Monday, April 25, 2016

MASFAA Leadership Spotlight - Christy Miller

Name, title, school, role in MASFAA
Christy Miller, Associate Director of Financial Aid Operations, University of Notre Dame
MASFAA Indiana State Representative (ISFAA President-Elect)
How did you get started in financial aid?
I will have been in Financial Aid for 14 years in June 2016 – all at Notre Dame. After working as a temporary employee in the Notre Dame MBA Admissions Office, I was hooked on higher education and knew that I had figured out what “I wanted to be when I grew up”well, sort of. After being offered an entry level position in both MBA and Financial Aid, I flipped a coin (I was 22, how else was I supposed to choose?!). I was in that entry level customer service role in the Office of Financial Aid for six months before being promoted to the first of five other positions I have held in this office. Now I manage staff in the same position I started in (they hate that they can’t get away with anything!) and find myself a Financial Aid “lifer”.
How did you first become involved in your state and regional associations?
My very first experience with any association (I think) was when my supervisor encouraged me to attend our ISFAA Leadership Symposium where I met two VERY wonderful ladies, Heidi Carl and Sue Allmon, who have served as mentors but more importantly friends in the many years since. It’s kind of a blur since then as I immediately jumped into ISFAA with both feet, serving on and chairing too many committees to list and in between serving on ISFAA Executive Committee as Delegate, Treasurer, and now President-Elect. I have a similar MASFAA involvement story that starts with my nomination to participate in the MASFAA Leadership Symposium. Since, I have served on several Program and Local Arrangements Committees, chaired Awards Committee, and now serve as a liaison for my state to the Executive Board.
Why were you interested in a MASFAA leadership role?
For my role as Indiana State Representative, it “comes with the job” so to speak, however, I look forward to being able to continue to serve MASFAA in many different ways in years to come. Anyone who knows me, knows that being involved in our financial aid associations is very important to me. I believe that participation in our associations at any level is critical to the survival of our profession collectively – we cannot continue to do what we do and deal with what we have to deal with, without supporting each other, networking, growing our experience, and mentoring others.
What have you learned through your state or regional association that you were not expecting?
I think the most surprising thing about my participation in ISFAA and MASFAA is how quickly acquaintances become friends and friends become family. It is so great to be a member of an organization where Ohio State can beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl but the next day my friend Emily Haynam-Janero from Ohio State can call me up with a compliance question and I totally ignore her phone call. Just kidding! Of course I answer that phone call because we are all financial aid professionals with the same goal of assisting students in making post-secondary education a possibility (all while dealing with budget and staffing shortages, regulatory burden, etc., etc.).
What advice do you have for someone new to financial aid?
Absolutely do not hesitate to get involved and meet people! Someway, somehow. I cannot stress how much easier your life will be if you have a network of financial aid folks that you can reach out to with questions, concerns, or to bounce ideas off of.
What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming more involved in MASFAA?
This may sound backwards but get involved at the state level first. The more experience and connections you can gain in your state associations, the more you will be able to bring to MASFAA.
What are you looking forward to learning during your leadership term? Or What did you learn during your leadership term?
This is my second year serving on the MASFAA Executive Board but my first as a voting member and I’m really enjoying learning how MASFAA (and the other state associations) structures their leadership as well as things that I can bring back to ISFAA in terms of process improvements and best practices.
What do you enjoy doing when you are outside the aid office?
You mean we get to LEAVE the financial aid office?!!! Leisure time, what a novel idea. Well, I actually love to read (my inner nerd loves fantasy fiction), college football, and cooking (but not baking – too scientific). I have been known to be artsy from time to time (making things sparkle is what I do best). Also, secretly I want to be a wedding planner when I grow up – totally J Lo style!
Any final thoughts?
At the risk of sounding cliché, don’t wait for someone to ask you to serve on a committee. You have to put yourself out there, fill out a volunteer form for your state association or MASFAA, and start growing your professional network. We work way too hard for too little credit and without the mentorship and support that can be found in our associations, our jobs would be much harder and a lot less fulfilling.

Patty and Sue Go to Washington

Each February, WAFSAA sends the President-elect and Treasurer-elect to NASFAA’s Leadership & Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. While NASFAA has held this event for a number of years, there are now three different tracks:  New & Aspiring Aid Directors, Association Management, and Enrollment Management.  To help prepare for the role that we are about to take on, Patty Taylor and I attended the Association Management track. 

Before our trip, we participated in a couple of webinars to simply prepare for our Hill visits.  These were held the last morning of the conference.  During those webinars, we realized we needed to schedule our visits!  Since we have the same congressman, we decided to try to visit the same legislators. We quickly secured a meeting with Congressman Glenn Grothman.  The meeting with Senator Tammy Baldwin was a bit trickier—but her office really worked hard on fitting us into her busy schedule with our limited availability.  Most attendees met with at least one legislative aid, so we felt pretty fortunate to meet with two of our elected representatives.  Michelle Curtis from UW-Madison (and WASFAA’s new Federal Issues chair) was able to join us in our meeting with Senator Baldwin. 

As we had heard from NASFAA leaders, both Baldwin and Grothman confirmed that Reauthorization was most likely not going to get done this year.  However, they both felt there might be agreement on a few simplification items.  These could include the application process (though not necessarily the two question post card) and the programs (one grant, one loan, one work).  We did share how important the campus based programs were.  We discussed administrative burden—and how it affects the amount of time available for counseling, etc.  And of course PPY and the need to have formulas earlier in the new cycle.  Both were pretty receptive to our suggestions.  Senator Baldwin is a big supporter of Higher Education and recently introduced the “In the Red Act,” to address college affordability and debt-free college.  Congressman Grothman is very worried about the nation’s debt, but does believe student loan borrowers should be able to refinance their debt. He is also a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee.

