Quarterly Connector
January 2023

In this Issue

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President's Perspective

Greetings AHEPPP Colleagues,

Happy New Year/2023!

There is something to be said about that “fresh start” feeling that comes with each new calendar year. For me, the first few weeks of each January are often focused on personal reflection and professional goal setting, as well as calendaring and setting up systems to help me remain organized amidst the many hats I wear. Sometimes they stick, sometimes they don’t, but regardless it’s about the ritual of actively assessing and addressing my approach to the next 365(ish) days. I’m curious if anyone has particular rituals or traditions for themselves: Do you use this point in the year as a marker of any sort? A reset perhaps?

As I step into my term as AHEPPP President, I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on how I can show up for you, my colleagues. I think about what AHEPPP has been for me and hope to foster that with others. At its core, during my tenure I hope to bolster how this organization serves its membership in a multitude of ways, consider how it may need to evolve in alignment with the direction of higher ed post-pandemic. I strive for this space to be one for learning, inclusivity, connecting and LEADING.

Following several years of navigating challenging, and often ambiguous, landscapes on our campuses I am hopeful that this year is filled with more stability and predictability – even if said ‘predictability’ is that “we must remain flexible”. Through it all, I remain so grateful for the AHEPPP community and the many, many colleagues I continue to connect with one-to-one, and in various virtual spaces. So many of you have been a source of support, laughter, and innovative ideas as we’ve traversed the highs and lows of this work. I truly hope you find this organization as both a resource and outlet for you as well, whether professional, personal or a combination of both.

Seeing so many of your faces in-person at the November conference reminded me of the plethora of roles and responsibilities everyone carries: you are staff, supporters, colleagues, supervisors, spouses/partners, parents, siblings, caregivers, friends, and cheerleaders to so many. Keep in mind that when you need someone to be your cheerleader and supporter you can turn to your colleagues and friends here at AHEPPP. If you are new to the space and don’t know anyone to reach out to then I’m your person! Feel free to connect at any point to share your ideas, challenges, or if you just need a sounding board. I hope to have the opportunity to connect with as many of you as possible during my leadership, and to learn more about what makes you, YOU. Because at the end of the day it is you that makes AHEPPP, AHEPPP.

In gratitude for you and this community,

Alexandra Brown
President, AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education
Sr. Director, Student Alumni Programs, Family Engagement and Board Management | UCLA

Mark your calendars for the Upcoming AHEPPP Webinar

January 24 at 2 pm ET: Helping Parents Navigate the Job Search: Hiring Trends for Recent Grads

AHEPPP is excited to partner with Next Great Step, a leader in advising college students and recent grads to land the internship or job they deserve. Beth Hendler-Grunt, President of Next Great Step, will host a webinar on topics including:
  • Trends – what’s happening in the job market
  • Student/grad misconceptions about the job search
  • What to do when early job seekers have no idea what to pursue or how to start
  • And answer your questions


Register Now for 2023 Spring Summits

Focusing on Engagement and Communication, these half-day summits serve to bring together campus-based professionals who work with parents and families in an effort to explore best practices and advocate for/foster engagement with the family members of college students. Be sure to learn along with other members or share the opportunity with campus partners who could benefit from insights about best practices in parent & family engagement.

Best Practices in Parent & Family Engagement: March 24 12-4 pm EST (Register by March 16)

Best Practices in Parent & Family Communication: April 13 12-4 pm EST (Register by April 5)


Join Us for Spring Discussion Zones!

Our monthly Friday Discussion Zones allow you to network, share ideas, and gain knowledge from other members from across the country. Make plans to join the conversation!

Fundraising and Parent & Family Councils and Boards  
*Based on AHEPPP Online Community Request!*
February 3rd at 2:00pm ET          Register Here for Feb 3

Commencement Celebrations                                                      
March 3rd at 2:00pm ET          Register Here for March 3

Making Best Use of End of Year Funds/Budgeting                    
April 7th at 2:00pm ET          CANCELLED - This topic will be incorporated into the Discussion Zone on May 5.

Fall Family Weekend/Fall Events                                                  
May 5th 2:00pm ET          Register Here for May 5

Meet Your Newest Members of Our Board of Directors

 AHEPPP is thrilled to welcome three new board of directors in 2023. We invite you to get to know them a little better!

Marshall Greenleaf (He/Him)

Director of Student and Family Support Services | University of Massachusetts Lowell

Favorite part of working in Family Engagement:

I love that as Family Engagement professionals we get to bring a different contribution and perspective regarding what it means to support student success and that we can have an impact on entire families. I value the time I’m able to spend connecting to parents and families and really enjoy learning more about who they are and the experiences they’ve had.

Favorite motivational quote/professional mantra:

I try to keep the mindset of “progress not perfection” at the forefront of my professional life. I think in this field it can be so easy to feel that we are not doing enough, that we could do more, or that we could be doing better. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals or aspirations, but working in higher education can be challenging and navigating the work that we do in family engagement can be challenging. Sometimes I have to remind myself to pause and appreciate the small steps forward, even if it wasn’t the huge leap that I would have preferred. Who we are is enough, what we do is enough, and those small steps can have a big impact.

