September 2016

In this Issue

We would love your feedback! Send us suggestions, member profile nominations and job postings. Please email us at [email protected].


President's Perspectives

Dear Colleagues:

I opened an email from a parent at 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The subject line was, “Your Troubling Intellectually Bankrupt Perspective,” and was written in response to our parent and family newsletter we sent the previous week. In the newsletter, I highlighted the important changes we made to the name of our website, email address, and social media accounts from Terp Parent to Terp Family as we take steps to become an even more intentional and inclusive office. I also shared our new Statement of Inclusion. He was not happy.

His email talked about how “language matters” and then proceeded to refer to me as an “Intellectual Socialist Pygmy.” According to him, the work of my office and the university “clearly represents a politically correct dogma reminiscent of ‘1984’ Newspeak.” There were far more colorful statements, but you get the idea.

Our students need us. Every. Single. One. They need us because we provide resources and services for their families, so that those family members can be the best source of support possible for their student. And the letter from this parent only demonstrates just how necessary it is for us to be reaching out to the margins and ensuring that every person who supports one of our students knows we are here for them. It demonstrates that our efforts to broaden our impact—to meet the needs of those families with limited access, limited resources and limited knowledge of the college experience—make a difference.

This year’s AHEPPP Conference will focus on Elevating Engagement with Parents and Families. It is the right theme at the right time. A pre-conference workshop (free for all conference registrants) with Dr. Jamie Washington will challenge us to dig deep and reflect on how best we can work with and advocate for historically oppressed populations. Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama and Dr. Casandra Harper, our keynote speakers, will encourage us to broaden our perspectives and to recognize the importance of moving from involvement to engagement when working with parents and families. The sessions presented by colleagues will encourage, inspire, and inform. Moreover, the conversations and connections with each other are sure to recharge our batteries. 

Bring your successes, bring your ideas, but most importantly bring your questions. Let us discuss together how we move our profession forward and support student success through parent and family engagement.

You are doing good work. My Monday morning email proved it.

See you in Boulder!


Brian L. Watkins
AHEPPP President
Director, Parent and Family Affairs
University of Maryland

Back to the top of the page

 Introducing AHEPPP Promising Practices

Why go it alone when so many Parent and Family Programs professionals have already implemented your next initiative? AHEPPP is here to support you in making your program the best it can be. To that end, a team of your AHEPPP colleagues is working on a comprehensive library of research-based and proven Parent and Family Programs Promising Practices that will be available to all AHEPPP members. This online library will include topics such as: 

Parent and Family Websites
Family Weekend
First Generation Students and Families
Parent and Family Orientation/Transition to College
Parent Councils/Advisory Boards
International Families
Move-in Events for Families
Parent Fundraising
Involving Families in Sexual Violence Prevention Efforts
Social Media and Families
Career Education and Families
Serving Families of Students with Disabilities
Loss of Life Protocol

Each topic will include an executive summary with links to more in-depth information, a literature review of relevant research, recommended practices for implementation, and a resource list. A standard template for Promising Practices submission is currently under review and will be posted on the AHEPPP website prior to the annual conference in November. Promising Practice topics will be added as they are reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors.

We welcome your Promising Practice submissions, suggestions for additional topics and your active involvement if you are interested in serving on the Promising Practices review team. Contact Branka Kristic ([email protected]) or Shari Glaser ([email protected]) for more information.

Back to the top of the page

AHEPPP Mentorship Program

If you’ve previously been involved with AHEPPP, you know community is the defining feature of our association. We are now enhancing our community with a mentor-matching program. We invite you to participate in this new initiative as an added dimension to your professional development within the association and beyond! Due Monday, October 10, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. EST

In cooperation with our strategic planning goals, we are looking for both new and seasoned professionals to serve as mentors, mentees or both!


This mentorship program is a one-year commitment, beginning in October 2016, just prior to the National Conference. Take advantage of this opportunity in the manner that best meets your needs.

As a mentor you…

  • Make monthly contact with your mentee. This can be in the form of phone calls, email, or other outreach
  • Share articles, books, and other publications that may be of interest for your mentee
  • Share relevant resources and conferences that may be of interest
  • Meet at the 2016 AHEPPP National Conference (if applicable)

As a mentee you…

  • Are open to learning and exploring new ideas
  • Take initiative to develop a professional relationship with your mentee
  • Ask questions, engage and take ownership of your professional development 

In this flexible program, you will be provided monthly discussion themes to use as a starting point for your conversations or or you may discover other topics of interest to your mentor pairing. AHEPPP creates the match; you develop the relationship and structure of your work together. 

If you are interested in participating in this opportunity, please fill out the application here to tell us more about yourself and your interests. Applications are due October 10, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Pairings will be announced in late October in time for you to make plans to connect in Boulder. 

If you have questions about the mentorship program, please contact Kesha Williams at [email protected].

Back to the top of the page

Update: 2016 AHEPPP National Conference - Elevating Engagement with Parents & Families

altJoin us in scenic Boulder, CO for the 2016 AHEPPP National Conference, Elevating Engagement with Parents and Families.  We return to The St. Julien Hotel and Spa to celebrate our fifth national conference. The St. Julien provides a wonderful venue for our time together to share educational programs, celebrate amazing awards, hear from engaging speakers and be a part of one of the fastest growing areas in higher education. We will explore best practices in our work with parents and families, discuss current challenges and trends, share our successes, (including tips that we all wish we had thought of) and rejuvenate through networking with friends and colleagues. Educational Session abstracts can be found here.  

Registration closes October 28. Don't miss out!

Pre-Conference Add-Ons

Traditional Pre-Conference: The AHEPPP Pre-Conference will take place on Monday, November 14 from 9:00a.m.-2:00p.m., and will provide opportunities for professionals new to parent/family programs to engage and interact with colleagues, learn together, and enjoy a mentoring lunch with seasoned professionals. Participants will also receive a complimentary copy of the Parent and Family Programs CAS Standards and Guidelines. The Pre-conference registration fee includes a continental breakfast and lunch. This year's event features Dr. Toni Woolfork-Barnes.  


Dr. Toni Woolfork-Barnes serves as director of First-Year Experience (FYE) Programs at Western Michigan University; she is affectionately known as ‘Queen Bee’ for her exemplary leadership, passionate persistence and unwavering support and commitment to student success. Leading the FYE effort has meant that Dr. Barnes has helped develop an infrastructure and institutionalize a comprehensive program that supports undergraduate transition and adjustment. Dr. Barnes is the recipient of Western Michigan University’s Distinguished Service award, which speaks volumes to her dedication and commitment to the students she is privileged to serve, her staff and the institution. Her work-life balance is very important, so in her free time, she is a photographer who loves to capture life’s images of family and friends, especially her husband whom she’s been married with for 25 years and her son who attends Morehouse College. Registration for this Pre-Conference is required. Please contact Lindsay at [email protected] to add the Pre-Conference to your existing reservation or register online today. 

altWorking with Historically Oppressed Populations on Healing and Action Pre-Conference: In the face of tragedy and injustice, AHEPPP strives to move from empathy to action. To help the members of our association both personally and professionally, we will offer a special session prior to our 2016 National Conference on Monday, November 14. This three-hour, pre-conference workshop, "Working with Historically Oppressed Populations on Healing and Action," will be conducted by Dr. Jamie Washington. Dr. Washington is the President and Founder of the Washington Consulting Group, a Multicultural Organizational Development Firm out of Baltimore, MD. Dr. Washington has served as an educator, administrator, and consultant in higher education for over 30 years Dr. Washington is the President and a Founder of the Social Justice Training Institute. He also serves as Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and Social Ethics at Winston Salem State University. This special Pre-conference session will take place in the afternoon (2:45p.m. - 5:45p.m.) following our traditional Pre-Conference and will be free for all AHEPPP members registered for the conference

Keynote Speakers

AHEPPP is delighted to welcome two esteemed experts on parent and family engagement in higher education as our 2016 Keynote Speakers Dr. Casandra Harper and Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama. Together, Dr. Kiyama and Dr. Harper have published several journal articles and presented many times on topics such as inclusive models of parent engagement and supporting first generation college students and families. Plan to be inspired at the 2016 AHEPPP National Conference in Boulder, CO where they share best practices in Elevating Engagement with Parents and Families

altDr. Casandra Harper 
Dr. Casandra E. Harper is an associate professor of Higher Education in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Department at the University of Missouri. Her research is focused on the diversity of the individual student experience, including: multiracial identity and racial identification, the influence of student-parent interactions, perceptions of campus climate, openness to diversity and financial aid outcomes. She was awarded a National Academy of Education/Spencer postdoctoral fellowship in 2012, ACPA emerging scholar in 2013, and the Richard Caple award from MoCPA in 2014.


Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama
Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama is an associate professor in the Higher Education department at the University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education. Dr. Kiyama's research examines the structures that shape educational opportunities for underserved groups through an asset-based lens to better understand the collective knowledge and resources drawn upon to confront, negotiate and (re)shape such structures.

Read more about our keynote speakers here 

Back to the top of the page

 Membership Spotlight

AHEPPP has a geographically diverse membership of more than 165 institutional members. In each newsletter one or two members or a board member will be featured. This month get to know Priscilla Childress of Missouri State University.

altName: Priscilla Childress
Current Role: 
Assistant Director, New Student & Family Programs, Missouri State University 
AHEPPP involvement: 2016 Conference Committee, Member since 2014
 Leland, Mississippi
Gardening, watching sports (yay for college football), road trips

Q: Tell us how you first started working in the field of parent relations.
A: I didn’t take the typical route of many Parent & Family professionals. I was a stay-at-home mom for 13 years, then had to go back into the workforce, never thinking that I would be working in higher education. My first taste of working with families was when I worked for Kappa Delta Sorority Headquarters. I got a lot of questions from families and I found it very interesting the questions that were asked. I had a daughter about to start college at that time and I was asking similar questions and wasn’t finding some of the answers at the colleges my daughter was applying to. Yes, I did have helicopter tendencies, I own that. I left Kappa Delta to go to my alma mater, Millsaps College, where my job was to work with families. That’s where my love of working with families really started.

