September 2019

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 and Friends:  

Snowplow, stealth bomber, submarine, helicopter... take your pick on which label is handed out to describe overly-involved collegiate families. Today, in the shadows of the “Varsity Blues” scandal, many colleges and universities, the media, and even families of college students themselves are second-guessing what the role of family involvement should be. But we know better. We know that student success can be directly linked to guidance from a mentor or family member who believes in their student. Strong retention rates, quality decision-making, and on-time graduation are often achieved with healthy sideline influence from family members or supporters.

As you all know, college and university administrators recognize that we live in a world where schools are no longer accepting only students— instead we engage entire families and support systems. Labels such as advisors, partners, and champions are popping up in admissions packets, orientations, family weekends events and general marketing. Family involvement in the collegiate experience is here to stay.

Last year AHEPPP celebrated a major milestone with 10 years of being the premier national association for campus-based professionals who work with the parents and families of college students. With a true desire to engage families from acceptance to graduation, eight AHEPPP founding members and trailblazers in family engagement created a national presence and membership organization to support the practitioners working with collegiate families. 

AHEPPP also provides valuable resources, networking opportunities, and continuing education to support family engagement. Today, AHEPPP is comprised of 500 brilliant scholars, practitioners, fundraisers and partners. I know I’ve said this time and time again but one of the many gifts AHEPPP provides is an instant community (a professional family!) of college administrators who understand the impact of leveraging family involvement for student success. 

As you all wrap up welcome weeks, family weekends, assessments, campus wide communications and events... and all the other duties assigned, I hope you’ll remember to also invest in yourself and join us for our National Conference November 4-6 in Portland, Oregon. 

AHEPPP is for anyone, regardless of title on campus, who works with families and student supporters in some way. I know I look forward to having conversations on why families matter with you! 


Humbled and honored,


Amy Swank
President, AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education 
Director, Parent and Family Relations - Gonzaga University 

2019 National Conference Update


The 2019 National Conference is just a few weeks away. As we prepare for a time of rich learning and community building, we hope you'll also prepare for some fun.

Opening Reception: Be sure to pack your flannel, Birkenstocks or hiking gear! We're kicking off the conference with Portland style with a Show Us Your Best Pacific Northwest "costume" contest. Come meet new friends, mingle with AHEPPP leaders, and preview award nominations as we enjoy some sweet treats together. A cash-bar will be available. 

Book Exchange: Share your story... literally! During the Awards Ceremony, attendees have the opportunity to participate in an AHEPPP surprise book swap. If you're interested in participating, please bring one of your favorite books (either personal favorite or professional development related) to the Opening Reception of the conference. Wrapping paper will be provided for you to wrap your book. At the Awards Ceremony, all wrapped books will be available for your surprise selection.

Excursions: Looking for a bit of adventure while in Portland? Sign up for a group outing and a bite to eat together before the conference begins on November 4. While themes like Foodie Fun, Hipster Haven and Brew and Bites, there's something for everyone. 

AHEPPP Cares: A favorite tradition of the AHEPPP National Conference is our annual service project. This year we are partnering with the University of Portland to make blankets for the homeless in the city.  

alt"Roughly 4,000 people take to the streets each night in Portland, Oregon. Life can be challenging especially on the streets and in a city known for cold winters. Without a home, these people rely on support from shelters and those in the community. Last year, I began to do my part in mitigating suffering in the homeless population. With support from the Moreau Center for Service and Justice, I worked with my fellow students from the University of Portland to build simple, yet warm and aesthetic blankets to give to those in need. The blankets are primarily to warm people up, physiologically speaking, but I also want to intentionally design these blankets to look nice so that the person receiving is warmed up, emotionally speaking. We are making these blankets with the objective to show the homeless that we care about them. It’s a person sharing something with another person and that is really what this whole project is about. - Jeff Hayashi, University of Portland Student, Project Lead"

AHEPPP Institutes: AHEPPP Institutes are pre-conference style workshops meant to supplement your National Conference experience. We are excited to offer two tracks for both new and seasoned professionals in the field of family relations. Choose from either our Tough Topics track or our New to Family Engagement track. AHEPPP Institutes will be held November 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00p.m. Each Institute is $115 and includes breakfast and lunch. Select your choice during registration or email Lindsay to add yours to your existing registration. 

First-Timers Webinar: First time at AHEPPP? Join us for a quick conference preview October 23 at 12pm EST. We'll discuss FAQs like "what do I wear?" and "what region am I in?" to make sure you're prepared to make the most out of your AHEPPP Portland experience! 

Registration closes October 18 at 5pm EST!

Get to Know Kristi Okerlund: 2020 Conference Chair

altCongrats to Kristi Okerlund, Director, Student Involvement & Parent Programs at University of North Dakota! Kristi has accepted the role of 2020 Conference Chair. Kristi was an Inaugural Member of AHEPPP and has served on both the 2018 and 2019 Conference Committees. Kristi is twice an alumna of her current institution where she oversees student activities, Greek life and and parent/family engagement. She has over 12 years of experience in the field and is known on campus as the "event planner extraordinaire."  Additionally, Kristi volunteers at her son's school and is a dance teacher at a local studio! 


The 2020 AHEPPP National Conference will be held in Orlando, Florida November 16-18.

If you are interested in joining the 2020 AHEPPP Conference Committee, fill out this quick online interest form and we will be sure to send you updates on the application process as they become available directly after the 2019 Conference in Portland, OR.

