Leadership Team 2020 Elections – Candidate Information

Please read below to find candidate information for the four Leadership Team positions open for the 2020 candidate cycle. These positions are:

  • President (1 candidate)
  • Director of Membership/Recruitment (3 candidates)
  • Director of Communications/Marketing (1 candidate)
  • Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (1 candidate)





President (1 candidate)

Carrie Smith
Assistant Dean of Students, University of Georgia
Joined HECMA 05/01/2015
CV: Carrie Smith Resume


How has your personal and professional experience prepared you for the position you seek (including HECMA committee, project, task group, and volunteer experiences)?

For the past five years, I have been a member of HECMA, watching it evolve from a gathering of passionate professionals to an organization that has seen incredible growth in membership and scope. In my first month as a case manager at the University of Georgia, I attended two HECMA events – a Florida drive-in and the annual Roundtable. I returned to UGA ready to educate my supervisor and colleagues on the importance of this work and to help them better understand the value of a case manager. To say that HECMA, its leadership, and its membership shaped the way I view case management is an understatement.

Since those first events, and with the support of my supervisor, our one case manager office has grown to have five full time staff becoming the hub of care and support at our institution. In my role, I have worked hard to form relationships across campus and the community, inserting case management into larger campus conversations to display the integral nature of the work to student success.

Early in my HECMA membership, I took the leap and was elected to serve as the Finance Chair on Leadership Team. I am now in the first year of my second term of that position, having been asked to run again at the completion of my first term. During my time as the Finance Chair, we have implemented ongoing strategic planning to ensure that the organization’s larger goals and mission are reflected in the decisions we make, including those decisions related to spending. We have also introduced a three-year strategic plan that was presented at last year’s conference.

In addition, I oversaw the creation of a budget that allowed for increased transparency to our members, thus bolstering the work of the membership committee in determining the value of a HECMA membership. In making budgetary recommendations, I have worked in close partnership with my colleagues in developing several new programs, resources, and supports including the HECMA internship program, increased scholarships to professionals and graduate students, the Case Management Foundations workshops, and increased support and incentives for diversity and inclusion initiatives.

HECMA is an incredibly important part of my professional life. The organization has been invaluable to me, as I have moved from case manager to Assistant Dean. Furthermore, the relationships with the members in HECMA have allowed me to have a network that spans across the country. These relationships have taught me about myself and about how we as professionals can continue to explore and expand the ways we support students, their families, and our communities.


Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .

Higher education case management continues to grow as a field, and our organization needs to reflect that – whether we are referring to our membership, our programming, the representation on leadership team, or how we spend our membership dues. If I am elected to serve as President of HECMA, I hope to continue the expansion of the organization by staying committed to the incredible initiatives begun by Presidents, Leadership Teams, and members before me. In addition, I hope to deepen the work related to the goals laid out in the strategic plan. Specifically, I hope to focus on the following goals/objectives:

• Increase the organization’s focus on recruiting diverse membership, including devoting resources (personnel and finances) to identify and encourage professionals to not only join HECMA, but also to take an active role in committees and leadership.
• Collaborate with members and partner organizations to create opportunities for scholarship and research, as well as a wider avenue for dissemination of the existing scholarship and resources. This includes helping members and nonmembers understand the importance of HECMA’s membership within CAS and the utility of the resources created within that body.
• Formalize existing structures and policies within HECMA. In particular, I would like the organization to examine the structure of the leadership team, the functionality of existing membership and financial policies (e.g. the bylaws), and the value of the software we use to ensure that we are maximizing its use. In doing so, I believe we will be able to continue to invest time and energy into ensuring the sustainability of the organization.
• Continue developing educational content that is timely and relevant. Work directly with members to determine innovative ways of delivering content to reflect the changing way case managers serve their institutions.

Part of what makes me most excited about potentially serving in this role is that I want to know what the goals of our members are. I want to know about the diverse perspectives that our members have related to what they want “their HECMA” to be. While I recognize it is impossible to satisfy each member, I do believe that there is room for us to listen and learn from one another about what HECMA is, and about what HECMA can be in the future.


