The mission of the North American Association of Commencement Officers (NAACO) is to establish, foster, and promote the highest possible standards of excellence for the creation and execution of commencement, convocation, and other academic ceremonies through the education and professional development of individuals charged with leadership, planning, oversight, and implementation at post-secondary educational institutions.

The annual conference continues to be a primary opportunity for members to learn from peers and colleagues from across the continent and to share best practices. Strong and lasting personal relationships are the true hallmarks of NAACO. For many, the annual conference is an invigorating reunion with good friends and an opportunity to learn innovative practices from new colleagues and acquaintances.

The association is divided into 9 regions across the continent and, in addition to the annual conference, several regional meetings are held throughout the year to provide professional development opportunities and to create local networks for members.

NAACO’s dedication to our mission includes:

Creating and administrating the NAACO certificate for Academic

Maintaining a members-only, online forum to allow for the free exchange of ideas, recommendations for service providers, the opportunity to ask questions of peers regarding best practices, and sharing of institutional experiences.

Providing remote learning opportunities


Our core purpose is to provide the structure and opportunity for the exchange of information through an established comprehensive network of resources, experts, industry professionals, and academic colleagues from across the North American continent. Our vision is to engage the broader academic community in the unique and valuable role that academic ceremonies play in defining, communicating and protecting the cultural values and traditions of an institution. The mission of NAACO is achieved through the strategic plan. The current strategic plan was developed by the Board of Directors in 2021. With the plan in place, the work of the Board of Directors, committees and volunteers serves measurable objectives that meet the long-term vision of the association.


The North American Association of Commencement Officers, Inc. (NAACO) was founded in 2000 to promote excellence in the administration and management of academic ceremonies and to foster high standards of excellence and cooperation with related organizations and industries that are centered around commencements and convocations. Created by commencement planners for commencement planners, the exchange of ideas and information has remained a critical element of the organization’s success. The first annual conference was held in 2001 in Tempe, Arizona with 75 participants attending. Current conferences bring together an average of more than 300 professionals to discuss a broad spectrum of topics in locations extending from Toronto to Honolulu. NAACO Co-founder Melissa Werner from Arizona State University continues to be an active member of NAACO as do many other committed individuals who have helped to build the association through the years. NAACO was incorporated in 2007 in the state of Illinois and has operated primary offices in the state of Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, and is currently based in Maryland.