So, my ‘blog’ is getting a bit long—and I haven’t even shared what we did on the first two days!  Justin Dreger provided a federal update as well as sessions on Work-Life Balance and The Art of Explanation.  If you haven’t had a chance to hear Justin speak, he is pretty amazing.  And he’s on the agenda to attend our Fall 2016 Conference in Milwaukee!  We attended sessions on Board Governance, Running a Meeting, Fiscal Fitness, and Improving the Odds of Volunteerism.  There was so much information shared with us! 

And of course, we always try to find room for fun and networking.  One evening we joined our MASFAA colleagues for dinner after a reception was held for all three tracks at the hotel.  And, having only been to D.C. once before, I took the three hour tour the evening before the conference started.  We were also able to visit with Kevin McShane and Katie Grieger, both from Herzing, who were there attending the Enrollment Management track.

So, while our four days in D.C. may not have been exciting enough to make a movie, Patty and I do sincerely appreciate WASFAA’s support in allowing us to attend what I feel was one of the best conferences I have ever attended.

Hope to see most of you next month at the Kalahari for WASFAA’s 50th Anniversary celebration!

Sue Minzlaff - WASFAA, President-elect
Patty Taylor - WASFAA, Treasurer-elect

Monday, April 18, 2016

MASFAA Election Results

First of all, I would like to thank each MASFAA member who chose to run for an elected office.  I would also like to thank every MASFAA member who exercised their right to vote in the recent election.  The ballots have been tallied and your newly elected officers for the 2016-17 year are as follows:

President-Elect:  Nick Prewett, Missouri
Secretary:  Jana Albrecht, Illinois
Treasurer-Elect:  Amanda Fijal, Illinois
Delegate-at-Large:  Triena Bodart, Wisconsin
Delegate-at-Large:  David Vikander, Minnesota
Congratulations and Best Wishes on your upcoming terms of service!

MASFAA Nominations & Elections Committee

Monday, April 11, 2016

Leadership Spotlight: Gayle Yamry, Metropolitan State University

1.     Name, title, school, role in MASFAA
Gayle Yamry, Financial Aid Officer, Metropolitan State University
MAFAA President Elect 2015/2016, representing the Minnesota on the 2016 MASFAA board
2.        How did you get started in financial aid?
Like most I sort of inherited the job. I was working in a growing cosmetology school as the Instructor/Business office manager when there was a need for a Financial Aid Officer so I put on that hat also.
3.        How did you first become involved in your state and regional associations?
I became involved by representing Clock Hour schools as sector representative.  Since then I have participated on many committees, Chaired Professional Development, and supported MAFAA as Treasurer Elect and Treasurer prior to being elected as President Elect.
4.        Why were you interested in a MASFAA leadership role?
MASFAA leadership came with the MAFAA President Elect position. It has given me an opportunity to expand my network of professionals and has been a great experience so far.
5.        What have you learned through your state or regional association that you were not expecting?
Over the years (the last 23) it never ceases to amaze me that there is always a financial aid expert willing to give you their time and opinions when you need them the most.
6.        What advice do you have for someone new to financial aid?
Get involved. Use your network, give of your time and you will be rewarded both as a professional and personally. Never forget why you are a financial aid expert, it’s about helping students meet their goals.
7.        What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming more involved in MASFAA?
Getting involved in MASFAA is about growing the professional network so you can become a better professional. You will get more out of your involvement for professional growth and opportunities than the effort you need to put into volunteering.
8.        What are you looking forward to learning during your leadership term? Or What did you learn during your leadership term?
My hope is to grow and strengthen the organizations I am involved with and to mentor others to become involved in the organization.
9.        What do you enjoy doing when you are outside the aid office?
My personal hobbies include flower gardening and spending time with family and friends. My 3 grandchildren are growing up fast I don’t want to miss a thing. I also am working on finishing my degree in Industrial Phycology training and development for adult development and Human Resources that I started many years ago that go sidelined by life. With work and with life I am an active and continuous learner. 

MASFAA Ballot Closes Tonight!

Today is the final day to cast your vote in the MASFAA election.  Instructions on voting and a link to the ballot were provided to all current members via e-mail on March 29.  You will need to refer to that email in order to vote.  At 11:59 p.m. tonight the ballot on the 2016-17 officer election will close.  Please do your part as a MASFAA member by participating in the election process.  Vote!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Six Months Until MASFAA Conference

Written by Crystal Bruntz, Conference Local Arrangements Co-Chair

What?  It’s Monday already?  It’s April already?  Is it really 2016???  I think each and every one of us realizes that time is moving at a faster pace these days.  Today I can say that 6 months from now I’ll be hanging with hundreds of my financial aid friends at the 2016 MASFAA Conference in Kansas City, MO.  Can you say the same?  Before you know it October will be here and I’ll be sending you that final reminder to not forget your toothbrush and your favorite college t-shirt!

I am so excited and proud to be a part of the group hosting the 2016 MASFAA Conference in Kansas City.  The program committee is working hard building an agenda with the hopes of answering all the questions you bring as well as those questions you didn’t even know you had.  The Local Arrangements team is fully committed to providing you with smiles, laughs, socializing and unforgettable entertainment.  So, before time flies by any faster get out your calendar and highlight, bold, circle and star October 2nd to 4th 2016.  Fountains of Knowledge is the 2016 theme and it’s bound to be a waterfall of fun and information you won’t want to miss!!!