Keeping Our Focus on Students

By Todd Rinehart, NACAC President

I am honored and humbled to begin my year as NACAC president, and excited to serve our association as we continue to advance our mission in the face of multiple pandemics.

While I’m sad we weren’t together in Minneapolis for our annual conference, I was incredibly grateful we had the opportunity to host a virtual conference. It simply could not have gone any better, and I was inspired by the many outstanding presentations and speakers. Congratulations to the NACAC staff for delivering an exceptional conference!     

With that said, one disappointing aspect of a virtual conference is not being able to properly thank and celebrate both our outgoing and incoming board of directors. Please join me in thanking Stefanie Niles, Elise Rodriguez, Jacques Steinberg, and Derek DuBose for their years of service and contributions to our profession. Special thanks to Jayne Fonash for her incredible year as our NACAC president. And please join me in welcoming and congratulating our new board members – Sanjay Mitchell, Mark Steinlage, Jr., Robyn Lady, and Holly Markiecki-Bennetts. I’m excited to have new voices and perspectives joining our conversations. They join continuing members of the board: Ffiona Rees, in a new role as president-elect, and Angelica Melendez, Cornell LeSane, DJ Menifee, Ken Redd, Sara Brookshire, Steve Pultz, and thankfully, Jayne, in her new role as immediate past-president.

This is a special group of intelligent, dedicated, and caring individuals who are outstanding thought-leaders and ambassadors for our association. And we will be part of important NACAC history, serving as Angel Pérez’s first board – something I take great pride in!

Even with this amazing team, I have no illusions that the year will be an easy one. NACAC and the college admission profession are facing some of the most difficult challenges in our history. Our members are simultaneously managing three pandemics – health, racial, and economic. Any one of these would affect our personal and professional lives in serious ways, and our board will need to be strategic, empathetic, and inclusive to manage theseeffectively. 

The racial inequities have existed for hundreds of years, but the recent months have heightened these injustices and have brought renewed attention by our membership to identify solutions. I can assure you that our board will approach this year with a commitment to equity and inclusion. Black Lives do indeed Matter.

While these are nuanced challenges, I can’t imagine facing them with a better team than our NACAC members. NACAC has survived over 80 years with members coming together with their many talents, expertise, and a willingness to change and lead for the better. We need to continue to push and challenge each other. And, we need to collaborate to develop solutions and turn our challenges into opportunities.

So, here’s what we need to do now:  We must continue to be bold.  We must continue to listen. And we must listen with the intent to make meaningful changes. Most importantly, we must keep our focus on students - serving students as our guiding principle will lead us to better places.

Evidence of this transformation is already apparent with our new CEO. We are incredibly fortunate to have Angel’s talents, laser-focus, and strategic thinking. I cannot believe what he has already accomplished just weeks into his tenure. Angel hit the ground running with vision and purpose, and thanks to the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership in College Admission, a committee he chaired, we have a new road map to the future.    

Some key priorities for the board of directors this year include the following:

  • We have a great opportunity to redefine NACAC’s mission, vision, and values and bring greater clarity to who we serve and how.
  • We have an opportunity to reimagine NACAC’s governance and the role of our board, affiliates, delegates, and SIGs.
  • We will continue to help Angel and the NACAC staff navigate budget challenges and key decisions this entire year, including the development of new and innovative revenue streams and partnerships.  
  • We will make critical decisions while remaining true to NACAC’s core values and mission.

Our closing speaker at the national conference was Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas. Dr. Sorrell shared many key insights, but one that struck me was his vision and commitment to have his college emerge from the pandemic in an even stronger position to fulfill their public good mission. This too needs to be our vision and commitment for NACAC.  I know that together NACAC won’t just survive these times – we will thrive and become even better. This will be a challenging year for sure, but also one filled with great hope and promise.

Thanks in advance for your membership and dedication to NACAC!


Todd Rinehart
NACAC President
University of Denver, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment















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