abstract images of colorful swooshes
In this Section: LDI Home Page • Testimonials • Meet the LDI FacultyMentor/Mentee ExpectationsMore Information
The PACRAO Leadership Development Institute is really making an impact on its participants. Please read the testimonials from your fellow PACRAO members participating in the LDI. 

Testimonial #1

Chynna Sandgren
Nevada System of Higher Education Specialist
Admissions and Records Office
Truckee Meadows Community College
Reno, Nevada

Hi PACRAO members! My name is Chynna, and I am a Nevada System of Higher Education Specialist in the Admissions and Records office at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. In July 2018, I was selected to participate in the PACRAO Leadership Development Institute (LDI). Having never been to a PACRAO conference or participated in anything like the LDI I was both nervous and excited about what the experience would be like.

Based on my involvement in the PACRAO LDI thus far, I have gained numerous things:

My participation in the LDI has impacted my current work and role by allowing me to bring new ideas and thoughts to the table with resources to back myself up. I have not only received great ideas and feedback from the readings, but also benefited from group and individual discussions with other members and my mentor. The LDI has helped create clarity by knowing I am in the right place and want to continue to advance my career in higher education, specifically in Admissions and/or the Registrar's Office.

The first cohort of the LDI has gone very well. If you are like me, and are in your earlier years of a career in higher education, the knowledge and connections from the LDI are invaluable. I would encourage anyone who believes in higher education - and the work that you do - to apply to the next PACRAO LDI cohort!

If you have any questions about the LDI from a member’s perspective that I did not address, please feel free to contact me at csandgren@tmcc.edu.

Testimonial #2

It is that time of year again, Spring!  What an exciting time to get outside, enjoy the sun, and relax.  Wait…commencement is in May, and I need get the fall schedule out to the students. This is NOT a time to relax; it is time to panic about Commencement and the fall schedule, right? 

That is, unless you are a part of the Pacific Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (PACRAO) Leadership Development Institute (LDI).  This group of professionals provides the resources and camaraderie needed for all types of situations in registrar and admissions offices.

The LDI offers its members a fantastic opportunity to get to know other professionals in higher education who understand some of the same challenges and excitement that we all may have experienced in our careers.  In the off chance that you have not experienced some of the challenges in the registrar or admissions office, now you have a group of colleagues across the Western region of the United States to can support you.  This group of professionals provides each of us with a new lens to view a student’s journey through college.  Each member contributes to viewing another path to coach our students to navigate the many obstacles to graduation.  This shared knowledge helps each one of us to become a better leader.

The Leadership Development Institute faculty and members have reminded me to reflect on my experience as a new or continuing student at a new campus or university.  This can be a frightening and confusing experience for students, and it is our responsibility to help guide these students on their journey.  As advisors in higher education, our job is to reduce the confusion in their journey by educating them on financial aid, enrollment services, and student success, and to show them how they can be involved in student government.  These things may sound easy for us to navigate, but most of us have been in higher education for a while.  We need to remember to place ourselves in the students’ shoes and think about the anxiety caused by not knowing any of the other students or any of the faculty members.  The LDI group reminds us to reflect on our foundational roots in higher education and to consider the innovations of the future.

We often fail to think about what inspires us in our careers, especially our higher education career.  The LDI offers new viewpoints in leadership, in diversity and inclusion, and in understanding our “Why” for our chosen profession.  The faculty and cohort members of the LDI help to motivate me and fine-tune my “Why.”  The LDI provides the cohort members with a fresh, innovative way of thinking about how we can better serve our students.  It also provides collaboration with other administrative professionals across the Pacific region from other universities.

The PACRAO LDI experience is certainly something that can improve our leadership abilities in our roles in the registrar or the admissions office.  Becoming part of an LDI cohort increases awareness in the higher education experience.  The career guidance offered through participation in an LDI cohort improves our ability to serve our students and to propel our careers to the next level.

Testimonial #3

Dan Guthrie
Admissions Coordinator
College of Southern Idaho
Twin Falls, Idaho

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of being part of PACRAO’s inaugural class of the Leadership Development Institute (LDI), which is a new way for young professionals to develop their skills through PACRAO.

Last spring as I was finishing my President cycle with IACRAO (Idaho’s affiliate of AACRAO), I received an intriguing email describing the newly forming LDI. Based on the description of the institute I felt it would be a great next step in my leadership development in PACRAO, so I submitted my application.

I was accepted into the cohort in July along with 14 other colleagues throughout PACRAO. Before the meetings began, I was expecting a typical, structured, leadership course. I was pleasantly mistaken in my assessment. The LDI faculty has shown their passion and enthusiasm for higher education by assigning our group original, effective and thought-provoking books and discussions each month. The unique style of meeting and feedback has resulted in me looking forward to a 90-minute video conference call each month.

