March 19, 2020

Dear AHEPPP family, 

You’ve been on my heart these past few weeks. There have been many times that I've tried to sit down (between the phones ringing and emails flooding in) to say something to you and until now I didn’t know what to say. 

In the midst of this busy season, I hope that you will be able to step away from the day-to-day managing of the COVID-19 crisis and reflect on the wonderful work you are doing. After some reflection of my own, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned over these challenging past few weeks:

We create wonderful tools and marketing materials annually. We host awesome events and engage families in our universities in so many special ways. We have platforms to send out thousands of emails in minutes and our social media accounts are monitored carefully, like a mama bear over her bear cubs, but the single most important connection for families is YOU. During the past two weeks, so many families have thanked me for simply answering a phone or just calling them back. While marketing, events, and tools are so valuable, the relationships we create with our families are really built on accessibility to us and a personal connection. AHEPPP family, hear that. Listen to that family saying “thank you” and know that your families and campuses have never needed YOU more than they do now. 

Additionally, I've been invited to hold a seat at the decision-making table. My voice advocates care for our families and has become central to all communications. Perhaps you are in a similar situation. Use your voice! As we’ve known all along -- our families matter, as do the relationships we cultivate together with our campus partners. 

I want to acknowledge this is also a time for reflecting on what was lost and the “last.” For some of you this was canceling your Spring Family Weekend, a beloved campus tradition, not being able to say goodbye to your senior family council members, or missing out on cheering your senior students at commencement. I feel this loss with you and I know you will in time need to grieve those moments. Please give yourself grace to do so!

Lastly, some of the most important moments while enduring all of these difficult ones has once again been YOU. The personal text messages and emails about my family, asking how I was doing during all these challenging times have lifted my spirits. So many AHEPPP members and friends checked in with me and one another this month. Let’s continue to do this! I believe it is important to always find the good in all things. Some good in this COVID-19 crisis is our AHEPPP community. AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education members will always be there for one another. 

As we continue to move into the new normal, I hope you all know that you are valuable to all the families we serve on our campuses and to all collegiate families we serve TOGETHER. 

Be well AHEPPP Family, we are in this together and better because of it. 


Humbled and honored, 


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

March 12, 2020

Dear AHEPPP Member,

If there was ever a case to be made for dedicated parent and family relations professionals at colleges and universities – it’s now. As we begin feeling the impact of COVID-19 in the United States & Canada, this week alone most of your offices have been the first point of contact for concerned families. In many instances you have even been the lead source of “university official” information for students who receive their news and directives from home. You’ve answered hundreds of calls from anxious parents; sent countless updates via email and text; and attended contingency planning meetings for admitted students days, graduations, and other special events for days on end. All the while you’ve maintained a sense of calm while advocating for timely communication to your students’ biggest influencers: their families. 

This work is so important.

You are making a difference.

You are doing a great job!

As the impact of the coronavirus evolves, you can count on the AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education community to live up to our reputation of collegiality and support. Membership in AHEPPP provides with you access to many resources including our discussion board and listservs where experts and friends continue to share information, ideas, and tips.
If you have any questions or would like to share how your institution is managing the situation, please consider posting to one of the aforementioned platforms or email us at [email protected].

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish you health and peace during this time.


Most sincerely,


Lindsay O. McKinney MSEd
Executive Director
AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education