The college admission process has changed dramatically since Shantel Goodman-Luckett, NACAC’s Chief Experience Officer (CXO), graduated from high school in the late 1990s. She learned just how much when her daughter Indi began the college search process in 2020. The timing was serendipitous, as she also was considering a job change and the national search for NACAC’s first CXO was just beginning.
She reflected on her daughter’s college admission experience as she contemplated a move to NACAC, the premier association supporting professionals who serve students as they make choices about pursuing higher education. “The college admission process started in middle school for my daughter,” she said. “Getting that early start helped prepare her, and our family, for each step of the process.”
Both stories ended happily: Her daughter is thriving in her freshman year at Spelman College (GA), her first-choice school, and Goodman-Luckett now works at NACAC as CXO.
Goodman-Luckett explained how her daughter’s college admission journey, along with her own background in global association membership, integrated marketing and communications, data analytics, events, organizational leadership and operations, and her passion for higher education, spurred her interest in the CXO position. “Watching my daughter go through this transformative experience opened my eyes to the integral role NACAC members play in helping young people manage the stress and financial implications of applying to college and to the invaluable role of a knowledgeable admission counselor. Every student should have that kind of opportunity for support.”
She joined NACAC at a critical time in the life of the association, and she noted the pandemic has made growing—or even sustaining—membership in associations much more challenging. “Value can no longer be taken for granted. The pandemic has resulted in millions of people becoming displaced, furloughed, having significant salary reductions, and more. Members (and their organizations) can’t afford to pay membership dues. Determining how best to redefine the value proposition and how to deliver that value will be essential to our success. I’m looking forward to the collaboration between the association, members, and volunteers to achieve these common goals,” she said.
The CXO position ensures creativity, innovation, and collaboration in all aspects of the member experience, and the idea excites Goodman-Luckett. “NACAC’s commitment to putting the member at the center of everything drew me to apply for the position,” she said. More specifically, she will be responsible for developing and implementing strategies to ensure successful outcomes for service, outreach, and impact among stakeholders, while ensuring a seamless approach that embodies excellence and operationalizes the organization’s values.
Goodman-Luckett is the consummate membership/marketing/association executive, with a proven record of developing, standardizing, and aligning strategies, teams, and experiences with evolving member needs—which was quickly made clear throughout the interview process. “After an extensive interview process conducted by the CXO search committee, the leadership team, and staff members, it was clear Shantel is the obvious choice to lead NACAC in this new role,” said NACAC CEO Angel B. Pérez.
In her most recent previous position as senior vice president of global marketing & research at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), Goodman-Luckett was instrumental in growing the association membership globally, launching its professional development function and certification, and enabling the annual GBTA convention to break attendance records each year for the last four years.
At GBTA, she began as director of global marketing and quickly rose through the ranks at the organization. Her previous work will also benefit NACAC’s renewed dedication to the member experience: She has held positions as Marriott International’s manager of marketing strategy and programs, and as Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive’s (a subsidiary of The Washington Post) senior manager for consumer marketing. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Marymount University (VA). She earned her BS in mass communications/advertising from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MBA, with a concentration in marketing, from Johns Hopkins University (MD).
It’s clear Goodman-Luckett will be an asset to NACAC moving forward. Her unique set of experiences positioned her as the frontrunner through much of the interview process—an impressive feat considering the number of candidates. “Shantel was chosen from a pool of approximately 300 candidates,” said Pérez. “I can’t wait to partner with her. During the search, I was determined to find a leader equally passionate about customer service, hospitality, and college access. She’s already become a quick study on all things NACAC, and her proven success as an association and hospitality leader will take us to new heights.”
As for Goodman-Luckett, she said her early days on the job will be spent getting to know staff and members so she can better understand the team and member needs. “Working across the organization and bringing people together are essential,” she said. “We all will work together to improve the customer journey for the membership and deliver the value NACAC has committed to delivering,” she said. She noted that another benefit of having membership be foremost in the minds of staff and leadership is creativity born from collaboration. “I am a huge proponent of cross-departmental collaboration, as that is where many creative ideas come to fruition,” she said.
Addressing issues of diversity, equity, and access also will be critical to NACAC’s commitment to creating a membership that is reflective of the changing demographics among students, said Goodman-Luckett. “The future of marketing and business will be more diverse, inclusive, and connected to real customer needs. Everyone deserves the opportunity to attend college if they would like to. Obtaining a college degree positively impacts individuals, families, communities, and the economy as a whole. College admission counseling professionals must be able to reach students and families of all socioeconomic backgrounds, which means the association must have members from all backgrounds,” she said.
This is also important to Goodman-Luckett personally. “As a woman of color, the past year was met with some challenging times that involved racism and misogyny. It was during these times that I found my voice,” she said. “As a Black woman, it is important for me to be a role model for my daughter and other women of color. It inspires me to help others and to give advice whenever I can, especially the advice that I wish someone had given me earlier in my career. I am a mentor to many, including past and present employees,” she said.
With fresh eyes focused on NACAC’s brand and membership experience, Goodman-Luckett said it’s essential to understand what’s really going on from the member point of view. “While creative thought leadership and strategy go hand in hand, I believe it starts with an organization’s willingness to take an honest look at what’s happening around them, among staff, and among the member/customer base. We have to ask how members, potential members, and stakeholders are engaging with our brand and how it’s perceived,” she said.
Get to Know Shantel
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
- Taking long walks, because it’s probably when I’m most creative—the time allows me to process and to think.
- Tutoring with the Wright to Read Program, which promotes literacy through the tutoring and mentoring of elementary school students in Alexandria, Virginia.
- Writing for my Tudie’s Travels children’s book series.
- Spending time with family brings me great joy, even over Zoom.
If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?
I love Claire Huxtable! She is always so calm and cool even in the midst of chaos.
What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Compassionate, driven, poised, creative, curious.
What do you think others would say?
Empathetic, confident, poised, intelligent, classy.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
- I grew up in a small town on a farm. As a kid and young adult, I didn’t appreciate that environment until I moved to the DC area after completing undergrad. A large part of my family still lives there, and it’s my favorite place to visit.
- I began writing a children’s book series, Tudie’s Travels, about eight years ago. The idea stemmed from my daughter asking me why the toys in the stores didn’t look like her. It can’t be stated enough that representation matters. I’ve self-published two books from the series and the illustrations are in the works for the third book.
- I love vacationing in the islands; however, I’m terrified of iguanas.