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

Brenda Hicks, NASFAA National Chair

Brenda Hicks has served Southwestern College in both admissions and financial aid since 1991 and is currently the director of financial aid. Over the years she has been active in state, regional, and national professional associations as a trainer, board member, and committee chair. She has been a recipient of the NASFAA Regional Leadership award and the KASFAA Meritorious Achievement award. She is a former RMASFAA and KASFAA president and has previously served on NASFAA's Board of Directors as a regional representative and representative-at-large. She has also been a member of the NASFAA Association Governance Committee and has served on several task forces, including the NASFAA 50th Anniversary Task Force, the State and Regional Alliance Task Force, and the Enhanced Loan Counseling Task Force. Sessions: NASFAA Update, Using NASFAA Tools

Justin Draeger, NASFAA President

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 is frequently quoted in the press and currently serves on the boards of directors of Baker College, the Association Mutual Health Insurance Company, the Northwood Education Foundation, and other organizations that promote health and education. He has served as NASFAA's president since 2010. Sessions: Inside the Beltway Update, Advocacy and You, The Federal Budget and Student Aid, Using NASFAA Tools, Communicating Up: The Art of Communication and Overcoming the Curse of Knowledge, Finding Motivation in Tough Times

Brent Tener, NASFAA National Chair-Elect

Brent Tener 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. Sessions: NASFAA Update, Using NASFAA ToolsDealing with Difficult People, History and Structure of Enrollment Management, How to Overcome Five Major Dysfunctions in the Development of Teams, Politics, Ethics and Leadership, Working with Your Money (Not Theirs)

Paula Luff, NASFAA Past National Chair

Paula Luff is currently the vice president for enrollment planning and management at Ball State University. She has nearly 30 years of experience as a financial aid administrator and has worked with financial aid professionals across the country while serving in state, regional, and national associations. Paula has served on NASFAA's Board of Directors as a representative-at-large and commission director, and also sat on NASFAA's Association Governance Committee and the Financial Affairs Committee. She is a past president of ILASFAA at the local level and MASFAA at the regional level. Paula has worked with the U.S. Department of Education as an alternate on the Negotiated Rulemaking Program Integrity and Improvement Team and is a co-founder of the Illinois Private Aid Directors Consortium. Most recently, she was honored with the NASFAA Regional Leadership Award (MASFAA) in 2017, and the Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award in 2020. Sessions: NASFAA Update, Using NASFAA Tools

NASFAA Staff

Megan Coval, NASFAA Vice President of Policy & Federal Relations

Megan oversees NASFAA's policy and advocacy efforts. Prior to joining NASFAA in the fall of 2010, she served as the director of government relations for the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, where she contributed to several congressionally mandated reports on the postsecondary access and persistence of low- and moderate-income students. Sessions: Inside the Beltway Update, Advocacy and You, The Federal Budget and Student Aid, Using NASFAA Tools

Karen McCarthy, NASFAA Director of Policy Analysis

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: Inside the Beltway Update, Using NASFAA Tools

Rachel Gentry, NASFAA Assistant Director of Federal Relations

Rachel Gentry 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: Inside the Beltway Update, Advocacy and You, The Federal Budget and Student Aid, Using NASFAA Tools

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

Dana Kelly 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: Using NASFAA Tools, Top AskRegs Questions, Direct Loan Quiz Show, Professional Judgment Best Practices, Developing Your Career in Financial Aid

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