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Voices of the Global Community


Dana Zahorik, NACADA President

Dana Zahorik Do you recall the phrase, "some things never change?"  In an ever-changing world, it is hard to believe this statement has relevance, especially in the advising field.  Like our own institutions, NACADA is on a pivot, needing to change with advising trends, student populations, institutional initiatives, and events that impact our students and the profession.  At the 2016 NACADA Annual Conference opening address, I mentioned a subcommittee that would be looking at the various facets of the association to keep us on track in terms of meeting member's needs.  As an association, we need to continuously assess our organization, including our governing units within NACADA and how we conduct business, or we risk becoming ineffective.  Based on feedback from members, Board of Directors members recently identified the need to focus on assessment of the association from an internal lens as a starting point.  They have created a framework to begin this process, and this important work will continue to progress throughout the upcoming year. Member driven changes such as this demonstrate the importance of the voice of our members.  Stay tuned for updates on this important endeavor as we move into the new year.

As part of the process of change, I have also challenged members to consider NACADA leadership as a next step in involvement within the organization.  A lack of diversity on our ballots and in leadership positions limits the scope of members we can reach.  Our leadership needs to reflect our diverse NACADA membership in order to engage members, create a culture of inclusivity, and ensure that decisions being made reflect our member’s needs.  If you have not considered becoming involved in leadership in the past, now is the time to step up and become involved to represent NACADA and your fellow members.  Have you considered running for an elected position or serving on a committee in an area of your expertise?  The association is looking for members of all experience levels and backgrounds to serve on the Board of Directors, committees, advisory boards, commission and interest groups, region and administrative leadership, and more every year.  If you are interested in representing the association in a leadership role and want more information, contact any current or past NACADA leader for more information on how to get involved.  A list of current leadership and contact information can be found on the NACADA Leadership webpage.

In addition to getting more members involved in leadership, the Sustainable Leadership Committee is also changing the way we prepare our new leaders by creating a leadership academy.  Creating a program that delivers consistent information and training eliminates confusion.  The academy will give clear expectations and defined roles for leaders, making the leadership experience more positive  and making our leaders more prepared as they serve our members.

The assessment of the organization, charge to increase diversity in leadership, and the development of a leadership academy are just a few examples of the proposed changes you will see addressed over the next year within the organization.  Keeping in mind that change can lead to new opportunities leads us to take on new challenges and question whether our current practices are effective.  Imagine the impact if NACADA had not changed the way we did business in terms of the following opportunities:

  • A few years ago, a small group of individuals had the idea of creating a research center.  Earlier this spring, we “cut the ribbon” on the NACADA Research Center at Kansas State University, which will serve as the hub for scholarly writing and research for the academic advising community.
  • A movement beyond the annual conference to our first international conference has expanded our professional development opportunities to our members across the world.
  • The addition of our tagline in year 2009, NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising, created an inclusive environment for all diverse members.
  • We are no longer bound by travel and budgets due to the flexibility and creativity of virtual professional development opportunities offered by NACADA in a variety of formats, including webinars, etutorials, zoom meetings, and more.

These are just a few examples of the amazing changes that have helped shape this organization of over 12,500 members.  Continuous reflection of what is happening in the world of advising and the students we serve keeps us thinking about what we can change to continue moving forward.  Like many of you, 2016 has been a year full of change for me.  My commitment to you all as NACADA president will be to serve as a change agent, along with the Board of Directors and other NACADA leaders, gather continuous feedback, represent the needs of our members, and identify challenges and opportunities to keep us moving forward.  One thing I can assure you that will never change is NACADA’s commitment to the advising profession and its members and its contribution to the scholarship of advising, thus earning the title, the global community for academic advising.

Dana Zahorik, President, 2016-2017
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Counselor/Academic Advising Council Chair/Peer Advising Co-Chair
Counseling and Advising Services
Fox Valley Technical College

Cite this article using APA style as: Zahorik, D. (2016, December). From the president: Paving the road for change. Academic Advising Today, 39(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]


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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.