April 2016

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

Dear Colleagues:


I write this after having returned from our conference site visit in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder has always felt like home, and for good reason. Boulder was our original headquarters and the site for our first two conferences in 2010 and 2012. As we celebrate our fifth national conference in 2016, the Board of Directors thought it was fitting to return to the place that provided a strong foundation for our association. Just as the Rocky Mountains rose up and moved the Fountain Formation to create the beautiful Flatirons visible from Boulder, so too has AHEPPP risen up to create a dynamic and strong organization for higher education professionals.

But there is no AHEPPP without all of you! The skills, talents and expertise of our members is never more evident than during our annual conference, as well as on social media and our listserv. I’ve been involved in several associations and attended too many conferences to count, and AHEPPP is the one in which I have learned and grown the most. I hope you feel the same. I hope what you learn, what you contribute, and the connections you make because of AHEPPP enhance your professional impact.

During our time in Savannah for the 2015 conference, the AHEPPP2020 Strategic Plan was unveiled. If you have not already done so, please take time to read our goals, objectives and strategies. Association volunteers, working together with the Board of Directors, have been very busy since November to help us focus on our five strategic priorities and meet the objectives outlined in the strategic plan. The five working groups include: Governance & Leadership; Membership & Outreach; Education; Research & Assessment; and Partnerships. Thank you to everyone who is working so diligently to move our association forward.

As part of our strategic plan, and in an effort to continue meeting the needs of our association, the Board voted in November to increase the size of the Board of Directors. I am pleased to announce that Shari Glaser, Director of Parent and Family Programs at Western Michigan University, and Amy Swank, Director of Parent and Family Relations at Gonzaga University, were officially welcomed in January. We are thrilled to have them join the Board and represent AHEPPP and our members. I also want to congratulate Ryan Lovell, Senior Director of Parent and Family Relations and Greek Life at The Ohio State University, who is serving as our 2016 Conference Chair, as well as the rest of the 2016 Conference Planning Committee. You will find the names of the committee members listed in this newsletter.  Thank you all for your dedication to AHEPPP!

Another significant step is the work the Board of Directors accomplished during our meeting at Hofstra University in February. One important goal of the strategic plan is to “Develop an effective and accountable AHEPPP governance structure.” In meeting the objectives of this goal, the Board evaluated and revised the association’s bylaws to ensure stability and consistency in our policies and practices. The Board approved the revisions on March 23, 2016. The bylaws are provided here for your information.

I mentioned how important each one of you is to AHEPPP, and my challenge to you over the next few months is to connect a colleague to AHEPPP. We do not want to be a well-kept secret in higher education. We want everyone to know who we are, what we do, and why we matter. The best messenger is you. Reach out to someone at another institution who engages with parents and tell them about AHEPPP. Let them know how impactful your participation has been and how the connections you have made have helped you in your work. If we each make a commitment to contact one person, we have the potential to increase our membership significantly. More members mean more expertise, synergy, ideas, and resources. I also encourage you to expand our outreach within your own institution by adding other professionals to your list of institutional members (remember, you get a total of three and you can always add more for a small fee). Let’s grow our association and #connectacolleague!

I wish you a pleasant Spring and an enjoyable end to the term. Watch your inbox over the next few weeks for important conference-related information. I hope to see you in Boulder in November.


Brian L. Watkins

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 AHEPPP2020 Strategic Plan


Unveiling The Strategic Plan: An Ode to the Teams

Came to Savannah apprehensive
Lately dreaming strategically
Future goals had made us pensive
How to bring them to life meaningfully?

Will any of it make sense to our members?
Will they want to join us?
In a few weeks, what if no one remembers?
What if they think, what’s the fuss?

On that Wednesday at 4, our fears disappeared
The Mansion on Forsyth’s largest room overflowing
You listened, understood and bravely appeared
To eagerly join teams fast growing

We all know the importance of the Research & Assessment alt
Great studies, journal, and closing the loop
Are all worth of this team’s time investment
Jackie and Shari are grateful you joined their group

Serving our current members and reaching new
What are our next steps? What do we do best?
Membership & Outreach team is here, right on cue
Patti, Kesha, and Amy will let you know the rest

Education is more than our mission
It’s our expertise, our zone, daily fancy
Families and parents are our love and passion
This team will hear from Laci and Nancy

In order to grow and thoughtfully thrive
AHEPPP will learn from other organizations
Brian and Branka know that Partnerships will come alive
When we connect with other associations

Your AHEPPP Board is so grateful, so excited
To start working with you, ideas expanding
We will email you soon, delighted
That you are on our team, with us standing

Branka apologizes for the cheesy rhymes above but she couldn’t contain herself. Nothing less than a poem would do to say thank you to our volunteers. The entire Board was overwhelmed by your response and willingness to work on AHEPPP’s strategic plan goals. With your ideas, feedback and great work, AHEPPP will reach another level.

