Awards Chair

Chelsea Fancher
University of Alabama 

Advisors don't do their jobs for recognition or accolades. Advisors do their jobs for their students. However, recognizing our outstanding and impactful academic advisors across Region 4 is imperative to the mission of NACADA and to many of the strategic goals--namely, to "Promote the role of effective academic advising in student success to college and university decision makers." Promotion, often accomplished through recognition, is a driver for the allocation of resources that end up going back into programs and initiatives, such as advisor professional development, that can continue to move the advising profession forward on our campuses, regionally, nationally, and globally. Further, it is also imperative to recognize the good work that academic advisors are doing, as it can be a fulfilling, yet thankless profession. Being able to say "thank you" and "see the work you are doing" by way of the regional awards allows for the reinforcement of the good work being done, even if it is behind the scenes. I am writing for consideration for the next Region 4 Awards Chair as part of the Region 4 Steering Committee. The largest, overarching goal I have as Awards Chair is to focus on soliciting nominations from each of the region's institutions. Having served as a volunteer with the Awards Committee for the last two years, I've noticed that some institutions are consistently nominating their advisors and administrators (thus consistently having winning nomination packets), and some have been consistently absent from the review list. That goal can be achieved in smaller parts, such as a first step of reviewing and updating the information and instruction provided for submitting competitive nomination packets. Second, I hope to encourage more volunteerism from across the region to serve on the awards selection committee as it is incredibly inspirational to read about all of the advisors' accomplishments and strive to bring new, innovative, and helpful ideas back to our own campuses. Finally, I would like to review the processes for recognizing all nominees for the Region 4 Awards. There can only be one winner for each award, but advisors who are doing such good work need to be recognized in as many ways as possible! One idea I've had is to share social media posts or videos leading up to the Regional Conference to introduce all nominees, recognize their accomplishments on their campuses and by being nominated, and build anticipation for the announcement. Further, these posts could be shared and re-shared across their institutions' social media pages to further recognize our members' successes and bring additional attention to the good work that those staff and faculty members are doing on their campuses. Thank you for your attention and consideration. BIO | My professional career thus far has been dedicated to assisting undergraduate students, primarily transfer and distance learning populations. I currently serve as an Academic Advisor II in the College of Engineering at The University of Alabama. My educational achievements includes earning a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in Communication Studies from Western Kentucky University, followed by a M.A. in Communication Studies from The University of Alabama. Most recently at The University of Alabama, I completed a Graduate Certificate in Consumer and Conflict Management and am currently working on a Graduate Certificate in College to further develop my skills in the physical and virtual classroom in my role as an adjunct faculty member. Within NACADA, I have served in various volunteer roles during her membership: -Steering Committee Member, Distance Advising for Online Education (2020-present) -Annual Conference Concurrent Session Volunteer (2019) -Annual Conference Proposal Reviewer (2019, 2020) -Region 4 Advising Awards Committee Member (2020, 2021) -Region 4 Conference Proposal Reviewer (2019, 2020) -Region 4 Conference Programs Sub-Committee Member (2019) I have also been selected for and presented at NACADA Regional (2020 Region 4, 2017 Region 3) and Annual (2019, 2020) Conferences and is am active member in the campus-wide allied advising organization, UA-AAA, where I served on the 2018-2019 Outstanding Advisor Award selection committee. I was first author in a piece published in Academic Advising Today (2017 December 40:4) and recently served as an external editorial board member for the Journal of Student Affairs (Vol. XVI).


