Message from the President

Marie Nocella (she/her), NYSACAC President

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are well as we head to the Conference at Utica University! Thank you for all of the work you do in and out of the office to support professionals and students. Here are some updates and final thoughts as I wrap up my year as your president:

  • Back In Person!  We are back to in-person programming! While we will continue in a hybrid model for ease and access in many areas, we are thrilled to start seeing you in person. Summer in-person programs include Camp College and Summer Institute with much more to come this fall.
  • Celebrate 25 years of Coming Together! I hope to see you this week at the Coming Together Conference, where we will celebrate our 25 year milestone!
  • Special Interest Groups (SIGs): These 6 groups help professionals in our field build community over shared interests and identities. I encourage you to review theSIG descriptionson our website, and consider participating in some of the many events offered throughout the year. Thank you, SIG Leaders!
  • Participate: Stay tuned for email and social media invitations to programming year round. Thank you to the Committee Co-Chairs and Committee Members for your thoughtful stewardship of important events!
  • Get Involved! Share your talents and meet new colleagues by volunteering for a committee. Our committee interest form isavailable here.  
  • Reach out: Your thoughts and ideas are what keep us moving forward. You can email [email protected]with suggestions or questions.

Colleagues and friends advise, teach, support, and cheer. The network of amazing professionals in NYSACAC do all of this and so much more. I am thankful to NYSACAC for bringing us together to support our students and each other.  It has been an honor to serve as your President this year. Have a great summer!

Warm wishes,


Past President’s Update

Marissa Guijarro, Suffern High School

Greetings NYSACAC friends!

As I approach the end of my President’s cycle with feelings of joy and relief, as you can imagine, negotiating a virtual workplace and leadership in NYSACAC presented a myriad of challenges.  In July, 2020, at the NYSACAC (virtual) leadership retreat, I introduced two versions of the acronym TEAM for focus and support for the association and for each individual member.

Our association’s goals:

Transformative practice

Earn revenue

Antiracism education and action

Membership and mentoring across New York State

Individual goals:

Take care of yourself

Empathize with others

Accept help

Mindful action and reaction

To address the association’s TEAM directive, with the pandemic, we had to transform our practice and to adapt in the midst of uncertainty, sometimes through a continuum of chaos, in our professional and personal lives. It was an extraordinary time to be a leader. Some days I believed that I was incredibly unlucky with my timing but also privileged with the amount of responsibility that I and my leadership team colleagues had in those moments. 

NYSACAC accumulated many concrete accomplishments during this tumultuous time. We secured an extension on the grant from the Gates Foundation for the Student Success Project.  This project gave us the charge to mobilize stakeholders to meet and converse around topics related to a college completion goal for New York State and improved transfer admission and articulation practices. We took advantage of the fact that we could not have in-person programming and created many vital and relevant virtual events for our members. On our website, we revamped the resources page (under About – Resources) to include antiracism tools and websites. We also reviewed our documents with our legal counsel to ensure that we maintain fiduciary compliance with current laws and sound practices as a not-for-profit association. For day to day operations and planning, we aimed to keep our NYSACAC house in order to give our progeny a solid foundation for the future.

With my counselor cap on, the individual TEAM goals served as a minimalist guide to basic self-care. On a state, national, and global scale, we mourned the victims of COVID and other losses. We all had our share of truly horrific days without the security blanket of in-person predictable routines and rituals. For many of us, the pandemic brought both trying times and opportunities. We needed (and still need) space and grace, and time to play, reflect, and create. Being authentically empathetic, asking for help, and being mindful in action and reaction allowed us to be vulnerable and candid, even though our interactions consisted of pixels and audio via Zoom. At home, we took off our masks, and perhaps assumed new projects, hobbies, and priorities. 

Have a restorative and healing summer, friends, and I’ll leave you with two quotes.

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”  – St. Francis of Assisi

“I’m all about zagging when everyone else is zigging.” – Tyra Banks

Movers and Shakers


Jim Plunkett

Wagner College pleased to announce that James (Jim) Plunkett has accepted the position of assistant vice president for enrollment management. He will begin this new role on June 7. As AVP, Jim will be a senior leader in the college's strategic enrollment and retention strategies and oversee the admissions department.


Jim brings 27 years of experience in higher education, most recently as the executive director of admissions for La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA. He demonstrated significant success in overall admissions growth as well as increased diversity in undergraduate and transfer enrollment for the university. Before La Salle, he worked in admissions for Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Madison, NJ. Beyond his professional experience in NJ and PA, Jim is a native Staten Islander and his regional expertise will allow for a quick start on Grymes Hill. We are excited to welcome him back home.


Jim's appointment follows a competitive, national search that began in February and was led by Napier Executive Search. Wagner College would like to thank the search committee and our partners at Napier for their time and expertise during the process. Their great work allowed us to bring in the best candidate out of an impressive pool of talent.

Helping Students Avoid Their Own Personal Student Loan Crisis

Nancy Goodman, Executive Director, College Money Matters

Lately, the idea of Student Loan Forgiveness has been making headlines – and for good reason. The current level of student debt in the U.S. is $1.6 trillion dollars. And according to the Education Data Initiative, the average federal student loan debt among Black and African American borrowers is $57,770, approximately $27,000 more than their white counterparts.

Clearly, carrying debt of this level can have a crushing impact on a young adult’s future. But aside from the vague possibilities of partial loan forgiveness currently being debated, what can be done?

How about reaching students and their families before they borrow to make sure they understand the full implications? A recently-developed website,, does just that.  

Based on the idea that any student smart enough to get into college can also be educated on the basics of loans and college costs, offers videos, articles, interactive quizzes, and even games that give high school students and their parents the information they need to make good decisions about applying, choosing, and paying for college.

This free site is run by College Money Matters, a non-profit organization based in Larchmont, NY. To ensure objectivity, accepts no advertisements from financial institutions who could profit from their users, nor does it sell its client list. That way, the content is not influenced by powerful players in the student loan industry.

In addition, the “self-directed” nature of the site makes it a powerful resource for busy school counselors seeking to provide their college-bound students with useful information. It is available in English and Spanish, and features accessibility software to reach as many students as possible.

Perhaps most important, it works. The site receives approximately 9,000 visitors per month, with an average of 6 pages viewed per visit, and the bounce rate is a miniscule 0.78%. In other words, students are staying – and learning.

We invite you to visit to see for yourself how seemingly complicated college-related issues can be transformed into engaging communications that are simple, clear and even fun.  

For more information, contact Nancy Goodman, Executive Director, College Money Matters at [email protected].

Thank You from College Fairs Committee

Haniya Mee, Oakwood Friends School, Chris Scheppner, St. Bonaventure University, Co-Chairs, NYSACAC College Fair Committee

We'd like to thank everyone who participated in both our Spring Virtual Fair and our first in-person fair in over two years at Le Moyne! A HUGE shoutout to Le Moyne College for all of the support they gave NYSACAC as the host of a very successful in-person college fair! We truly are appreciative and could not have pulled this off without them. We're excited to hopefully continue more in-person fairs this fall!