What do you believe are the most important issues facing ACUI's regions and how should the Association respond?
I believe one of the most significant issues facing ACU I’s regions is the simple fact that so many student affairs professionals are leaving the field, ultimately depleting the volunteer pool for our Regions. Professionals are leaving the field due to lack of pay or lack of flexibility in schedule. I am aware these are not issues the association can address. However, there are ways the association can provide a light for our professionals to fall in love and remember our why, like ACUI has always done for me. We, as an association, can do this by providing more free and affordable professional development opportunities, especially for volunteers. Maybe there is a way to discount conference registration for regional volunteers, making that institutional commitment more obtainable and giving that professional who may be a part of a different association the opportunity to get involved with ours. Our programming and free online professional development during the pandemic was exceptional; although we could not meet in-person, I felt that our bond as an association grew tighter than before. Since the pandemic has mellowed out and in-person events have begun again, the online platform for free learning has somewhat been halted at the regional level. It would be awesome if, regionally, we could provide more free educational content for our members. It is difficult as we all go from 0 to 100 at our individual institutions, but to take a little time, even just for a round table, could be an outlet for regional members they do not currently have. A safe space, a place to bounce ideas and grow as a region, is something we can easily give to our members. This leads me to my next point, and I believe we regionally need to focus more on self-care and provide content centered on how to have conversations around self-care. If there is one thing I have learned while working full-time and going back to school for my master’s degree, it is that if you do not take care of yourself, there is no chance you can take care of your students and employees. But having those conversations about needing a mental health day can be difficult. It is hard to admit you need a day or to admit you need a 30-minute wellness break sometimes. Suppose we can center discussions around the acceptance of self-care and address how to have those conversations. In that case, I think we can change the narrative, and it won’t necessarily be a daunting conversation but the norm in our field. I genuinely believe that between those two efforts, the association and help bring back the why and help retain members and volunteers within the association and the field.