Quarterly Connector
October 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, 

This is the last time I’ll be writing to you as AHEPPP President.  While this is a bittersweet transition for me, it is a time of comfort and continuity for AHEPPP.  My goals for this message are to share a few notes of gratitude and optimism and to leave you with my final reflection.

First, my gratitude.  I am thankful that this last decade not only brought my role as the director of Parent and Family Relations into my life, but was also the decade that created the premier association for our work: AHEPPP. Both experiences honestly changed my life - in developing most of my dearest friendships, mentors, and serving families alongside so many of you. 

This year also brought on the most unique challenge of doing our work during a global pandemic. I watched our field shift and perhaps become more important and more valuable on college campuses.  The single most important connection for families was YOU. During this time, so many families have thanked our teams and were grateful there was someone answering a phone or calling them back. Our voices became a calming factor to ease anxiety and to once again guide them. Know that your families and campuses have never needed YOU more than they do now. 

This association is so much more than sharing ideas and resources, it truly is a family and we will support one another and the families we serve even if it is from our home offices. If you haven’t already, now is the time to engage with AHEPPP and I know now, more than ever, I’m going to make sure I’m attending our AHEPPP National Virtual Conference in November. As much as you have been needed by the families you serve, remember you deserve this time at the conference to recharge, make those connections, share your stories, and learn; together our field is better for it and the college families across the globe benefit.  

Second, my optimism.  In January 2020, the Board of Directors began working on new strategic goals - one of which is a commitment to and investment in, the work of becoming antiracist. This work belongs to all of us and our shared mission and values at AHEPPP require us to own this work. This pillar is dedicated to increasing cultural fluency, infusion of social justice, and inclusion throughout all of AHEPPP's programs and membership. This year, we began working on establishing a sense of belonging for everyone, providing support for our colleagues who serve students and families at HSI and HBCU’s, and continuing to identify the needs and/or areas of concern for our members. We will be partnering with colleagues who have content-area expertise concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. And, yes, we have colleagues whose life experiences have much to teach us.  As I mentioned in past newsletters, we have an incredible foundation. The board is dedicated to new growth in membership engagement, partnerships, and supporting more regional opportunities. AHEPPP will continue to be great as an association but we need all of you to share your greatness and gifts so we can continue to grow and strengthen our work at our colleges and universities. 

My opportunity to lead in AHEPPP has brought with it a deeper awareness of our role as educators.  It has also taught me about sources of strength and meaning that our shared tradition offers to each of us, in any season.  And it has sharpened my imagination, through great conversations and experiences with wise and caring colleagues.  For all of this, I am deeply grateful to every AHEPPP member who has been part of my journey.  I’m honored to be passing forward this important work to Chelsea Petree. 


Humbled and honored,


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


 2020 Virtual Conference Update

The 2020 National VIRTUAL Conference is just a few weeks away. As we prepare for a time of rich learning and community building, we hope you'll also prepare for some fun.

AHEPPP Cares: A favorite tradition of the AHEPPP National Conference is our annual service project. Since 2017 the AHEPPP Cares initiative has been so meaningful to our conference committee and attendees. Each year we work with the City Representative to identify an organization that our members could easily support either on-site or in advance of the annual conference. With the impact of 2020 and the necessary shift to a virtual conference, we know there is no better time than now to provide support to those in need; and when it came to identifying an organization, we found no better community in need of support than our very own. If you are interested in contributing to AHEPPP Cares About One Another please complete this form. Contributions may be given anonymously or credited accordingly.  

AHEPPP Institutes: Supplement your conference experience! We are excited to offer two tracks for both new and seasoned professionals in the field of family relations. Choose from either our Crisis Communications or New to Family Engagement track or enjoy discounted savings on both! Each Institute is $85. Select your choice during registration or email Lindsay to add yours to your existing registration. 

Registration closes October 30 at 11:59pm EST!

