2021 Region 8 Election

Budget Coordinator

Lesley Gerein
University of Calgary

Lesley Gerein is the Senior Specialist, Academic Advising for the University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada. She has over 17 years of experience in Academic Advising, including positions as Advisor for the Faculties of Arts and Science, Manager for Arts and Science Advising, and Manager, Learning Support Services. In her current role, Lesley is responsible for providing oversight, training, advocacy, and professional development for academic advisors and student service professionals across the University of Calgary campus. For the past 8 years Lesley has also been actively involved as a steering committee member for several NACADA Region 8 and Alberta Academic Advising Conferences and events. Lesley’s involvement with NACADA over the years, has really helped to solidify her passion for the profession of advising, and for helping fellow advisors achieve their maximum potential!

Social Media Coordinator

Cayleigh Olson 
Fraser International College

Hi, my name is Cayleigh Olson and I am a Student Success Advisor at Fraser International College in Burnaby, BC. This past year, I have been fortunate enough to get involved with NACADA in several different areas – as a conference presenter, a member of NACADA Writes, and most recently, as one of the Communications Coordinators for the Region 8&9 2021 Conference. I love supporting students and connecting with other advisors, and look forward to a new way of doing so through social media.

Technology Coordinator

Andrew Wahlstrom
University of Oregon

I am the Peer Advising Coordinator and Senior Academic Advisor at the University of Oregon in the Lundquist College of Business. Before advising business students, I worked with Exploring students in the UO’s main advising office. I joined the UO as an advisor in 2007 after holding a faculty advising position.

I have a longstanding interest in technology with experience including shared note taking systems, team collaboration and productivity tools, multiple social media platforms, website development, video tutorial production, and leveraging mobile devices. In my position, I evaluate new technologies, train advisors on technology use, and serve on technology-oriented committees. Additionally, I supported the technological needs of the UO’s All-Campus Advising Association through positions on the technology, executive, and new advisor mentorship committees.

My NACADA involvement began in 2005 and I have attended three regional and two annual conferences. I also have participated in multiple NACADA webinars and virtual discussions. In 2013, I received the Region 8 professional advisor certificate of merit. At the 2018 Region 8 conference in Portland, Oregon, I presented on leveraging mobile devices to create and automate electronic advising documents. In 2021, I will complete my first term as technology coordinator on the Region 8 Steering Committee. In this capacity, I have spearheaded initiatives to upgrade the region’s website to be ad-free, develop a “technology in advising resource bank,” and plan an innovation and technology in advising podcast. Additionally, I’ve reviewed region award and scholarship applications and served on the subcommittee to promote advising research and scholarship. If elected, I would continue to explore new ways to share our region’s rich technology knowledge and connect any members interested in technology and advising. I would be deeply honored to serve a second term.

Niki Weight

Western Oregon University

I have been in the advising profession for over nine years, for seven years as an Exploratory advisor and for the last two years as an administrator at Western Oregon University. I have a passion for helping students achieve success and guiding them on their educational pathway. My best professional development opportunities and connections have come through involvement with NACADA. Now that I have been in Region 8 for a couple of years, I want to connect more intentionally and give back to the organization. I am interested in being the Technology Coordinator because I believe that technology can enhance the advising relationship when used thoughtfully and intentionally, especially given how critical technology has become in recent months. I have experience working with several advising tools and in training advisors on how to use them to work smarter, not harder, while still maintaining personal relationships with students. Before coming to WOU, I also served as the Technology Coordinator on the Region 10 Steering Committee. I would like to combine my desires for supporting NACADA with my technology experience to help advisors in our region be ready and able to meet the needs of their students.


Alberta Liaison 

Deanna Gonnelly
Lethbridge College

I am running for the Region 8 Alberta Liaison Steering Committee Member because I am passionate about empowering Academic Advisors to be the connection between students and their success.  Since joining the post-secondary environment in 2015 I have had the opportunity to work as a Career & Academic Advisor, Coordinator of Student Success, and now, Manager of Student Success and Advising.  In each role, I have had great mentors who taught be about the valuable role advising plays in student development.  I want to serve as the Alberta Liaison to further the connections of advisors at two-year colleges and be instrumental in helping them to recognize the professionalization of academic advising.  As Alberta Liaison I would look for ways to inspire advisors from all walks of life to recognize their unique and important contributions to student success.  Just as each student is unique, each advisor is unique and brings different experiences and expertise to their advising practice.  If elected, I will use my time as a steering committee member to help advisors recognize their important work and help connect them to the global community to which they belong.

British Columbia Liaison

Aysha Haq
Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Please accept this as my interest in the Steering Committee’s BC Liaison position. At Kwantlen Polytechnic I have worked as the Transfer Credit Coordinator in the Office of the Registrar, International Academic Advisor, a Central Advisor and currently as the Academic Advisor for students who need upgrading. I am a University of Washington (UW) alumnus and have also worked as a Program Assistant in the UW School of Law.

