On March 11, during Advocacy Day, NAFSA Past-President Ron Moffatt presented Stephen Ferst (Rutgers University–New Brunswick) with the 2008 Advocate of the Year Award.
In his role as New Jersey State Whip, Ferst excels in his own advocacy efforts, but also has increased the quality and frequency of advocacy participation in New Jersey and throughout Region X.
Ferst was chosen based on his impressive string of advocacy outcomes. Through his regular visits to Capitol Hill, both as an Advocacy Day attendee and on his own when visiting Washington, DC, Ferst has developed professional relationship with several legislative aides. One Senate aide even sends information to him regarding legislation and appropriation numbers before they are made public.
In addition to being an impressive advocate, Ferst encourages and motivates his colleagues to do the same. Recently, he issued a challenge to his colleagues in New York to see which state could recruit the most members into NAFSA's Advocacy Centered Team (ACT) in a two-week period. This campaign generated nearly 50 new members into ACT. Additionally, during the 2007 annual conference, Ferst challenged his colleagues to send letters to Congress on the Simon Study Abroad Act. For everyone who sent a letter, he donated $1 to the NAFSA Annual Fund. In the end, his challenge resulted in 50 letters sent to Capitol Hill and a donation of $50 to NAFSA.
Moffatt recognized the work Ferst has done on drafting a state-level international education resolution for the state of New Jersey as well as his work in training other NAFSA members to be effective grassroots advocates in various conference sessions and during the annual Advocacy Day. Moffatt told Ferst that these grassroots advocacy efforts have truly distinguished him as a role model for his colleagues.