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Director of Membership/Recruitment (3 candidates)

Candidates listed alphabetically


Candidate 1: Dion Fawcett
Student at Risk Intervention Specialist & Case Facilitator, Sheridan College
Joined HECMA 05/14/2019
CV: Dion Fawcett Resume


How has your personal and professional experience prepared you for the position you seek (including HECMA committee, project, task group, and volunteer experiences)?

Over the last 7 years, I have had the opportunity to work in a number of areas within Higher Education (Residence Life, Campus Life, and Student Conduct), in addition to my work within the non-profit social services field, specifically in supporting victims of crimes and sudden tragedy. In addition to my professional work life, I also volunteer my time as a member of the Board of Directors, with a non-profit organization that provides healthy food packages, to at-risk youth aged 4-14 years with limited or no access to food each weekend. I am also heavily involved with the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS), where I have hosted webinars, engaged with the Case Management Community of Practice, and have most recently served as Sponsorship Lead for our annual conference. These opportunities have provided me with extensive experience working with diverse communities from various socio -economic, cultural, ethnic, educational, and other diversified backgrounds. These experiences have taught me the value of creating partnerships, the importance of collaboration and have provided me with a broader understanding of the needs of a diverse community; all of which will be an asset for the role of Director of Membership and Recruitment.


Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .

As a case manager, I understand that the work we do is not linear and that our needs and the needs of our students are consistently changing. As such, if I were to be the successful candidate for the role of Director of Membership and Recruitment, my primarily goal would be to ensure that the voices of current and future members are heard and embedded in the advancement of HECMA’s mission and vision along with the membership benefits. Enhancing our membership benefits, in alignment with HEMCA’s mission and vision, will help us as a community grow personally and professional, by providing a great opportunity to collaborate with our colleague’s coast to coast. The growth and development of our membership and organization is important to me, so that we can support our respective campus communities, along with each other. As a practicing non-clinical case manager, I understand what we face on the day-to-day, and if successful, I would want to ensure our day-to-day struggles, successes and needs are heard and present in the growth and enhancement of the organization. We are in this together.



Candidate 2: Nikki Hodous
Director, Student Care & Assistance, University of Iowa
Joined HECMA 06/01/2017
CV: Nikki Hodous Resume


How has your personal and professional experience prepared you for the position you seek (including HECMA committee, project, task group, and volunteer experiences)?

Throughout my 10 years in higher education, I have demonstrated a commitment to providing support and advocacy to address barriers and support student success. Throughout my career, in several different functional areas, I have created and sustained positive partnerships with campus and community colleagues in order to create programs and leverage existing efforts. I would bring this spirit of collaboration and advancement to the Director of Membership and Recruitment position in order to support current members, engage those less involved, and seek new institutional and individual memberships. My increasing levels of responsibilities and administrative strengths would ensure advancement of goals for this position and HECMA while also maintaining timely follow-up to membership concerns and needs for support. I look forward at the opportunity to contribute to a field that has done so much for students and for me professionally.


Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .

HECMA has a proven record of advancing members’ ability to be successful in their roles by its commitment to advancing best practices through collaboration, research, and collegiality that has created a community of practitioners willing to share. In these current times, more than ever, we need to continue to find ways to support our membership and field through new means of engagement. If given the opportunity to serve, I have identified a few key objectives to support the mission and vision of HECMA and, in turn, our membership:

• Identify and share best practices and resources for supporting students virtually and/or from a distance. This includes looking to our partners that work with institutions that already offer such programming to learn from their experiences. Another opportunity is to increase the community-based resources on the listserv. By leveraging our partnerships with each other, we can better support students who have returned home to a different state by finding key resources in communities we are unfamiliar with, as well as potentially identifying someone from their community/state as a point of contact for others looking for resources.
• In the current climate of higher education, institutions are committed to providing support to students during this hard time. This level of care, while necessary, cannot simply fall on those identified as case managers. Now is a time for other staff, departments, and institutions without defined case managers to consider the benefits of HECMA membership to assist their efforts. Intentional promotion and outreach to such groups would greatly serve to increase membership and increase access of HECMA as a resource for student success.
• Knowing that resources will be impacted at many, if not all institutions, finding ways we can build upon each others’ work will be essential moving forward. By continuing to strengthen our partnerships with other professional organizations connected to higher education, we have the opportunity to create materials to be shared, this could include webinars, marketing materials, social media templates, and more.



