Leadership Team 2021 Elections – Candidate Information

Review the candidate information and vote below. Voting closes April 9.

Vice President of Conference and Special Events

Melanie McKoin Owens

Texas A&M University


How have your personal and professional experiences prepared you for the position you seek?
My varied experiences through my role as a student affairs professional, former member of the conference and special events committee, and as a current member of the HECMA Leadership Team have equipped me with the skills and experiences necessary to be successful in the role of the VP of Conference and Special Events.

Being a member of the conference committee provided me hands-on opportunities to understand the intricacies of planning the annual conference and other special events. From securing a venue and speaker to securing smaller aspects that will bring joy (think swag), I have been at the table to understand and help make decisions for our annual conference.

From working in off-campus housing, Greek Life, and as a Case Manager with programmatic responsibility for our former foster and adopted student population, my student affairs profession has allowed me a plethora of opportunities to sharpen my programmatic skills. I understand what it takes to manage various aspects in a way so that they culminate in a larger experience. Additionally, by chairing the professional development & staff training committee within my own department at Texas A&M, I’ve had the opportunity to lead a committee ranging from 6-8 members to successfully plan and execute staff retreats and developmental programs.

My current role on the HECMA Leadership Team as the Non-Clinical Case Manager at Large has provided me insight into how annual planning happens at a higher level. I’m able to see how the leadership team works together to accomplish goals ultimately for our HECMA members. This has provided insight into how finances, contract negotiations, accessibility for membership, and collaboration across the team have been critical to enhancing the HECMA membership experience.

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

Should I be selected as the Vice President of Conference and Special Events my two primary goals would be:

1) To explore different modalities for our conference moving forward. The pandemic has exposed a completely new world to virtual engagement. Therefore, it behooves us as an organization to explore further virtual tickets and virtual engagements. Beyond exploring, it is important that we secure viable methods to continue advancing HECMA as an organization in a world post covid yet still impacted by covid.

2) To be strategic as a Leadership team to execute a year of themes and developmental opportunities that culminate with the annual conference experience. It will be critical to work closely with all of the Leadership but especially the Director of Training & Development and the Director of Strategic Operations to execute this plan. As we continue to grow as a field & as an organization, it is imperative we forecast organizational growth and stay in tune with the field of higher education case management to appropriately train, develop, orient, and even revitalize professionals as they continue the work of helping students. As we work to do this, we must be aware of the lands in which we host annual conferences, promote the diversity of thought, scope, and practice of work among educational sessions, and be intentional in growing authentic collaborations among our membership to support each other as peers.

Director of Finance

Suzie Baker

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill


How have your personal and professional experiences prepared you for the position you seek?
I have worked as an educator, advocate, and case manager for students for almost 14 years. Since my first professional role as a high school counselor, I have lived my values by building a career around supporting students. As the only counselor in a rural high school, I built a program that centered student needs, leveraged community support, and facilitated personal and academic growth by removing barriers, challenging inequitable school system policies, and by providing individualized care to each student to maximize their potential for success. Over the past 9 years, I have carried this work forward into higher education where I currently serve as the Sr. Assistant Dean of Students at UNC Chapel Hill. In this position, I chair the Care Team, respond to crises as a member of the Critical Incident Response Team, and assist and empower students faced with difficult circumstances. With the contributions an incredible team of colleagues, I lead all non-clinical case management functions for Student Affairs. I love being in a field that challenges me to think critically, engage deeply, and demands that I learn and grow constantly.

In addition to serving as the current Finance Director for HECMA, my involvement in committee work at the University and regional professional organization level has prepared me to lead, support, and coordinate programs and activities, identify and engage individuals and groups around important trends and topics, and assist others to develop their professional identity through mentorship and resource sharing. Useful for the role of Finance Director, I have worked extensively throughout my career with complex policies and regulations, developing systems and processes to enhance effective communication, manage data, and practice accountability.

Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .
Having served in the role of Finance Director since July 2020, I have identified goals and objectives for the role that enhance and support HECMA’s mission and vision.

As we are frequently asked to respond and adapt to all that life throws at us and our students, it’s essential that we continue to develop as professionals and that we have a community through which we can seek support and guidance. By removing financial barriers and fostering fiscal wellness, especially during challenging economic times, members can continue to grow and advocate for recognition for themselves and our field. Two goals specific to this cause are:

* To explore opportunities through increased corporate sponsorship and member-focused budgeting to offer scholarship and professional development support, and increased affordable programming to members seeking to grow in this field.
* Support membership with financial literacy programming to further the recognition of the field and help advocate for the financial worth and wellness of members.

And in order to maximize all that HECMA as an organization has to offer, it has become increasingly necessary for us to expand, warranting administrative support that stretches beyond the capacity of volunteers. Subsequently my final goal is to support the growth of the organization by identifying additional revenue streams and scaling up financial operations to secure a paid professional HECMA staff member.

Clinical Case Manager at Large

Christine Ferguson

College of William & Mary


How have your personal and professional experiences prepared you for the position you seek?

Since becoming a member of HECMA I have been highly active in both the clinical and conference committees. These experiences have been essential in preparing me for the next step as the Clinical Case Manager At-Large. Over the years, through these committees, I have had the benefit of receiving and providing peer support for new case managers, participating in the national discussions of barriers and highlights in our field, and attending/presenting at the national conference.

Beyond the professional sphere I’m highly active in my church, which has social justice orientation with a high value on racial reconciliation and LGBTQ+ inclusion. During the pandemic I participated, and continue to be involved in, a discernment group that provided guidance to our church leadership through a cross section of membership identities. This experience is valuable to this position as it provided the skills to listen to others, provide a voice for a collective, and to work collaboratively to a common goal. I personally value the individual voice and as a representative on leadership I see this role as a discernment voice and a listening ear for how we as an organization can be present for all our members.

Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .
My goal in this position is to represent the voice of our clinical case managers, to discern our needs, and to advocate for our on-going place in higher education. The role of case manager in a counseling center can feel both isolating and rewarding. It’s constantly evolving and we each come with unique skill sets and lens. Navigating APA training programs, higher education resources, and on-boarding into roles not clearly define and can daunting. The clinical committee has been an essential resource for clinical case managers in these situations.
Over the next years my objectives would include, but not be limited to:
1. Continue current projects focusing on research and training tools for clinical case management.
2. Continue to provide places for mentorship, peer support, and connection through clinical Fridays, workshops, and other resources
3. Encourage and create space for members to feel empowered to be active in sharing their knowledge throughout the HECMA organization, particularly at conferences.

Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Brenda Anderson Wadley

University of Arizona


How have your personal and professional experiences prepared you for the position you seek?

As a Black woman, I believe my personal and professional experiences have prepared me to transition into the role of Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for HECMA. 

My journey as a member of HECMA has provided me with rich professional experiences. My journey as a HECMA member started when I joined the inaugural DEI committee. This experience propelled me into various volunteer roles and the ability to present at the national conference on topics ranging from culturally response assessment practices and incorporating anti-racists pedagogy into case management practices. 

Currently, I serve as the Director of Training and Development for HECMA, where I have worked alongside the former and current Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to cross-collaborate and deliver training and development opportunities for HECMA members. As the Director of Training and Development, I co-created and facilitated training and development opportunities that met the needs. I did this by being transparent, assessing our members’ needs, and incorporating feedback and suggestions in training delivery. Below, I highlight some of the successes of my tenure as Director of Training and Development:

  • Collaborated with the Director of DEI to host affinity-based groups to explore issues related to race and racism in the context of higher education case management
  • Increased the number of training and development opportunities for HECMA members
  • Increased number of participants engaging in HECMA Webinars

Lastly, COVID19 provided a variety of challenges for the organization. I am proud that I worked collaboratively with the Leadership Team to deliver a meaningful virtual conference experience to our membership. 

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

If selected as a successful candidate, I plan to first facilitate a listening tour to gain memberships perceptions of diversity, inclusion, and equity-related issues in HECMA. Additionally, I plan to facilitate the following:

  • Expand HECMA’s existing outreach and recruitment efforts to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Coordinate outreach efforts to Minority Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions
  • Coordinate intersectional affinity-based groups that are honored and promoted with HECMA 
  • Conduct a needs assessment of the organization and develop a strategic plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with measurable performance indicators as a way to be accountable to HECMA membership 
  • Host Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultation hours where members can receive confidential and free consultation related to diversity and inclusion issues that arise within respective institutions
  • Work collaboratively with the Director of Training and Development to offer training on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Daniel Cummins

University of Cincinnati


How have your personal and professional experiences prepared you for the position you seek?
During my professional journey, I have had the pleasure of serving on many local, regional, national and international professional organizations Executive Board in various roles. Most particularly serving as American College Student Personnel Association (ACPA) International chair of the Committee for Multicultural Affairs (CMA) for six years (3 as direct chair) and later as ACPA’s Affirmative Action Chair for five years. I served as Association Student Judicial Administrators (ASjA) Diversity Committee Chair for three years while being a select presenter for African American/Black Male Summit. During my tenure with both ACPA and ASjA Leadership, I served on the LGBTQ Committees as a committee member in various leadership roles. Throughout my complete career, I have always served as an advocate and alley for various identity groups championing equity and inclusion and assuring a voice is in the conversation.

Under my leadership as Chair of CMA, we established affinity groups that allow members individual identity be recognized and nurtured while performing and fulfilling a common cause within the multi-cultural committee. These affinity groups recognized the value of cultivation individual identity, race, culture, and ethnicity
At the University of Cincinnati I served as a key member of the inaugural Division of Student Affairs Diversity and Inclusion committee that laid the foundation of providing direction of diversity and inclusion for the division.
All of these experiences has provided a sound foundation to successfully serve as Chair of Diversity and Inclusion on the Board of HECMA.

Describe your goals and objectives for the position you seek and how they relate to and would advance the association's mission and vision .
My primary desire as chair is to assure that HECMA as a professional association educates, trains, equip, and empower its members to perform the duties as the case manager at their institution with the skill, ability, and consciousness to serve students equitable. I want HECMA to nurture an environment to empower members to embrace their identity, and understand the influence of unconscious bias and privilege has on ones work. I would accomplish this through assuring HECMA leadership keeps diversity, included in all the conversations.

Another goal is to be transparent about the effectiveness of our association’s success in assuring our policies, procedures, constitution, by-laws of inclusivity are met in our daily functions as a professional organization. Through constant evaluation and assessment of the leadership body and organization reflecting on the success to implement conscious practices and assure inclusivity.

I would strengthen the partnership with Director, Membership and Recruitment to increase diversity within our association membership through intentional and targeted recruitment strategies. We want to assure that the talent of the membership reflects the diversity of our campuses, and include our diverse members are included in the presentation of material at conferences. This would be done by assuring we are mentoring and preparing young and new professionals on the important role of case management through a mentor/mentee program.
I would partner with the conference committee to utilize our membership to diversify our keynote speakers and presenters of our national conference. This will assist our members to understand the intersections of identity and hoping to increase their comfort when working with our diverse student population.