Category Archives: student affairs

Recap: Authentic Women in Student Affairs

At the ACPA Convention in Las Vegas this year, I was lucky to co-present a roundtable on being Authentic Women in Student Affairs. Kayla Nuss and I have known each other since graduate school, but weren’t close during our time at The University of Iowa. Instead, we have found each other over a series of ACPA conventions and dialogue over g-chat. What we found as we became closer is that we had both experienced issues at work because we weren’t living up to unspoken expectations if how we were “supposed to” show up.  Over time, our conversations often drifted to ideas of how to be our true, authentic selves in the workplace.  We had some amazing women in our lives who could role model this sort of authenticity, we knew intellectually about self-authorship theory, and are both wholehearted members of the Brene Brown fan club.  Yet, we run into struggles and challenges.  And we turn to one another for support, ideas, and strength (despite being several states apart – we love g-chat!).  We wanted to offer some of these ideas to other women in our field and help them identify some of the ways they can connect with other women (within and outside student affairs) to grow into stronger versions of their authentic selves.

What do we mean by authenticity?

Authenticity- Brene Brown, “Gifts of Imperfection”

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.

Choosing authenticity means:

  • Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
  • exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
  • maturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.

Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving-even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it.

Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude in our lives.”

We came up with some words and phrases that shame us, encourage us to not be our authentic selves.  We wrote them down and asked our participants to respond.


In your experience, what words shame us? What messages do we get that make us afraid of being perceived as unworthy?

We also asked participants to do a little reflective writing with the following prompt: What are some times when you felt in-authentic?  Who were the “players” that participated in those moments?

One of the great conversations that was generated from that prompt is about our intersecting identities and how the can complicate the idea of authenticity – particularly because it adds layers to how we are expected to show up.

One of my favorite reminders from Brene Brown is, “We aren’t either authentic or in-authentic. Authenticity is a practice.”

With that in mind, here are some opportunities for practice…

Authentic Women in Student Affairs Resources

What resources are we missing?  Please share!

I had a lot of thoughts and internal questions as I prepared for this session.   I am excited to add some great women to my circle as I continue to strive for authenticity and wholeheartedness.

Here are some of the blog posts I’ve written that I reviewed in my process – maybe they’ll get you reflecting, too!

supported, affirmed, lifted, and transformed
am I radical?
#ACPA12 – the conference of redefinition
Authentic Supervision

Be well, friends.


Filed under life stuff, student affairs

Forgiving Ourselves

I am honored to have contributed to the CSJE Blog last week. The blog has been my baby for the past six months and I’m so excited to take on a new role within the directorate as the Vice Chair for Social Media.

The CSJE Blog

The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.
~ Marianne Williamson

Without forgiveness, there’s no future.
~ Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.
~ Hannah Arendt

I often leave the annual ACPA convention with unexpected themes in my learning and reflection. This year’s theme, as you may have guessed, is forgiveness. Constructed through powerful conversations with a mentor, engaged dialogue with our commission’s directorate, unabashed vulnerability during CSJE’s open business meeting, and wholehearted moments with dear friends, forgiveness – particularly forgiving myself – resonated and became a pattern throughout my trip. Plus, I went to sessions!

My journey to the conference of forgiveness began on my flight to Las Vegas, where I caught up on a book from a book club (led by some of our fellow ACPA commissions) that I had intended to read ages ago…

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Filed under life stuff, relations, social justice, student affairs

one word for 2013

There are several amazing folks in student affairs who have gotten me excited about choosing a one word resolution for 2013.  I tried to pick one earlier this year (2012) and couldn’t settle on one.  I’m not an overly decisive person when it comes to things like this – the idealist in me keeps thinking, “but, what if…” and I want to pick 100 words because I can’t imagine that just one would fit me for a whole year perfectly.  I knew it could be powerful, but I wanted it to be powerful and all-inclusive.  And that’s a high expectation.

Never heard of one word resolutions?  Here’s some websites to help you understand: My One Word and One Word 365.  Not only will they help explain what this whole one word resolution thing is all about, but these two site can also help you choose your word.  The awesome Becca Obergefell (who inspired this post) has some great tips on her blog as well.

Some great advice from the One Word 365 site:

Focus on being rather than doingDifferent than resolutions, your One Word isn’t a constant reminder of what you “should be doing”. Instead, it stands to inspire how you want to live. Think about who you want to be, and choose a word that will help you become that.

Be authentic. Your word should reflect YOU, and no one else. It’s easy to listen to others’ words and then pick one that sounds good. But you want a word that’s uniquely yours. One that resonates with you on a deep level (in a way that others can’t fully understand, even if they have the same word).

Don’t overthink it. It’s not rocket science, and there’s no wrong answer. Don’t analyze it to death! It’s not about whittling down a long list of potential words; it’s about identifying the word that keeps coming back to nag at your heart. Someone commented on our last post, “I will watch for the next 10 days (till the end of the year), and I will use the word that I see and recognize the most.” Such a brilliant idea for choosing! Stop the hamster wheel in your mind long enough to listen for your word.

So…how to choose my word.  I’m a list maker, so I’m starting with possibilities.


I’ll be honest, even as I brainstormed my list, I committed the “sin” of brainstorming – I nixed things in my head before they even got “written.”  Sometimes, my perfectionism (and slight OCD nature) gets the best of me.  When I think about who I want to be, I see a person who is loving, caring, kind, gentle with herself and others, and who loves ever moment to its fullest.  I want to be authentic and intentional and I definitely don’t want to make mistakes.  Adventurous as I may be, I often take the safe bet when it comes to big decisions.  I go for the best practice, I wait for someone else to make the call, and I use my logic-driven side to make the sound decision.  Sometimes, I have a hard time believing in myself, and my ability to get through challenges.

With all that, I have chosen imagine as my one word for 2013.  I pulled it from my favorite quote from N. Scott Momaday:

We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination  of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy is to go unimagined.

From The Man Made of Words


I am so excited to begin this journey of imagination as I embark on 2013.  The last year has certainly held its challenges; we changed jobs and moved across the country and we lost the light of our lives – dear Zoe.  The new year will bring us a new puppy (squee!), the start of my official photography business (check me out on facebook and on the web), and several other adventures.

Don’t forget to share your one word with others!  Add it here (thanks to Niki Rudolph for collecting them!).

love, hugs, and imagining….ekt


Filed under life stuff, student affairs

This I Believe: #SAchat Partners with ACPA Commission for Social Justice Educators

Two great friends and I wrote about what we believe over – check it out!

This I Believe: #SAchat Partners with ACPA Commission for Social Justice Educators.

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Filed under social justice, student affairs