August 20, 2015
New NAACO President Lisa Walker Takes Reign
September 17, 2014
New NAACO President Lois Ferguson Takes Reign
August 17, 2014
Courier-Post – Late Katz Named Best Commencement Speaker
August 3, 2014
Philly.com – Katz Feted for Temple Speech
March 20, 2014
Four Tips to Manage Stress During Commencement Season
Connect – NAACO Annual Conference
November 20, 2013
NAACO’s 14th Annual Conference to Honor the Past and Inspire the Future
July 11, 2013
Commencement’s Over, Now What?
Connect – NAACO Annual Conference
March 19, 2013
USAE – NAACO 2013 Annual Conference
November 30, 2012
NAACO Annual Conference Spells Commencement with a “Capital C”
August 9, 2012
New NAACO Board Takes Reign
June 1, 2012
How Does Your Setting Affect Your Graduation Plan?
Connect – NAACO Annual Conference
May 5, 2012
Smart Meetings – NAACO Annual Conference
January 16, 2012
NAACO Annual Conference to Foster Collaborations and Connections
November 29, 2011
USAE News – NAACO Partners with CMA
November 22, 2011
NAACO Invests in Strategic Growth Initiative to Enhance Member Value
Board of Directors Contact List
NAACO Board of Directors
Current NAACO Officers (2016-2017)
Sheelagh Atkinson, President
|Manager, Convocation and Special Projects
Sheelagh Atkinson has been a member of NAACO since 2004, and served on a number of committees as well as Director-at-Large, Membership for five years on the NAACO Executive Board.
Sheelagh has worked at York University, Toronto for 26 years in a number of roles. Her present position as the Manager, Events and Ceremonials has oversight of all university events, including 18 annual convocation ceremonies. York University is the 3rd largest university in Canada, conferring over 11,000 degrees annually. Sheelagh’s ongoing mandate is to enhance the student experience and this is reflected in her strong belief that convocation is the most important thing we do as a university. To that end, Sheelagh and her colleagues continually strive to improve and refine convocation for graduating students and their families. Tentanda Via … The Way Must be Tried.
Suzanne Kahl, President Elect
Suzanne Kahl currently serves as Secretary on NAACO’s Board of Directors. She has worked as Commencement Coordinator at Tufts University since 2006. She plans and organizes the all-university commencement ceremony, and helps coordinate and provide logistical support for the Baccalaureate service, and for 26 school and department diploma ceremonies. She is responsible for editing commencement publications, maintaining the commencement website, monitoring finances of commencement accounts, and coordinating the meetings of the university-wide commencement committee (consisting of 30 members). In addition, she helped coordinate Tufts’ presidential inauguration ceremony and events in 2011. Suzanne has been a member of NAACO for 8 years, and has organized two NAACO regional meetings at Tufts, most recently in December 2013. Suzanne holds a Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University, and a Master’s Degree in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Birmingham, England.
Lisa Walker, Past President
|Director of Ceremonies, Marketing Manager
University of Washington Bothell
As Director of Ceremonies, Lisa is responsible for planning and coordinating all aspects of the commencement and convocation ceremonies at the University of Washington Bothell. This includes event logistics, budget preparation and reconciliation, supervising all volunteers, faculty, staff and vendors to create and implement memorable commencement ceremonies. Lisa also plans additional university events. In addition to her ceremonies work, Lisa is the Marketing and Advertising Manager at her institution.
Lisa is currently the Chairperson of the General Staff Organization and is the recipient of the 2010 Staff Appreciation Award. Additionally, she is also the recipient of a 2009 District VIII Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Bronze Award for “Branding UW Bothell.”
Julie Vanderyagt, Treasurer
|Manager, Special Events and Ceremonies
Julie Vanderyagt is the Manager of Special Events and Ceremonies at Capilano University and a 9 year veteran at organizing Commencement.
A dedicated NAACO member since 2006, Julie has been on the conference committee for 4 NAACO conferences (Montreal, Austin, Seattle and Miami) and enjoys the deeper connection that has come out of getting more involved in NAACO.
Julie is so proud of her fundraising teams’ tremendous success last year raising $10 000 for the NAACO charity- Summit Assistance Dogs.
Lisa Arakaki, Secretary
Lisa Arakaki serves as the Senior Director of Special Events in the Office of the President at American University in Washington, D.C. She works closely with campus partners to coordinate large-scale events including commencement, All-American Weekend, Staff Appreciation, Celebrate AU, and the Faculty-Staff Holiday Party. In addition, she assists with special projects, advises departments and student organizations on event logistics and protocol issues, and represents the office on campus-wide committees. She has worked in Special Events for more than eighteen years and previously worked in the School of International Service. American University is a founding member of NAACO and Lisa served as co-chair of the 2013 Annual Conference in Washington, DC and the Southeast Regional Director for 2014-15.
Brad Coburn, Director at Large
|Calendar and Convocation Coordinator
Brad Coburn has worked at McMaster University since 2002, after receiving an Honours B.A. in Classics and Multimedia. In 2010, he earned a Master of Education in the Higher Education program from the department of Theory and Policy Studies in Education (TPS) at OISE/University of Toronto. Currently, Brad currently works as the Calendar & Convocation Coordinator in the Office of the Registrar, and is an elected (non-teaching staff) member of McMaster’s Board of Governors and academic Senate. Serving on many working groups and subcommittees that include the Finance committee, the Human Resources Advisory Panel, the Committee to Recommend a President, and several Alumni Association committees. Brad assumed the role of Director at Large for Membership in 2014 and is passionate about improving the network of convocation/commencement and academic event planners across North America, so we all may benefit from the diverse experiences and practices present in the group.
Pamela Faust, Director at Large-Education
Pamela J. Faust is the Executive Assistant to the President and Provost at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. She serves the offices of the President and Provost jointly as the college’s ceremony officer, coordinating small- to large-scale ceremonial events, two internal grant programs, and the academic award and honorary degree processes. In addition, Pamela provides event planning assistance to sister offices in the academic division and logistical support to the Faculty Chair in various governance areas. Pamela has been a member of NAACO for eight years, serving on the Education Committee for the last two years. Before coming to Kenyon College, she served as director of adult literary programs at The (James) Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio, and as development event coordinator at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron, Ohio.
Jill Williams, Director at Large
Associate Director of University Events
Johns Hopkins University
Jill Williams manages large-scale events for Johns Hopkins University including Commencement, Convocation, building groundbreakings and dedications. She takes special interest in recruiting, training, managing and retaining event volunteers. She is also passionate about incorporating event safety into the planning process. Prior to coming to Hopkins, Jill was senior account manager for Hargrove, Inc. in the Washington D.C. area, where she worked on high profile events including two U.S. Presidential Inaugurations and Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Nationals Stadium. Jill has also done events for the Alumni Associations at both the University of Maryland and Bowling Green State University that included award galas, reunion programing and athletic events. Jill has presented twice at the annual NAACO conference and has been active on two conference planning committees. She was recently named Interim Director at Large for Communications, for the NAACO Board of Directors.
Gabrielle Copperwheat, Executive Director
NAACO Headquarters, Princeton Jct, NJ