Favorite things to do outside of work:

My absolute favorite thing to do outside of work is hang out with my mini-schnauzer, Henry (and I am very willing to show anyone pictures of Henry anytime)! As a former history major, I also love documentaries, museums, and historical sites. I’m also a huge theme park fan (especially Disney) and am slowly working through my list of parks to visit (up next is Dollywood).

 Shana Lee(She/Her)

Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Parents and Families Engagement | Kent State University

Favorite part of working in Family Engagement:

Meeting and working with the families of our amazing students. I enjoy creating pathways for engagement and partnership with them to better understand how we can work together to ensure the success of their student...whatever that might look like for them.    

Favorite motivational quote/professional mantra:

Do not allow setbacks to set you back. - Stacey Abrams

Favorite things to do outside of work:

Watch college and professional football (Go Bucks!), Spend time with family and friends, Volunteering in my community

Whitney White(She/Her)

Director of Parent & Family Programs and Student Affairs Marketing & Communications | University of Cincinnati

Favorite part of working in Family Engagement:

It is incredibly fulfilling to be allowed to be a part of a family’s college journey. From the beginning to the end, I am grateful to have the opportunity to help them feel more comfortable, confident, and prepared to support the person that matters most to them.

Favorite motivational quote/professional mantra:

Maintaining a positive work-life balance can be incredibly hard working in student affairs and family engagement, especially during peak times of the year or during a campus crisis. The pandemic really reset my outlook and I am continually striving to follow Michelle Obama’s advice: “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”

Favorite things to do outside of work:

I love spending time with my family and friends exploring and eating my way through Cincinnati, visiting local breweries, and traveling to new places! 

New Year, New National Conference to Look Forward to!

While it seems like yesterday we were together in Orlando, planning for the 2023 National Conference (Nov. 6-8, 2023 in Baltimore, MD) is already underway.  It is with great excitement that AHEPPP announces the members of the 2023 National Conference Planning Committee:

Conference Chair

Kayla Albano

University of California, Los Angeles

AHEPPP Institute Co-Chair

Beth Ullum

The Ohio State University

AHEPPP Institute Co-Chair

Kristi Okerlund

University of North Dakota

Communications/Technology Co-Chair

James Wright

University of Delaware

Communications/Technology Co-Chair

Rich Doria

UMass Lowell

Hospitality Co-Chair

Mikele St-Germain

Brown University

Hospitality Co-Chair

Hannah Turcotte

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Programming Co-Chair

Annamarie Tellez

The University of Arizona

Programming Co-Chair

Jennee Schansberg

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Volunteer/Recognition Co-Chair

Katherine Moniz

University of Rhode Island

Volunteer/Recognition Co-Chair

Dy'Mand Montgomery

University of Cincinnati


Many thanks in advance to the committee for their time and talents! Please be on the lookout for information about the call for programs/proposal reviewers in February and conference registration/hotel reservations in May.

ICYMI: Family Engagement In Higher Education Awards Updates

2022 brought the establishment of a new Awards Committee under the leadership of Jennifer Wetli (Purdue University) and the following goals to update Family Engagement in Higher Education Awards:

1. Simplify the award application process
2. Create a sustainable and equitable review process and scoring rubric for award submissions
3. Update award descriptions and/or create new awards that align with AHEPPP’s values and programs
4. Reimagine the award recognition process

With  these goals in mind, the Awards Committee looks forward to launching the awards nomination process in late February with a deadline set for May 31, 2023. Please start to think about possible nominations you might submit. New award categories include Magnificent Mentor, Friends of Family, Rising Star, Creative Communication, and more! Additional details about the awards process and timeline can be found here and more information will be announced in February.

Welcome New AHEPPP Members!

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! Since August, we have welcomed 16 new members into our association:

Colorado State University
Creighton University
East Tennessee State University
Lipscomb University
Missouri Baptist University
Northern Arizona University
Saginaw Valley State University
Tarleton State University
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
The American University of Paris
The University of Texas at Dallas
Tufts University
University of Georgia
University of North Alabama
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Utah Valley University

Don't forget to maximize your membership by including four individuals on your account! Email [email protected] to add your colleagues.

75% Increase in Family Weekend Registrations Driven by New Partnership

Family Weekend is THE premier event for most, with increasing attendance a typical annual goal.  Recently, VZO partnered with AHEPPP member campuses to increase Family Weekend registration of incoming student supporters by 75%.

Key professionals from Binghamton University and North Carolina A&T were interviewed to highlight how they partnered with VZO to develop a new approach to engagement supporters during the student onboarding process.  Their collaboration not only brought more student supporters to Family Weekend, but also strengthened the relationship between their family programs offices and other campus partners.

VZO is a strategic collaborative partner with AHEPPP and offers several other interesting and informative interviews, including one from Chelsea Petree about the Parent Handoff.

They have built an all-in-one onboarding platform dedicated to building better pathways for student and supporter success.  You can also contact them at 855-676-3546 or [email protected].

Job Postings

Are you hiring? The AHEPPP Job Board provides a comprehensive list of job openings in the field of parent/family engagement as well as other partner areas within higher education such as orientation, enrollment management, advancement/development, alumni relations, and senior level student affairs roles. It's free for members to post!

Click here to view or post a job!

Questions? Please contact

Connect on Social!

Are we friends yet? Be sure to follow @aheppp on your social channels to stay on top of dates, reminders, and fun #familyengagement related posts.

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