Ellen Murkison

Georgia Institute of Technology

I am honored to be nominated to continue my role as Awards Chair for Region 4. Over the past two years in this role, I have been fortunate to serve the members of this region by helping to promote the awards process.  It is aligned closely with my professional interests of increasing advisor professional development and participation in NACADA to increase the number of institutions, advisors and programs being considered for these awards.  We have worked to diversify the pool of candidates and I am happy to say we have begun to include more committee members and award nominations from traditionally underrepresented institution types, such as 2 year colleges and HBCUs.  If elected I plan to continue to strive for increased inclusion and recognition of outstanding advisors in all areas of Region 4. I look forward to collaborating with the Region 4 committee on many other aspects of service to the region as well.  It has been a wonderful professional experience for me to have taken part in the various conferences, positions and opportunities NACADA has provided, and I sincerely hope to help others do the same.   PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology Academic Advising Manager (November 2019-present) Academic Advisor II (July 2017-October 2019) Academic Advisor I (August 2015- June 2017) First-Year Experience (FYE): Exploratory Student Advising Georgia Southern University Assistant Director (June 2010- August 2011) Coordinator of Advisement (September 2007- June 2010) Academic Advisor (December 2006- September 2007) Savannah College of Art and Design Academic Advisor October 2002 - December 2004 International Student Advisor August 1999 - October 2002 LEADERSHIP, PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS, PAPERS and AWARDS Chair, Awards Committee, NACADA Region 4, October 2018 - present VP of Records, Georgia Academic Advisor Network, June 2019 to present Co-Chair, Hospitality Committee, NACADA Annual Conference 3/19-10/20 Invited Researcher, Advising Success Network, Academic Advising Roadmap report, April-July 2020 NACADA Region 4 Conference Planning Committee Member, 10/18-03/20 Georgia Representative, NACADA Region IV Steering Committee, 10/09 - 10/11 Chair, Evaluation Committee, NACADA Region 4 Conference, March 2011 Published Article: Peer Advisors and the Major Exploration Process. Academic Advising Today, 34 (3). (2011) NACADA Outstanding Advising Administrator Certificate of Merit, October 2010 Co-Chair Planning Committee, Georgia Academic Advising Drive-In, May 2010 Program Selection Committee Member, NACADA Region 4 Conference, 03/10 Member, NACADA; 2002-2004; Jan 2007 October 2011; January 2016-present

Leslie Ross

Georgia Institute of Technology

For the past two years I have served as a reviewer for the awards and scholarships given by the NACADA, both at the national and regional levels. Award nominations require many readers, and it has been extremely fulfilling to see the wonderful things that are happening in our region. I would love to take a leadership role in making sure that awards at the regional level continue to recognize the best academic advisors throughout region 4. Additionally, I hope to be able to recruit committee members that reflect the geographic, ethnic, and institutional diversity of NACADA Region 4.  BIO | Leslie Ross has served as the undergraduate academic advisor for the School of Public Policy at Georgi Tech since 2011. She is responsible for the advising of all undergraduates, as well as those students enrolled in the 5 year BS/MS Public Policy degree program.  In 2018, Leslie Ross was recognized as the Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Advisor- Staff award winner at Georgia Tech, and was chosen as one of the Outstanding Advising Award winners at the national level by NACADA, the Global Community for Academic Advising. In 2019, she was recognized as an Emerging Leader in NACADA. She currently serves on the Global Awards committee, as a steering committee member for the Liberal Arts advising community, and as a Region 4 awards committee member.


Social Justice/Diversity Chair

Dallas Schmidt 
University of South Alabama

As an academic advisor for predominantly freshman students and many first-generation students, social justice and diversity are topics I take very seriously. It is my primary goal that all of my students be given the same opportunities and that each have an equal chance at pursuing an education. Academic advisors strive for connections with their students, and we can not do that unless we are fully educated on how to include all of our students and fight to make sure they are each given equal opportunity. In this day and age, celebrating each other's differences and supporting our students is more crucial now than ever.
Alabama Liaison

