Quarterly Connector
February 2021

In this Issue

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President's Perspectives

Greetings friends!

The turn of the calendar to 2021 was a big one. Never in our lives have we experienced a year quite like 2020. It was challenging for both personal and professional reasons and I, like many of you, was happy to say goodbye and look ahead to a fresh start and a new outlook in 2021.

For me, this includes the start of my term as AHEPPP President. I am beyond honored to be given the opportunity to lead you during a turning point for our profession and organization. The importance of the family role was emphasized this year as we navigated higher education during a global pandemic. Our offices are being recognized as respected campus partners. The many new faces I saw at our virtual conference in November is a testament to the value of our work. AHEPPP is growing and has never been in a better place to make a difference. At 12 years old, we are growing from childhood to adolescence and are ready to show the world who we are!

I have been told my goals for my presidency are ambitious, and I’m up to the challenge! I am focused on the growth, development, and integration of our resources to ensure you have an amazing member experience. We have some great things in store for you! The continued financial health of our organization will be a consideration for every decision. Our strengthen focus on diversity, equity, access, and inclusion—including the development of a new Task Force—will help AHEPPP strategically work towards being an anti-racist association and support our BIPOC members and families. This is a top priority for our Board and organization. 

Outside of my AHEPPP work, I am the Director of Parent & Family Programs at Rochester Institute of Technology. I moved here from my home state of Minnesota five years ago to establish this office, and have genuinely had a blast doing so! I keep myself very busy outside of work. My most prized possessions are my passport, my library card, and my bike. I’ve traveled to 26 countries so far and am dreaming of my first post-COVID trip (which will include walking across a country!) I read a ridiculous number of books and am always looking for suggestions (hit me up). I love to cook, crochet, and play the piano. In the summer, you can find me sipping wine in the Finger Lakes and biking countless miles along the Erie Canal. I am energized by friendships, good conversation, and adventure. I plan to be a lifelong learner and can’t imagine slowing down.

Here’s to 2021, AHEPPP friends!


Chelsea Petree
Director, Parent & Family Programs | RIT


Spring Virtual Summits

The AHEPPP Regions are excited to host THREE Virtual Summits this Spring! The half-day Summits serve to bring together professionals who work with parents and families and those who help to promote their engagement on their campus. 

Each Summit will focus on one of three broad topics: engagement, communication, or fundraising. All sessions will be live, providing an opportunity to interact with the speakers and fellow attendees. After the live sessions, roundtables will be hosted for participants to discuss the sessions or network with their colleagues. We hope you will join us for one or all of the sessions as we learn together! Each Summit will be hosted from 12pm - 2pm EST. Registration opens February 15

Friday, March 19: Virtual Engagement Summit hosted by Region 1 & 2
Thursday, April 8: Virtual Communication Summit hosted by Region 3 & 4
Friday, April 30: Virtual Fundraising Summit hosted by Region 5 & 6

Member Price: $30 each or $75 for all 3 Summits
Non-member Price: $50 each or $125 for all 3 Summits

AHEPPP Appoints DEAI Task Force

AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education recently announced the selection of members to its Task Force on Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion. The Task Force will be responsible for making recommendations to the Board of Directors this spring that will advance our agenda through defining AHEPPP’s role in becoming an anti-racist association; developing a plan for the formation of a new AHEPPP Standing Committee on DEAI; and developing a strategic plan for the Committee. 

We had a wonderful, diverse group of AHEPPP members apply for this position from colleges and universities across the country and are delighted to welcome the following Task Force members to this leadership role:  

Rose Boulay, UMass Amherst (Region 1)

Ashley Jones, University of Southern Mississippi (Region 4)

Kim Kushner, University of Missouri-Kansas City (Region 5)

Shana Lee, Kent State University (Region 5)

Liz Vigil, New Mexico State University (Region 6)

Benjamin Williams, Georgia State University (Region 3)

The Board of Directors looks forward to the recommendations from the Task Force as we work towards being a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive association.

Membership Matters

There is no other organization solely dedicated to supporting your work with families and providing you a community of colleagues who understand what you do. We are grateful for your support and partnership and look forward to a wonderful year. Thank you for renewing your membership and a sincere welcome to those who have just recently joined!