Q: What do you love about the field of parent/family relations?
A: I love the engagement piece of working with families. Figuring out ways to engage families with the university, with each other and with their student in an “adult” way is fascinating. I love all the ways we have to make those connections these days. I share with families how different things were back in the “caveman days” when my mom took me to college, helped me move in and told me I could call home collect once a week. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Parenting these days has evolved so much so it’s like a puzzle figuring how to engage families these days! alt

Q: What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
A: I am really surprised by the number of families surprised that colleges and universities understand the importance of family members in their student’s college experience and have programs in place to help with that transition. When I explain the services we offer to families, you can see them sigh with relief knowing they aren’t going through this transition alone. Just knowing there is someone they can call, helps them even if they never call.

Q: What advice do you have for new professionals in this field?
My best advice for new professionals in our field is to make connections around campus. Introduce yourself to everyone, learn what they do, share what you do and what collaborations can take place. You find collaborations in the strangest places so always be on the lookout for those. I’ve found great partnerships with the ROTC, the Library, the coaches, just by asking questions and proposing ideas.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working with parents and families of students?
To me, the most challenging part of working with families is setting up that initial communication so you can engage them with the university. Does their student share their contact information? Do they sign up for your newsletter? Are they engaged at Orientation? Do they stumble across your family page on Facebook or Twitter? Getting that information and answering the questions about “are you going to share our information?” can be difficult.

Q: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about current parents and families of college students?
I believe families get a bad rap for the help they want to give their students. Helicopter, lawn mower, umbrella are just a few of the names that are given to family members. Not all of them deserve those titles (do refer to the first question where I confessed to being a helicopter parent at times).  Don’t get me wrong, I run into my fair share of families that are overly involved in their student’s lives and nothing is going to change that. A lot of their “over involvement” comes from the feelings of transition they are feeling but don’t like to express. After 18 years, it’s hard to let your student “grow” when you have been the one making sure everything was good for them. As parent & family professionals, I personally feel it’s my job to understand those feelings and help them through that process.

Q: What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
Hmmm, that’s a good question. I feel in the next five years college and university administrators are going to see more of the value in having a vibrant, engaging Parent & Family Program. They will see that we, Parent & Family Professionals, provide a service to our families that leads to the families being happy with the university which leads to student success which leads to retention and graduation. From families of first-generation students to commuter students and under-represented students, we are able to provide resources and offer solutions that are incredibly important to the success of the university.

Back to the top of the page

Leaders Wanted: Volunteer for AHEPPP! alt

AHEPPP has wonderful opportunities for you to shape the future of our association and our profession:

Apply to become 2017 National Conference Chair. The deadline to apply is Monday, October 17, 2016.

Apply to become an AHEPPP Board of Directors member. This is a terrific opportunity for current AHEPPP members to lend their leadership and vision to the Association of Higher Education Parent/Family Program Professionals and contribute to our growing organization. You may nominate yourself or a colleague. The deadline is Friday, December 9, 2016.



Back to the top of the page

 Job Postings

AHEPPP hosts a Job Posting page. It’s free for anyone to post a position in the field of parent and family relations. As a member you will be notified when new postings are listed. Please send postings to [email protected]

The following jobs are live on the AHEPPP site:

Assistant to the Vice Chancellor - Student Affairs, University of Mississippi
Communications Specialist - New Student & Family Programs, Texas A&M University
Assistant Director, Student & Family Programs, Colorado College
Associate Director, Parent & Family Giving and Student Affairs Philanthropy, College of William & Mary

Back to the top of the page

Photo Messages Help Families Beat the Back to School Blues

Take a scenic backdrop, a white board, and a camera and what do you have? A message home! We were inspired by first day of school photos from member institutions around the country! Please enjoy this small sampling. 


Does your campus have a fun and innovative way to keep families connected? Share it with us by emailing [email protected] 





Back to the top of the page

Upcoming Conferences/ Events

NODA Annual Conference
November 5-8 | Indianapolis, Indiana
Make plans to attend board member Amy Swank's session, "Parent Speak: Training Student Leaders to Support Parents and Families"

AHEPPP National Conference 
November 14 - 16 | Boulder, Colorado

Back to the top of the page

In the News: What You May Have Missed

As a busy professional, you may not always make the time to read every article about parents or catch every new resource available to families, so we've included a few that we think are worth reading.

Parenting College Students
Tips from a College President
Helicopter parents: Hovering may have effect as kids transition into adulthood
TED Talk: The Expectation Gap
The Eternal Struggle of the Empty Nester
Meet the Parents Who Won't Let Their Children Study Literature
How to Help Your College Student Cope with Lonliness

Campus Life
Five Ways to be a Great Off-Campus Neighbor

Financial Aid & Families
At Last, Your Financial Aid Ordeal Has Gotten Easier

Back to the top of the page

Stay In Touch

alt altalt