Committee: Board of Directors
Position: President and Chair of the Board of Directors
Term Dates: Two Years

The president of the association and chair of the Board of Directors is nominated from the Board of Directors and elected by the membership and serves a two-year term.

As outlined in the by-laws:

"The affairs of NAFSA shall be managed by the Board of Directors, whose duties include, but are not limited to, exercising leadership in the affairs of NAFSA, developing its policies, priorities and positions, and providing direction for the development and stewardship of its resources through a strategic plan.

As the chair of the board of directors, the president leads the board in discharging these duties.

In addition, the president has significant responsibilities in representing the association, communicating with the membership, and ensuring that strong volunteer and staff leaders are in place to execute the association’s plans.

Position updated January 2020

NAFSA is accepting applications for this leadership position from February 5 to March 31, 2020.

Major Functions and Responsibilities

1. Ensure the development of organizational strategy, as well as policies, processes, plans and structures to support that strategy.

  • Lead the refreshing of the strategic plan, ensuring proper member input. 
  • Manage policy issues with appropriate VP. Support the strategic planning and operational planning processes, etc.
  • Ensure the by-laws and standing rules are updated to reflect strategy
  • Establish task forces and advisory groups to serve the association. 
  • In the service of the above, develop the agendas for and chair the board of directors and executive committee meetings.

2. Take the lead role in ensuring the long-term financial health of the association.

  • Ensure the CEO has proper management controls in place.
  • Ensure long term financial planning, long term development and risk assessment.

3. Communicate the association's direction, priorities, and positions to both internal and external audiences.

  • Along with the CEO, act as spokesperson for the association in its external relations, including with other associations.
  • Provide guidance to the Annual Conference Committee, and its chair, to ensure the conference reflects strategy and direction. 
  • Deliver presentations at member and leadership meetings, including the Washington Leadership Meeting (WLM).
  • Ensure that the membership at large, as well as the leadership, is informed of major association activities and directions through appropriate media. 
  • Consult with VP's on a regular basis. Maintain an awareness of the major activities in each VP's purview, referring questions on details to the appropriate staff or VP. 
  • Chair the coordinating council (KC chairs)

4. Ensure excellent volunteer and staff leadership in the association.

  • Make leadership appointments as needed, such as the ACC chair and Board Committee Appointments.
  • Take the lead in supervising the CEO on behalf of the board and in the evaluation of the CEO's
Diversity and Inclusion

Champion resources and hold the association accountable to our on-going commitment to diversity and inclusion.

  • Engage board committees to identify and implement strategies for increased personal outreach, recruitment, onboarding, and engagement toward diversity-focused and underrepresented groups.
  • Avoid unconscious bias in decision-making.
  • Lead the assessment of relevant practices, policies and procedures of the board.
  • Foster an inclusive environment by increasing accessibility and participation from underrepresented groups, individuals, and institutions.
  • Seek to learn and understand the multicultural perspectives of member leaders, our constituents, and stakeholders to align with the NAFSA Diversity and Inclusion Statement.

The president/chair sets the tone of relationships in the association. S/he must remain accessible and visible to the membership, listen to concerns, and ask staff and members of the executive committee to address issues (and sometimes intervene in issues).

While clearly the most senior officer of the association, the president/chair should also model working partnerships with the staff and set expectations of a strong leader-staff partnership throughout the organization. Maintaining the balance between member leadership and staff leadership on various projects is a key element of NAFSA’s culture. The Executive Director and CEO is the primary staff partner to the president/chair.


Past presidents have reported spending 1-2 hours per day (5-10 per week) on their NAFSA work, although this will at times be in the range of 10-20 hours per week. The president/chair’s own style is one of the factors influencing the amount of time; external events sometimes create extensive needs over short periods. While some of the volunteer work can be accomplished outside of traditional business hours, the president should expect to find time in the average day for NAFSA activities (keeping up with e-mail, conference calls, etc.).

Working Conditions

During the two-year term, the president/chair is expected to arrange his/her schedule to attend all meetings, shown in the attached activity listing. In addition to these meetings, much of the association business is conducted by phone/conference call. Past presidents have emphasized that the pace of work in the association is often quite fast, particularly when external events require fast action.

The chair/president is expected to engage in strategy discussions as needed, related to organizational advancement, and provide leadership to the entire board on this.

The demands of the position are such that support from the president’s institution/organization is necessary, both in terms of administrative assistance (scheduling, etc.) and in terms of flexibility to attend meetings and conference calls. A letter of support from the appropriate leader at the president/chair’s institution for the individual’s two-year leadership role at NAFSA is recommended.


Experience/Background Required

  • Member of the NAFSA Board of Directors
  • Management/policy experience at the CEO/Provost/Dean/Program Director level, including experience in strategic planning, financial management; ability to take a macro view
  • Substantial and broad experience in international education
  • Member of NAFSA
  • Strong understanding of NAFSA as a strategic organization in field of international education
  • Good grasp of the NAFSA leadership dynamic and membership
  • Willingness and availability to travel
  • Excellent communications skills, both oral and written
  • Demonstrated progression of leadership skill and responsibility (within or outside the association)
  • Strong interpersonal, inter-group and cross-cultural skills
  • Ability to work as a member of a team
  • Access to and skill in word-processing, using e-mail, Internet, etc

Attributes/Skills Desired

  • Previous experience serving on another association or not-for-profit board
  • Development experience
  • Familiarity with non-profit finance and audit reporting
  • Served on high level NAFSA task forces or led committees, experience at both regional and national level
  • Stamina
  • Good sense of humor
Sample Meeting Calendar
Month Responsibilities
  • Maintain weekly communication with CEO
  • Communicate with VPs, Directors, and Member-Leaders
  • Chair executive committee meetings as needed
  • Represent NAFSA at international conferences as needed
  • Washington Leadership Meeting (WLM)
    • Participate in new leader orientation session as needed
    • Remarks at first plenary meeting; including goals for the coming year
    • Visit meetings of each leader group
  • Prepare agenda for Board meeting in March
  • Draft report for board meeting
  • Advocacy Day (recommended)
  • Board meeting in Washington DC: refreshing of strategic plan
  • Attend regional team meetings if requested
  • Prepare for annual conference; develop talking points with staff for meetings and plenary session;
  • Review written report for annual business meeting
  • Annual Conference:
    • Host board, past presidents, awardees, international associations, and partner receptions.
    • Officially open the Expo Hall
    • Preside at all plenaries and the annual business meeting
    • Attend various high-level meeting
  • Board Conference Call to approve slate for election
  • Prepare agenda for Board meeting in September
  • Draft report for board meeting
  • Board meeting or retreat in or around Washington DC  
  • Attend a regional conference (recommended)
    • Participate in meetings as requested, such as the Newcomers Session, Business Meeting,
  • Team Meetings
    • Present certificates to out-going national committee and team chairs
  • Prepare for Board Meeting and New Board Member Orientation in December
  • Preside over Simon Award presentation and other International Education Week events as requested.
  • Attend Board meeting in Washington, DC


Please submit an application, or nominate a colleague, by March 31, 2020.