2022 NASFAA Awards Announced in Austin

Awardees Exemplify Excellence in Serving Students and the Financial Aid Profession

Contact: Erin Powers
Director of Marketing & Communications
(202) 785-6959
[email protected]

AUSTIN, TX, JUNE 29, 2022 – Each year, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) presents awards to deserving members of the financial aid profession and higher education community. These awards are reviewed and selected annually by NASFAA’s Awards Committee and ratified by the Board of Directors. They are presented each year at the National Conference, with more than 1,500 student aid professionals from across the country in attendance.

NASFAA's 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor which the association can bestow on a member, was awarded this year to: 

  • Lisanne Masterson, recently retired director of financial aid at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Virginia. A longtime member of the Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Masterson has a long history of dedicated service to the associations and the profession, full of contributions that have added to NASFAA’s success in meeting its goals. During her career, she has served on numerous NASFAA committees, task forces, and the Board of Directors, including service as NASFAA's treasurer, representative-at-large on the NASFAA Board of Directors, chair of NASFAA's Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo Committee, and service on NASFAA's Finance and Nominations & Elections Committees. She was also the 2011-12 recipient of the NASFAA Regional Leadership Award (SASFAA). Masterson has been a dedicated and strong advocate for students and a light to the financial aid profession.

  • Mary Sommers, director of financial aid at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK). For more than 30 years, Sommers has been deeply committed to - and actively engaged in - the financial aid profession. In her role at UNK she has been a passionate advocate for student success. Sommers has been extremely active within NASFAA, her state, and RMASFAA. She assumed her first leadership role in RMASFAA in 1990 as chair of the Membership Committee, and has also served as chair of Summer Institute, chair of Leadership Pipeline Committee, the Board of Directors, and as RMASFAA President. Sommers’ contributions to NASFAA began in 1998 as Training Committee Chair, and include terms as Regional Representative and Commission Director to the NASFAA Board, Ethics Commission Chair, on the HEA Reauthorization Task Force, the Financial Affairs Committee and as Compliance Track Chair for the Leadership Conference. She has made her career in financial aid one of support, advocacy, vision, commitment, and action.

The Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest awards that NASFAA bestows, may be awarded either for significant contributions in the furtherance of NASFAA’s goals over a sustained period of time, or for a single contribution of momentous importance. The 2022 award was given to: 

  • Brent Tener, director of student financial aid and scholarships at Vanderbilt University and NASFAA’s 2021-22 national chair. Tener has more than 30 years of experience as a financial aid administrator and has worked with financial aid professionals across the country while serving in varying capacities in state, regional, and national associations. He has served on NASFAA's Board of Directors as the SASFAA regional representative, commission director, and representative-at-large, is a past president of the Tennessee Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (TASFAA), and was one of the main architects of Vanderbilt's current progressive need-based financial aid program, Opportunity Vanderbilt.

  • Joan Zanders, recently retired director of financial aid at Northern Virginia Community College. During her impressive 34-year career in financial aid, she was actively involved in state, regional, and national financial aid associations. Zanders has served as the president of the Nebraska Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NeASFAA) and as the president of the Rocky Mountain Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (RMASFAA). Upon moving to Virginia in 2008, she continued her active involvement in NASFAA, serving as a board member, presenter, committee/task force member, and negotiator. She also assumed leadership roles in the Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (VASFAA), where she served as VASFAA president from 2018-19.

The Meritorious Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has made either an important single contribution to NASFAA or the profession, or multiple significant contributions. The 2022 award was given to:

  • Neville Brown, associate director of financial aid at Eastern Connecticut State University. Neville Brown’s career in financial aid has spanned more than 25 years – all at Eastern Connecticut State University. He has served in many capacities with CAPFAA and EASFAA, including as state and regional president. Neville has also served on NASFAA’s Board as EASFAA representative and as representative-at-large. Brown has been a longtime advocate for advancing the financial aid profession; he introduced "Financial Aid Day" which has now been adopted by all and celebrated annually in October. He also introduced the "Mentee Program" in Connecticut. Brown’s immense personal integrity, devotion to students and their success, and belief in the mission of financial aid to serve students makes him very deserving of this recognition. 

The Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award presented each year to an individual, or organization, chosen for their contributions to the literature on student financial aid. Published works must exemplify the highest quality of research methodology, analysis, or topical writing on the subject of student financial aid or its administration. In 2022 the award was given to:

  • Dr. Stella Flores, associate professor of higher education and public policy at the University of Texas at Austin, was recognized for her report, “Opening the Promise: The Five Principles of Equitable Policymaking.” This report sets forth an actionable framework informed by insights from more than two dozen experts across the field of higher education. The framework’s five interrelated principles are designed to inform every aspect of the policymaking process, from the creation of new policy and amending of existing policy, to determining priorities and setting the course of action for a policymaking body. Written using the shared expertise of 23 individuals who have worked in government relations and federal policymaking at various postsecondary education focused think tanks and associations, the report will inform federal policy making for many years to come.

The association also presented six Regional Leadership Awards to recipients who have exhibited high integrity and character, have shown creative leadership, and have inspired and encouraged others to actively participate in professional development. One award was given in each of six regions to:

  • EASFAA – Samantha Veeder, associate dean of college enrollment/director of financial aid, University of Rochester

  • MASFAA – Michelle Trame, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • RMASFAA – Joseph Donlay, director of financial aid, Colorado State University

  • SASFAA – Runan Evans, associate dean of financial aid, Bluegrass Community and Technical College

  • SWASFAA – Mendy Schmerer, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

  • WASFAA – Sun Ow, consultant, Self-Employed

The Gold Star Award, which recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level, targeted toward any constituency, was given in 2022 to:

  • The University of Alaska Fairbanks for its Nanook Resilience Program. The program was created to provide financial support and additional advising services to students that identify themselves in a financial crisis and are at risk of dropping classes due to a perceived financial need. The program brings together offices from across campus to look at a student's indicated financial crisis in a holistic manner and work with the student to resolve their issue even when money is not available.

  • The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for its Special Circumstances - Helping Families Help Themselves Program. After a monumental number of special circumstance requests due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university created an online tool to assist students and families determine their eligibility for institutional professional judgment opportunities. This has helped students and families to better understand the special circumstance process and how they can qualify, or if an alternative such as a budget adjustment is available. 

  • The Rebekah Hoppel Salcedo WASFAA Leadership Program. This program was developed to build future leaders in the WASFAA region through mentorship, focused training and collaborative group work. Each participant was paired with a mentor and asked to meet regularly on a schedule that worked for them, giving the participants an opportunity to learn alongside those in current leadership roles, and to gain exposure to the inner workings of the association. 

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email [email protected] or call (202) 785-6959.


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 32,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, DC, NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators.

Publication Date: 6/29/2022

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