The NAFSA President and Chair of the Board of Directors, Board vice-presidents, Board members-at-large, the chairs of the five knowledge communities and the chairs of the Leadership Development Committee and the Membership Engagement Committee are elected by NAFSA members from a national ballot provided each August.
Other positions on the knowledge communities, committees, subcommittees, task forces, and working groups are appointed by the chairs of the respective leader groups.
The NAFSA Standing Rules stipulate that your peers on the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) will issue the call for all nominations for board members, board officers, and national chairs of knowledge communities and membership engagement 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 Vice President for Professional Development & Engagement 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 in the late summer.
NAFSA’s single-candidate election has created questions. The process leading to the selection of candidates is openly detailed out in Rules IV and V of the NAFSA’s Standing Rules. Any NAFSA member can apply or nominate someone for a nationally elected position. The Standing Rules then specify that the Board of Directors Governance Committee presents a slate of Board candidates with a single person for each open position. Knowledge communities can have either a dual slate or a single. For the LDC and the MEC, a single slate must be presented.
In recent years, research published within the association management industry revealed that dual or multiple-candidate slates can inadvertently create a popularity contest within the membership. The research also revealed that those who have lost an election are hesitant to run again. Therefore, the tradition has emerged that all NAFSA knowledge communities have a single candidate slate in order to eliminate a potentially de-motivating atmosphere amongst colleagues. Members still have the ability to add write-in candidates to the election ballot, so the candidates are not truly uncontested. Having members vote for the nominees is an affirmation of their eligibility for the national role. Further details on the Elections Procedures are outlined in Rule V of the Standing Rules.
February: NAFSA opens the applications/nominations for elected leadership positions
March: NAFSA closes the application process
April – May: Leadership Development Committee and the Board 's Governance Committee hold interviews with candidates. Candidates not selected for a final interview will be informed by May 15.
Early June: The Governance Committee proposes a slate of board members and vice presidents to the Board of Directors, Leadership Development Committee propose their candidates as a slate of to the Vice President for Professional Development & Engagement for recommendation to the Board of Directors for acceptance in its entirety.
Late June: NAFSA Board reviews candidate slate.
July: NAFSA Board confirms candidates. Photos and biography information is collected from each candidate. Unsuccessful candidates will be informed before the election opens.
August: Board Secretary announces the election slate to the Membership. Election opens.
September: Election closes. Board President or Secretary issues notice of election results by end of September.
There are many opportunities to volunteer with NAFSA. Appointed positions are posted in late summer; other positions may be posted as vacancies occur throughout the year. Deadlines for applications vary.