Elections

2020 ACCIS Elections

The link to the ballot will be emailed to each ACCIS school's primary member on Monday, April 6 and the ballot will close on Friday, April 24. Each school has one vote and should complete the ballot by following the emailed and online instructions in SurveyMonkey. 


The candidates for the three (3) open, elected Board positions are listed below; statements and bios are linked, or you can scroll down to review.

Lisa Clay, Co-Director of College Counseling, The Out-of-Door Academy, Sarasota, FL
Rafael S. (Ralph) Figueroa, Dean of College Guidance, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM
Lesley Klecan, Director of College Counseling, St. Mary’s School, Medford, OR
Jonny Nicholson, Director of College Counseling, Breck School, Minneapolis, MN
Rod Skinner, Dean of College Counseling, Milton Academy, Milton, MA
Louis Trujillo, College Counselor, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY


 

Lisa Clay, Co-Director of College Counseling
The Out-of-Door Academy, Sarasota, FL (2019-present)

In nearly every corner of my life, one can easily find evidence that I bring it all or nothing. I don’t just say I love animals; I have six dogs and at least one foster on a regular basis. I don’t just say I love jewelry; I make my own statement necklaces that people say rival Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Jewels. Even in my social media pictures, I don’t just smile; I smile so wide that the length of my face roughly doubles. I say this not in jest or for comic relief, but to demonstrate my genuine enthusiasm for every task at hand. I don’t just have a job or a hobby. I have passion projects. This enthusiasm sets me apart and draws me to the mission of ACCIS.

ACCIS’s mission is twofold. While supporting our members as school leaders who guide students and their families through the college admission process, it creates a network of professionals who support each other. This support forges relationships, both professional and personal, that have influenced the work I do each day. I want to play a larger role in making ACCIS an organization that not only serves counselors, but makes people love serving students even more because of the vast support network surrounding them.

I first heard of ACCIS when I was a College Counselor at Casady School in Oklahoma. In fact, I actually attended the 2011 Pre-Institute for New Counselors, Summer Institute, and post-tour before I ever stepped foot on Casady’s campus. I knew I was hooked from day one. I soaked in as much as I could, as quickly as I could and never looked back. I soon became an Organizational Advancement committee member for the 2012 Summer Institute, which lead me to co-chairing Organization Advancement for the next three years. Once I was bitten by the ACCIS leadership bug, I was asked to serve as the Summer Institute Chair, for the past four years. I knew how much ACCIS Summer Institute meant in my profession and personal journey, that I couldn’t wait to pay it forward and do my part to provide an amazing experience for future attendees.

ACCIS is community. When I entered this profession over a decade ago, I wasn’t just looking for a job. I wanted to be part of something greater than myself. In my very first meeting, I realized I hadn’t just found a career—I’d found my calling. Whether through casual conversations with new members over breakfast at Summer Institute or informal mentoring from ACCIS’s greatest legends, the organization has shaped the person I am today. ACCIS’s ability to include and embrace new members is its hallmark, and I am eternally grateful. I believe we thrive as a group because of it. ACCIS is fun! We are unique because we do serious work without sacrificing our spirit. I believe we thrive as a group because of it. ACCIS is my heart, and I would be honored to serve on the Board of Trustees. This organization changed my life, and I feel it is my personal duty to repay the very large debt I owe to it.

Education:
BS in Communication Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, 2003

Previous Employment:
Director of the Center for College and Life Planning, Parish Episcopal School (TX), 2017-2019
Associate Director of College Counseling, Parish Episcopal School (TX), 2014-2017
College Counselor, Casady School (OK), 2011-2014
Senior Admissions Counselor, Texas A&M University (TX), 2007-2011
Admissions Counselor, The University of Texas at Austin (TX), 2004-2007