If you have any questions, please contact Branka Kristic, AHEPPP President-Elect, at [email protected] or 516-463-7055.

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AHEPPP 2015 Award Winners

A highlight of the AHEPPP experience is the learning from peer institutions and colleagues. As the premier association for Parent/Family Program Professionals, AHEPPP is proud to identify and recognize outstanding programs and service. At our National Conference, best practices are identified and members are recognized for creative and exemplary program offerings. Please enjoy the work of our 2015 award winners featured here. 

Sylvester Gaskin, Towson University & Brian Watkins, AHEPPP Chair

Best Institutional Initiative

University of South Carolina – Parents Weekend

Publication - Video/Online Module – Helpful Hints for Families and Students - Purdue University

Powerful Partnership Award

University of South Carolina – Talking Points: A Parent Guide to Discussing Responsible Decisions
(a partnership with University of South Carolina Academic Affairs)

University of Arkansas – Arkansas & YOU

Outstanding Parent & Family Programs New Professional
Kasey Harvill – Assistant Director of New Student & Family Programs at Emory University

Outstanding Parent & Family Programs Professional
Amy Swank – Director of Parent & Family Programs at Gonzaga University

Outstanding Contribution to Research and/or Literature
Adrienne Gallien, PhD Candidate - Capella University; Instructor - San Jacinto College 

2016 AHEPPP Award applications will be available this summer. Be sure to visit aheppp.org for updates.

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2016 AHEPPP National Conference - Elevating Engagement with Parents & Families

altNovember 14- 16, 2016 - Boulder, Colorado

AHEPPP returns to its roots in Boulder for AHEPPP ’16. AHEPPP is celebrating our accomplishments and connections, showcasing parent and family programs, and sharing powerful information. Registration opens next month!  Make plans to arrive in Boulder ready to meet the founders, connect with peers and be inspired about the future of parent and family programs. We look forward to seeing you in November as we focus on Elevating Engagement with Parents & Families! #AHEPPP16

Future AHEPPP Conference Location Revealed

alt2017 - Dallas, Texas

Mark your calendars for November 13-15, 2017, when AHEPPP takes on Dallas! Conference accommodations have been made at the historic and newly renovated Adolphus Hotel

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2016 Conference Committee 

Congratulations to the 2016 Conference Committee appointees. The AHEPPP National Conference is planned for members, by members. We are delighted to announce the 2016 Conference Planning Committee. Thank you for your commitment to AHEPPP and Parent/Family Programs!

Conference Chair:  Ryan Lovell, The Ohio State University

Assessment: Chelsea Petree, Rochester Institute of Technology

Awards Selection: Leigh Ann Marshall, Baylor University

Hospitality: Lindsey Bray, University of Memphis; Paige Kegley, Clemson University

Marketing/Social Media Co-Chairs: Priscilla Childress, Missouri State University; Ahmet Aksoy, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Programming Co-Chairs: Alexandra Price, University of California Los Angeles; Aimee Frierson, Louisiana State University

Pre Conference Co-Chairs: Kerri Fowler, North Carolina State University; Arie Gee, University of Florida

Strategic Partnerships:  Heather Levesque, East Tennessee State University

Volunteer/Recognition: Kristen Brill, University at Buffalo

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 Membership Spotlight

AHEPPP has a geographically diverse membership of more than 160 institutional members. In each newsletter one or two members or a board member will be featured. This month get to know Jackie MacKay of Providence College.


Jackie MacKay, Director of the Parent Program

Hometown: Smithfield, Rhode Island
Traveling, reading mystery books, working out on my treadmill
Current Institution: Providence College

Q: What programming are you implementing in the upcoming year or what initiative have you implemented that you’re most proud of?
A: I am proud of a lot of the family/parent programs I have implemented over the last eight years.  The one that I am most proud of and excited about is the collaborative project with our Foreign Language department.  I worked with a Spanish professor and students in her Advanced Composition class who received academic credit to translate many of our parent publications into Spanish.  It was a richly academic assignment that helped students in their translation skills, and inspired them to think about clarity of information and the parent and student audience.  The students were very enthusiastic and felt that they were doing something for their peers.

Q: What do you love about the field of parent/family relations?
A:  I love the opportunity to meet with parents—both formally and informally.  I especially like working with first year parents and share in their journey as they and their students continue to address challenges.

Q: What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
A:  I think what I find most surprising is that, for the most part, parents are so grateful for everything you do.  It doesn’t have to always be a program or weekend event that they appreciate.  Sometimes it’s just the small stuff that makes a big difference—like responding to an e-mail from a parent in a timely manner or just allowing them to vent their disappointment about something without having to be on the defensive.

