2023 NASPA Annual Conference

Behind the Scenes of the Conference Leadership Committee

"You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself and your work in a real way." - Brené Brown

It was the fall of 1996, and I was attending my first NASPA Drive-In regional conference in Baltimore. At that time, I didn’t know much about NASPA or student affairs as a career. I was a resident assistant and student government association leader at a small public liberal arts college in New Jersey, and I was quickly learning about the wondrous world of student affairs and all the people who had dedicated their lives to the student experience. As I started to meet people, hear the discussions and share my own reflections, I remember that I felt at home. I felt a sense of belonging and recognition in other like-minded colleagues interested in student development.

Fast forward to November 2022, and I am driving into the Region I Senior Student Affairs Officer Institute which is a pre-conference workshop for the Region I Conference. I am now a Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students at a small private liberal arts college. I am recalling that first NASPA experience, the feeling of anticipation, the laughter and recognition as I started to meet my first future colleagues in keynote sessions and roundtables. I am thinking about the importance of centering our students and learning together in that conference format, then and now. And I have this moment of realization as I am sitting across from other senior colleagues, some of whom I know well, others who I am just meeting, that I am in the process of having another first in my lifelong relationship to NASPA. I asked to make an announcement at the break during lunch, because I get to share something special with my colleagues. I am currently serving on the Conference Leadership Committee for the NASPA Annual Conference! I have the actual honor of helping to co-curate and plan the national conference in Boston in April of 2023. I am specifically co-chairing the Boston experience subcommittee. I am working with colleagues who are all over the country to help make NASPA magic happen for thousands of professionals and students coming from all over the world.

Being on the planning committee, I now have a front row seat to how thoughtful, rigorous, challenging, and thorough this planning process is. Getting to participate in program selection, for example, made comprehensive exams seem downright easy. The NASPA staff, the Conference Chair, and every member of the Conference Leadership Committee each spent hours reviewing programs, ensuring high quality, innovation, relationship to mission and scope and the promise of delivering on our core competencies. (We also had some laughs, a good playlist, and many snacks.) 

I would have never understood without being a part of it just how much goes into making the NASPA Annual Conference a professional home for so many of us. The belonging  and recognition I felt at that first drive-in conference is the same feeling I hope all who attend the 2023 conference in Boston or virtually will get to experience. I know for me this has been a true full circle because we as the Conference Leadership Committee hope you will show up as yourself and talk about your work with others in this incredible space we have co-created together.

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