Remembering Kris Stewart

In loving memory of former AHEPPP president and founding member, Kristine (Kris) Stewart.

It is with heavy hearts that we write to inform you that we lost another AHEPPP warrior on September 20, 2021, when Kris Stewart passed away following a long illness with cancer.

Kris joined Miami University as Coordinator of the Parents Program in 1995, assuming leadership of a program with one of the longest traditions of parent/family traditions, dating back to 1916. Her position was expanded in 1997 under an appointment as Assistant to the Vice President for Parent Programs and Divisional Initiatives. Under Kris’s guidance, Miami University’s Parents Council was expanded, and responsibility for the school’s Parents Fund was transferred to her office. Kris championed outreach efforts to first generation and underserved populations. With the goal of reflecting best practices for retention and student success, Kris’s initiatives were consistently on the cutting edge of assessment, communication, and student development theory and practice. After 19 years of working with Miami’s parents and families, she retired in 2014.

As a founding member of AHEPPP, Kris served diligently as the first vice president and the second president.  She was truly a pioneer in parent/family programs and was among the forerunners of the profession; working with parents and establishing connections with practitioners from other schools, even before we knew it was a profession.  Kris was a frequent presenter at national conferences early on, when we would gather in Boston for Northeastern University’s annual series: Administrators Promoting Parent Involvement. It was there that we had the pleasure of meeting Kris, and our lives were changed forever.  Kris was also at the forefront of our quest to create a national organization for parent/family professionals. 

Throughout the many months we struggled to determine the need for, and the structure of, a national association for parent/family program professionals, Kris’s sense of humor and sense of purpose kept us on track. She was no-nonsense about getting the work done, but we could always depend upon her insistence that we also had enough fun to maintain our sanity, our friendships, and build the necessary relationships to create AHEPPP.

In addition, Kris was a member of the four-person committee that developed the original set of CAS Standards for parent/family services in higher education.  She was steadfast in her efforts to get this done and was so proud when they passed in the first round of review!

Most importantly, we want you all to know that her dedication to the association persisted despite receiving a diagnosis of cancer during her presidency. It always amazed us how she managed to stay so focused and on task, despite her ongoing treatments and setbacks.  We were in awe of her strength and courage on numerous occasions, and how she managed to keep the balls rolling so that AHEPPP, and her beloved Miami University parents, never suffered.

We are sure that many of you reading this were afforded mentorship from our dear sister, Kris.  We hope that you will continue to keep her family in your thoughts and prayers.  We appreciate the outpouring of support each of us has received from many of you, and hope that you will continue, in her memory, to apply her tutelage and guidance to mentor our new professionals today and in the years ahead.

Respectfully, from your founding AHEPPP members:
Colleen Bench
Marjorie Savage
Sheila Hrdlicka
Deanie Kepler
Jennifer Bell
Nancy Hardendorf
Cindy Beaman
Sarah Schupp

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