Quarterly Connector
January 2020

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

Greetings AHEPPP family, friends and collaborators,

As the calendar pages flip and new year begins we are given a natural opportunity to reflect and a chance to reset. 

In reality, I’ve been reflecting since November when I returned home from our 2019 National Conference in Portland. For me, the Portland event truly lived up up to its theme, Sharing Our Story. I met so many new characters, heard and learned lessons from many narratives shared, and did not want to leave the conference or cut short time with many of you, because just like a good read, I did not want it to end! So, I started thinking: how can we continue to feel what we experienced in Portland all year long? If you are feeling like I am, or maybe you've not yet had your first experience with the AHEPPP community, there are so many ways to connect with our association and maximize your membership:

Join the Facebook discussion group – post, like, share
Become a mentor or be a mentee
Share your knowledge with all of us and write for the AHEPPP Insights, our blog
• Jump on a regional call and learn from others or a webinar
Present at or attend a regional conference this spring
Co-sponsor an event for your region or state
Attend the Family Engagement in Higher Education National Conference, November 16-18 in Orlando
• Better yet, present at the National conference - the Call for Programs launches March 1
Submit an award nomination for your great work or nominate another colleague.

With these connection opportunities and more unfolding daily, find what suits you and pursue it. The membership experience is similar to what we tell the students we work with: it is what we make of it. The more I connect, network, present and volunteer the more I grow both personally and professionally.

I hope all of you continue to reflect on both past and present allowing growth to be part of your endeavors this year. As I begin my last year as President, I will continue to share my reflections with you all and make the most of my time.

My final thoughts and what I’m most thankful for in this last decade, is being appointed the Director of Family Relations at Gonzaga University and joining the premier association for my work, AHEPPP. Both experiences honestly changed my life. I've developed some of my dearest friendships, found mentors and have the privilege of serving families alongside you. Just writing it, I feel full just like I did when I left Portland!

Greatness is ahead and I encourage all of you to deepen your connection within AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education.  


Humbled and honored,


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

2018 - 2019 Annual Report

Thank you for your impact! We are proud of our achievements and look forward to the future.

The 2018-2019 AHEPPP Annual Report is available for download on our website.




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2019 Family Engagement in Higher Education Award Winners

Best Institutional Initiative
Miami University - "Eeweemakiki (my relatives)"

2019 Excellence in Publication and Resources
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs - Orientation Guide & Calendar

University of California Los Angeles - Bruin Family Insights videos

2019 Powerful Partnership
University of Memphis - "Bringing Women Together" - A collaboration between Parent & Family Services and Student Leadership & Involvement 

2019 Outstanding Student
Bryson Purcell, Graduate Assistant, Bloomsburg University

2019 Outstanding Contribution to Research and/or Literature
Christine Self, Texas Tech University - "Parent-College Student Conversations about Sexual Violence"

2019 Outstanding New Professional
Jessica Tallant, Parent & Family Coordinator, Oregon State University

2019 Outstanding Mid-Level Professional
Alexandra Brown, Senior Director Student Alumni Programs & Family Engagement, University of California Los Angeles

Founders’ Outstanding Professional Award 
Brian Watkins, Director of Parent & Family Affairs, University of Maryland

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2020 National Conference

Join us November 16-18, 2020 in Orlando, Florida for our most magical National Conference yet! Make plans to celebrate family engagement with AHEPPP as we explore best practices and trends in the field. 

Important Dates:

March 1 - Educational programs proposal submission process & peer reviewer application process begin

April 5 - Deadline for peer reviewer applications

May 1 Deadline for educational program proposals at 11:59pm EST

May 1 - Conference Registration Opens

2020 Regional Events

Membership in AHEPPP provides you with both national and regional networks of professionals. Regional events are planned by member institutions and co-sponsored by AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education.

Region 1 
March 16, 2020
Northeast Regional Drive-in | Berklee College of Music - Boston, Massachusetts - now accepting program proposals!

Region 2
Coming soon!

Region 3
April 20-21, 2020

ACC & Friends | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Region 4
April 3, 2020
Alabama Area Drive-in | Samford University, Birmingham Alabama
 - Now accepting program proposals! Registration is open!

Region 5
Coming soon!

Region 6
March 23-24, 2020
Western Regional Parent & Family Programs Conference | University of Colorado Boulder - Now accepting program proposals! Registration is open!