The lessons that I have learned through the curriculum will contribute to me being a more confident and well-rounded leader in any situation I pursue. I have learned:

I’m looking forward to working with this group of colleagues through the end of the LDI and beyond. The LDI faculty has assembled a group that would have never been at the same table together.  Now we will continue to be peers and mentors throughout our careers.

Applications for the next LDI will open soon, and I encourage anybody that is new to PACRAO with a passion for education to apply. Your time will be filled with worthwhile content and the opportunity to interact with some great individuals.

Testimonial #4

Nabel Villafana
Assistant Registrar
Harvey Mudd College
Claremont, California

There are few instances where one can learn about leadership in a way that extends beyond concepts and theories. The PACRAO Leadership Development Institute (LDI) has been one of the handful of opportunities that I have experienced where I have been able to take the concepts and definitions about leadership and to apply them in real-word, hands-on situations. Our cohort readings and fruitful discussions have helped me experience firsthand the various ways that leadership can take form. As a group, we are able to critically think about what leadership means, what it looks like, what works, what does not work, and how to best create and lead the change we want to see in our institutions. Participating with the LDI cohort has been so beneficial to my personal and professional growth because we are able to share about our backgrounds in an honest and open way that helps to foster great discussions.

A program like this must take up a lot of time, right? Actually, the time that participating in the cohort has been minimal. [LDI faculty note that approximately two hours a week are needed to fully participate in the reading, preparation, and discussion.] We read one book a month, we meet monthly with our mentors for about 30 minutes, and the cohort meetings are also monthly and about 90 minutes. The work I put in does not feel like work because of how much I am learning as I engage with the curriculum, faculty, and my peers. The discussions have been so rich that I am often left wishing that the meetings could be longer, and I am also often left thinking about our meetings for days after they happen. Because of my life experiences thus far in conjunction with being able to hear what others share, participation in the LDI has helped to further cement my passion for higher education and my work in the Registrar’s Office. Learning hands-on about leadership and the various different ways that leadership can take form has been inspiring and has helped me approach my work with a greater understanding of the impact I can make and the influence I have. I am constantly looking for ways in which I can implement learnings from the others in my daily life and work.

Being a part of the first PACRAO LDI cohort has been rewarding in multiple ways. I have had the opportunity to know people from diverse backgrounds and have been able to learn how their experiences bring value to so many aspects of life. As a result, I am able to reflect on my own experiences and I have been able to learn so much about myself, about others, and about the importance of being a leader in the work that I do both for the institution where I work and for the places where I can impact change. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a great program and am looking forward to continue to learn more as the LDI progresses. I want to continue to lead by example, and the LDI is helping to support my leadership passion and my desire for professional and personal growth.

Testimonial #5

Rachel Sowell Keil, Ph.D.
University Associate Registrar
Antioch University
Seattle, Washington

My story into a career path in the Registrar’s Office is a typical one that I have heard since joining the PACRAO organization: I fell into it.  I was stepping up to fulfill a need in a department that valued my diverse array of experience and skill sets, and they wanted me to stay.  Thirteen years later, I am still working for the same intuition, and while I value the connections and institutional knowledge, I had not cultivated a lot of outside influences… until I joined PACRAO’s first cohort of the Leadership Development Institute (LDI).

Suddenly, I had the comradery and support of more than a dozen new colleagues, with valuable insights and wonderful stories to share.  As a product of higher education, I valued the idea of working with others like myself in a learning cohort, reading and talking about engaging topics to better understand this profession and opportunities it might bring. 

Through my experience so far, I have gained connections, confidence, and commitment! I have new connections with colleagues in our cohort and the LDI faculty, as well as from meeting folks at the 2018 conference in Sacramento.  I have greater confidence that I am growing in my profession and making strides towards becoming more of a leader.  I feel stronger commitment that I want to be involved in PACRAO in big ways throughout my career in higher education.

The faculty and other students in the LDI are encouraging, supportive, and welcoming.  It was nice to meet face-to-face first to establish a sense of each of my cohorts.  We have been able to sustain our connections via Zoom virtual meetings, as a group, in small groups, and one-on-one with my faculty mentor.  I have reached out to both fellow students and faculty in this group as a resource for ideas and questions.

Being a part of the LDI cohort has helped me reconnect with the vision of becoming a leader in my institution, rather than just an administrator.  I have a fresh perspective on having a career in the Registrar’s Office. I am glad to be where I am, and it is refreshing to talk to like-minded people who deal with similar issues, concerns, and personalities. 

It has been a thought-provoking experience to read a variety of books on leadership and higher education.  I have appreciated the opportunity to invest in myself and in a professional development group.  I've grown more thoughtful about conversations with students, staff, and faculty in my current work.  I feel I've gained some insights to approaching change in the future and in creating more compelling presentations, and training resources.  I’m already excited to see everyone again at PACRAO 2019!