Significant Professional Development:
Member NACAC, 2004-present; NACAC Member Relations Committee Member, 2015-2018; NACAC Rising Star 2008, Member of ACCIS, 2011-present; ACCIS Summer Institute Chair, 2016-present; ACCIS Organizational Advancement Co-Chair, 2013-2016; Member SACAC, 2019-present; Member TACAC, 2004-2011 and 2014-2019; TACAC Rising Star 2008; TACAC Delegate, 2011; TACAC Conference Coordinator, 2008-2011; TACAC First-Timers Chair, 2007; SuperACAC session presenter 2017; TACAC session presenter 2007; Member GPACAC, 2011-2014; GPACAC Distinguish Service Award recipient, 2014; GPACAC Delegate, 2013-2014; GPACAC Conference Committee Chair, 2013-2014; Member TACARO, 2008-2011; TACARO High school Relations Committee, 2008-2011.

 

Rafael S. (Ralph) Figueroa, Dean of College Guidance
Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM (2013 - present)

Shortly after I began my tenure at Albuquerque Academy, my Head of School, Andy Watson, and I had a conversation about education culture, and how you bend the path of a family, a neighborhood, a city, or a state towards higher education. At the end of that conversation, Andy told me, “Our students are well-served. As long as they are being well-served, serve as many students as you can.”

I have never looked back. And neither has Andy.

People sometimes ask me why I have been involved in so many committees and boards and programs in my time here at the Academy, and the answer always goes back to that one conversation. I believe that I can reach even more students and families by giving my time, my skills, my legal training, and my perspectives to organizations such as NACAC, the Common Application, and College Horizons.

I believe that those skills, perspectives, and training, along with my experiences with so many different organizations will allow me to serve ACCIS as well. The needs of ACCIS are similar to the other groups I have been involved with, yet they are also set apart. I think that as independent school counselors we are about to face our most volatile days ever, and that the very nature of our jobs will be transformed in ways that none of us can predict right now. I think that ACCIS as an association will have to transform itself in numerous ways over the coming years, not only to serve its members well, but in order to survive.

I think I can help.

Education:
A.B. American Studies, Stanford University
J.D. UCLA School of Law

Previous Employment:
Director of College Guidance, Albuquerque Academy (2002 – 2013)
Associate Dean of Admission, Assistant Dean of Admission, Wesleyan University (1995 – 2002)
Assistant Director of Admission, Admission Counselor, Occidental College (1992 – 1995)

Significant Professional Development:
2019-present National Association for College Admission Counseling, Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership in College Admission; 2016-2017 NACAC Steering Committee on Admission Practices; 2014-2016 NACAC Governance and Nominating Committee; 2011-2014 Rocky Mountain Association for College Admission Counseling President-Elect, President, Past-President; 2010-2013 The Common Application Outreach Committee Advisory Group; 2009-2011 NACAC US News & World Report Ad Hoc Committee; 2006-2009 The Common Application Board of Directors; 2007-2008 NACAC Commission on the Use of Standardized Tests in Undergraduate Admission; 2003-present Faculty Member, Small Group Leader, List Maker, and Essay Specialist, College Horizons Program.

 

Lesley Klecan, Director of College Counseling
St. Mary’s School, Medford, OR (2013-present)

In times like these, when we seem to exist in our own little bubbles, it is even more important to support one another as we look to support our students and families. How fortunate we are to have an organization through which we can connect and trade resources!

I bring the perspective of someone who has done this by necessity. Working at the only college prep independent school in Southern Oregon, I rely heavily upon my ACCIS peers, as it is a five-hour drive to my nearest peers in the state. I’ve experienced the impact of networking through my work with PNACAC, our 5-state regional affiliate, as well as with our Counselor Advisory Board at University of Oregon. These experiences with colleagues within the profession, but not necessarily within a private school setting, spur me to contribute to ACCIS.

