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Cecilia Olivares, NACADA President

Cecilia Olivares.jpgMarch marks the midpoint of my term as NACADA president, and as Patrick O’Neill (2013) reminds us: “Pausing at the half allows us to reflect on the good work we have done, what we haven’t done, and what we must do to advance our personal and professional development.” Inspired by O’Neill, I reflect on four observances: recommit, reconnect, recognize, and recreate.


In October and November, the NACADA Board of Directors began the process to review the association’s mission and vision. Through the reflections of past presidents Susan Campbell, Casey Self, and Dana Zahorik, the current Board members engaged in a series of activities led by Melinda Anderson, Kyle Ross, and Oscar van Wijngaard to draft an updated mission and vision for the association. Mission statements reflect the purpose and values of an association and serve as the roadmap to achieve the mission, which reflects the aspirations of the association. The mission and vision serve as the commitment to NACADA’s direction and purpose. Additionally, in February the Board of Directors started the process of reviewing and updating our strategic goals to set association priorities over the next five to ten years.

Updating the mission, vision, and strategic goals in 2021 serves as the Board’s recommitment to the association; fully realizing these aspirations is the Board’s priority. We look forward to sharing the updates with our members during this spring’s regional conferences and at virtual events to get your thoughts and feedback.


NACADA started 2021 with a webinarBuilding Relationship with Today's Students through Effective Communication Strategiespresented by our colleagues at the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Vermont, followed by the Administrator and Assessment Institutes in February. In March and April, we will come together virtually through five combined regional conferences, including a week of pre-conferences available to all members. Meanwhile, our advising communities, committees, advisory boards, and regional steering committees are conducting meetings and other events every week. (Check out “Featured Events” from the NACADA homepage or the “NACADA Next Week” emails from the Executive Office for more information.)

The call for proposals for the international and annual conferences recently closed, but the flurry of professional development activity is a reminder that we are an association of professionals working together to enhance the educational development of students. I look forward to engaging with you at a regional conference or the global conference in June, but also welcome the opportunity to connect via email, text, phone, or virtual meeting.


Through professional development events, NACADA members come together to share best practices and identify ways to reach our academic advising goals and improve student success outcomes. These are examples of O’Neill’s third observance of recognizing what is going well and what needs improvement.

However, I will utilize a different interpretation of recognition at this midpoint to acknowledge upcoming changes in NACADA leadership within our membership and in the Executive Office. General election voting is open from February 26 to March 11 with an impressive slate of candidates to serve as chairs for standing committees; advising communities; and Regions 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, in addition to the Advising Communities Division representative on the Council and the Board of Directors. Please take the time to review the candidate platform statements and videos and vote! 

Additionally, I would like to recognize and celebrate three Executive Office staff members who have announced their retirements in 2021: Rhonda Baker (Assistant Director: International Conference), Bev Martin (Marketing Manager), and Charlie Nutt (Executive Director). NACADA has expanded tremendously in size, programming, and global reach through their service and leadership to the association and its members. Thank you, Rhonda, Bev, and Charlie, for all that you have poured into NACADA! We are excited for each of you as you start new chapters in your lives.

I anticipate that in the next Academic Advising Today, there will be new information to share post-elections and updates from Executive Office hiring as well.


As an association, we continue to put in a lot of time working together to provide professional development in restructured or reimagined ways to meet organizational goals. However, the moments I appreciate most in our monthly Board meetings are when we check-in with one another and laugh together in the middle of focused conversations. Those are the times when recommitment, reconnection, and recognition come together – through recreation (fun and play), even if just for a couple minutes.

In this pause for all of us to reflect on what we have done, what we still have to do, and what changes we anticipate in 2021, I hope that you also find time to include laughter and self-care in your life, away from your job responsibilities, NACADA, and other competing priorities and major stressors. Thank you for all you do for students and for each other!

Cecilia Olivares, President, 2020-2021
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising 
Director of Transfer Center & First Generation Student Initiatives
Interim Director of Discovery Center
University of Missouri-Columbia
[email protected]

O’Neill, P. (2013, May 23). The midpoint. Extraordinary Conversation. http://extraordinaryconversations.com/thought-leadership/2013/5/23/the-midpoint

Cite this article using APA style as: Olivares, C. (2021, March). From the president: Pausing at the half. Academic Advising Today, 44(1). [insert url here]

Posted in: 2021 March 44:1


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.