Overview of NAFSA Leadership


Hundreds of NAFSA members volunteer to serve the association to create and disseminate knowledge, to influence public policy, and to maintain a strong organization. They serve on committees, knowledge communities, teams, and task forces, and the work of the association could not be accomplished without the time and expertise of volunteers. View the results of the 2017 National Elections and NAFSA's leadership structure organization chart. Icon PDF 16

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Become a NAFSA Leader

NAFSA depends on the participation of its members for leadership at all levels. Serving in a leadership capacity for the association offers a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth. Leadership positions in NAFSA are filled by matching member skills and experience with the appropriate leadership roles.

Benefits of Becoming a NAFSA Leader

  • Network with peers at other organizations.
  • Serve as mentor to others.
  • Gain visibility on your own campus.
  • Build your resume by documenting your strengths and expanding your experience.
  • Learn more about NAFSA's strategic directions and organizational structure.

Application Steps

Open elected and appointed positions both follow the same basic nomination process to assemble potential candidates. Candidates must be members of NAFSA in good standing.

  1. Review the job descriptions of current open positions.
  2. Complete a volunteer application form for the appropriate position.
  3. After the deadline to submit an application, a member-leader will contact you to follow up on your application.

Volunteer Leadership Options

Appointed Position

Appointed positions are advertised in the late summer and early fall of each year. Once the deadline to submit an application closes, the chair of the committee will contact candidates to review their application and answer specific questions about the position. Appointments are typically announced in October and the newly appointed leader begins serving in January of the following year.

Elected Position

In January/February, the Leadership Development Committee posts open positions and invites applications and nominations for the positions until mid-March. Applications are reviewed and candidates interviewed in the spring. The final slate of candidates is announced on or around September 1, 2017. The new election process will begin at this time. Elections close September 30, 2017 and election results are announced in October then the newly elected leaders begin their service in January of the following year. View the results from the 2016 elections.

2017 Elected Positions

  • NAFSA Board of Directors: Vice President for Scholarship and Institutional Strategy and Members-At-Large
  • Knowledge Communities (KC): Chair-elect, Education Abroad KC, International Education Leadership KC, International Enrollment Management KC, KC for International Student and Scholar Services, Teaching, Learning and Scholarship KC
  • National Committees: Chair-elect, Membership Engagement Committee and Chair-elect, Leadership Development Committee

National Election Process

The NAFSA standing rules stipulate that the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) will issue the call for all nominations, both for board members and member-leader positions (knowledge community positions and chairs of Membership and Leadership Development Committees). The Governance Committee of the board will decide the slate of the board members and officers, while the LDC will develop and present the slate of the member-leader nominees. The LDC will consult with the relevant vice-president and committee/KC chair to establish the criteria for nominating the next committee/KC chair and to discuss candidates under serious consideration.

The vice-president for member relations presents the slate for the next chairs of committees/KCs to the board, while the Governance Committee presents the slate for officers and board members. Upon the board's acceptance of both slates, the secretary announces the full slate to the membership and oversees the election.

Washington Leadership Meeting

The Washington Leadership Meeting (WLM) brings member-leaders to Washington, DC to collaborate on team projects, receive training, and learn about pan-NAFSA initiatives.

We welcome the following member-leaders to attend WLM at the end of January each year:

  • Members of the 3 National Committees
  • Members of the 5 Knowledge Communities
  • Members of the 2 Regulatory Practice Committees
  • Members of the 11 Regional Executive Teams and their cohort coaches
  • Members of the following year’s Annual Conference Committee
  • Other leader groups are included, as needed

The WLM schedule includes a new leader reception, New Leader Orientation for member-leaders beginning their term in January followed team meetings, training and updates. Information and logistics will be shared with the WLM attendees each November. Please email wlm@nafsa.org for more information.