While my school may be isolated, we share the common experience of independent schools. I recognize the pressure by parents and board member for prestigious admits, but also push back to gradually change the culture of our school. Gone are the public lists of acceptances, replaced simply by where students will matriculate. Our giant annual bulletin board of “where they are going” is being replaced by “character counts” and quotes from seniors about the importance of serving others. My constant message to students is to find a college that fits who you are and consider where you will thrive. In every case, whether they are the child of a farmer, laborer, neurosurgeon, or politician, I encourage students to be their best selves rather than trying to be some mythical best candidate. My mantra is “You are the best you in the universe. Why would you try to be anything else?”

In times like these, we need more than ever to connect with our students and support them through this uncertainty— should they go to their dream school or stay closer to home; will college even happen in the fall; should our international students plan to return to the US; what about prom and graduation? Prioritizing the mental and emotional health of our students is paramount. Our students and families look to us for guidance. We look to each other for support. Serving on the ACCIS board allows me to bring a fresh perspective and give back to the community that has provided so much. We share unique challenges working in independent schools. I look forward to working to serve our ACCIS community.

Education:
BA, UC San Diego
MA, Syracuse University

Previous Employment:
2005-2013 Teacher, Administration Team, St. Mary’s School
2002-2005 Education Director, Rogue Regional Art Center
1992-2002 Teacher, St. Mary’s School

Significant Professional Development:
2017-2020 Inter-Association Chair for PNACAC; 2018-2020 University of Oregon Counselor Advisory Board; 2019-present Contributor to ACCIS blog; 2018-19 Scholarship Application Reader for Colleges that Change Lives; Presenter at 2019 GearUp West Conference; Presenter at 2019 Oregon School Counselor Association State Conference; Presenter at 2019 TRIO Employee Workshop; Presenter at 2019 TRIO Regional College Essay Workshop; Presenter at 2018 TRIO State Conference; 2016 Recipient of Counselor that Changes Lives Award; 2010 Recipient of DAR Oregon History Teacher of the Year award; 2009 Recipient of Edison Grant for Curriculum Innovation.

 

Jonny Nicholson, Director of College Counseling
Breck School, Minneapolis, MN (2011-Present)

My life changed forever in my senior year of college when I eventually realized the value of mentors. It was in a small town in the middle of nowhere Ohio where I came to realize the administrators who showered their care, value and commitment to students and education each and every day without limit. I had matured enough by then to learn the value of education and my own responsibility and role therein, but it was the time, care, and sincerity these leaders gave so generously that fostered my own self-knowledge and development while also emulating for me the power of mentorship.

It was here, in the life-altering time of one’s life, that I came to appreciate the well-timed placement of someone who genuinely cares for another: the coach who encouraged me to pursue student government; the student life director who challenged me to step as bravely as I could into the unknown; the student life dean who challenged me to question my assumptions and be my best self; the director of athletics who took the time to ask what it was about sports that commanded my commitment. And, it was the dean of admission who showed me the value in learning as much as I can about an another, their life experiences and community, and the desire to value and know each person. I am grateful to so many for so much and I strive to emulate the examples and bar they have set for me.

ACCIS provides such an avenue of challenge, support and care. From the individual members who daily take the time to support another and to grow each other so that we can best support our students, to the leadership who seek to lead, inspire and provide those opportunities for growth, I have personally gained so much from you and from my membership and involvement within ACCIS. My time as faculty for the ACCIS Training and Support (now New Counselor Workshop) made me forever grateful for our vastly talented colleagues and the bright future of our profession. The opportunity to next serve as a board member is both humbling and challenging. And, it brings me back to that moment in my senior year of college, when, with my future before me, I made the decision to commit to education and to students. To return my thanks in service. I welcome the opportunity to serve you, to serve our students, and to do my best to further the great work of ACCIS.