This quarter we welcome (back) three institutions to AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education: 

AHEPP Member LogoNorwich University

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Western Kentucky University

AHEPPP will always be in your corner, whether times are prosperous or not. In light of current events, the Board of Directors postponed our scheduled dues increase until the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. We encourage you to renew on-time or early to take advantage of these savings. Membership in AHEPPP is $295 and includes access for up to four professionals on your campus! If you’d like to renew before the proposed dues increase on July 1 or to add more colleagues to your membership please email me at [email protected]

AHEPPP Insights Blog

Congratulations to our newly appointed Content Curators Priscilla Childress, Missouri State University and Rickie Huffman of West Virginia University! Together, Rickie and Priscilla will work to ensure that we continue to feature helpful tricks and tips to assist you in your important role on campus. 

Check out the latest posts:

Ten Things to Consider When Pursuing a Ph.D. or Ed.D.

Groundhog Day at Home Edition

3 Apps I Can't Live or Work Without

Whether it is a program or best practice, research you’ve done or an article/book you’ve found helpful to your work, you and your colleagues can contribute to the knowledge base of our association. Please help us build the collective expertise of our association by contributing today! Use this blog submission form to contribute. 

Family Engagement in Higher Education Spring 2021 Webinar Series

Save the date for these informative webinars! Webinars are free of charge for members, but advance registration is required. Complete descriptions are available at

Top 10 Ways to Engage Families (Beyond Orientation Programming)
Thursday February 11 | 12pm EST
Presented by Dr. Chelsea Petree | Rochester Institute of Technology 
Member Price: Free
Non-Member Price: $49

Crisis Communications with Parents & Families
Tuesday February 16 | 12pm EST
Presented by Torchstar Education 
Member Price: Free
Non-Member Price: $49

Generation Z and their Families: Understanding their Influences and Actions
Thursday February 25 | 12:30pm EST
Presented by Lindsey Bray | University of Memphis & Andrea Mitchen | University of Houston
Member Price: Free
Non-Member Price: $49

State of Food Insecurity on College Campuses and Ways Parent and Family Programs Can Support Efforts
Thursday March 25 | 12:30 pm EST
Presented by Sharon Duffy & Maureen Hurley | Emerson College
Member Price: Free
Non-Member Price: $49

National Virtual Conference Wrap - Up

By Kerri Fowler, AHEPPP Board Member

“Honestly, I wasn’t sure what this would look like. Virtual conferences are so new to all of us and, knowing our audience and how much the conference serves as an outlet for folks to connect with one another, I wasn’t sure how this would go. It was so much better than I could have imagined... Great vision by the team and execution by everyone. I’m so happy with how this turned out and so impressed by everyone’s work!!!” - AHEPPP Member 

This was one of the many similar comments that we received after the virtual conference! From start to success, the 2020 Conference Team dreamed, schemed, and adjusted to execute only the best virtual conference possible. In such uncertain times, we knew there were some things we couldn’t make happen (think hugs and happy hour) but instead of focusing on what they couldn’t do, Kristi Okerlund and her conference team focused on what they could -- and WOW did they deliver! 

From expert education, virtual hallway chats, and a closing session about self-care that many of us are still talking about, the success of our virtual conference will not soon be forgotten. Let us extend a very special thank you to all of you, our members. For it is only by the grace, patience, and understanding of our membership that we made it to the finish line. And when it was time to show up, you all did! We not only met but exceeded our conference goals and with our highest number of attendees at any AHEPPP conference yet. The expertise you have to share is the best in our field. 

As we look ahead to November 2021, many details are still yet to be determined but nonetheless, our conference planning team remains steadfast. With Kristi at the helm again this year and many of our committee members returning, let us take a special moment to welcome the newest committee members and volunteers who have stepped up even in a pandemic. You’ll definitely want to watch our social media pages for more information on the people and the plans behind our 2021 conference coming soon! We recently sent a survey requesting feedback on conference travel, if you haven’t already, please take a moment to complete this brief survey.

We know that celebrating the connections and commonalities that bond us as professionals, colleagues, and friends continue to be the foundation of our association and for that, I am entirely grateful. I look forward to seeing what lies ahead but promise that no matter what or how our time together comes to be in November, it will be a reflection of the dedication, education, and heart that is this great organization. 

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. To post a job opening, please email [email protected]. Positions will be posted for 60 days unless otherwise noted or requested.

UMass Amherst | Director of New Student Orientation and Transitions

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