Life Membership is awarded each year to NAFSAns in recognition of their career achievements in advancing the goals of the Association and of international education and exchange. Individuals become eligible for nomination at the time of their retirement from professional responsibilities in the field of international education.

Life Membership is not automatically granted to members who attain emeritus status. Life Membership is automatically conferred upon past Presidents and Chairs of the NAFSA Board of Directors upon retirement from professional responsibilities in international education, with a notification to NAFSA's Vice President for Professional Development and Engagement.

Life Members receive regular membership privileges and a waiver of annual dues and Annual Conference registration fees. Multiple Life Membership Awards may be bestowed each year, subject to Board approval.

Nominations for the 2024 awards closed on February 1. Nominations for the 2025 awards will be accepted in fall, starting during International Education Week.

Masume Assaf

Masume Assaf Headshot
Member at Large, Leadership Development Committee (LDC)
Masume Assaf retired from Penn State after 40+ years in February 2023, where she worked as the assistant vice provost of international student and scholar advising. Assaf co-authored the original workshop “NAFSA F-1 Regulations for Beginners” with Linda Gentile as well as a revised electronic...

Bonnie Bissonette, EdD

Bonnie Bissonette Headshot
Bonnie Bissonette, EdD, retired in 2023 as the senior director of international partnerships and an assistant professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore. Bissonette’s NAFSA experience began as a mentee in the second NAFSA Academy class, followed by service as the Wisconsin legislative whip...

Linda Drake Gobbo

Headshot of Linda Drake Gobbo
Management Development Program Trainer
During her more than four-decade career in International Education, Linda Drake Gobbo taught and advised close to 1,000 graduate students at SIT Graduate Institute and led the faculty team that developed the field’s first graduate degree. In 2019, she was named Professor Emerita. She retired as...

Jeff Riedinger, PhD

Jeff Riedinger Headshot
University of Washington
As vice provost for global affairs at the University of Washington, Jeff Riedinger had leadership and administrative responsibility for the institution’s diverse global programming including support for international research, study abroad, student and faculty exchanges, and overseas centers. He...

Kathleen Sideli, PhD

Kathleen Sideli Headshot
Kathleen Sideli, Ph.D. retired in 2022 as the associate vice president for overseas study at Indiana University (IU) where she had responsibility for study abroad programs on all IU campuses. She taught Spanish for twenty-five years while being active in the field of study abroad for more than four...

David Anthony Mims Ware

David Ware Headshot
David Ware has been an immigration practitioner since 1982, with a consistent focus on higher education. His national practice boasts offices in New Orleans, Denver, and Seattle. He is active in AIEA, AILA, NAFSA, the FBA, and NACUA, and is a frequent speaker and author on immigration topics. He...
Criteria for Nomination
Benefits and Recognition
All Recipients