Meet Chelsea Petree Ph.D., AHEPPP President-Elect

Chelsea Petree is the Parent & Family Programs Director at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Chelsea moved to Rochester in 2015 to establish the Parent & Family Programs office. While every moment has been exciting, her professional highlights over the last five years have been developing a communications plan for RIT families, visiting RIT global campuses in Croatia, establishing a “parents as partners” culture at RIT through programs like the Tiger Parent Project, and getting more involved in AHEPPP.  

Prior to serving on the AHEPPP Board of Directors and as President-Elect, Chelsea was actively involved in AHEPPP for many years as a volunteer, member of the conference committee, webinar and conference presenter, mentor, and Journal and Insights Blog editor. She is excited to lead AHEPPP, engage our members, and grow our organization during a time when the importance of the family role has never been clearer.

In her spare time, Chelsea loves to read, bike, play the piano, go wine tasting in the Finger Lakes, and brag about her beloved home state of Minnesota (home of Target, Prince, and post-it notes, dontcha know!) She’s traveled to 26 countries (and counting!) and one of her hidden talents is crocheting everything from baby blankets to Joe Exotic dolls.

Your Membership Matters

You take your work with parents and families very seriously. So do we. There’s no question that your office is operating in perhaps the most challenging environment of your career. With budgets shrinking, colleagues furloughed, and lots of "other duties as assigned," you're exhausted, but you've never been needed more. From access to thought leaders, to essential resources, and continuing education, AHEPPP provides you connection and support -- a professional family. We know there are lots of competition for your resources and time, but 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. There is no substitute for the personal connections AHEPPP provides. We are grateful for your support and partnership during this rocky year and look forward to blazing a trail of advocacy and support together as we define the new normal in higher education and parent engagement. Thank you for renewing your membership and a sincere welcome to those who have just recently joined!

This quarter we welcome 14 new institutions to the AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education community:

Berea College  
Bowling Green State University 
Grand Canyon University 
San Jose State University
Santa Fe College 
Seton Hall University 
Shippensburg University 
Texas A&M University - Commerce 
Texas A&M University- San Antonio 
The Citadel Military College of South Carolina 
University of California, Irvine 
Union University 
University of Georgia 
Utah Valley University

We've also heard from some of you that renewal is just not possible this year. Please know, you are missed! As such, we will be allowing members with lapsed accounts to remain active in our Online Discussion Group until the end of 2020. You don't have to go it alone!

AHEPPP Insights

Have you heard the AHEPPP Blog has moved back to the AHEPPP homepage? 

We’ve developed a new blog submission form to make the process of contributing content simple and straightforward. In the past, we have gotten a lot of questions on how to write the blog (format, content, etc.) and in effort to streamline the experience for our contributors, we have created an easy to use form that allows you to indicate what type of blog you are creating, view examples, and format accordingly with prompts.

You are the experts for one another. Whether it is a program or best practice, research you’ve done or an article/book you’ve found helpful to your work, you and your colleagues can contribute to the knowledge base of our association. Please help us build the collective expertise of our association by contributing today!

Check out the latest posts:

With a Steady Stream of Anxieties, AHEPPP is My Remedy

Other Duties as Assigned: My Experience as a COVID Test Observer

AHEPPP Cares... about one another

Mark Your Calendars

October 15 | 12:30pm EST - AHEPPP Webinar - Creating a Remarkable Experience for Parents to Become Your Best Donors and Ambassadors
Presented by Janice Nikkel, Director of Parent & Family Network | Trinity Western University

November 10 - CampusESP Virtual Customer Summit - Join Keynote speakers Dr. George Kuh, Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus at Indiana University and founding director of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and Anne Keehn, Global Education Lead for Zoom and formerly Senior Fellow for Technology & Innovation at the Gates Foundation. For a peek at the jam-packed agenda and to register, visit AHEPPP members can attend at the special rate of $30 by using the promo code “AHEPPP2020” at checkout.

November 16-18 - AHEPPP National VIRTUAL Conference - Join 200 parent and family relations experts for our first ever Virtual Conference. Make plans to celebrate family engagement with AHEPPP as we explore best practices and trends in the field. 

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. It's free for members to post openings email [email protected]. Positions will be posted for 60 days unless otherwise noted or requested.

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