NASFAA 2017 Awards Announced in San Diego

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National Association Bestows 2017 Awards on Financial Aid Administrators, Researchers Who Exemplify Excellence in Serving Students

Each year, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) presents awards to the most deserving members of the financial aid profession and higher education community.

Each year, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) presents awards to the most deserving members of the financial aid profession and higher education community. These awards are reviewed and selected annually by NASFAA’s Awards Committee and ratified by the Board of Directors. They are presented each year at the National Conference, with nearly 3,000 student aid professionals from across the nation in attendance.

NASFAA’s award recipients for 2017 are:

Lifetime Achievement Award (2 recipients): To be eligible for this award, the individual must be employed by a member institution, be employed by an associate member organization, or be a student member. Previously called the “Lifetime Membership Award,” the board changed the name to emphasize an individual’s lifetime achievements. The award continues to bestow lifetime membership in NASFAA and is the very highest honor which the association can bestow on a member. The achievements and contributions of the individual must truly be outstanding and significant.

  • George Chin (posthumously) , former university director of student financial assistance for the City University of New York and former senior federal policy consultant at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Chin’s professional association activities included service as president of NYSFAAA, president of EASFAA, and 2004-2005 NASFAA national chair. He served on the Board of Trustees for the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. Through his many contributions and volunteer hours, he was perhaps best known at the national level for his firm grasp of both the theory and practice of student financial aid. Chin passed away in February—NASFAA is deeply grateful for the impact he had on the financial aid community.
  • Dr. Laurie Wolf (retired), former executive dean of student services for the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). Wolf spent her career promoting and advancing access and choice to higher education and has been an effective voice for community college students and their issues, as well as underserved populations. Over the years, Wolf has been actively involved at the state, regional, and national levels, and served as the 2010-2011 NASFAA national chair. She has been a leader in NASFAA's reauthorization and legislative efforts, but is perhaps best known as a student advocate. Throughout her career, and specifically at DMACC, Wolf was a prominent voice for underserved populations, particularly for “DREAMers.”

The Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award: The Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award is one of the highest awards that NASFAA bestows. It may be awarded either for significant contributions in the furtherance of NASFAA’s goals over a sustained period of time, or for a single contribution of momentous importance.

  • Dr. Lisa Blazer, senior associate vice president for student affairs at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). With more than 25 years of financial aid and admissions experience, Blazer has dedicated 14 years of her professional life in multiple roles at UTSA, where she oversees Financial Aid & Scholarships, Admissions, Registrar, Orientation, and the One-Stop Enrollment Center. Her contributions to the financial aid profession include serving as NASFAA’s 2016-2017 national chair, as president of TASFAA and SWASFAA, and as a key member of several NASFAA committees including Association Governance, Finance, and Research. Blazer is a dedicated leader and strategic planner, an accomplished speaker and presenter, a consummate professional, and a career-long advocate for students and families.

Meritorious Achievement Award (2 recipients): The Meritorious Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has made either an important single contribution to NASFAA or the profession, or significant multiple contributions.

  • Brett Lief, former president of the National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs and former assistant vice president for student aid and policy for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Lief’s commitment to college access and success dates back to his early years as a financial aid administrator, including roles as assistant director of financial aid at Monmouth University and director of financial aid at Brookdale Community College, both in New Jersey. Lief also worked on behalf of students for 14 years at the NJ Department of Higher Education. He has actively served both NASFAA and the financial aid community, presenting at many state, regional and national conferences, and providing federal updates using his expertise in interpreting policy and legislative issues. He currently serves as the chief strategic advisor for Windham Professionals.
  • Judith Lewis Logue, director of financial aid at the University of San Diego. During Logue’s 53-year career in financial aid, it has been her mission and highest priority to ensure every student has equal access and is given the opportunity to attain a postsecondary education, especially low-income, underrepresented and underserved students. She has been very active in her service to both NASFAA and the financial aid community.

Honorary Membership Award: Honorary Membership in NASFAA is the highest honor that the association can bestow on a person who is neither a member nor affiliated with a member organization. Since this is the highest such award that NASFAA can give, the individual receiving it must have made truly outstanding contributions over a sustained period of time.

  • Jeff Baker, director of the policy, liaison, and implementation staff, U.S. Department of Education. With over 35 years in the student financial aid industry, Baker has made significant contributions to the U.S. Department of Education, students, and schools. He has been a critical resource to our states and regions, and has served NASFAA, the WASFAA region, and the California association. Jeff has previously been awarded NASFAA's Meritorious Achievement Award and the NASFAA Regional Leadership Award for WASFAA. Baker will retire this July after a long and illustrious career in public service.

Golden Quill Award: The Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award is presented to individuals chosen for their contributions to the body of research on student financial aid.

  • Dr. Nicholas Hillman, associate professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hillman’s research has focused on the relationship between financial aid and educational opportunity, particularly for underrepresented students. His work on performance-based funding has challenged conclusions among funders and policymakers that the policies are effective. He has a strong research record and also served NASFAA admirably as associate editor for the Journal of Student Financial Aid from 2011 to 2015.

Regional Leadership Awards (6 Recipients): The individuals selected for these awards must exhibit high integrity and character, must have shown creative leadership, and should have inspired and encouraged others to actively participate in professional development. One award is given in each of six regions:

  • EASFAA – Brian Lemma, associate director of financial aid, Georgetown University
  • MASFAA – Paula Luff, associate vice president, enrollment services, DePaul University
  • RMASFAA – Carolyn Halgerson, director of financial aid, South Dakota State University
  • SASFAA – Jeffrey Dennis, director of financial aid, Greenville Technical College
  • SWASFAA – Andrew Hammontree, director of financial aid, Francis Tuttle Technology Center
  • WASFAA – Mindy Bergeron, director of financial aid, John F. Kennedy University

Gold Star Award (2 recipients): The Gold Star Award recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level, targeted toward any constituency.

  • The California Community College Chancellor's Office for “California Community Chancellor's Office Financial Literacy Initiative.” The project works on life skills students need to succeed through financial literacy knowledge, and financial wellness. The five-year plan included a multi-pronged approach, including partnering on a “train the trainer” curriculum.
  • California State University, Sacramento for “Financial Aid Meter for Students.” CSUS’s Financial Aid Meter provides students and financial aid advisors a way to quickly determine how many semesters of eligibility the student has remaining in financial aid programs, so they can match their academic plan to their remaining financial aid eligibility.

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email powerse(at) or call (202) 785-6959.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit

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