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President’s Report: April 2022

President’s Report: April 2022

Tony Minestra
DePaul College Prep
IACAC President

Remarks shared during the Annual Membership Meeting:

“It has been a wild year. I would like to share with you some of the highlights:

Organizational Changes

As Brian mentioned, our fearless event planner, Donna Epton is riding off into the sunset – off to new adventures and to see the world. The Finance Committee got to work this Winter on building a vision for what Donna’s departure would mean for IACAC and for this conference moving forward. In close collaboration with Donna, we built out a search and executed a series of interviews, exploring multiple options. We are thrilled to be welcoming Minard Planners to the IACAC family, a dynamic event planning duo that joins us this upcoming year. Nancy and Lauren already feel like family, they know who we are and who we serve, and will add a fresh perspective to the strong foundation Donna has built through the years. They will collaborate with a new role in our organization – at the March board meeting, the Exec Board approved the creation of a conference co-chair position to help support the work of the President Elect and the conference planning team. We’re excited for what’s ahead and can’t wait to see what Springfield will bring next year.

After 14 years of service, our long-time colleague Linda Haffner took on another professional position outside of IACAC. As our Manager of Operations, Linda was synonymous with IACAC, and her departure put the Finance Committee and Leadership Team in a position to re-evaluate our organizational structure – why not, it’s kind of the theme of these past couple of years. Gracefully, our resident Wonder Woman, Erin Hoover has stepped up and into a dual role, balancing her Director of Digital Media responsibilities with the work of the Operations Manager in the interim. We have built a small ad-hoc committee of veteran IACAC folks to help create a vision for the new role in the space formerly held by Linda – we hope to have that new role defined in the weeks ahead, with a target of mid to late May to release a job description and search process.

Admission Practices
The ethical anchor of our organization, operating in a new and unknown space, the Admission Practices Committee met for the first time, collectively, in two years. We also hosted a webinar called The ABC’s: Advocacy, Best Practices, and Collaborative Conversations. During this webinar we focused on what the new role of the AP Committee is versus the previous role of the committee. We are excited to see all the great things that will be coming from this committee in the future and what role this team will play in shaping the future of ethical practices in our industry.

District Seminars
District Seminars survive! After cancellations in 2020, going virtual (highly successfully, we might add) in 2021, district seminars were attempted in person this year. Though some districts saw a loss of numbers and had to cancel, others were highly successful. We will not be discouraged! While there were many great sessions to brag about, a highlight was the session delivered by Vince Walsh-Rock of ISCA presented at the Southern and West Central seminars. This was a great opportunity to partner with ISCA. Vince praised IACAC’s commitment to advocate for students in Springfield and hopes to continue a partnership between ISCA and IACAC through the Government Relations Committee and Advocacy Day.

NACAC’s 2021 RISING STAR AWARD recipient, Elevate, completed its first cohort with 20 participants! Designed to serve women rising into leadership roles, sessions included the Interactive Resume Activity, Navigating the Job Search Process and Negotiating Salary and Emotional Intelligence Assessment, Elevate aimed to create conversations and connections that the attendees could immediately take action on.

As one participant shared, “We aren’t often given the space to professionally AND personally develop. The program overall was super valuable.” The second cohort of Elevate will begin in June and we are looking forward to another great year.

What can I tell you about the finance committee. I mean, they don’t really do much; they gather in person but maybe once a year, they always question everything, they really bug people to do things the appropriate way, like they won’t let me just use the surplus funds to bring Lady Gaga to conference! You know but what the finance committee has done so well over the last year is learned. They listened and they learned. They learned what it takes to be transparent, they learned how the membership was wanting to how our organization was running and what we should and could do with any excess funds we have. The finance committee finalized what we now call the Innovation Fund Request where the membership could get creative and request for the funds to be used in certain ways, whether it be for professional development with MMI, or getting more people to go to the NACAC Hill Day. The finance committee learned that they will need to have an open mind when receiving budget requests knowing that committees are trying to figure out a year in advance whether or not we were going to be back in person, remember when we thought this pandemic was going to last just 2 weeks….They also learned exactly how important the Event Coordinator and Manager of Operations positions really are. Needing to think about not just their own needs but the needs of the membership and needs of the organization. They had to decide whether we were in need of replacing the people in those people in those positions or to re-work how we fulfill our needs. Well, those two people in those positions, we are not able to replace them. We are not able to replace Linda Haffner and Donna Epton. They are two iconic people that we couldn’t find a way to just “replace” them. Donna, if you’re in the room, know you are irreplaceable, and someone, please text Linda and just tell her, we’ve missed her since her first day out. So the finance committee had to learn quickly many of the ins and outs of each of these roles. The details, the day to day duties, the things that none of us really ever know unless you’re actually doing the work and we had to figure out. Thankfully we are excited to share that we will be using Minard Planners for this next year as Paul plans out his first conference, so if we don’t like them….just tell Paul. And as for the Manager of Operations, thank you to the subcommittee that has agreed to dive into this position. We are excited to see how this position will evolve into what IACAC needs in hopes that we can open the position up for this next fiscal year.

