Departing Insights from Carol Lebold
I am honored to have served as the Chair of the NAC Executive Committee the past few years. This group of dedicated professionals are the best models of collaborative sharing, support, and openness for improving our work in international education. The IFSA NAC Executive Committee continues to be a strong, supportive, open-hearted group of people, representing some of the best, collaborative thinking in our field.
Contributing thoughtfully and critically to the work of IFSA, as well as sharing best practices with one another is the best we can do. Sharing some of our missteps and mistakes, as well as the successes – only strengthens the work for all. We have many different approaches and have the opportunity to continue sharing in ways that improves for all. IFSA is doing the tough work and innovating in ways that few providers are — appreciative advising, inclusive excellence, CHART, and the new Global Wayfinder tool are all examples of this.
I am confident that Cori Filson will continue to expand and deepen the critical role of the Executive Committee, in service to IFSA as well as one another and the field itself. I am proud to have been part of the journey, and I look forward to seeing where you all take it next.
Stay in touch.
Director of Education Abroad Advising & Student Success, Retired
University of Massachusetts–Amherst
Welcome Message from Cori Filson
It is with great enthusiasm that I have agreed to step into the role of Chair of the Executive Committee for IFSA’s National Advisors Council. I began working with IFSA when I arrived at Skidmore College in 2001. Given that Skidmore used many of the IFSA programs – and still does – I was invited to join the NAC right away, which I sat on from 2001 to 2006. I re-joined the NAC as a member of the Executive Committee in 2016, and I have been thrilled to engage with IFSA in this way again. I can tell you—much has changed since those early days!
Throughout the years, IFSA has remained focused on its core strengths: providing strong academic programs, working closely with their core partners internationally and in the U.S., and listening to and responding to their constituents. This is the foundation upon which IFSA was built.
And what has changed? Well, quite a bit. In the past several years, under the direction of Dr. Heather Barclay Hamir, IFSA has shifted its core values and approach significantly. IFSA has assumed a new role in the field and has begun to speak directly to evolving student and campus needs in a way that is critical to any study abroad organization’s future success. The organization has taken on emerging issues that impact all of our students’ lives – as macro as equity and access and inclusive excellence, and as micro as country-specific structures for substantive community engagement and on-site mental health supports. The global and the local; the universal and the individual. IFSA has responded to these issues through program renewal and revision, staff and faculty training, and enhanced administrative and academic structures. This is the foundation upon which IFSA will thrive.
I am extremely excited to work with all of the Exec Committee members, with Heather and the IFSA leadership, and with the IFSA Board of Directors. Heather’s vision and leadership inspired me to serve on the NAC Executive Committee in 2016 – and now it motivates me to serve as chair. I have witnessed Heather’s dedication to building and nurturing IFSA’s Mission, Vision, and Commitments. I have seen her ask the hard questions and carefully listen to the voices of the Executive Committee. I have watched her lead the organization through crisis with intelligence and compassion. In my new role as chair, I will work to ensure that IFSA’s leadership continues to seek out Exec Committee members’ opinions and perspectives on the many and varied challenges we are facing in our field right now. We are facing a tough reality in the next few years – everything is shifting – and we need to support and build programs and structures now that will serve our students well into the future, whatever that might hold. I plan to act as a conduit between the membership and the leadership at IFSA, and I welcome you to share your concerns and opinions with me. In this way, I hope to lend my voice to advancing this important work that I find so compelling and vital to our collective future.
IFSA National Advisors Council Executive Committee Chair
Director, Off-Campus Study & Exchanges