Update from NACAC's Board Chair, November 2021


Dear NACAC Members,

It does not seem like so long ago that we saw each other in Seattle. And now, here we are, beginning our march to the holiday season! Last week, the NACAC Board of Directors convened at the University of Denver for its annual strategic retreat and fall business meeting. Past-President Todd Rinehart was a gracious host and on behalf of the board, I thank him for his generosity and for opening his campus to us for these important conversations.

As you know, the NACAC board is committed to creating greater opportunities for information-sharing with members, and that members can expect an update from us following each board meeting. I am delighted to share this board meeting update with you today.

On Thursday and Friday, November 11 & 12, 2021, the board convened for strategic and future-focused conversations and to conduct its important regular business as a fiduciary board.

Board Retreat

It is critical, every now and then, that the board steps away from its regular work and shifts to “the balcony.” By that I mean that we spend time thinking about the future of NACAC and how it can better serve its members and the college admission counseling profession. This is the time that we get to think big! It is an opportunity to use the rich knowledge and expertise of our elected and appointed board members to be bold and lay the foundation for new initiatives—while remaining focused on mission, vision, and service to members.

We started the retreat with a facilitated discussion on the book Race to Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations. Framing strategic conversations within the context of best practices in association management is critical for our work as a fiduciary body. The NACAC leadership team and the board remain committed to organizational excellence and to that end, we are working to strengthen our understanding of how best practice can and should inform our goals, priorities, and decision-making.

For the rest of the day, the board engaged in conversations about growing NACAC’s revenue streams beyond the national conference, college fairs, and membership dues; heard from Art Coleman, managing partner and co-founder of Education Counsel, a premier Washington D.C. law and advocacy firm, regarding his recommendations for a reimagined policy and advocacy agenda for NACAC to implement in 2022; and participated in design-thinking exercises to continue our efforts to reconceptualize the relationship between the affiliates and NACAC. While the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Reimagining the NACAC-Affiliate Partnership continues, the board remains committed to increasing its engagement to strengthen these important relationships.

The board left feeling energized and excited about the many possibilities ahead of us. In the year ahead, NACAC staff and the board will work harder than ever to deliver results that empower college admission counseling professionals through education, advocacy, and community.

Board Meeting

At Friday’s board meeting, we had a full agenda, including standard business items and important aspects of our fiduciary responsibility to the association and our membership.

Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

Several weeks ago, the board’s Performance Committee had the opportunity to convene with NACAC leadership to conduct a deep dive into the FY2022 revenue and expense assumptions.

Post-pandemic, NACAC’s work, and the world, changed. Therefore, the association’s planning and budgeting assumptions, had to change, as well. An important example of this is the continuation of virtual experiences for our in-person events. A hybrid event model has important financial implications that we must proactively account for in the budget planning process.

Thanks to the good work of the staff, the FY2022 budget is the result of a zero-based budgeting model—an approach that is new to the association. The leadership team reviewed and considered three years-worth of revenue and expenses, as well as transaction history, to challenge past assumptions and build a completely new budget. The board is committed to making important investments to support NACAC’s innovation—especially in the areas of technology, advocacy, and philanthropy. Conversations about the FY2022 budget will continue in December, at which time we also expect to approve it.

2022 Board Goals & Priorities

At the beginning of the month, the Planning Committee of the board convened to review progress on its 2021 goals and priorities and identify them for the new year. Like the Planning Committee, the full Board of Directors noted that while there was much progress to celebrate, there is still much to do.

NACAC’s new mission and vision statements and the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership in College Admission and the CEO listening tours continue to serve as important guides for our work. We continue to be intentional in the strategic alignment of our goals and priorities with voices and input of members that resonate through these important documents.

Ongoing Priorities

  • Continue the board’s fiduciary responsibility and communicate and demonstrate outcomes regularly with NACAC members and stakeholders.
  • Advance NACAC’s ongoing efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within the college admission counseling and financial aid professions.
  • Improve NACAC’s and the Board of Directors’ connection to and communication with affiliate organizations, Special Interest Groups, and their leadership.

2022 Goals

  • Ensure NACAC’s new mission and vision statements inform and direct engagement, event, and program design and assessment.
  • Encourage and advance NACAC CEO’s and leadership team’s change management efforts. Including, but not limited to technology, advocacy, and philanthropy.
  • Formalize an annual plan to empower the new ad hoc and special committee structure to respond to the diverse needs of members in the college admission counseling profession.

I look forward to sharing more information with you about our progress to achieving these goals in the year ahead.The 2022 ongoing priorities and goals can also be accessed here.

Approval of NACAC’s New Policy & Advocacy Agenda

Following the presentation from Art Coleman of the Education Counsel, the board approved a motion to reorient the association’s policy platform and advocacy strategy to reflect a primary focus on three areas (below) and develop evidence-based priorities and recommendations to advance a national agenda in support of more equitable, accessible, and affordable post-secondary education.

  • Student- and equity-centered admission practices
  • Professional responsibility and ethics for college admission counseling professionals
  • Expansion of capacity and impact of school counselors and college advisors

We believe that this new policy and advocacy agenda will ensure that NACAC continues to support the work of our diverse and deeply committed members and maximize our collective impact. We look forward to sharing more information with you about the exciting renewal of NACAC’s policy and advocacy agenda in the weeks and months ahead.

As you can see, there is much exciting work underway. There is extraordinary alignment between the membership, board, and the staff about NACAC’s future direction and how we achieve it. Member voices and feedback continue to inform and inspire our work. Throughout the year ahead, the board will keep you apprised of our progress and how you can contribute to NACAC’s ongoing success.

On behalf of the NACAC Board of Directors, thank you for your support of the association and its work to advance the college admission counseling profession and its professionals. I look forward to all that we will achieve together—for one another and for countless students in the U.S. and around the world.


Ffiona Rees
Chair of the Board

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