2019 National Survey of College and University Parent and Family Programs

Thank you to those who completed the 2019 Survey of College & University Parent/Family Programs! This survey has gathered information about parent services since 2003. Over the years, we have heard stories about how survey findings have helped parent/family professionals grow their office, develop new services, and make a case for budgets, staff, and programming. This year, we expanded our reach and received responses from a wider variety of institutions—painting an even clearer picture of how diverse parent/family programming is across institutions. Survey findings include information on organizational structure, program demographics, staffing, services, budget, and advice.

You can access the 2019 survey results here (member login required).

Fall Webinar Series Announced

AHEPPP is proud to partner with our member-experts in presenting this fall's webinar series. Webinars are free for members, but advance registration is required. Please utilize the links below to register.


Establishing Credibility with Families as a Young Professional
September 26 | 2-3pm EST - Recording now available!
Presenters: Kayla Albano, UCLA; Stephanie Ramirez, Biola University 

The Puzzle of Program Review: Solve it with CAS
October 15 | 12-1pm ESTPresenters: Shari Glaser, AHEPPP BOD; Christine Self, Texas Tech University
AHEPPP Representatives to CAS 

Advocacy for Parent/Family Engagement with (or as) Senior-Level Administration
October 31 | 1-2pm EST 
Presenters: Dr. Brett Bruner, Arkansas Tech University; Annamarie Tellez, University of Arizona

AHEPPP Insights

AHEPPP Insights is a space to connect on all things related to parents & families of college students and how to best serve them as campus administrations, faculty and practitioners. Please enjoy this sampling from September 2019 by Paige Kegley of Clemson University.

Making Inclusive Excellence a Priority in Parent and Family Programs: How We Started Our Journey at Clemson

We will start out by saying, creating a parent/ family program with inclusive excellence is a fluid and continuous process. We aren’t where we would like to be yet, but we have made significant improvements in the last few years.

To begin, here is a bit of context: Student Transitions and Family Programs at Clemson University took over retention programs for underrepresented students in 2014. At that time we had many conversations as a team on what this meant and how each and every staff member was going to need to critically examine what we were doing and what we could improve upon to strive for inclusive excellence.  We started to consistently look at what we were working on and would challenge ourselves to make it better. We were lucky to have experts in inclusive practices in our office space, and we utilized their thoughts and knowledge. At that time our unit consisted of underrepresented student retention, family programs, orientation, student leadership (for orientation and welcome week), and veteran and military programs. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on the overhauls we established within the parent and family programs unit. There were three major areas of focus: family publications, family events and our Parents’ Council (PC). As you read through this post, you’ll notice this name changes.  

We will start with the easy and more simple shifts we were able to make.

We looked through all of our print and electronic communications that would go to families.

  • Do they represent various students? Can all students/ families see a student that looks like them? 
  • We also looked at our words. Were we saying “he or she” as we were referring to students or were we using more inclusive terms such as “they?” 
  • Were we speaking “student affairs language” or were we speaking to people who don’t hear all of our normal verbiage every day? We know what it is like to read materials from an expert in an area and feel like we’re reading another language. We had parents read and provide feedback. 
  • If families aren’t at orientation to receive printed communication pieces, or if there are split families, are we still offering simple ways for them to obtain the information? 
We looked at our programming/ events for parents/ families. We really had a lot of work to do with this one.  
  • Were there events being offered at different price points? Were there free events
  • Do families see events that they can identify with? Religion? Race? Small scale? Large Scale? 
  • Were the events being held on inclusive dates or are you interfering with a religious holiday? If they were falling on a religious holiday, what could we do to show support of religious affiliated events? 
  • We had to evaluate our accessibility. Were we offering ways to get around campus? Were we offering accessible parking to our events? Were we communicating this well on the front end? ...

Read the entirety of Paige's post at While you're there enjoy other recent articles like:

Family Engagement During Welcome Week
Sorority and Fraternity Life – Family Influence
The Power Behind Regional Conference Development

Board of Directors Nominations

The Board of Directors of AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education encourages our members to consider nominating themselves or other AHEPPP members to the Board. 

Responsibilities of Directors

Members of the Board of Directors regularly attend board meetings and conference calls; represent
AHEPPP at events, gatherings, and conferences; recruit AHEPPP members and solicit their involvement in the organization; contribute to the establishment of annual goals of the organization; serve on at least one committee and be willing to serve on other committees as requested; participate in the organization’s annual evaluation process and planning activities.

Eligibility requirements and further information can be found at  Please contact Chelsea Petree, President-Elect with any questions. There are currently two anticipated openings on the AHEPPP Board of Directors. 

All nominations must be submitted by October 1, 2019 for consideration for the 2020-22 term. Nominees will be vetted by the current Board of Directors and will be presented to AHEPPP membership for a vote. 

Selection Timeline
September 1 - October 1 | Call for Nominations
October 8  | Current Board verifies nominees' eligibility 
October 15 - 31 | Voting 
November 4 - 6 | Announcement at the National Conference 

Job Postings

AHEPPP is happy to post job openings for all institutions regardless of membership. Positions will be posted on the website, posted in our members-only Facebook group and will emailed out to the AHEPPP membership. The cost is free and job information can be posted by emailing [email protected]. Positions will be posted for 60 days unless otherwise noted or requested.

Development Associate, Parents, Office of Leadership Giving, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs (SL Assistant Director I), University of Alabama
Assistant Coordinator - New Student & Family Programs, Texas A&M University
Associate Director of Alumni Relations, University of Portland
Director, Orientation and New Student Services, University of Arizona
Associate Director, Orientation and New Student Programs, George Mason University

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