So yea, LEARN is what the finance committee did this year. We’re still waiting to see if the Innovation Fund request to get Lady Gaga go through….oh…I just got a text saying it didn’t go through…

Government Relations
The Government Relations Committee (GRC) took the IACAC road show to our state capital Springfield last month and is traveling to Washington DC (May 11), to advocate for policies that are friendly to our profession. After successful virtual events, the GRC is ready once again for in-person events with our legislators. The Co-Chairs along with IACAC E-Board leadership have also met with Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois School Counselor Association to ensure our policy recommendations align with one another – kind of like three great musicians forming a super band!

High School Counselor Professional Development
The High School Counselor Professional Development Committee (HSCPD) recently hosted their third virtual Counselor Camp all about free tech tools for counselors with presenters covering Slate tips and tricks, Canva and social media usage, google classroom and docs ideas, career research tools and more. Our October and December camps focused on Supporting Special Populations and Collaborative Partnerships, respectively. We’ve had amazing speakers for our virtual events over the past two years, and we are thankful that Erin Hoover archives and posts recorded events for wider outreach/information sharing.

They host four committee meetings each year with about 15 committee members logging in for each, and we appreciate the collaborative effort of our committee to plan each Counselor Camp. Their final committee meeting of the year was April 6th,, and their fourth event of the year, a ‘Temperature Check/What Have We Learned’ roundtable will take place on May 11th, hopefully in person.

Illinois College Fair
Gold Star for this crew. Can we share a little LOVE in their direction? The Illinois College Fair Committee was excited to see the return of in-person fairs in the fall of 2021! We had 300+ colleges and universities register for Illinois Regional College Fairs for the 2021-2022 season. IACAC also partnered with StriveScan to offer 2 virtual college fairs, with 1,359 individuals registering and 178 colleges/universities participating. Ultimately only a few fairs canceled their in-person events due to COVID protocols. The committee continues to work with host sites across the state to ensure quality programming for students and families and sound financial contributions to the organization.

Inclusion, Access, and Success
Members of the IAS committee submitted proposals for the conference and are slated to present during this very conference experience! Last summer, members of IAS (and others) utilized NACAC Imagine Grant Funds to attend virtual GWI. The Committee is excited to again offer the Dismantling White Supremacy Series again this year after the positive feedback from attendees last year. The team is also in the process of developing a workshop on combating performative allyship. Additionally, planning for the 2022 Sharing the Dream Conference is well underway! This year’s conference will take place on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 virtually.

Lots of changes with Membership this year! This year we implemented our tiered membership model which has increased access to IACAC membership. Big shout to Erin Hoover here as well – the mastermind behind the scenes. Our numbers are up and we are more in line with the way the NACAC model looks. This year we also shifted our Membership cycle dates from beginning on Oct. 1 to beginning on June 1. This falls more in line with the fiscal year and makes sense for both the college and high school side. We are excited about both of these changes because we think it is overall better for the organization and its members and we are looking forward to getting into a groove after this first year of big change.

The Mentorship Committee finished up a year’s worth of meet-ups, to connect mentors and mentees throughout IACAC. A few successful events worthy of mention was Mod Pizza event (before District 211 fair), Office Chair Yoga, Jingle & Mingle (held in 3 locations), T-shirt exchange (after JJC fair this year), and March Madness (congrats to Annette Braden for the winning bracket!). Kelly Detmers continued IACACreads and is looking possibly to have a summer reads opportunity. We got through another year of matches, with almost everyone matched! The totals were 15 matches on the college side, 5 matches on the high school side, and 2 matches with middle management! We’re looking forward to the Mentorship Reception at the Conference, and hope to see you there!

Middle Management Institute
Middle Management Institute had a successful 2021 virtual program! 40+ admissions professionals joined us via Zoom to learn about taking the next steps in their careers – and we were able to complete the CliftonStrengths assessment to help folks identify their top strengths! We’re looking forward to being back in-person this June at Columbia College Chicago. This year’s session will include Stedman Graham, and participants and the committee are excited for this collaboration.

National College Fair
After two years of unknown, there are signs of life! This Spring, NACAC hosted half a dozen in-person college fairs in addition to their series of virtual options. No official word yet, but hopes are high that Chicago will be back on the NACAC scene in 2022 – this team is also excited to get the plans working on the Spring Suburban Chicago Fair that never came to be, ahead in 2023. Stay tuned!

New Counselor Institute
The NCI Committee (the artist formerly known as Summer Institute) was able to host for the first time in a few years a hybrid / in-person session during the month of December 2021. We had a great turnout and played some ice breakers, connected with colleagues, etc. We are also looking forward to our in-person reception during the conference and kicking off registration in July for 2022-2023 NCI. This committee continues to be the cornerstone of our professional development programming and for many in this room, the first step into the IACAC family – it was certainly mine.. Real quick – will all Summer Institute and NCI alums please stand?

