Ready. Set. Renew.

14th Annual Conference



May 27, 2014 – 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 Executive Board
Current NAACO Officers (2013-2014)


Linda Bekerian, President

Linda Bekerian Commencement Operations Manager
Northeastern University

Linda Bekerian, as Commencement Operations Manager at Northeastern University in Boston, is responsible for the development and execution of commencement and academic ceremonies. She coordinates all event logistics, supervises the management of all participants and staff; is responsible for related publications, communication and website information, diploma production and distribution, budget preparation and allocation and negotiation of contracts and proposals for ceremony related services and products. Northeastern’s Commencement is held in May and consists of 2 ceremonies: the undergraduate ceremony is held off campus and boasts an attendance of 3,000+ candidates; immediately following, the graduate ceremony is held back on campus with a participation of 1,200+ candidates; the School of Law Commencement is held later in the month. Diplomas are presented to all qualifying graduates during the ceremony.

In addition to her 15+ years of commencement experience, Linda has been a member of NAACO since 2004 and successfully chaired the 8th Annual NAACO Conference in 2008. She has served as the NAACO Treasurer from 2009 – 2012 and is excited about taking on her new Executive Board role as President-Elect.


Lois Ferguson, President-Elect

Lois Ferguson Manager of Commencement and Facilities Planning
Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Lois Ferguson has worked at Baylor for more than 23 years and has been responsible for university commencement ceremonies for 13 years. Baylor is the world’s largest Baptist university and has three spring ceremonies, a summer ceremony and two winter ceremonies. Lois has full responsibility for these ceremonies where more than 3000 students who have been certified as graduates participate. She also works with Baylor’s Truett Seminary on their spring and winter 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. All aspects of graduation look to Lois for guidance and decisions on everything from venue set-up to regalia. She maintains the commencement website and oversees the budget. Additionally, Lois works with the Facility, Planning and Construction Service department of the campus as a Facility Utilization Planner, using both her academic and facility knowledge to help locate usable space for all divisions of the university and to allocate the space as appropriate.

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 Provost’s Office, where she began her work with commencement. 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 highly successful NAACO regional conference. She is excited to serve on the NAACO Executive Board and extend her network of colleagues.


­Christine Deehan, Treasurer

Christine Deehan Director, University Events
Rowan University

­Christine Deehan is Director of University Events at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, where she has been on the staff for over 13 years. As University Events director for the past seven years, Christine oversees, plans, and executes all on and off campus University events, including receptions, banquets, and ceremonies that support the Office of the President of Rowan University and/or the Board of Trustees and other University administrators, including convocation and commencement. Spearheading every aspect of commencement, Christine coordinates all participants, staff and volunteers and oversees the management of all event logistics. She is responsible for all event communications, including print publications, website content and other outreach efforts.

Christine also manages Rowan University’s commencement budget, which involves properly planning and allocating Commencement funds, as well as negotiating contracts and proposals for event related services and items. As part of this responsibility, she maintains accurate and detailed accounting records, prepares reports and provides analysis for future event budgets.

As a NAACO member for the past six years, Christine has served on two conference committees. In 2010, she held the first NAACO regional meeting in the Tri-State (Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware) region. Christine considers herself privileged to be afforded this opportunity to work with committed and enthusiastic NAACO members.


Suzanne Kahl, Board Secretary

Commencement Coordinator
Tufts University MA

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.

Douglas Bolin, Past President

Douglas Bolin Artistic Director and Director of Operations
Office of Relationship Management and University Events
The University of Texas at Austin

For more than a decade, Doug has worked with his colleagues in UT’s Office of Relationship Management and University Events to build community and manage constituent relations through the production of a series of annual, university-wide programs. Programs include: a new student welcome know as “Gone to Texas;” the university’s annual anniversary program “The University at 123″ featuring faculty awards and the president’s address on the state of the university; staff and student holiday programs “Longhorn Halloween” and “Orange Santa;” an open house for the citizens and school children of Texas, “Explore UT;” an academic honors ceremony, “Honors Day;” an annual memorial program, “UT Remembers;” and the culmination of the academic year, the university-wide commencement ceremony that concludes with a fully choreographed fireworks display. Special programs for this past year have included the inaugural celebration for UT’s new president and a memorial service for former Texas Governor, Ann Richards.

Each program has a unique graphic identity and some, such as Commencement, include a new annual “theme” to help amplify the messages of the central administration. As artistic director, Doug is responsible for strategic planning and creative elements integrated into each university event.
Prior to moving to UT, Doug was a member of the voice faculty at Baylor University. He holds degrees in vocal performance from The Ohio State University (DMA), The University of Texas at Austin (MM), and a degree in music education from the University of Colorado in Boulder (BME).


Sheelagh Atkinson, Director at Large

Sheelagh Atkinson Manager, Events & Ceremonials
Division of Advancement,
York University, Toronto, ON
416-736 2100 ext 77626

Sheelagh Atkinson has worked at York University, Toronto for 25 years, and is currently the Manager, Events & Ceremonials with responsibility for all institutional events and ceremonies. York University is the 3rd largest university in Canada. During spring convocation York University confers over 6,000 degrees at 13 ceremonies and another 3,000 degrees at five fall ceremonies.

Her role has also included work as part of the President’s Task Force on convocation, culminating in the recommendation to relocate York’s ceremonies. Her 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.

Sheelagh has been a member of NAACO since 2004, has been involved with the Membership Committee for the past seven years, and serves as Director-at-Large, Membership on the NAACO Executive Board. Sheelagh considers the networking and friendships she has established through NAACO to be invaluable both professionally and personally.


Stephanie Lee, Director at Large

Stephanie Lee Administrative Associate
Oakland University, MI

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.


Lisa Walker, Director at Large

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.”


Gabrielle Copperwheat, Executive Director

Gabrielle Copperwheat Executive Director
NAACO Headquarters, Princeton Jct, NJ


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