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Spring Webinar Series Announced

Each semester AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education provides our members with 3-5 complimentary webinars. This spring we are pleased to partner with our member-experts on diverse offering of topics impacting family engagement. Please make plans to connect and learn with your colleagues during these sessions! More information is available at

Smarter (Not Harder or Crazy Expensive) Program Expansion 
Now available in the archives! Member login required.
Presented by Kim Sterritt, Director of Parent & Family Programs | University of Alabama 

Turning Data Into Stories
February 4 | 1pm EST 
Presented by Jen O'Brien, Director of Communications for Student Life | Miami University (Ohio) & Mark Pontious, Director of Parent & Family Programs | Miami University (Ohio)

The Generation Z Family: What You Need to Know
February 26 | 2pm EST
Presented by Emily Parker | TorchStar Education

Using AHEPPP Resources to Tell Your Story
March 5 | 1pm EST
Presented by Chelsea Petree, Director of Parent & Family Programs | Rochester Institute of Technology

Expert Advice: 10 tips for Successful Family Engagement & Giving
March 26 | 1pm EST
Presented by Ryan Lovell, Interim Dean of Students / Interim Assistant Vice President | The Ohio State University & Heather Bennett, Director of Development, Parents Program | Duke University

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AHEPPP Insights

AHEPPP Insights (our blog!) 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 Lisa Hanselman, Director Mountaineer Parents Club at West Virginia University.

Breathe Nolan Breathe 

Five years ago, West Virginia University student Nolan Burch died due to alcohol-related hazing activities with a campus fraternity. His death shocked our campus and jump started conversations around Greek Life at WVU.

Over the last five years, Nolan and his family has been our polar star as we moved forward in attempt to change our campus culture, re-think Greek life on campus and keep our students safe.

Generation Z - more than any other generation - is concerned for their health and safety. And they’re more likely to talk about it with just about anyone who cares. Because our students are concerned about these topics, you can bet their parents are, too.

In August, after months of research, WVU launched a comprehensive safety, wellness and wellbeing campaign targeted toward current students, prospective students and parents of both audiences. This campaign featured a website full of information at and new social media accounts dedicated to the topic (@WVUsafety on Twitter).

From August, we have focused on a new safety, wellness or wellbeing topic each month, allowing us to really narrow our focus on the issues our students care about. And how do we know what our students care about? Well, we asked them. We used Instagram Stories to poll our students to find that they care most about 1) active shooter preparedness and 2) mental health services.

As we closed out the year, we launched a documentary - on the fifth anniversary of Nolan Burch’s death - called “Breathe, Nolan, Breathe.” It’s 35 minutes of gut-wrenching storytelling and crucial information that would’ve likely made a difference in whether Nolan was alive today. It helped us unveil a new campaign we’re calling “Would You?” that is focused around bystander intervention resources, anti-hazing information, and more. This campaign will really get going in early 2020, and we’re developing resources for other higher education institutions to utilize moving forward, as well. More to come this year on that.

Through all of that, we were working to update our crisis communication plan to adapt to the latest trends in communications and social media.

We didn’t just focus on safety, wellness and wellbeing because our students care a lot about it. We did so because it’s the right thing to do. The reality is that our campus is a safe place. There reality is that we have resources and experts on just about every topic you could think of. However, we weren’t doing a great job of sharing those resources or experts with our campus.

Today, we’re much more up front and frank with our students and parents about issues around safety, mental health, wellness, etc. For the first time, we have consistent answers to questions around many safety topics and concerns. And we’re noticing a decrease in misinformation around these topics. We’re noticing an increase in attendance at safety and wellness events. And we feel like the message that we’re a safe campus is being received in a much better way than in the past.

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Welcome to our 2020-22 Board of Directors 

Congratulations to the newly elected and installed Board of Directors members! 

Lindsey Bray
Senior Coordinator, Parent & Family Services
University of Memphis



Alexandra Brown
Senior Director, Student Alumni Programs & Family Engagement
University of California, Los Angeles 


Mauren Hurley
Director of Parent & Family Programs
Emerson College 



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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.

Director, Parent Philanthropy and Engagement, University of California Irvine
Director of First Year Experience, University of Kansas
Coordinator of Communication and Engagement, University of South Carolina
Senior Director/Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, California State University, Dominguez Hills
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs, University of Alabama
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs, UC Davis
Associate Director, Student Transitions, Emerson College
Assistant Director of New Student and Family Programs, Berklee
Development Officer, Parent & Family Philanthropy, Bucknell University
Senior Associate Director of Family Giving, Bentley University
Assistant Director, Student Transitions & Family Programs, Old Dominion University
Orientation Manager, Western Washington University

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Registration for the 2020 NASPA Annual Conference is open! Come join the field's largest gathering of student affairs educators from March 28 - April 1, 2020 in Austin, TX. The NASPA Parent & Family Relations Knowledge Community invites AHEPPP members to attend their open meeting and their sponsored sessions. You can find more information and how to register here!

If you are attending NASPA this year and are willing to serve as an ambassador for AHEPPP, please email [email protected] for more information. 
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