Professional Access and Equity (ad-hoc)
Lead by a couple of fierce, equity-focused female professionals, Sharon Williams and Amy Thompson, The Equity & Access Ad Hoc Committee continues to investigate resources and tools that may be used for a pilot program. While our timeline has been thrown off a bit we continue to move forward and hope to have more solidified plans by early fall. We look forward to hosting a session at the conference to discuss where we are and hear about the ideas, concerns, and feedback of admission professionals who are interested in the work we are undertaking: To help admission offices improve their hiring, retention, and advancement practices in order to improve Equity & Access for BIPOC professionals.

Professional Connections
During the November board meeting (at DePaul Prep), a vote passed to allow graduate students to join IACAC with no membership charge. The goal around this shift is to increase involvement of graduate students and to create a system for graduate students to learn how to get involved in the organization. A partnership between Membership, New Counselor Institute, and Professional Connections will work towards developing programs that support graduate students in getting involved in the organization. Since the advertisement of the free memberships, we have had 23 new graduate students join our organization. The Professional Connections Committee will be inviting all graduate students to a virtual welcome session on February 24th to tell them more about IACAC and how to get involved.

Professional Development/SIGs
The PD Team continues to evaluate our professional development offerings across the organization. In mixed spaces, virtual, hybrid and otherwise, PD has considered how we engage with another and in meaningful programming in a rapidly changing reality.

One of the team’s achievements has been the development and execution of our Special Interest Groups. These virtual spaces offer room for like-minded and like-identified professionals to share experiences and ideas, and create community. As many as 9 different groups were born from the PD teams’s efforts.

As an example – The Latinx Special Interest Group (SIG) launched for its first full year and has been meeting on a monthly basis. The diverse group of Latinx leaders as well as those serving the Latinx student community have been able to share best practices with one another, provide policy recommendations, and more importantly, build community at a time when we needed it the most. Future plans for the group include a social outing once the weather and pandemic permit, along with continuing to share ideas on how to advocate for the needs of the Latinx student community.

The LGBTQ+ SIG met 3 times this academic year, including a social opportunity for those who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community via Zoom in December. This allowed those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ to get to know one another and build community. We’re looking forward to additional opportunities to gather next year!

The Retirees group continued to safely sequester in 2021 yet enjoyed spending time in our “bubbles” with family and close friends. We connected with fellow retirees in a Virtual Happy Hour during which we caught up on the latest IACAC technology and learned of many ways to navigate the pandemic. Our group looks forward to reconnecting at the annual conference this year.

The Scholarship team made waves this year, adjusting the model to serve high need students more intentionally. We took financial need into consideration as part of the holistic application review process, asking students for their EFC or parents’ income and counselors for any extenuating circumstances that might affect a student’s ability to pay for college.

233 applicants were evaluated, representing all 8 IACAC districts (and we were able to have at least one recipient from each district!).
18 brave IACAC members volunteered to review the applications and continued to keep up our tradition of supporting the students we serve from every corner of our state.

Summer Tours
This past summer, the Bike o’ Fun had two one-day events with a total of 23 participating IACAC members. We traveled along the Illinois Prairie Path to visit North Central College, Elmhurst University (Go Jays), and Dominican University. We also biked the Lakefront Path, visiting Loyola University, DePaul University and the University of Chicago. And in June of this year, the Bike-ro Tour will ride from Lake Forest College to Northwestern and Loyola along the lakefront. Registration is open if you want to join this “only in IACAC” college tour!

Shameless plug from Scott Lilly – the Bus O’ Fun Trip still has spaces available for this Summer’s cruise through the Ozarks.

Transfer Advisory
The Transfer Advisory Committee is expanding Networking opportunities for all who wish to connect. The Networking Subcommittee is a newer addition to the Transfer Advisory Committee. We plan to host at least 2 events this year. The first was a virtual event hosted this past fall where over 60 people connected over Zoom to “talk transfer”. We are also trying to provide some structure to the events so we started the event with a presentation from the U of I Systems Office on Stranded Credit, which got the conversation going. The Transfer Summit Subcommittee hosted a very successful Transfer Summit again virtually. Finally, the scholarship committee continues to award both spring and fall scholarships that are $1000 a piece.

Last year at this time, we asked our membership to join together in a virtual space and to Look for the Good. With an uncertain year ahead of us then, we all moved forward, unsure of where we would go next and how we would find our way there. It was with hope and resilience and relentless optimism that we rediscovered who we could be, and we did what we do best – we leaned on each other, we pushed forward, and found our way through the storm. The adaptability and tenacity of our membership reminded me time and time again that despite how dark a moment, or a year, may seem, that the sun still rises, even through the rain. Thank you for trusting me and for seeing us through. The success and the beauty of this Association belongs to ALL of us, and is for ALL of us.”

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