson Service to Education Award was named for a fine and outstanding leader who devoted his life to counseling and assisting students in attaining their educational goals. The Wilson Award is presented to NACAC members who, over a period of years, have performed outstanding service to their profession.

Margaret E. Addis Service to NACAC Award  

• In 2016, NACAC’s Ad Hoc Steering Committee on Admission Practices undertook a monumental project—drafting a new code of ethics for the college admission profession. Yet in just 18 months, this committee of 19 NACAC members led by Todd Rinehart, vice chancellor for enrollment at the University of Denver (CO), produced a draft, solicited member feedback, and successfully brought the document to the floor of the 2017 NACAC Assembly in Boston where it passed without a single dissenting vote. The updated version of NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices now provides significant protections for international, transfer, and waitlisted students and addresses personal professional conduct.  Watch the video.

Established in 1996, the Margaret E. Addis Service to NACAC Award honors association leaders who have never faltered in their commitment to ensuring ethical practices while providing unique and outstanding service to the association.

Excellence in Education Award

• Since its start in 2016, the ACCEPT Facebook Group has grown to over 4,800 members dedicated to promoting equity and access for all students. The group’s founders—Marie Bigham, Steve Frappier, and Brandi Smith—were recently recognized for their successes, with Facebook naming ACCEPT as one of its top 100 groups in 2017. And the group’s influence is not limited to its online presence. ACCEPT—which stands for Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today—has hosted local programs for students, developed affiliate and NACAC conference sessions, and convened in-person meetings around the country. Watch the video.

Established in 1983, the Excellence in Education Award is presented to an individual or group that has improved the field of education and/or the way students are served.

Inclusion, Access, and Success Award
• Catalina Cifuentes, executive director of college and career readiness with the Riverside County Office of Education (CA), uses her position to advocate for education and create meaningful changes in the way students in her county—and across California—access higher ed. In 2014, Cifuentes started the Race to Submit, a statewide campaign that aims to increase the number of students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and California Dream Act application. Thanks to the initiative, financial aid completions have jumped significantly—making college possible for more students. Watch the video.

The Inclusion, Access, and Success Award celebrates individuals and programs that have been instrumental in making postsecondary opportunities available to historically underrepresented students. 

Government Relations Award

• Advocacy work has flourished in the Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC) under the leadership of Breanne Boyle. As chair of the affiliate’s government relations committee, Boyle, a college counselor with Collegewise (CA), helped growattendance at WACAC’s 2018 advocacy day in Sacramento by 60 percent, making this year’s legislative conference the largest in affiliate history. Boyle has lobbied on behalf of school counselors at both the state and national levels. She uses her connections to help keep her affiliate colleagues up-to-date on important pieces of pending legislation. Watch the video.

The Government Relations Award is presented to a NACAC member who has made outstanding efforts in support of policy initiatives that promote equal access to higher education, encourage student achievement, promote counselor excellence, and further the government relations priorities of NACAC members.

NACAC Rising Star Awards
(Three programs and two individuals were honored.)  

• Counseling in the College Selection Process—a 45-hour online course offered by the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling—is changing the way the state’s counselors approach their jobs. Ninety-two professionals signed up for the first session of the course in January and more than 100 counselors are slated to take the course this summer. Participants report that the class—which was developed by NACAC Past President Patrick O’Connor—has helped them learn more about college counseling curriculum, the process of researching colleges, and networking.

• The Rocky Mountain Association for College Admission Counseling (RMACAC) is the first NACAC affiliate to have made its entire website accessible in another language. The RMACAC website translation has allowed Spanish-speaking parents, students, and professionals to access the same materials as their English-speaking counterparts in a region with a growing Latino population.

• In 2017, the Indiana Association for College Admission Counseling hosted the Transitions for Youth Conference—a day-long event designed to familiarize professionals from high schools, colleges, universities, and community-based organizations with practices and policies to better assist the students they serve. Attendees learned about the challenges homeless individuals face when applying for financial aid and navigating college life. Participants also left with resources they could turn to when assisting students in need.

Courtney Johnson-Benson goes above and beyond the call of duty both on the job as a senior assistant director of admissions at The University of Akron (OH) and in service to the Ohio Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC). Her drive to make a difference is evident in her work with OACAC, where she’s served on the affiliate’s Summer Institute Committee; Guiding the Way to Inclusion Committee; and Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee—which she now chairs. OACAC will soon launch a Camp College program, an undertaking that would not have been possible without the hard work and determination of Johnson-Benson.

Estrella Redondo, senior associate director of admissions at Marymount Manhattan College (NY), has served on various committees within the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling (NYSACAC), joining the affiliate’s executive board two years ago. Redondo’s colleagues describe her as a valuable addition to the affiliate and the profession. Last year, Redondo was awarded a New Initiatives Grant to bring a program called Mental Health First Aid to NYSACAC members. Akin to a CPR course, Mental Health First Aid provides training to professionals who work with adolescents every day but may not be versed in mental health counseling.

The Rising Star awards, administered by NACAC’s Affiliate Presidents Council, honor individuals and programs that exemplify excellence and leadership in serving the needs of students in the transition to college. The awards were established to encourage affiliates to identify and support emerging leaders and innovative programs.


The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.

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