Q: What advice do you have for new professionals in this field?
A: First of all, know that it is a real privilege to be working with parents and families.  Many of them share their stores with us, that they often have not shared with anyone else before.  Building that trust is imperative. Second, I hope new professionals will make a commitment to research and evaluation in the field of parent/family relations.  Research and publications give credibility to our profession and will also enhance their own professional development.  Third—have fun.  Enjoy what you do and relish those special moments as you engage with parents and families.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working with parents and families of students?
A: I think it is important that we make every effort that parents receive timely and consistent information.  That is why I believe that campus-wide collaborative efforts are so important.  Making sure that we are all on the” same page” in regard to the kinds of information we provide parents is so important.  We certainly want to do all we can to prevent parents from receiving “mixed-messages."

Q: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about current parents and families of college students
Certainly over-involvement of parents in their students’ lives can be problematic.  However, most parents are simply trying to do what they think is best for their student.  This motivates me to find ways to help parents to be engaged with students and the college in a way that promotes student growth and autonomy.  I believe that the more parents are informed about the College and the college experience the better able they will be to assist students to identify and make use of campus resources.  I view this as a major role for parents.

Q: What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
A: Of course, social media will continue to impact how we communicate with parents and how parents and students communicate with one another.  Certainly we need to be more mindful of needs of special populations: first generation and international families and how to address those needs—beyond orientation.  Finally, increased research and assessment will show a stronger link between parent/family engagement and student retention.

Q: What do you love most about being a part of AHEPPP?
A: My involvement with AHEPPP has significantly enhanced my work as a professional in the field of family/college relations.  Personally, it has allowed me to connect with a wonderful group of peers who give so much of themselves in everything they do.  I am most grateful for this involvement.

Maximize Your Membership

AHEPPP is pleased to offer three types of membership: Institutional Memberships for campus based professionals, Student Memberships for graduate students who attend non-member institutions, Associate Memberships for vendors, consultants, and other professionals.

Institutional Memberships begin on the date of registration and are valid for one-year. Memberships include up to three professionals per college or university, which means when you register yourself you can add two more professionals on your campus for free! 

If you aren't currently maximizing your membership, please contact Lindsay at [email protected] to add your colleagues. It's important to note that membership in AHEPPP is open to any professional who works with families in any capacity, not limited to a Parent/Family office. Many campuses choose to add senior leadership, development professionals, or other student affairs and higher education professionals. alt

2016 Rates
$275 Institutional Membership (up to three professionals)
$100 Each Additional Professional
$100 Graduate Student Rate (when campus is not a member)
$350 Associate Memberships

AHEPPP Listserv
The AHEPPP listserv is an easy and effective way to connect with parent/family programing colleagues. Be sure to add [email protected] to your preferred contacts to stay up to date on ideas and inquiries from other AHEPPP members. The use of this listserv is restricted to current members only. Unsure if you've subscribed? Contact the AHEPPP Coordinator at [email protected] to make sure you are signed up. 

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Membership Campaign - #connectacolleague


Since its inception in 2008, AHEPPP has experienced significant growth. What began as a meeting of professionals from just nine colleges and universities has grown now to include more than 160 institutions. As the field of parent/family programs develops and changes, so does AHEPPP. We are preparing to embark on our first membership drive and hope that you will consider encouraging your colleagues at peer institutions to join our network of dedicated professionals. Please send your referrals to the AHEPPP Coordinator, [email protected]

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Job Postings

AHEPPP hosts a Job Posting page. It’s free for anyone to post a position in the field of parent relations. As a member you will be notified when new postings are listed. Please send postings to [email protected]

The following jobs are live on the AHEPPP site:

Assistant Director of New Student & Carolina Parent Programs, UNC Chapel Hill
Assistant Director, Parent and Family Programs, University of Arkansas
Assistant Director for the Parents Fund, Bucknell University

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Upcoming Conferences/ Events

AHEPPP National Conference 
November 14 - 16 | Boulder, Colorado

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In the News: What You May Have Missed

As a busy professional, you may not always make the time to read every article about parents or catch every new resource available to families, so we've included a few that we think are worth reading.

Parenting College Students
What to Do When You Disapprove of Your Child's New Partner
Eight Life Skills 18 Year Olds Should Have
Eight Tips for Parents of College Students Living at Home
Anxiety on Campus: 6 Ways Parents Can See Past the Happy Mask

Parents of Firstborn Sons Give More

Campus Life
The Year of the Imaginary College Student
Many Black Students Don't Seek Help for Mental Health Concerns
The Sheltering Campus: Why College is Not Home
Muy Loco Parentis: How "Freakouts" Over Student Privacy Hamper Innovation

Financial Aid & Families
Tips Financial Aid Specialist Want Students to Know
15 Financial Aid Terms College Students (and Parents) Should Know

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Stay In Touch

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