NASFAA Presentation Speakers

These are the speakers available for NASFAA speaking engagements. Learn more about their session offerings and request a speaker through this form.

NASFAA Officers

Helen Faith, FAAC®, National Chair

Helen Faith, FAAC®, is the director of student financial aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has 23 years of financial aid and higher education experience, and has previously worked at Lane Community College, the University of Western States, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. She earned her bachelor's degree in literature at UC Santa Cruz and a master's degree in education: policy, foundations, and administration at Portland State University, and has completed coursework toward a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has served in elected and volunteer roles at the state, regional, and national level, and is a past president of WASFAA and OASFAA. She has served on NASFAA's Board of Directors as WASFAA regional representative and representative-at-large, and currently serves as National Chair. She has also participated in negotiated rulemaking with the U.S. Department of Education and has collaborated with several higher education associations on financial aid research and analysis projects. Helen is passionate about financial aid and higher education as critical engines for social change with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Sessions: Advancing the Profession—Getting to Know NASFAA's New Toolkit , Care and Feeding of Yourself and Your Career, NASFAA Update, Recognizing and Addressing Bias in the Student Aid Experience: A Research-Practice Conversation , Staying in Love with Financial Aid Even When It's Hard (And It's Usually Hard), Talk's Not Cheap: Improving Communication to Serve Students and Boost Efficiency, Using NASFAA Tools, Why Weaponize When You Can Disarm? Building Alliances for Compliance(s)

Kristi Jovell, FAAC®, National Chair-Elect

Kristi Jovell, FAAC®, is director of student financial services operations and communications at Middlebury College. She has served as president of the Eastern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (EASFAA) and on NASFAA's Board of Directors as representative-at-large and regional representative. Kristi has been an active leader in professional association activities at the state, regional, and national levels. She has served NASFAA as a member of the Conference Program Task Force (Chair), Financial Affairs Committee, Pell Restoration Working Group, Awards Task Force, Nominations and Elections Committee, and as a conference and webinar presenter. The heart of her service to EASFAA has been through training, as the training and graduate/professional chair for multiple years and architect of EASFAA Leads and the Tuesdays@2 webinar series. Kristi has received Outstanding Volunteer and Committee of the Year awards from EASFAA and the NASFAA Regional Leadership Award. As a first-generation college student and Pell Grant recipient, Kristi is passionate about access to higher education and its ability to change the trajectory of students' lives. She earned her bachelor's degree in business administration/management and master's degree in education from Elmira College.

Session: NASFAA Update

Brad Barnett, MS, AFC®, CPFM, FAAC®, Past National Chair

Brad Barnett, MS, AFC®, CPFM, FAAC®, is an accredited financial counselor and certified personal financial manager who works as the associate vice president for access and enrollment management/director of financial aid and scholarships at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. With over two decades of experience in the financial aid profession, Brad has been active in state, regional, and national financial aid associations as a presenter, committee member/chair, and elected officer. A past president of VASFAA (Virginia) and the Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SASFAA) , he has also served NASFAA in various roles, including as treasurer, conference chair, Standards of Excellence (SOE) reviewer, SOE assessment leader, and a member of the Financial Affairs Committee. Brad has been honored for his work by receiving the VASFAA Lifetime Membership Award, VAFSAA Excellence Award, SASFAA Distinguished Service Award, and NASFAA Regional Leadership Award. In addition to his financial aid activities, Brad teaches personal finance courses (online and in person) at JMU and provides financial counseling services on a professional basis outside of his role with JMU.

Sessions: Can You Afford ($) To Work in Financial Aid?, Developing Your Personal Mission Statement, General Session: NASFAA Update, Including a Journey from Poverty…Helped By A Financial Aid Officer, How One School Estimated the Impact of the New FAFSA, and How You Can Too, NASFAA Update, Pensions, 403b's, IRA's, Roths…Explaining The Options and Why You Need to Get in the Game, and Using NASFAA Tools

Justin Draeger, NASFAA President

Justin is the president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), serving as the foremost advocate and voice for student financial aid issues. In this role, he is the principal liaison between NASFAA members, the U.S. Congress, federal agencies, and the media. Dedicated to aiding underserved populations, Justin has committed most of his career to the idea that post-secondary education should be bound only by ambition and effort, not finances or background.

Since starting his career in 2002, Justin has played pivotal roles in administering, interpreting, communicating, and shaping student financial aid policy. His diverse experience includes positions as a director of financial aid, regulatory and policy analyst, and spokesperson, along with senior roles in government relations, communications, and policy development. Recognized for his expertise, Justin is a frequent source for national and trade press, appearing in the most-read newspapers, radio, and TV shows nationwide, including NBC’s The Today Show, National Public Radio, Fox Business News, CNBC, and C-SPAN.

Justin serves on several boards dedicated to advancing health and education. His academic credentials include an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Baker College. Originally from Toledo, OH, he resides with his wife and family in Fairfax, VA. They are proud parents of one college student and two more teens preparing for their postsecondary journeys.

Sessions: Communicating Up: Ensuring the Voice of the Financial Aid Office is Heard in the President's Office, Inside the Beltway UpdateLeading through Change: Finding Opportunity in Chaos, The College Cost Transparency Initiative: Rebuilding Trust in Higher Education, The Federal Budget and Student Aid, The Top Five Issues in Financial Aid: Navigating Today's Challenges, and Using NASFAA Tools


Karen McCarthy, Vice President of Public Policy and Federal Relations

Karen currently works in NASFAA's division of policy and federal relations, providing a financial aid administrator's "on the ground" perspective to federal student aid policy discussions and debates. She began her career in student aid working in the financial aid offices at several large, four-year institutions, including Boston University, Miami University of Ohio, and The Ohio State University. She began work in NASFAA's training department in 1999 before joining NASFAA's policy team in 2010.

Sessions: Advocacy and You, Inside the Beltway Update, The Federal Budget and Student Aid, and Top FAFSA Simplification Questions

Rachel Gentry Rotunda, Director of Government Relations

Rachel contributes to NASFAA's policy and advocacy efforts, representing the association before congressional members and staff and working to enhance the advocacy capacity of its members. Prior to joining NASFAA, Rachel worked in higher education policy analysis and research in Washington, D.C., and began her career in higher education as a high school college advisor assisting low-income and first-generation students through the college application and financial aid process.

Sessions: Advocacy and You, Inside the Beltway Update, and The Federal Budget and Student Aid

Dana Kelly, NASFAA Vice President of Professional Development and Institutional Compliance

Dana currently serves as the vice president of professional development and institutional compliance for NASFAA. In this role she oversees all products and services assigned to the training and regulatory assistance and certification and credentialing departments, supervises DC-based and remote training staff, manages the annual Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo, and develops session content for NASFAA's national conference. As a member of NASFAA's executive team, she is instrumental in ensuring NASFAA is working toward the vision, mission, and goals established by NASFAA's Board of Directors. Prior to working at NASFAA, she held positions at Nelnet Diversified Solutions as a national trainer, at Nelnet as a regional director, and at High Point University as the director of student financial planning. She holds a bachelor's degree in justice and policy studies from Guilford College, a master's degree from the University of Phoenix in organizational management, and master's degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Sessions: Administrative Capability, Professional Judgment Best Practices, Top AskRegs Questions, Top FAFSA Simplification Questions, Using NASFAA Tools

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