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Leading with Character in Times of Crisis

Virtual Conferences and Institutes Supporting the Profession Community African American Center for Women Health, Safety, and Well-being Initiatives LEAD Initiative New Professionals and Graduate Students Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Student Leadership Programs AVP or "Number Two" Mid-Level VP for Student Affairs
The 2020 NASPA-NSLS Leading with Character in Times of Crisis will take place via the virtual event platform from October 21 - 22, 2020. We hope you will join us and colleagues for an exciting, two-day event.




Presented By



NASPA and the NSLS have partnered together to bring you a virtual symposium to address and provide guidance on today's shifting paradigm in higher education. So far, 2020 has been a year that has forced change across many aspects of society. The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the typical day-in-the-life of education professionals and their students, while continued racial violence and protests across the nation have sparked a movement larger than many have seen in our lifetime. This event will be free for NASPA and NSLS members and $79 for non-members.

Leading with Character in Times of Crisis will explore the ways in which higher education can respond to the trauma these events have caused, while providing the necessary tools to lead in the coming academic year.


This event will explore the following relevant themes:

  • Change management and crisis preparedness techniques to help traverse societal and environmental disruptions,

  • Leadership in times of struggle, and the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion on campus, and

  • Support for the mental health of your staff and students by redefining what success looks like while working from home or in a hybrid environment.



Learn more about the Content Areas

Mental Health: Grace and Space

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 Global Pandemic which caused shifts in responsibilities, forced place-based functions remote - all the while managing families, health and safety, and the mental stress of it all - and the expectations to also support students and develop contingency plans for the unknown. At the same time, the continued racial injustice, violence, police brutality, and systemic racism affects not only our families and our personal communities, but impact our  colleges and university communities as well. Our Black colleagues have been confronted their entire lives with these injustices and bringing this to the forefront of our daily conversations exacerbates the mental trauma that individuals regularly manage. You’ll learn how to engage in self-care and tactics to provide support to your staff and students through interactive discussions.

Change Management

This track will tackle the often bureaucratic and rarely augmented topic of change management on college campuses. Traditionally a slow moving organization, the Spring demonstrated that change in higher education can happen more quickly than we ever imagined. Leading change management requires the ability to analyze all aspects of the change, from staff support and fiscal resources to how change will affect students and the community around them. It will explore the planning and implementation of change management and crisis preparedness techniques to help traverse societal and environmental disruptions. 



This year has brought with it a plethora of leadership challenges, it is clear that strong and mindful leadership is needed now more than ever. Leadership is not simply positional. Presenters will engage participants in important dialogue that assists them in understanding how to lead in all directions. Sessions will include recommendations for resilience as a leader in difficult times. This track will deep dive on leadership in times of struggle and the importance of diversity inclusion on campuses.


All information below is evolving and subject to change.

October 21
October 22

All times are listed in Eastern.


11:45 AM - 12:30 PM

Opening Keynote (Lunch & Learn)

12:45 PM - 1:30 PM

Session I: Mental Health

1:45 PM - 2:30 PM

An Agile and Student-Centered Approach to Leadership


Presenters: Terri Givens, CEO and Jeff Burstein, Founding Partner - Center for Higher Education Leadership

In this presentation, Terri Givens and Jeff Burstein will provide leaders with an understanding of how an Agile approach provides an opportunity to include a broad range of stakeholders in decision making processes, including students, provides more transparency and buy-in, and allows for quick pivots when the situation warrants it.

March 2020 was a pivotal month in the United States as the spread of the COVID-19 virus began impacting institutions of higher education, leading most to shift to remote teaching. As different organizations began to offer support for managing the crisis, the Center for Higher Education Leadership launched a series of webinars to support leaders as they made the transition to a new world.

Dory Caplin, an education consultant and Jeff Burstein an Agility coach, also recognized that their skillset would enable them to offer solutions to the education sector. IQ4Agile was a company created as a result. The two organizations are working in tandem to consult with Higher Education institutions looking to implement solutions for everything from remote learning to developing alliances with other colleges. They share in the vision of transforming education to be more Agile and student centered.

2:45 PM - 3:30 PM

Session III: Mental Health

3:45 PM - 4:30 PM

Digital Leadership: A Strategic, yet Humanizing Approach to Social Media for Campus Leaders


Presenter: Dr. Josie Ahlquist, Digital Engagment & Leadership Author

Once seen as optional, social media and digital storytelling platforms have become critical for campus leaders, especially during crises. However, social media can quickly turn into busy work - or worse, become all promotions and press releases - lacking purpose, a plan, and comes across robotic. Digital leaders take a heart-centered path to online communication, with the intent for connection, community, and to make a positive impact.

Using six years of research on higher ed leaders' use of social media, this session will guide campus leaders on a purpose-driven approach to social media, infused with strategy, personalization, values, relationships, and intentional leadership practices. Examples throughout the field will be featured on a variety of popular platforms to see leadership in action online. Attendees will also learn eight types of meaningful digital content and discern an authentic and humanizing approach.

Collectively this purpose-driven approach called Digital Leaderships activates a realistic, clear, and personalized plan to genuinely resonate and connect with students, alumni, parents, stakeholders, and more.

11:45 AM - 12:30 PM

Keynote Speaker

12:45 PM - 1:30 PM

Session V: Leadership

1:45 PM - 2:30 PM

Chaos Does not Mean Self-sabotage


Presenter: Dr. Joel Perez, Adjunct Professor and Owner, Apoyo Coaching

Change is happening rapidly! Taking care of yourself and those that you lead is paramount to your success as a leader during this time. As a leader, you must think deeply about how you communicate and make decisions. This session will provide leaders with ideas to address the challenges that you are currently facing as you are entering uncharted territory.

2:45 PM - 3:30 PM

Session VII: Mental Health

3:45 PM - 4:30 PM

Session VIII: Change Management

4:30 PM - 5:15 PM

Virtual Happy Hour

Grab a beverage and enjoy some speed networking with those colleagues you haven’t seen in ages, or meet someone new!




Register Online for Leading with Character in Times of Crisis


Registration member pricing is based on either NSLS chapter status or NASPA individual membership status.Visit this link to check if your campus has a chapter: https://www.nsls.org/listing or login to www.naspa.org to check your membership status.


Registration Fees


Registration is now open!





General Event Questions:

Stephanie Gordon
Vice President for Professional Development

Registration Questions:

Tonya Murphy
Assistant Director, Constituent Services
202-265-7500 ext 1180


Refunds will be given for cancellations, received in writing by September 15, 2020, less a $25.00 processing fee. In addition, a processing fee of $25.00 per registration will be charged for credit cards declined.

For a comprehensive listing of NASPA registration policies, please visit this page.