Lindsey Byrd 

Coastal Alabama Community College 

I have been a member of NACADA since February 2014. In this time, I have served in multiple positions in the Region, Administrative and Advising Communities Divisions of NACADA whether it be through chair positions or on steering committees for the division. As much as I like to see students succeed and find their passion, I similarly enjoy seeing colleagues find joy in advising (hopefully enough to make it a career)! In our region, I have served on the FLACADA steering committee (the allied-network of NACADA in Florida). In recent years, I served as Chair for our Region's Mentoring Program and would very much like to help Alabama's advising professionals find their niche in NACADA and the advising profession. BIO | I have been advising since May 2011. I began working in higher education while in college working in Housing and Residential Life as well as Disability Services. Upon graduating, I worked in the hospitality industry to gain leadership skills and then received my first academic advising role at a 100% online university whose target student population was military. We were a for-profit, nationally-accredited university. At this institution, I served as the Advising Center Training and Development Coordinator while still advising a caseload of students. In order to gain experience at a regionally-accredited university, I transitioned roles to advising at a regional-commuter D2 university where I advised FTIC students and those with 30 or less hours (all disciplines). In need of community college experience in order to work at my dream school, I became an advisor at a state college (prior community college that was able to award BAS degrees so they became a state college). I learned quickly that this was where my focus needed to be-helping community college students find their starting point and empowering them to persist and graduate in order to move onto a trade or further their education.


Sophia Everett

Shelton State Community College

My interest in Advising began as an undergraduate with my student role as an orientation leader. Years later, that interest turned into a passion and has continued for me throughout my professional career at Shelton State as a Navigator in the SOAR Institute and now the Director of Advising for the last 9 years. This position would be a great opportunity to continue to serve out my purpose and passion. As the state of Alabama Liaison, my goal would be to pass on my experience and excitement about advising and NACADA by supporting and creating opportunities for others. Please allow me to introduce myself, I am native of Indianola, MS. A 2005 and 2006 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi in which I received both her Bachelor's of Psychology and Master's of Education in College Student Personnel Services. I was employed as a Community Director for 4½ years at the University of Alabama. I am currently the Director of Advising at Shelton State Community College. I am and have been current and active member of NACADA since 2012. NACADA Involvement Member since 2012 State, regional, and/or Annual Conference attendee since 2012 State, regional, and Annual Conference presenter - 2012, 2013, and 2015 2012 NACADA Region IV Travel Grant Recipient 2013 Co-Chair for ALACADA Drive-in Conference 2015 2 Year College Sponsored Program 2019 Alabama Advising Statewide Summit I am also a current member of National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). I have been a member of several other professional organizations such as and the National Organization for Student Success (NOSS) and American College Personnel Association (ACPA). I am the proud wife of Marty Everett and mother of 3 children; McKinley, Myles, and Morgan Everett. My personal mantra is "If BETTER is Possible, then Good is not Enough." I would be honored to serve as your next State Liaison. Support and promote Academic Advising by Creating Opportunities through Relationships and Educational resources. "Advising at the C.O.R.E. of student success!"



Brian Gorman
Univeristy of Alabama

Dr. Gorman serves as Director of Advising for the Capstone Center for Student Success at the University of Alabama. Previous roles include Director of Mentoring and Persistence to Success at Western Carolina University, and Assistant Director of the Student Success Center at Eastern Illinois University. Prior to moving in to higher education, Dr. Gorman was a high and middle school social science teacher in Central Illinois. Dr. Gorman received his Doctor of Education in Higher Education as part of the Executive Cohort in 2020, and was voted Most Outstanding Student by department faculty for the 2019-20 academic year. Dr. Gorman’s research is primarily on special and conditional admission student success and retention, but has also participated in research on first-generation college students and incarcerated student populations. Dr. Gorman created the Pre-Enrollment Anticipation Survey (PEAS) in 2019, an instrument where students answer questions anticipating their college engagement, confidence, and belonging prior to enrollment. The instrument has successfully predicted first-term GPA and credits earned for participants. Dr. Gorman has presented a variety of student success and advising topics at multiple professional conferences including NACADA, and is currently co-authoring a textbook for freshman experience courses. Dr. Gorman is grateful for consideration to serve fellow NACADA Alabamians, as well as the larger NACADA Region 4 community. Dr. Gorman is excited for the opportunity to bring his experiences leading teams of professional advisors and student success professionals, as well as experiences in teaching, research, and data analytics at both regional and flagship institutions to the position.

