Leadership Commission

An ever changing world and higher education landscape have made leadership skills more critical than ever. The changing demographics of campus communities and the nuances of each generation continue to challenge those who lead and those who aspire to lead. Higher education faces an unprecedented period of accelerated change that is driven by shifts in funding models and demands for greater accountability. To respond effectively to the complex educational, social, and economic concerns of society, higher education must develop leaders with the competence to meet the challenges of a constantly changing environment, the ability to think strategically, and a penchant to act collaboratively.

Established in June of 2012

Collegiate recreation has a long history in developing leadership qualities in students and employees. The NIRSA Assembly recently identified additional opportunities for NIRSA and NIRSA members to engage in leadership development for the Association and for the unique campus communities NIRSA members serve.

The NIRSA Board will form a Commission, to be co-chaired by Don Stenta, The Ohio State University and Cara McFadden, Elon University, to analyze leadership development for the Association and in the field of collegiate recreation. This may include analysis of what it takes to be a leader today, developmental opportunities necessary to become an effective leader, and how to assess the stages of leadership and evaluate the progression of emerging leaders.

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In 2012, NIRSA adopted six Strategic Values that create a critical lens through which NIRSA volunteer leaders can envision and align our work, understand the needs of our profession and association, and take leadership.


Mila Padgett, Univeristy of South Carolina Aiken


Ryan Bennett, Elon University

Simon Bravo, NIRSA Headquarters

Brad Burgess, James Madison University

Justine Gilman, University of Southern California

Melissa Longino, University of Dayton

Victoria Lopez-Herrara, University of Texas, San Antonio

Gordon Nesbitt, CRSS, Millersville University

Wendy Windsor, UCLA

Marie VanBuskirk, Oakland University


This Commission is charged with developing concrete plans—through concrete objectives that support the Association’s Strategic Plan, pursuing measurable goals, as well as developing and delivering usable resources—within the area of equity, diversity, and inclusion for the benefit of the collegiate recreation profession and the Association. Additionally, Commissioners may be asked to provide leadership and guidance for the Association in this vital areas of campus recreation.

Application Process

If you would like to serve on any of NIRSA’s Strategic Values Commissions, you will need to submit a Strategic Values Commission Application. The online application is available in the fall and due by December 15 each year.

Commissioners are appointed by the NIRSA President and typically serve for three year terms. Each Strategic Values Commission has two co-chairs that serve three-year terms. The size of the Commissions generally range between eight and 12 members, including the co-chairs. One or two appointments are reserved for emerging professionals to support NIRSA Leadership development. Terms begin after the Annual Conference.

The Strategic Values Commissioner is critical to the success of embedding our values in the daily professional lives of NIRSA members. Below is a list of competencies that we are looking for in future Commissioners:

  1. Communication — Ability to clearly and effectively articulate opinions and ideas as well as acclimate to the various audiences of NIRSA.
  2. Strategic Thinking and Decision Making — Ability to think conceptually, imaginatively, systematically, and opportunistically in alignment with organization’s core purpose.
  3. Critical Thinking — Ability to actively and skillfully conceptualize, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information to inform decision making.
  4. Leadership — Qualities or features that make someone distinctive in a positive and diverse way. Holds a high reputation in that capacity.
  5. Knowledge Competencies — Knowledge about and demonstrated commitment to the value area.
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