As NIRSA members and professed Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, we are responsible for the leadership and the future of the association; as members of our university communities, we are responsible for the leadership and future of our campuses. Contributing to the association as volunteer leaders and fulfilling our professional responsibilities on our campuses happens concurrently. My efforts for our association this leadership year will be rooted in a commitment to do the work through a lens of critical hope, versus a lens of naïve hope.

From their 2009 book Learning as a Way of Leading: Lessons from the Struggle for Social Justice, authors Stephen Preskill and Stephen Brookfield distinguish between the two hopes by saying:

Naïve hope is “a weak form of HOPE, is inattentive to how disorienting despair can be and unappreciative of how much must be done to overcome injustice.”

Critical hope “demands that leaders take up the most difficult challenges, explore the most sensitive subjects, and raise the most daring questions.”

Change Makers of NIRSA

We experienced a huge learning curve this year with the pandemic and exposure to systemic racial injustice. And, as we move forward, the rate of change will only continue to increase over the coming years.

We all continue to navigate social changes while working in environments made up of four generations, sharing information through various modes of communication, competing for environmental resources, addressing systemic structures that perpetuate injustice, and constantly reimagining how we do what we do—all while trying to give attention to the importance of our personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of those we serve.

My goal with the Change Makers vlog—my forthcoming series of entries in the NIRSA President’s Notes leadership blog—is to create synergy around the concept of critical hope (hope with action) during times of change. I look forward to sharing stories, insights, and resources from colleagues and peers across the United States and Canada.

Throughout this year, may we continue to challenge ourselves to listen, learn, and do better. Most importantly, however, let us be the change the world needs to create and sustain healthy communities. May we reciprocate inspiration to each other, as we progress forward together as Change Makers engaging in critical hope.

Be well NIRSA family and be the change,


Associate Professor at Elon University | NIRSA Profile

Cara Lucia, Ph.D is currently an associate professor at Elon University. She serves as the 2021-2022 NIRSA President.