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

Media Contact:
Mary Stegmeir

Arlington, VA (Sept. 30, 2019) —
 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.
Seven individuals and three programs were honored during the association’s 75th National Conference in Louisville.

Award recipients are as follows:

Excellence in Education Award

Joyce Smith with awardNACAC CEO Joyce E. Smith, who will retire in 2020, is the association’s longest-serving chief executive and the first African American woman to serve in the position. During her 22 years at the helm, the association’s membership more than doubled in size and NACAC’s flagship National College Fairs program grew to serve hundreds of thousands of students annually in 95 cities in the US and Canada. In addition, under Smith’s leadership several practices designed to protect students in the college admission process were formalized and NACAC gained national prominence and recognition for its research, government relations work, global engagement efforts, and education and training opportunities.
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.

Gayle C. Wilson Service to Education Award

Nan Davis with awardNan Davis
, who recently retired as vice president for institutional enrollment at Austin College (TX), has had a remarkable impact as a mentor to scores of admission professionals. A longtime member of NACAC and the Texas Association for College Admission Counseling (TACAC), Davis was instrumental in developing the curriculum for her affiliate’s Admission and College Counseling Institute, formerly known as the TACAC Summer Institute. The immersive four-day program helps participants build the skills needed to assist students in the college search and selection progress. Davis has also played an instrumental role on several NACAC committees and currently serves the College Board as a member of its board of trustees and its Access & Diversity Collaborative.
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  

David Kamimoto with awardDavid Kamimoto, an associate director of admissions focused on transfer students at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been deeply involved with NACAC for more than two decades. Some of his most valuable contributions include service on the association’s Admission Practices Committee; Inclusion, Access and Success Committee; and Governance and Nominating Committee. Kamimoto is also a longtime leader of NACAC’s Asian American/Pacific Islander Special Interest Group where he has worked tirelessly to create opportunities for Asian Americans within higher education and in the profession of college admission counseling.

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.

Inclusion, Access, and Success Award
Heidi Bonner with award
Heidi Bonner, director of college advising at Boys' Latin of Philadelphia charter school, works tirelessly to ensure equitable access to postsecondary opportunities for her students. Referred to as the “Dream Maker,” Bonner has implemented college advising classes, college fairs, and college days to help her students build self-confidence and identify viable postsecondary paths.

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
Paul Welsch with award
Advocacy work has flourished in the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) under the leadership of Paul Welsh, a counselor at Fenton High School (IL). As IACAC’s government relations co-chair, Welsh played a key role in passing legislation to protect student ownership of test scores. He has also participated in several of NACAC’s Advocacy Days in Washington, DC.

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.)  

• Since launching in 2018, the Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Collaboration Webinar Series has produced seven webinars serving more than 600 college admission counseling professionals. The webinars are offered through a collaboration of NACAC’s affiliates in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. Each month, one affiliate serves as the host and the other affiliates are invited to participate. Topics have included financial aid and best practices for serving students of color and first-generation students.

• The Leadership, Equity, Accountability & Diversity Program, offered by the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling, is a one-year professional development opportunity for counselors of color interested in building a career within higher education. The initial 13 participants, who concluded the program in June, met monthly with mentors to gain the social and aspirational capital needed to advance in the admission profession.

• The Advocacy Leadership Credential Program, offered by the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling, provides members with curriculum-based content surrounding advocacy as well as updates on current and pending education legislation on both the state and national levels. Participants can access the curriculum through either a four-part webinar series or a one-day training. The program was developed with support and input from the Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and is available to members of both organizations. At least 50 people are expected to receive the credential by year’s end.

• Robert Kaercher, a valued member of the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling (NYSACAC), works hard to ensure all students are aware of their postsecondary options. As a college and career counselor at Byron-Bergen Junior/Senior High School (NY), he launched a workshop series designed to build his school’s college-going culture, introduced online college planning resources for all grade levels, and facilitated opportunities for his students to meet face-to-face with college admission officers. In addition, Kaercher has served as the longtime chair of one of NYSACAC’s largest and most successful college fairs.

Fatmata Koroma, who recently assumed the role of associate director of college counseling at St. John’s College High School in Washington, DC, is passionate about the potential of higher education to change lives and has become an important voice within the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC). Koroma is constantly striving—often behind the scenes—to contribute to her school, her affiliate, and the profession. Most recently, she helped to launch the PCACAC Equity Collaborative—an interactive preconference workshop focused on the discussion of diversity, equity, and inclusive practices in college admission and 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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