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August 20, 2015
New NAACO President Lisa Walker Takes Reign

December 18, 2014
NAACO’s 2015 Annual Conference Puts Spotlight on Event Production and Work/Life Balance

September 17, 2014
New NAACO President Lois Ferguson Takes Reign

August 29, 2014
Philadelphia Magazine – Temple University Football to Honor Lewis Katz

August 28, 2014
OWLSPORTS – Temple University Athletics – Temple Football Honors Lewis Katz with Commemorative Patches

August 17, 2014
Courier-Post – Late Katz Named Best Commencement Speaker

August 10, 2014
In the Capital – NAACO Names John Hopkins Speaker and YouTube CEO Top Speakers

August 9, 2014
The News-Gazette – Mike Hopkins’s Address Named One of the Nation’s Best

August 5, 2014
HUB – Susan Wojcicki’s JHU Commencement Address One of 2014’s Most Inspiring

August 4, 2014
PhilaU – Nick Christian ’14 Selected Along with President Obama as a Top Commencement Speaker

August 4, 2014
CBS 2 News Chicago at 5:00AM – NAACO Lists Michael Hopkins as Top Commencement Speaker

August 3, 2014
Philly.com – Katz Feted for Temple Speech

August 1, 2014
Press Release – NAACO Members Weigh-In on Best Commencement Speakers of the Season

August 1, 2014
Penn News – Lewis Katz Recognized as Top 2014 Commencement Speaker

August 1, 2014
Philly.com – Lewis Katz Recognized as Top 2014 Commencement Speaker

August 1, 2014
Chicago Tribune – Astronaut Sky High on List of Best Graduation Speakers

August 1, 2014
Temple University – Lewis Katz’s Unforgettable Temple Graduation Speech Named Nation’s Best

May 27, 2014
Philly.com – At Penn Graduations, A Dearth of Female Speakers

May 2014
Smart Meetings – Tips to Manage Stress When Planning Events

March 20, 2014
Four Tips to Manage Stress During Commencement Season

January/February 2014
Connect – NAACO Annual Conference

November 20, 2013
NAACO’s 14th Annual Conference to Honor the Past and Inspire the Future

September 17, 2013
USAE – NAACO Announces New President, Linda Bekerian, Northeastern University

September 5, 2013
NAACO Announces Linda Bekerian, Northeastern University, as New President and Board of Directors

July 11, 2013
Commencement’s Over, Now What?

July 2013
Association News – How New Technologies are Being Use to Engage Attendees at Meetings and Events

July 2013
Sports Travel – How New Technologies are Being Use to Engage Attendees at Meetings and Events

May-June 2013
Connect – NAACO Annual Conference

May 14, 2013
American School and University – The Greening of Commencement Ceremonies

April 17, 2013
Three Technological Trends to Embrace, Encourage and Engage Attendees at Commencement

March 19, 2013
USAE – NAACO 2013 Annual Conference

November 30, 2012
NAACO Annual Conference Spells Commencement with a “Capital C”

November 2012
University Affairs – Susan Durkee Named President of NAACO

August 15, 2012
Concordia University News – Susan Durkee Appointed President of NAACO

August 9, 2012
New NAACO Board Takes Reign

June 1, 2012
How Does Your Setting Affect Your Graduation Plan?

May-June 2012
Connect – NAACO Annual Conference

May 5, 2012
Smart Meetings – NAACO Annual Conference

May 4, 2012
The Chronicle of Higher Education – Pomp, Circumstance, and the People Who Make It All Happen

May 1, 2012
American School and University – Tips to Ensure Effective Commencement and Convocation Preparation

May 2012
American School and University – Secure Ceremonies: Tips to Ensure Effective Commencement and Convocation Preparation

April 29, 2012
The Chronicle of Higher Education – Pomp, Circumstance, and the People Who Make It All Happen

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 (2015-2016)


Lisa Walker, President

Lisa Walker 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.”


Sheelagh Atkinson, President-Elect

Manager, Convocation and Special Projects
York University
416-736-2100 (77626)sheelagh@yorku.ca


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.


Lois Ferguson, Past President

Lois Ferguson Manager of Commencement and Facilities Planning
Baylor University

Lois Ferguson has worked at Baylor University since 1988 and has been responsible for university commencement ceremonies since 1999. Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university, has three spring ceremonies, a summer ceremony and two winter ceremonies, in which more than 3,000 students who have been certified as graduates participate. She also works with Baylor’s Truett Seminary on their ceremonies.

Lois is Chair of the university’s Public Exercises Committee and was Co-Chair of the 2006 and 2010 presidential inauguration committees, with primary responsibility for the inauguration ceremony. She is involved in all areas of commencement, providing guidance and helping with decisions ranging from venue set-up to regalia, she maintains the commencement website and oversees the budget. Additionally, Lois works with the Provost’s Office, using both academic and facility experience to allocate space for academic divisions of the university.

In her years at Baylor, Lois has also worked in Public Relations, Student Life, the Dean’s Office for the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Facilities, Planning and Construction office. She chairs the University Moves Committee and is a regular speaker with new employee orientation. Lois has been a session presenter at four NAACO conferences. In the fall of 2009, Lois and other commencement staff at Baylor hosted a successful NAACO regional conference. She was Co-Chair for the 2012 Annual Conference in Austin, Texas. She previously served on the NAACO Board of Directors as a Director at Large.

She holds the Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and a Master of Science degree in Education with a focus in Educational Psychology, both from Baylor.


­Julie Vanderyagt, Treasurer

Christine Deehan Manager, Special Events and Ceremonies
Capilano University
604-986-1911 (7217)

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.


Suzanne Kahl, Board Secretary

Commencement Coordinator
Tufts University

Suzanne Kahl 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.




Brad Coburn, Director at Large

Brad Coburn Calendar and Convocation Coordinator
McMaster University
905-525-9140 (23091)coburnb@mcmaster.ca

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.


Stephanie Lee, Director at Large

Stephanie Lee Administrative Associate
Oakland University

Stephanie J. Lee joined the Academic Affairs office in September 2002 as the Assistant to the Provost. Previously working at Oakland University in the Registrar’s office and most recently working in the School of Business Administration as the MBA Site Administrator and Assessment Assistant.

In her role as Administrative Associate to the Provost, Stephanie provides counsel and management support to the Provost and is responsible for leading or coordinating a variety of matters within the office of the Provost, with other campus units, with the Office of the President, and the Board of Trustees.

She supervises coordination of the University Commencement ceremonies held twice a year; coordinates Academic Affairs agendum for the Board of Trustees including reviewing documents for compliance to Board standards; serves as the recording secretary for the Dean Council, Academic Council and Chairs Council; serves as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs representative for Administrative Council; coordinates the Academic Affairs website and divisional weekly announcements.

Stephanie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Oakland and a Masters of Arts degree in Education from Central Michigan University.


Jill Williams, Director at Large

Jill Williams Jill Williams
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

Gabrielle Copperwheat Executive Director
NAACO Headquarters, Princeton Jct, NJ



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