Russell Pettus
Univeristy of Alabama

I began my higher education journey as a recruiter but found my passion working as an advisor. I currently serve on the University of Alabama Academic Advisors Association as the VP of Communication and Technology. My primary role is to solicit and collect information across campus that impacts our students and communicate it to our advising community. I also worked to create and maintain our website.  I was selected to be a part of the NACADA Region 4 2020-2021 Mentoring program. I am blessed to be mentored by a veteran advisor who is walking with me to accomplish my goals of developing a philosophy and method to work with students on academic warning or probation. I also served as a proposal reader for the NACADA 2020 annual conference.   As the NACADA State Liaison for Alabama, I will encourage and support membership growth among our community colleges and four-year universities. I will work to develop relationships across the state and communicate professional development opportunities and ways to get involved and participate in NACADA at a state, regional, and national level. I look forward to partnering with those who plan our state drive-ins and developing virtual workshop opportunities. I would love the opportunity to serve you as the NACADA State Liaison for Alabama. BIO | I have worked in higher education for six and a half years. I worked in recruiting for four years and as an advisor for two and a half years. Education: BA in Bible from Heritage Christian University (1998) MA in Ministry from Freed Hardeman University (2007) MS in High Education Administration from Mississippi College (2017)



Dallas Schmidt 
University of South Alabama

I am a proactive and eager advisor who is happy to help further NACADA and the professional advising committee. BIO | I have been an academic advisor since February and am eager to get involved more in NACADA. I am currently involved in the Region 4 mentor program and am on the conference planning committee for ECAAN.
Caribbean Liaison

Talia Esnard
The University of the West Indies

Talia Esnard, PhD Sociology, is a Lecturer and current Head/Chair of the Department of Behavioural Sciences, at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, Trinidad and Tobago. Prior to her appointment as a Lecturer at the UWI, St. Augustine, she served as an Assistant Professor in the Center of Education for 8 years at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). As a lecturer at the UWI, St. Augustine campus, she has taught a range of courses in both qualitative and qualitative research, as well as, in development theory and praxis; both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Administratively, she previously served as Deputy Dean for Undergraduate Student Matters within the Faculty of Social Sciences-FSS (UWI-2018-2020) and as Chair for the FSS Curriculum Committee (2016-2018). As a researcher, she focuses on issues of women, work, and organizations; particularly within entrepreneurial and educational spheres. Some of her work has been published in the (i) Journal of Motherhood Initiative, (ii) Women, Gender and Families of Color, (iii) Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, (iv) Mentoring and Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, and (v) NASPA Journal about Women in Higher Education. She is the lead co-author of Black women, academe and the tenure process in the United States and the Caribbean (Esnard & Cobb-Roberts 2018). She is the co-editor for Mentoring as Critically Engaged Praxis: Storying the Lives and Contributions of Black Women Administrators (Cobb-Roberts & Esnard, 2020) and Mothering and Entrepreneurship: Global perspectives, Identities and Complexities (Esnard & Knight, 2020). She is also one of the authors for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion in Caribbean Organisations and Society (Stephenson, Persadie, Bissessar, & Esnard, 2020). She was a recipient of Taiwan Research Fellowship (2012) and Canada-CARICOM Faculty Leadership Program (2015 at Brock University & 2018 at Ryerson University).
Florida Liaison

Charlene Howard
Florida A&M University

Greetings! I am Charlene Howard an higher education professional at Florida A&M University the only Public HBCU in the State of Florida. NACADA has been very strategic in engaging its members during times of social change and a national pandemic. The continuous effects are felt on all levels and this requires special attention by those in all areas of leadership. To serve as Florida Liaison presents the opportunity to engage our members in academic advising during health crises, social justice issues and the ever changing higher education political framework. We have a need for diversity and inclusion and reaching out to all institutions types and professionals. My goal is to continue to be a professional bridge between members and leaders and provide information, promote engagement and plan professional development efforts that will enhance academic advising professionals in Florida, Region 4 and NACADA as a whole.