Education:
B.A. Economics, Kenyon College, 1998
M.Ed. Higher Education Administration, Vanderbilt University, 2002

Previous Employment:
Associate Director of College Counseling, Phillips Academy Andover (2007-2011)
Registrar, College Counselor, Teacher, The Field School (2004-2007)
Assistant Director of Admission, American University (2003-2004)
Associate Director of Admission, The University of the South (2002-2003)
Assistant Director of Admission, Kenyon College (1998-2000)

Significant Professional Development:
Advanced History Research Teacher, Breck School 2018-Present; ACCIS Training and Support Committee (now New Counselor Workshop/Webinar Faculty) 2016-2019; Co-Advisor Mentorship, Breck School 2016-Present; Native American Student Advisor 2016-Present; Race in America Instructor and Advisor 2016-Present; Various College Advisory Boards 2015-2019; Senior Leadership Team, Breck School 2011-Present; Athletics Advisory, Prize Committee, Faculty Admission Advisory and Global Perspective Group Committees, Phillips Academy Andover, 2007-2011; Debate and Student Diversity Awareness Group Advisor, Field School 2004-2007; Graduate Assistant, Vanderbilt University Student Life 2000-2002; Outside Reader, Vanderbilt University Office of Undergraduate Admission 2000-2002; Kenyon College Class Reunion and Class Representative 1998-Present; Assistant Football Coach, Kenyon College 1998-2000.

 

Rod Skinner, Dean of College Counseling
Milton Academy, Milton, MA (1999 – present)

Just sixteen years ago, a group of independent school college counselors, led by Betsy Dolan, approached folks at NAIS about giving college counselors more voice, more leadership presence in the work of our schools and persuaded them to help us create NAIS College Connection. Those conferences (2004 and 2005) brought college counselors and school administrators together to educate administrators about the far-reaching and vital work of college counselors and to confirm the centrality of that work to the overall health and strength of independent school communities. In winter of 2007, Betsy’s group and several new enthusiasts, hosted by Marty Elkins, met at Groton for a series of intensive brainstorming sessions about forming an organization of independent school college counselors. ACCIS was born soon after.

It was exhilarating and heartening to be part of those initial conversations. And it has been equally exhilarating (and stunning!) to see how much ACCIS has grown in the short amount of time since then. The voice, the influence, the legitimacy we had envisioned has come to pass. ACCIS has become a force in the independent school and college admissions worlds. Precocious beyond its years, it has already established the infrastructures, support systems, and initiatives that are the markers of mature, durable institutions. ACCIS is here to stay.

Aside from presenting at a few Summer Institutes, I have not been as deeply involved in ACCIS as I was those first heady years. Other responsibilities (Harvard Institute, the Common Application, others) have limited my availability. But, in the disruptions of these current times, and the very real challenges these disruptions present to our institutions, I am feeling the call to advocate for our work again. As schools begin to wrestle with newly compromised budgets and begin to think about essential and non-essential roles in their communities, we need to affirm the importance of college counseling to the immediate health and well-being of its students and to the long-term health and well-being of its school’s mission, its school’s soul, really. In many ways we may face challenges not dissimilar to, and perhaps more dire than, the ones we faced and confronted in 2004.

In a conversation this week, a much respected school leader observed that, in extremely difficult times like these, it is paramount that schools reaffirm their values. ACCIS will play a significant role in reminding school leadership that college counselors play an integral role in helping their schools honor and live those values. I would love to be a part of that work and of all the important work ACCIS does to sustain our extraordinary profession. We are, as a head of school once remarked, the miracle workers of our schools.

Education:
A.B. English and French Literature, Harvard College, 1976
Ed.M. Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1980

Previous School Employment:
Director of College Counseling, Shorecrest Preparatory School (1995-1999)
Director of College Counseling, Ransom Everglades School (1989-1995)
Head of Upper School/Dean of Students, Francis W. Parker School, CA (1983-1989)
English teacher and coach, Beaver Country Day School (1981-1983)
English teacher, dorm head, and coach, Choate Rosemary Hall (1976–1979)

Significant Professional Development:
Faculty, Harvard Summer Institute on College Admission (2002-present); Trustee, Boston Collegiate Charter School (2012–present); Member, National Selection Committee, United World College (2018-present); Executive Committee (2009-2011), Board of Directors (2006-2011), The Common Application; Chair, Admission Practices Committee, National Association for College Admission Counseling (2001-2003); Chief Delegate/Executive Board/President-Elect, Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (1994-1999); Director, SACAC Summer Seminar for Secondary School Counselors (1991-2000).

