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Quarterly Connector
December 2021 

In this Issue


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President's Perspective

Chelsea Petree

Wow—what a conference we had last month! Despite being virtual once again, AHEPPP did what we do best and rallied together for an amazing week of learning, networking, and support. I was thrilled to celebrate so many excellent award-winning programs, feel motivated by Kristin Austin’s keynote, and end the conference by going back to my roots with a discussion on Family Systems Theory. Thank you all for your nominations, presentations, and for being present and engaged during our time together. I cannot wait for our family reunion next year in Orlando, and for the chance to see several of you during our in-person regional meetings this spring!


I don’t know about the rest of you, but typically the time after the AHEPPP Conference is my time to slow down, catch my breath, and reestablish my  goals for the rest of the year. That is not the case this year. The pace hasn’t slowed. I can barely keep my head above water and I’m struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling, as I know many of you are busier than ever. I’ve been reminding myself a lot lately that this is the perfect time of year to make the time for self-care. That’s right—MAKE the time! Self-care is not something that’s handed to you and it is something you should feel no guilt over prioritizing. I am no expert, but here is how I have been thinking about self-care:

  • Over Thanksgiving weekend, I shut off all email notifications on my phone and did not open my laptop once. To get to that point, I had to work many late evenings, but it was worth it to have four days uninterrupted by work.

  • I will focus on small fitness goals. My regular exercise routine has gone right out the window the last few months. Instead of making excuses and feeling guilty, I’m going to start fresh and work my way back up. This might mean just a quick walk with my puppy, but fresh air is always a great cure and motivator.
  • I’m going to focus on one work-related goal each day. That doesn’t mean that I’m only going to get one thing accomplished each day, but I want one primary goal in order to keep focus and have a better chance of success!

  • I’m going to make time for the things I love both at work and at home. At work, that means taking time to focus on my AHEPPP goals for the coming year and editing College Ready 2022. At home, it means getting back into cooking, crocheting holiday gifts, and spending time with my friends.

  • I’m taking a long winter break and enjoy my time with my family. I have not seen my family since April, and I MISS them. I am making time for this upcoming visit, which means saying no to a few late-semester work events and prioritizing my personal needs.


Our community is a place to feel vulnerable, seek support, and share ideas. I want my AHEPPP friends to see self-care as a priority, not a weakness. So I share my personal goals with you here not to preach, but in hopes that you will find motivation and ideas that fit with YOUR life, 
needs, and goals. I encourage you to make time for yourself this holiday season, whatever that looks like for you!

 Happy Holidays to my AHEPPP family!

Chelsea Petree

Director, Parent & Family Programs | RIT

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Inaugural Council on Equity Belonging & Inclusion Council Announced

In 2020 AHEPPP formed the Task Force for Equity, Belonging and Inclusion.The task force has concluded it's work of developing a standing committee (to include purpose, function, and scope) and selected the FIRST members of this Council. Together, with leaders from the AHEPPP Board of Directors, Council members will be instrumental in helping to:

  • Create programming and resources that support AHEPPP members personal and professional development
  • Support our parent and family constituents
  • Outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI), and other minority-serving institutions by providing support for our colleagues who serve students and families at these institutions
  • Diversify association membership, leadership, participation, and engagement
  • Create strategic partnerships
  • Align goals with the overall work of AHEPPP (webinars, conference, blog, region work, etc.)

Congratulations to the newly appointed EBI Council:

Mareen Hurley, Emerson College - AHEPPP BOD Co-Chair
Tasha Talton, University of Texas Arlington - AHEPPP BOD Co-Chair
Andrea Mitchen, Lone Star College - AHEPPP BOD Representative
Libby Daggers, Texas A&M - AHEPPP Regional Representative
Yolanda Gross, Prairie View A&M
Kim Kushner, University of Missouri Kansas City
Shana Lee, Kent State University
Liz Vigil, New Mexico State University
Edwin Mayes, Case Western Reserve University

Chris Swann-Gunlefinger, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Amy Swank, Bowling Green State University
Ben Williams, Georgia State University

We are grateful for your commitment to AHEPPP, parent and family engagement, and EBI efforts! Interested in knowing more about why we chose the name "EBI" instead of "DEI" ? Read our post on the Insights Blog to learn more!

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Spring Summits

The AHEPPP Regions are excited to host seven Family Engagement Summits this Spring -- we can't wait to be back together both virtually and IN PERSON! Save these dates for your 2022 professional development. These small group events are intentionally designed to enhance your network, knowledge, and overall membership experience at an extremely affordable rate!

March 11 | Emerson College in Boston, MA

March 21-22 | UC Boulder in Boulder, CO

April 1 | Virtual Summit on Engagement

April 6-7 | Ohio State University in Columbus, OH

April 7-8 | Lone Star College in Houston, TX

April 14 | Virtual Summit on Engagement
Registration opens in January!

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. When you commit to AHEPPP you are giving back to the field of parent/family engagement and the body of practitioners who conduct this important work. Thank you for renewing your membership and a sincere welcome to those who have just recently joined!

AHEPP Member LogoThis quarter we welcome 11 institutions into our professional family:

Barry University
Baldwin Wallace University
Benedictine University
Brown University
College of the Holy Cross
Daemen College
Dona Ana Community College
Pomona College
University of Lynchburg
San Jose State University
Westminster College

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National Survey of College and University Family Engagement & Services

Survey Question ImageAs colleges and universities develop or restructure services and programming for families of their students, questions arise about how to establish, staff and provide appropriate services. Since 2003 AHEPPP has supported the National Survey of College and University Family Engagement & Services. This biannual survey, first conducted by Marjorie Savage out of the University of Minnesota and currently headed by Dr. Chelsea Petree of Rochester Institute of Technology, includes questions to track trends in parent/family services and structures, staffing, and best practices. We are pleased to share the 2021 results with you. Learn more! You can access this year's data using your AHEPPP credentials here.

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2021 Board Notes & Annual Report aheppp volunteers

Early this month, for the first time in two years, your AHEPPP Board of Directors met in person for a two-day retreat.  After the hugs and excited greetings, we dove into work and discussed in depth the growth of our association, needs of our members, and our plan for 2022 and beyond. On the heels of two of the most difficult years of our lives, AHEPPP strives to be a space where we can all provide one another grace and support the collective understanding of our work and appreciation for us as professionals and individuals. We are grateful to be in the position to make change alongside you—our members and our friends. Please find our December 2021 meeting notes here, including agenda highlights, 2021 successes, and the 2022 work plan.

We also invite you to review our 2020-21 Annual Report which celebrates our association's many resources and volunteers.

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Remembering Former AHEPPP Founder and President, 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 StewartKris 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. Read more...

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Associate Members Enhance Your Parent & Family Relations

We are proud to partner with Associate Members who support the work of our parent relations professionals. Each company or service provider is carefully screened and on-boarded to ensure only the best partners reach our unique membership. AHEPPP Associate Members offer true value to our members by supporting family engagement through technology, resources, services, and goods. AHEPPP Associate Members truly share our commitment to student success through informed family engagement. Looking for a solution to enhance your efforts? Be sure to visit our Associate Member Directory page and connect with our valued supporters.

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