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 (2018-2019)
Dr. Douglas Bolin, President
|Associate Director for University Events
University of Texas at Austin
Doug Bolin is responsible for strategic planning and creative elements integrated into a series of events that focus on creating community across the University of Texas campus. Doug has an academic background in music and was a member of the voice faculty at Baylor University prior to moving to Austin. He received his doctorate in vocal performance from the Ohio State University, a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Doug previously served on the NAACO Board as President and Past President.
Alanna Vernon, President Elect
|Associate Director, Ceremonies and Events
The University of British Columbia, Okanagan
Alanna joined the Ceremonies Office at the inception of the Okanagan campus in 2005 and has managed every UBC Okanagan graduation ceremony since then. Besides graduation ceremonies, she is responsible for over 30 annual and special events each year, and none were bigger or more special than the Royal Visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in September 2016. Alanna is the NAACO regional director for Canada West and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Canadian History from the University of Alberta.
Suzanne Kahl, Past President
Suzanne Kahl currently serves as the Past President of NAACO. 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.
Melissa Picher Kelly, Treasurer
|Melissa Picher Kelly
Academic Events Manager
Ceremonies & Events Office
The University of British Columbia
Melissa Picher Kelly has 12 years of experience as the Academic Events Manager in the Ceremonies Office at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver campus.
Previously, Melissa was a member of the team that launched UBC’s downtown Vancouver campus where she led the successful event services department for seven years.
In her current role, Melissa manages a cross-campus team that produces UBC’s bi-annual graduation ceremonies, held in the Spring and Fall. UBC graduates approximately 9,000 students per year and welcomes thousands of guests to campus for the festivities.
In addition to graduation, Melissa coordinates several other University events as part of the Ceremonies Office team. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in French from UBC.
Lisa Arakaki, Secretary
|Senior Director, Special Events
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.
Liz McMahan, Interim Director at Large-Education
|Senior Planner, Ceremonials & Events Operations,
University Events & Ceremonies, Division of Advancement
(416) 736-2100 Ext. 55357
Liz McMahan is the Senior Planner, Ceremonials & Events Operations in the Division of Advancement at York University. She is responsible for the planning and operational oversight of the University’s 18 convocation ceremonies, along with Orientation Day and Remembrance Day. In addition, the University Events & Ceremonies office coordinates over 75 annual institutional and advancement events including groundbreakings and building openings, recognition events and installation ceremonies. Prior to joining York, Liz spent several years in arts administration, overseeing large festivals and events and also worked as a stage manager for theatre productions and events including the Vancouver Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Claire Alexander, Interim Director at Large-Membership
|Special Projects Manager, Office of VP External
University of Guelph
(519) 824-4120 Ext. 53098
As Special Projects Manager at the University of Guelph, Claire supports activities that advance the reputation of the University locally, nationally and internationally. She manages convocation, internal annual events and collaborates across campus on a wide variety of other initiatives. Over the past 13 years in her position at the U of G, she has hosted convocation in 4 different venues and has managed installation ceremonies for 3 Chancellors and 1 President. She has been a member of NAACO since 2006 and has served as the Regional Director, Canada-East, since 2016.
Ellen Liebman, Director at Large-Communications
|The College of Arts and Sciences
University of Pennsylvania
Ellen Liebman is the Associate Director of Administration in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, managing department finances, support staff, and academic advising in addition to major events like Family Weekend and College Graduation. In the past she has been the Faculty Affairs Coordinator for the Neuroscience Department, the Department Administrator for Romance Languages, and an assistant director in Alumni Relations, all at Penn. Ellen holds a bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies from Penn and a master’s degree in Latin from Bryn Mawr College.