Candidate 3: Justin Kelley
Assistant Dean of Students for Advocacy and Outreach, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Joined HECMA 06/01/2014
CV: Justin Kelley Resume


How has your personal and professional experience prepared you for the position you seek (including HECMA committee, project, task group, and volunteer experiences)?

I have been involved with case management work at Rutgers University for the past 10 years serving in both housing and residence life case management and now more broadly for all university students as Assistant Dean.

The Director of Membership and Recruitment position is a unique one that sparks the opportunity to closely examine our make up as an association and strive to bring in professional interest of those who we know can help shape and further define our profession. In the year ahead, we will all need to be more creative with our resources in order to best serve our student populations and to do so we may need to collaborate with new partners across our campuses. This position and committee members who will serve will be able to use past membership data in order to recruit new members to help us take on a brand new set of challenges that are ahead of us.

The current HECMA leadership team has done a great job building a new partnership with ACUHO-I to bring more housing and residence life case managers into the conversation and the association. I am fortunate to have been a part of those conversations as a past conference presenter and webinar facilitator and will aim to continue finding those areas and partners to join or participate in offerings of our association.


Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .

As case managers, we are skilled in tapping into various resources in order better support the needs of our students. We are oftentimes expected to do so much with very limited resources. Tapping into each other as members of the HECMA organization has proven to be one of the greatest resources we have. As Director of Membership and Recruitment, I could continue to recruit new members, in all areas of higher education and student affairs, to contribute to and/or join our association. The past several years, I have consistently spoken out and up for residential case management work, having presented on building these structures on campuses across the country. Because of this, with the help of other residential case managers, I feel there is now a stronger presence of residential case managers involved with HECMA.

One of my main goals would be to help expand our participation at the regional level as this is one of many affordable ways for new members and schools to become familiar with our organization.

As Director of Membership and Recruitment my top priority would be building a better, more collaborative network of well rounded case managers within higher education/student affairs.


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Director of Communications/Marketing (1 candidate)

Megan Higginbotham
Case Manager, Texas A&M University
Joined HECMA 11/03/2017
CV: Megan Higginbotham Resume


How has your personal and professional experience prepared you for the position you seek (including HECMA committee, project, task group, and volunteer experiences)?

I believe I have several experiences that would prepare me for success in this position. First, I have served on the HECMA Annual Conference Planning Committee since 2018. This experience helped me understand how the association functions and gave me insight into the needs of members. It also allowed me to work with a group of members who often shared thoughts and opinions on the needs HECMA.

Next, I have previously served in a variety of roles within the Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention (NODA). For example, I served on the Graduate Student Network for three years and created programming for the national conferences, regional conferences, and other educational opportunities. This experience allowed me to work with diverse groups of people who had a common purpose: serving students and improving higher education. Additionally, I often created marketing materials and program guides for programs at these conferences.

I am passionate about improving the field of case management across the nation’s higher education institutions. This work is ever-evolving and impacts thousands of students, staff, and faculty. My skills like efficiency, discipline, and positivity would benefit this position. I use my efficiency daily and adhere to the mantra, “Work smarter, not harder.” I think both the Leadership Team and members will benefit as I work to make things easy-to-use and organized. My discipline ensures I stay focused and on task. I follow-through on promises and do so in a timely manner. My positivity is a great strength to use both as a case manager and in this position. While we are all experiencing times of uncertainty through COVID-19, my goal is to create a positive atmosphere while also being realistic. Case managers often work with heavy and emotional topics. I believe my personality helps process these topics while remaining positive and focused on supporting others.

Finally, I am proficient in InDesign, Photoshop, WordPress, and social media platforms. I often create materials for my current office and University committees. I believe these skills and my previous experiences will help me be successful in this position.


Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .

