Arlington, VA (May 4, 2020) — The Board of Directors of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) today named Angel B. Pérez to be the next chief executive officer of the organization.
Pérez is currently the vice president for enrollment and student success at Trinity College (CT) and will assume his new position at NACAC on July 15. Pérez succeeds Joyce E. Smith, who is retiring after more than 30 years as the association’s deputy executive director, executive director, and CEO.
With more than two decades of experience in secondary and higher education leadership positions, Pérez has been recognized as a national thought leader on issues of educational equity and access in American education.
NACAC President Jayne Caflin Fonash said the year-long search culminated in the right choice. “As we began this search over a year ago, we certainly did not anticipate selecting a CEO in such unprecedented times,” she said. “We did know that we were looking for a champion of education, a leader who would represent a wide view of secondary and postsecondary education, a practical visionary, and strategic leader whose knowledge and experience would enable him to live, breathe, and lead with our mission. We have found all those strengths and more in Angel B. Pérez. The NACAC Board of Directors looks forward to working with Angel to continue to strengthen NACAC’s role as a powerful voice for counselors, admission professionals, and students in ensuring access and equity in higher education.”
“When I was in high school, a school counselor and admissions officer changed my life, and there is no greater honor for me than being able to repay that gift, as NACAC’s CEO,” Pérez said. “I look forward to supporting the next generation of professionals dedicated to changing student lives across the globe. As the education landscape undergoes seismic shifts, NACAC’s voice and expertise in educational programming, member support, and advocacy in public policy is critical. Higher education is a public good, and NACAC will play a significant role in its evolving landscape. I’m thrilled to work with our members to create the future of the profession.”
At Trinity, Pérez led efforts in admission, financial aid, career development, student success, retention, the Individualized Degree Program, and Posse Scholars. During his tenure, he taught in the Educational Studies Department and oversaw institutional research, planning, and strategy.
A recognized innovator in admission practices, Pérez transformed Trinity’s enrollment and campus culture by adopting values-based, student-centered strategies, including a test-optional policy and the use of character in the holistic evaluation of applicants. To reduce the financial and administrative burden on the lowest income students, he eliminated the application fee for first-generation students and created a four-year financial aid award system. Pérez also created the Center for Student Success and Career Development, whose mission is to ensure that every student receives the support and guidance necessary to make their journey a success.
During Pérez’s tenure, Trinity enjoyed its most diverse classes ever, with more students of color, first-generation students, and international students, as well as a surge in academic quality, yield, campus culture, retention, and career outcomes.
Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney said Pérez has had an enormous impact on the college since he arrived in 2014 as her first leadership hire. “He has been a steadfast champion for expanding access to a Trinity education to talented students from all backgrounds and all parts of the world, including right here in Hartford,” she said. “The exceptional student body that defines Trinity today is a reflection of Angel’s vision and passion, along with his tireless dedication.”
“This opportunity to pass the baton to Angel Pérez, whom I’ve known for more than 20 years, is a moment of great pride for me,” said Smith. “My work as CEO of NACAC over the past three decades has been as much a calling as a job. I know Angel is similarly inspired by the power of education to uplift lives and by the tremendous role our members and our association can serve in advocating for students’ access to higher education. The challenges are great and increasingly complex, but I leave knowing the association is in the best possible hands.”
Pérez is engaged in public policy and advocacy for higher education. In 2016, the governor of Connecticut appointed him to the New England Board of Higher Education where he works with policy makers and academicians to impact policy in the region. In 2018, Pérez was chosen by the Gates Foundation and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators to serve on Forward50, an initiative to plan for the future of higher education in America and present solutions to Congress. In addition, he consults with various institutions of higher education to address challenges in mission alignment, enrollment, student success, and organizational change. In 2019, a Forbes article named him the greatest influencer in college admission.
Pérez is the author of many articles in mainstream and academic publications, including NACAC’s textbooks and The Journal of College Admission (JCA). In 2009, he was honored with the association’s John B. Muir Award for his JCA article, Struggling Between Two Worlds: How College Affects Identity Construction. Pérez is a frequent speaker at major education conferences in the US and abroad and is interviewed regularly by members of the print and electronic news media. In September 2019, his personal story and work at Trinity College were featured as the cover story of The New York Times Magazine.
A Fulbright Scholar alumnus, Pérez also served on Fulbright’s Scholar Peer Review Committee. He teaches courses in educational studies and design thinking at Trinity and is an international visiting faculty member at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan. Throughout his tenure at the college, Pérez has worked with students on research projects in areas such as operationalization of institutional mission, college access, and student success.
Pérez has served in many of the roles represented in NACAC’s membership. As a community-based organization director, he led an Upward Bound Program in New York City. He served as director of college counseling at a public school in New York City, and chief enrollment officer at various institutions throughout the nation. He is a trustee at the United World College in Costa Rica and recently completed service as a trustee at Berkshire School (MA) and Hartford Youth Scholars (CT).
Pérez holds a B.S. from Skidmore College (NY), an M.A. from Columbia University (NY), a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University (CA), and a Teaching Certification in Higher Education Pedagogy from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University (MA).
Photos available upon request.
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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