I previously served on the BC Academic Advising Association (BCADA) and participated in planning for the BCADA conference in Prince George where I met Charlie Nutt. Speaking with him inspired me and led me to pursue roles within and outside of Kwantlen where academic advising has impact: my term on Senate and its standing committees, curriculum committees, Faculty Council, Faculty department committees and the BC Ministry of Education Youth in Care.  I have read proposals for a NACADA Annual Conference and volunteered at the 2019 NACADA Annual Conference.

I believe I bring a diverse background appropriate to serving on Region 8! I am excited for the opportunity to utilize my knowledge as an academic advisor and as someone who’s worked in both British Columbia and Washington to serve on a committee dedicated to the needs of this region.

Idaho Liaison 

Elizabeth Bullers
University of Idaho

I have over six years of experience with academic advising at both University of Idaho as well as Washington State University.  In the different roles I have held during my career, I have gained hands-on experience with a variety of advising models.  In my current position, I also work with partners at community colleges across the region on transfer agreements and other partnerships.  I feel this relationship I have already established with professional and faculty advisors at other Idaho institutions will help me be a success as an Idaho liaison.

I would like to serve on the NACADA Region 8 steering committee because I would like to support the organization which has provided so much professional development to me throughout the years.  In addition, I would like to have the opportunity to enhance NACADA membership and involvement throughout the state.

Montana Liaison 

Sara Heller 
Montana State University

Hi!  My name is Sara Heller and I am an Academic Advisor in the Department of Health and Human Development at Montana State University.  I have worked at MSU for almost 15 years; over seven of those years in my current position.  I am passionate about bringing new workshop and professional development ideas to our students and my fellow advisors.  As a Montana liaison, I will bring new professional development and student success approaches back to MSU and the other colleges and universities in the state.  My goal is to bring all advisors in the state together for a Montana NACADA conference!

Oregon Liaison 

William Butler-Paisley
Portland Community College

As a former community college student myself, I am deeply committed to the community college mission of providing access to a quality college education for all who seek it. After beginning my professional higher education career as a composition instructor, I quickly learned that I had an interest in working one on one with students with a focus on guidance and the critical learning opportunities that can occur in an advising session. I have extensive experience advising for a program that serves first-generation/low-income students. I have also worked as a career-technical department advisor. I am currently the interim advising coordinator at PCC's Sylvania campus. I hold a master's degree in English Literature and a doctorate in community college leadership.

Washington Liaison 

Patrick Fernandez
Highline College

Patrick has been part of the Highline College community since 2016 with his first role as Academic Advisor in the Advising Center. His positivity and passion for supporting students in finding their way helped implement the current Academic Standards policy and its previous interventions, the Thrive Academic Success workshops, and the Academic Success Canvas course - both of which have served hundreds of students since their launch just a few years ago. For the past year and a half, Patrick served as Program Manager for Career Services helping students with career advising and exploration, student employment processing, and resume and cover letter writing and editing.

Patrick received his master’s degree in Public Administration (2013) from Seattle University and his B.A. in Law and Diversity (2005) from Western Washington University. He gained an interest in working in higher education from positive lived experiences as an undergraduate student being involved in student clubs and programming in the Ethnic Student Center at Western. He found his calling in higher education through advising and has since worked almost ten years in higher education supporting students. Additionally, Patrick enjoys professional development to keep up to date with best practices in serving students. He also is involved in regional leadership of NACADA currently serving as the Two-Year College Liaison on the Region 8 Steering Committee and Co-Chair of the 2021 Virtual Region 8 & Region 9 Conference.

Yukon Liaison 

Janna van Kessel
Yukon University

My name is Janna van Kessel and I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the NACADA Regional 8 team in order to provide a connection with Yukon University and our northern advising contexts. In August 2020, I started as one of two Co-department Heads for a new Student Success Division – a team dedicated to deliver academic, First Nations, International, and other wellness services for all current YukonU students. Over the last seven year, my experience with Yukon University (Yukon College until May 2020) has integrated academic advising, teaching, coordination of academic services, and special projects such as re-development of the Adult Basic Education model and alignment of services for students. I have also taught at Aurora College in Yellowknife, NT, within K-12 systems in NT, SK, and AB, and within museum interpretation/coordination in NT and AB.

My educational background includes sciences, secondary and adult education, as well as recent NACADA eTutorials. As a life-long learner, I continue to grow in my understanding of theory and best practices of advising and best practices in ‘teaching as advising’ as well as the development of peer mentoring/advising/tutor service models. Working as team, building open and trusting relationships, creating welcoming and creative environments, feedback and adaptability continue to be essential factors to deliver exceptional student experiences and maintain family and community connections during COVID-19. Outside of work, I am already enjoying snowy wintery walks with my husband, cooking warming curries, and Zoom chats with the help of my two feline assistants.

Thank you for you consideration.

Janna van Kessel
M.Sc., B.Sc., B.Ed. 


This region holds elections for the steering committee on a rotating basis.  

When it is time for elections: 

1.  Nominations/applications will be solicited.

2.  Bios and platforms will be posted here.

3. Electronic ballots will go out to the state or region membership.

NOTE: The Region Chair is elected every two years through the Association election system.