This position is incredibly important to the HECMA Leadership Team and HECMA as an organization because it helps all members stay connected and helps to promote the association to future members. The mission and vision clearly state HECMA is the preeminent organization to provide best practices and research for members. If selected, the first two months of my term would be dedicated to gaining context and learning how this position has benefited the organization. I would ensure I understood why current policies and procedures are in place before making changes.

After gaining a contextual understanding of this role, I hope to focus on three goals: 1) Benchmark other higher education association membership practices, 2) Identify ways to virtually connect members in light of COVID-19 and, 3) Create a marketing package for institutions who are not currently represented at HECMA.

First, HECMA is a relatively young organization and could benefit from learning more from some peer-higher education organizations. I would identify current marketing and communications practices within these organizations and determine if they would be helpful to HECMA and its members. Specifically, COVID-19 will continue to provide some unique challenges for many individuals and institutions. It is important for us to be innovative while learning and using best practices from other organizations.

Second, in light of our current environment and inevitable budget cuts, it is important HECMA creates opportunities to provide a quality and creative membership experience. I hope to research and provide unique ways for HECMA Leadership to disseminate information to members. Further, it will be vital for HECMA capitalize the use of digital mediums as HECMA works to support membership.

Lastly, I hope to work with the Director of Membership and Recruitment to create an easy –to-digest membership packet to send prospective members and institutions. Case management is growing on campuses and many individuals may not understand the incredible benefits of HECMA. This packet can be the first step in making a connection and developing a relationship.

These goals may grow and change as will the field of case management and member-needs; however, I think they are a good start in continuing to promote HECMA as a preeminent organization in higher education focused on serving and educating members.


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Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (1 candidate)

Aisha Warner
Assistant Director, Student Outreach and Support, University of South Florida
Joined HECMA 05/02/2017
CV: Aisha Warner Resume


How has your personal and professional experience prepared you for the position you seek (including HECMA committee, project, task group, and volunteer experiences)?

I began my career as a higher education case manager in 2015 as an intern eager to help. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working at a range of institutions including private liberal arts, mid-size and large public universities.
In 2017, I challenged myself to present on a topic I was unsure would relay well given the divisive climate of our nation. To my surprise, the title ‘Supporting Marginalized Students through National Changes that Impact School Settings’ drew a standing-room only audience of eager eyes and inquisitive minds. My conclusion of this experience was that my colleagues weren’t resistant to difficult conversations, but welcomed them and were ready to strive for an equal tomorrow.

During that week, Sean Joy, myself and a group of like-minded members convened to discuss the future. We had a vision of seeing a HECMA that was representative of the experiences we’ve had both professionally, and as students. As a result the DEI task force was created. I have continued to present at HECMA on topics related to inclusivity and understanding of our diverse students and colleagues. My intent is to offer ways to increase our awareness of things that make us different, and use our uniqueness to bridge gaps.

Often I find myself being the only woman of color in a room of administrators who make decisions for students whom they may not identify with. In my personal experiences working in this field, I have wrestled with my share of micro-aggressions that were not only harmful to the students we serve, but also staff we lead. Through these experiences I’ve learned to listen, understand, forgive and evolve. This transformative period of my professional career led me to view higher education case management as a tool for change; much like my epiphany in Denver.

I am a member of HECMA Non-Clinical Case Management Committee, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, and Professional of Color Affinity Group. I had the privilege of co-presenting during the webinar series with the Clinical Case Management Committee this year. I also continue to serve my local community by creating spaces for people of color to convene and heal as a collective without fear of judgement or retribution. I consider this work to be passion-driven and relation-fed.


Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .

It is my goal to continue to hold spaces for our diverse membership for validation in their experiences.
Objective: increase affinity group involvement
Objective: provide educational opportunities with support of nationally recognized professionals

It is my goal to create policies to support equitable and inclusive practices
Objective: assess current practices across membership

It is my goal to promote campus safety and student success through an equitable and inclusive lens
Objective : form task group to contribute to research on the impact implicit biases may have in the work of case management

It is my goal to affirm our role as social justice advocates
Objective: raise the visibility of social justice and equity issues at the local, state national and international levels


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