As the academic year begins on campuses, an important item on NAFSA’s calendar is also here: the annual leadership election. Your voice is vital in the work to shape the future of the association, and one of the best ways to participate is to vote in the election. You may have questions about what positions are included in the election and how it all works. We’ve got you covered! Keep reading to learn what you need to know about this year’s leadership election.

1. Which Positions Are Included in Election?

NAFSA’s bylaws mandate that elections be held for the following positions.

Positions on the Board of Directors (BOD):

  • president and chair
  • vice presidents
  • members-at-large

Chairs of These National Committees:

  • Education Abroad Knowledge Community
  • International Education Leadership Knowledge Community
  • International Enrollment Management Knowledge Community
  • Knowledge Community for International Student and Scholar Services
  • Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship Knowledge Community
  • Leadership Development Committee
  • Membership Engagement Committee

All other leadership positions are appointed—including those on the Annual Conference Committee and all positions on the national committees that aren’t part of the chair stream.

2. Who Decides on the Slate?

According to NAFSA’s standing rules, two groups work in tandem to develop the final slate of nominees for the annual election:

  • The Board of Directors’ Governance Committee presents candidates for board positions, including the president, vice presidents, and members-at-large.
  • The Leadership Development Committee (LDC) presents candidates for national committee chair positions.

Members of the LDC—who are NAFSA members themselves—solicit nominations from the field, then evaluate the applicants and nominees in consultation with current BOD vice presidents and committee chairs. The Governance Committe considers nominations for board members and officers, while the LDC develops the slate of chairs for the national committees. After considering nominations, conducting several rounds of interviews, and reviewing more feedback from committee and board members, the Governance Committee and LDC present their respective slates to the full board for approval. Once the board approves the slate, the full slate is presented to the membership for election.

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Why does NAFSA have a single-slate election?

NAFSA’s standing rules—which lay out the process for selection of candidates and management of elections—specify that the slate should include a single person for each open position on the board and chairs of the Leadership Development and Membership Engagement Committees. Knowledge communities can have either a single or dual slate.

Recent published research within the association management industry has shown that dual- or multiple-candidate slates can inadvertently create a popularity contest within the membership. The research also reveals that those who have lost an election are hesitant to run again. Therefore, the tradition has emerged that NAFSA knowledge communities present a single slate to support the existing spirit of collegiality within the NAFSA membership and to encourage those who have unsuccessfully sought an elected position to stay involved in NAFSA leadership and possibly throw their hat in the ring in the future!

With the single slate, members’ votes serve as an important affirmation of the candidates’ eligibility for the national roles.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to note that:

  • Any NAFSA member can apply or nominate someone for a nationally elected position.
  • Members can also add write-in candidates to the election ballot, so the candidates are not truly uncontested.

For more information on NAFSA’s elections procedures, see rule V in the standing rules.

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3. Who’s On the Slate?

Most of the candidates on the slate are NAFSA members, just like you. They’re your peers and colleagues. Many of them have had other leadership or volunteer roles before seeking an elected position. Some have been involved with NAFSA for decades!

NAFSA’s bylaws allow for nonmembers to serve on the Board of Directors, where these candidates can bring valuable expertise from outside the association.

NAFSA’s standing rules direct the LDC and board to “strive to identify qualified candidates for open positions from diverse populations in the membership, taking into consideration regional distribution, professional affiliation, and multiple dimensions of identity and expression.” This year’s slate reflects the diversity of the association’s membership and the evolution of the field—it includes candidates from universities and partner organizations, as well as those with education, marketing, and business backgrounds. Every member of the slate bring skills, talents, and perspectives that will enhance the diversity and strength of their respective committees.

4. What Are the Benefits of Leadership and How Can I Get Involved?

Every year, hundreds of NAFSA volunteer leaders serve the association by creating and disseminating knowledge, influencing U.S. public policy, reviewing conference proposals, leading training and professional development events, and more! Leaders serve on committees, knowledge communities, teams, and task forces, and in other volunteer roles. The vital work of the association couldn’t be accomplished without the time and expertise of these volunteers.

Serving in leadership positions helps NAFSAns build their competencies in leadership, people development, and relationship cultivation. Some roles require well-developed competencies in business acumen, inclusion and equity, and communications.  But the most important asset for all roles is passion and enthusiasm for service and the field of international education.

There’s a range of short- and long-term volunteer opportunities available throughout the year. In mid-September, NAFSA will recruit applicants for open appointed roles in the knowledge communities and national committees. Visit NAFSA’s leadership page to learn more about current opportunities and the benefits of leadership. And consider applying or nominating a colleague for an elected position in 2023!

Vote now!