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

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

Brad 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 and SASFAA, he has also served NASFAA in various roles, including 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: A Journey from Poverty…Helped By A Financial Aid Officer, Investing for the Long-Term When the Stock Market Freaks You Out!, Pensions, 403b's, IRA's, Roths…Explaining The Options and Why You Need to Get in the Game, and Using NASFAA Tools

Helen Faith, FAAC®, NASFAA National Chair Elect

Helen is the director of student financial aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has 22 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 is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has served in a number of 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. 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.

Session: Using NASFAA Tools

Brent Tener, NASFAA Past National Chair

Brent is currently the director of student financial aid and scholarships at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He has over 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. Brent has served on NASFAA's Board of Directors as the SASFAA regional representative, commission director, and representative-at-large. He is a past president of TASFAA at the local level and SASFAA at the regional level, and was one of the main architects of Vanderbilt's current progressive need-based financial aid program, Opportunity Vanderbilt. He was honored with the NASFAA Regional Leadership Award (SASFAA) in 2010 and the SASFAA Distinguished Service Award in 2013. Brent started his financial aid career at Wichita State University.

Session: NASFAA Update

Justin Draeger, NASFAA President

Justin is president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. He serves as the primary voice of NASFAA and as the liaison between the association members, the U.S. Congress, federal agencies and the media. Most of Justin's career has been devoted to assisting disadvantaged populations achieve their educational goals and better their communities. Since 2002, Justin has been engaged in either administering, interpreting, communicating, or developing student financial aid policy. His prior experiences include working as a financial aid director, regulatory and policy analyst, and spokesperson. He has held senior positions overseeing government relations, communications, and policy work. Justin has testified in multiple Congressional hearings on student financial aid, college access, student loan policy, and the interplay between federal agencies and colleges and universities. He is frequently quoted in the press and has appeared on The Today Show on NBC, National Public Radio, APM's Marketplace, Fox Business News, CNBC, and C-SPAN, and is often quoted in national news outlets. Justin serves on several boards of directors that promote health and education. He earned his undergraduate from Brigham Young University and his MBA from Baker College. Justin lives in Fairfax, VA with his wife and three children.

Sessions: Advocacy and You, Coming in 2024-25: The New FAFSA, Communicating Up: The Art of Communication and Overcoming the Curse of Knowledge, General Session: Top 10 Issues in Financial Aid, Harnessing Your Team's Creativity to Solve Persistent Challenges, Inside the Beltway Update, The Federal Budget and Student Aid, and Using NASFAA Tools

NASFAA Staff

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, Coming in 2024-25: The New FAFSA, Inside the Beltway Update, and The Federal Budget and Student Aid

Rachel Gentry, 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, Coming in 2024-25: The New FAFSA, Inside the Beltway Update, 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, Coming in 2024-25: The New FAFSA, Direct Loan Quiz Show, Planning for the Future in the Financial Aid OfficeProfessional Judgment Best Practices, Top AskRegs Questions, Using NASFAA Tools

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