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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 (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

Alanna Vernon Associate Director, Ceremonies and Events
The University of British Columbia, Okanagan
(250) 807-9889

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 Commencement Coordinator
Tufts University

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 Melissa Picher Kelly
Academic Events Manager
Ceremonies & Events Office
The University of British Columbia
(604) 822-5414

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

Lisa Arakaki Senior Director, Special Events
American University
(202) 885-2430

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
(215) 898-6341

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.

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