 

Louis Trujillo, College Counselor
Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY (2016-present)

Over the past couple of weeks, our worlds have been upended in myriad ways. Virtually every aspect of our professional and personal lives have been affected by a new, unsettling reality. While most of us adjust to this new ‘normal,’ I cannot help but reflect on the collective wisdom of my ACCIS mentors and members who have championed for an unequivocal commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access as foundational to our work’s mission. In effect, ACCIS has been the safe harbor in these choppy, uncertain waters. These values have provided both a form of assurance and clarity in a time that appears to lack both. With swift institutional change on behalf of colleges, parents, and students navigating an increasingly complex process, and competing priorities from independent schools, we, as college counselors, must not forget that to engage in college counseling is to engage with diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. These two do not exist in a vacuum and cannot be understood as independent of one another.

My want to be part of the Board of Trustees of ACCIS is to not only build on the exceptional work already being done by our membership but also to broaden our answers to questions that are yet to be asked. In this peculiar time, it is crucial—now more than ever—to explore college access at independent schools as a matter of fairness, and consequently, how can we see our work in the college process tied to a larger enterprise. To ask the question: what is the value of a college counseling experience? How do we empower college counselors at our schools to lean less into the privilege of attending elite institutions, and how do we think even more critically of our roles as partners in the collective education experience of our schools? Some questions will be present as we move forward. How do any of our schools, secondary or otherwise, find sustainability in the model as fees go up and the economy goes down? Though not as evident, those choices will inevitably affect the work that we do as college counselors. What are the expectations that schools have of their college counselors and to the end at which those expectations vary, can it be ACCIS, the parent organization of the practice of college counselors at independent schools in today’s changing climate, which helps create models for best practice that the member schools should put measures in place that we strive to adhere?

My experience on “both sides of the desk” has allowed me to see how an organization like ACCIS is and can be an agent of change within our field. As a college counselor at Saint Ann’s, I have been afforded an unprecedented view of the inner-workings of an independent school. Still, most importantly, I have witnessed that for change to be enacted, it starts with a resolve to include as many voices to the table. As a college counseling office, we have built a culture where we welcome (and lean) into difficult conversations and interweave those discussions into our student meetings, high school programming, and school-wide conversations. As an admission officer, I was able to understand the intricate layers and competing interests that established institutions have to contend within the marketplace. Revelatory, for sure, but the work allowed me to develop and adopt a nuanced and multiform approach of the world.

It feels daunting, but, above all, a humble honor to be nominated for the role. As a first-generation, low-income college student-now-an administrator of color at an independent school who has navigated spaces entirely different than my own, I see intersections and opportunities in the powerful work we can do as an organization. Now, more than ever, the ability to think comprehensively and inclusively, is imperative and critical. If considered, it would be an honor, and a privilege, to serve on the ACCIS Board of Trustees. Thank you, wholeheartedly, for the nomination.

Education:
A.B. History of Art & Architecture and Hispanic Studies, Brown University, 2009

Previous Employment:
Associate Director of Admission, Brown University (2013-2016)
Assistant Director of Admission, Brown University (2011-2013)
Admission Officer, Brown University (2009-2011)

Significant Professional Development:
National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC), Conference Reviewer Committee; Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Undergraduate Scholarship Reviewer; College Horizons, List Maker; Association of Black Admission/Financial Aid Officers of Ivy League & Sister Schools, Associate Member & Former Treasurer; Brown University Diversity Advisory Board, Staff Representative; National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC), Member; Association of College Counselors at Independent Schools (ACCIS), Member; New York State Association of Independent School (NYSAIS) College Counselors Conference, Attendee & Presenter; New York State Association of Independent School (NYSAIS) Diversity Conference, Presenter; National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), People of Color Conference, Attendee; International Association of College Counselors (IACAC), Member.