NASFAA 2014 Awards Announced in Nashville; Winners Include Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. George Miller

National Association Bestows 2014 Awards on Financial Aid Administrators, Policymakers Who Exemplify Excellence in Serving Students, Schools 

Nashville, TN, July 1, 2014—Each year, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) presents awards to the most deserving members of the financial aid profession and higher education community. These awards are reviewed and selected annually by NASFAA’s Awards Committee and ratified by the Board of Directors. They are presented each year at the National Conference, with nearly 3,000 members in attendance.

NASFAA’s award recipients for 2014 are:

The Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award (5 Recipients):  The Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award is one of the highest awards that NASFAA bestows and awarded for significant contributions in the furtherance of NASFAA’s goals over a sustained period of time.  

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).  During his outstanding service as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Senator Alexander has sponsored legislation to support the student aid programs that make it possible for millions of Americans to obtain a postsecondary education. His vision and leadership helped secure passage of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, which ensures continued stability in the federal student loan programs. He is spearheading a movement to simplify student aid for students and reduce burden for schools. As former Secretary of Education and a hardworking member of the U.S. Senate from Tennessee since 2002, he is a tireless advocate for low- and middle-income students.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA).  During his illustrious four-decade career in Congress, including his many years as the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Congressman Miller authored legislation to support the student aid programs and make it possible for millions of Americans to access a postsecondary education. His vision and leadership have helped strengthen the long-term funding structure of the student aid programs, particularly the Pell Grant Program. A member of Congress from California since 1975, he has been a steadfast supporter of affordable education for children of all economic backgrounds.

Dr. Martha Kanter.  In her role as Under Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-2013, Dr. Kanter oversaw policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, adult and career-technical education, and federal student aid. She also helped oversee one of the largest federal student aid initiatives to date, the conversion to the Direct Loan Program. Prior to her tenure at the U.S. Department of Education, Kanter served as chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in California, and as president of De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif. She has long been a valued friend of the financial aid community.

Dr. David Mohning.  After more than four decades of service to students, Mohning officially retired yesterday as Executive Director of Financial Aid and Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University. He has served NASFAA on the Board of Directors and on just about every committee possible, as either chair or member. Mohning has won NASFAA's Leadership and Special Service Awards as well as multiple awards from state associations and other groups.

Craig Munier.  Craig Munier, 2013-14 NASFAA National Chair and Director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has volunteered his time to NASFAA’s Board of Directors and shared his expertise with colleagues across the nation. During his tenure as chair, he has convened multiple policy task forces — including ones on Consumer Information, Program Integrity, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Professional Ethics — and has served as a strong voice for all students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. His contributions to NASFAA, the financial aid community, and to students have been invaluable.

Lifetime Membership Award (1 Recipient):  The Lifetime Membership Award is the highest award that NASFAA can bestow on one of its members and the recipient must currently or formerly be employed by a member institution or associate member. 

Karen Fooks.  Karen Fooks retired in 2010 as Director of Student Financial Affairs from University of Florida after 38 years of service to the students. She was involved in the profession on state, regional and national levels, including a deep involvement in NASFAA. Karen has contributed to NASFAA by serving on the Board of Directors, numerous committees, as a negotiator during Negotiated Rulemaking, as a NASFAA trainer, and as part of the Federal Aid Programs Response Network.

Regional Leadership Awards (6 Recipients): The individuals selected for this award must exhibit high integrity and character, must have shown creative leadership, and should have inspired and encouraged others to actively participate in professional development.  One award is given in each of six regions: 

EASFAA – Rich Heath, Director of Student Financial Services at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland
MASFAA – Diane Lambart-Fleming, Former Associate Director from Central Michigan University
RMASFAA – Brenda Hicks, Director of Financial Aid at Southwestern College in Kansas
SASFAA – Sandra Neel, Executive Director of Financial Aid at the University of Louisville
SWASFAA – Lisa Blazer, Associate Vice President for Financial Aid and Enrollment Services at University of Texas at San Antonio
WASFAA – Kay Soltis, Director of Financial Aid at Pacific Lutheran University in Washington

Golden Quill Award (1 Recipient):  The Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award is presented to individuals chosen for their contributions to the body of research on student financial aid. 

Dr. Will Doyle, Vanderbilt University.  Dr. Will Doyle's recent work includes an event history analysis of the adoption of merit aid programs in the American states and a study on the political economy of state appropriations to higher education. His ongoing research projects include a study of the adoption of prepaid tuition and savings plans and a study of roll call votes on higher education issues in the U.S. Senate, as well as a joint study with John Braxton and Michael McLendon on state and institutional policies that can reduce student departure rates.

Gold Star Awards (2 Recipients). The Gold Star Award recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level, targeted toward any constituency. This year, two awards were given: 

FAChat:  #FAChat is a moderated Twitter chat for financial aid professionals generally held on the second Tuesday of each month from noon to 1:00 p.m. CST. What was once a small group of individuals has now developed into an organized and efficiently run network of financial aid professionals. #FAChat was put together by Justin Chase Brown, Associate Director at the University of Missouri, Melissa Haberman, Compliance and Training Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin Colleges, and Jayme Jarrett, Financial Aid Counselor at Ohio Northern University.

The University of Denver for Financial Aid 101 – An Email Series:  This project enhanced the school’s exceptional quality service by providing information and introducing topics that help families through the financial aid process. The series—conceptualized and implemented by Lisa Westendorf, Assistant Director of Communication in Financial Aid—was so successful last year that it was carried over to incoming students for fall 2014.

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email or call (202) 785-6944.

About NASFAA  

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents nearly 20,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, DC, NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit