Volunteering for the Executive Board: My Story

By Joe Giacalone
Immediate Past President, International ACAC
Chair, Governance and Nominating Committee
Executive Director, International Admission, Marist College

This is the first in a three-part series on contributing to the Association through Executive Board Service.   
  Be sure to visit the Board Elections page on our website for complete details. 


When considering a new job or career, people tend to develop a pros and cons list. Under the pros, you’ll generally find: professionally fulfilling, challenging, dynamic team, and ability to make a difference. Becoming an International ACAC board member checked all of those boxes for me.

Running for the board demands a lot. It requires a decent amount of self-reflection on a professional and personal level. The basic questions that require examination are: Is this the right time in my career? Is this the right time for me or my family? You are taking a risk by putting yourself out there, but you know there is an even greater reward if it is successful. I would like to share my story and shed some light on how the board election process works.

Running for the Board is different for everyone. From my personal experience, seven or eight years ago, I believed that the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (now the International Association for College Admission Counseling) was a fun group of people who genuinely cared about the future and well-being of international students. I wanted in. I went to a conference session on getting involved and … ended up on a committee. 

It was invigorating to work on a committee with people from around the globe on something other than my paying job. I wanted more. I ran for the Board, was slated, and lost. I regrouped, repaired my ego as best as possible, and focused on another year. I ran again and landed a delegate position. I was on the Board and it exceeded my expectations.

Board service exposed me to a lot. From a university perspective, I enjoyed sitting around a table with counselors and listening to the many challenges they experienced in their work. I felt I gained a greater understanding of their struggles and those of their students. It was far more enlightening than merely sitting next to them in a session, meeting them during a networking break, or talking during a school visit. I grew as an admission counselor, my hope is that this was reciprocated.

Board service was, at times, empowering yet humbling. People often talk about being agents of change and making a difference. As a board member, we were…I was. My opinion counted, people listened and we made changes. People on the Board are smart, opinionated, and passionate—you learn to put your ego aside. It was a well-balanced experience. 

Board service kept me on the cusp of issues surrounding the international higher education field.

Board service allowed me to be part of a global team.

Board service introduced me to mentors, trusted colleagues, and friends. 

Board service allowed me to make a difference.

 

This is the first in a three-part series on contributing to the Association through Executive Board Service.   
  Be sure to visit the Board Elections page on our website for complete details.