On March 25, during NAFSA's annual Advocacy Day, NAFSA President John Hudzik presented Susan Thompson (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) with the 2009 Advocate of the Year Award.
As a member of NAFSA's Board of Directors, Susan leads by example and serves as a model advocate for international education. She encourages her staff, friends, and fellow international educators to joinNAFSA's Advocacy Centered Team and take part in advocacy work. She also has been known to turn C-SPAN on in her office to encourage her staff to watch floor action on the Simon Study Abroad legislation.
Susan has the amazing ability to bring international education issues to the local level and convey the importance of these programs in a way that Members of Congress and their staff can relate to. Although she may claim to have learned these skills though participation in NAFSA's advocacy efforts, she is truly a natural at communicating with her congressional offices and has great political sense to complement those skills.
In 2005, Susan worked with her colleagues in Nevada to make Nevada the 4th state to pass a resolution stressing the importance of international education. On the federal level, she continually serves as a go-to person for the staff in Nevada Senator Harry Reid's office on international education issues. Late in 2004, she worked very closely with Senator Reid's staff to ensure the Simon Study Abroad Act was included in a package of bills that was introduced under the Advancing America's Priorities Act (S.3297).
Susan also has a sophisticated understanding of the important role of media advocacy in advancing international education issues. In 2001, along with NAFSA's Executive Director, Marlene Johnson, she appeared on the evening edition of Philly Live ("International Connections") during NAFSA's annual conference in Philadelphia. Among the topics covered during the segment were NAFSA's advocacy efforts. Since then, Susan has served as a frequent adviser on study abroad issues for NAFSA's media relations efforts.