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National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education


See what our members have to say about the benefits of NAPAHE

Marc Schaeffer

Anne Marie MarateaOne day in late December of 1994, following a meeting in my then role as Assistant VP for Academic Affairs, the President of William Paterson University asked me to lunch and offered me the position of Executive Assistant to the President. As quickly as I accepted, I realized that I hadn’t the slightest idea what someone in such a position actually did. There was no incumbent, so I had literally no one to ask what to do when I first sat down at the desk. Well, no one but NAPAHE. Other presidents in NJ public higher education had assistants and they had formed a State wide group, and through that group I came to know of NAPAHE.

NAPAHE became an invaluable resource in my professional development and I became a faithful attendee and participant at its annual conferences. There, I met people who understood the complexities, nuances and substantive and interpersonal challenges of the role. They had sessions for newcomers, and as I progressed in my position to Chief of Staff, sessions for veterans. We developed a listserv where members could post questions and get quick, candid feedback from others with greater experience and expertise. The learning and the strong camaraderie complemented each other, as I gained knowledge and trust in my colleagues. NAPAHE membership, active engagement and eventually leadership in the organization became one of the most valuable and rewarding elements of my professional life. I urge, in the strongest possible terms, that presidential assistants learn about NAPAHE and make membership and participation a part of your professional portfolio.

Marc Schaeffer, Ed.d, Retired Chief of Staff to the President and Board of Trustees
William Paterson University

Mary Reeves

Purple Small .25 MP

I first heard about NAPAHE from a now retired President EA in 2019. After attending the NAPAHE conference in 2021 and then serving on the 2022 Conference Planning Committee, I knew I wanted to try to get my fellow EAs at our System colleges involved, so they could benefit from everything NAPAHE has to offer. I held a virtual "Brown Bag Lunch" meeting, inviting all EAs in our system to attend. I shared things I had learned at the two NAPAHE conferences and asked others to send in questions or topics they wanted to discuss. In 2022, I had the Presidential EAs for eight of our 13 community colleges join with me.

To other systems that are considering joining NAPAHE: take advantage of everything offered by NAPAHE from the annual conference to the Peer Mentor program to the webinars to the message board of questions and answers.

Mary Reeves
Executive Assistant to the Chancellor's Office
Colorado Community College System

Kai S. Swanson

Kai S. Swanson

Fully half of my 38 year career at Augustana has been in the President's Office, and there's no way I would have made it this long, and with this much fulfillment, without NAPAHE. From my first conference in 2006 I developed a taste for our organization's secret sauce: useful professional development combined with essential community. NAPAHE not only helped my own development, it helped me become an ambassador for the work we do at campuses all around the world. 
Even as an 'old salt,' I've turned to NAPAHE when I needed guidance on searches, transitions, and finding my role in helping make my campus a healthier community. NAPAHE continues to teach me. Best of all has been the privilege of watching younger colleagues spread their wings in this organization and go on to become thought leaders in higher education.
Kai S. Swanson
Special Assistant to the President
Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois

Crystal Wilson

Anne Marie MarateaI joined NAPAHE almost three years ago when I transitioned from working in Student Affairs to working in the President’s Office. I immediately found my interactions with other NAPAHE members to be incredibly supportive and helpful at a time when I was trying to navigate a new role. I joined the Peer Connections program to meet others, exchange best practices, and learn from leaders in my new field. I was matched with peers from vastly different institutions than my own, but I still found our exchanges incredibly valuable. Even after the program has ended, we still keep in contact and seek each other's advice and support, and we always enjoy reuniting at the conference.

I have been a member of several other professional organizations during my career in higher education and NAPAHE stands out above the rest. NAPAHE has provided a platform for me to exponentially increase my network and I have found that NAPAHE members are eager to share their experience, materials, guidance, and perspective, which has helped me to better understand my job and allow me to grow and improve. NAPAHE is really for anyone who supports a university executive; you will find your people!

Crystal Wilson, Administrative Director, Office of the President
Teachers College, Columbia University

Jenny Storey

testimonials jenny storeyNAPAHE has made a difference in my career and at my institution. NAPAHE was my first professional conference in higher education after I transitioned from the President’s office as an Administrative Assistant to the Sr. Vice President/Provost’s office as Executive Assistant. It was in San Diego and I was alone. The first-timer orientation and evening reception gave me an opportunity to make new friends and have a few familiar faces that first morning. I met dozens of colleagues before the first round table and that set the tone for the entire conference. I still have relationships with those colleagues today, and my network has grown with each year since. My institution sees the value and our participation has grown, as well. NAPAHE has given me a network of professionals who gladly share their experience and provide guidance, support and often a laugh or two while helping me to do my job more effectively and enjoyably. I look forward to learning and growing with NAPAHE for years to come.

Heather M. Fehn

Heather FehnNAPAHE has been a critical component of my professional toolkit throughout my 20 years of service in the Office of the President at The College of New Jersey. Given that each institution has only one president’s or chancellor’s office, we must reach out to colleagues on other campuses to build connections. The issues we face on a daily basis may be unique to our campus, but you can rest assured that others who sit in our seats across the country are dealing with the same questions and concerns. The ability to pick up the phone or send an email to a colleague on the opposite coast prevents us from working and making decisions in isolation. NAPAHE provides the infrastructure for our network, but we bring it to life through our communication and dedication to enhancing our roles. The icing on the cake is the opportunity to come together once a year at our national conference. Spending three days immersed in professional development and networking keeps me going all year long. Not only does NAPAHE enhance my work, but through my work, makes my institution even better!

Heather M. Fehn
Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Trustees
The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ

Kristen Plummer

PlummerKristen 03292022While I worked on a college campus for many years prior to transferring to my current role in the Office of the President, I was amazed at how much there was to learn about higher education. One of my new colleagues, who remains an active member of NAPAHE today, immediately connected me with the association, and I began taking advantage of the extensive resources available online to help me navigate my new role. 

I had the opportunity to attend my first NAPAHE conference a few years into my position, and the ability to network with peers who completely understand the challenges I face on a baily basis through my role on campus was a game changer!  I have looked forward to attending the conference every year since then and have always come away with a refreshed passion for my role on campus and a long list of takeaways to incorporate into our office operations. 

Kristen Plummer - Administrative Assistant
University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO