2022 Executive Board Candidate Information

College Rep Description and Candidates
Secondary School Rep Description and Candidates
Delegate Description and Candidates
Secretary Description and Candidates
President-Elect Description and Candidates

College Representatives

The duties of the College Representatives shall be to:

  1. Serve as a resource for college admission professionals and present their issues to the Executive Board.
  2. Attend NJACAC Executive Board meetings as voting members.
  3. Attend NJACAC general membership meetings.
  4. Serve on NJACAC committees and assist with events.
  5. Perform such other duties from time to time as may be prescribed by the President.

College Rep Candidates


John Cogan

Current Place of Employment: University of Delaware
Job Title: Admissions Counselor

Candidate Message:  

NJACAC has allowed for me to meet people from all over the country who work with New Jersey students, attend professional development events, and become a Tri-Chair of BASICs, and I hope that in my time as a College Representative, I can provide those same kinds of opportunities to other members of our community.

As a newer member of the community, having started in my first admissions job in September of 2018, I know how intimidating it can be to join the conversations in these kinds of organizations, especially when there are the “greats” of a community who have been around the block and can speak to many years of experience, and this is something that I hope to address. I hope to be a person that people can feel comfortable approaching to discuss their concerns, hopes, and experience, and that they can trust that I will be able to try and advocate to make their experience as beneficial as it can be.



Kelsey Dennehy

Current Place of Employment: Felician University
Job Title: Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions

Candidate Message:

I want to be able to serve students and their families in a way that can truly benefit them. I think that as our society adapts, we at NJACAC need to adapt as well, and I want to be a part of that change. As an Associate Director of UG Admissions, I hear the pain points from students and families and I want to be a part of fixing them.



Dylan Matthew Klim

Current Place of Employment: Lynn University
Job Title: Admission Counselor

Candidate Message:

Connecting with Generation Z (Gen Z) is simultaneously the biggest opportunity and challenge in the admission counselor profession today; I can bring a modern, relevant and valuable perspective to the board as we carefully consider this generation of students. Being relatively new to the profession myself, I feel my close proximity in age to the students of today has allowed and will continue to allow me to quickly identify opportunities to better support and connect with them. Although I have yet to attend a NACAC national conference, I plan to attend the NACAC North Jersey spring fair and also will present on Gen Z students at the annual NJACAC conference in May.



Secondary School Representatives

The duties of the Secondary School Representatives shall be to:

  1. Serve as a resource for secondary school counselors and present their issues to the Executive Board.
  2. Attend NJACAC Executive Board meetings as voting members.
  3. Attend NJACAC general membership meetings.
  4. Serve on NJACAC committees and assist with events.
  5. Perform such other duties from time to time as may be prescribed by the President.

Secondary School Rep Candidates


Nick Cano

Current Place of Employment: Perth Amboy High School
Job Title: College & Career Counselor

Candidate Message:

I want to serve on the executive board of NJACAC because I am a positive leader in my department. I want students and families of all backgrounds to know that college is within the realm of possibility. I do believe that reaching students and families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds would be a meaningful topic for NJACAC to address.



Jessica Nordstrom

Current Place of Employment: St. Peter’s Prep
Job Title: Guidance Counselor

Candidate Message:

I would like to serve on the NJACAC Board because collaboration among counselors is always energizing. Working in a helping profession, it is essential to support each other. Working in the ever-evolving world of college admissions, it is essential to stay aware of trends and best practices to guide our approach when working with students. The Board provides all of this to our hard-working members.

It is always important for NJACAC members to share their collective wisdom and experience.

At this time in particular, it would be helpful to come together to gain better clarity on the impacts of test-optional admissions and how to best inform current college applicants. In addition, as admission rates decrease and applications increase, sharing best practices on helping students and families shift their mindset to college fit over rankings and explore the many valuable institutions of higher education that are available to them



Nancy Ortiz

Current Place of Employment: Innovation High School
Job Title: School Counselor

Candidate Message:

I would like to serve in order to gain experience in being a College Representative. In addition, by assisting with events, I want to ensure that the events are a positive experience for others and how they can be better.

Some issues that are important for NJACAC to address are bringing awareness to new members about membership involvement. 

As a high school counselor for 20 years and a member of NJACAC for the last 10 years, I know how important it is to stay abreast with the new trends within the school counseling field as well as the ever-changing college admissions process.  It is imperative that the underrepresented students and counselors do not get ignored and are represented fairly.  As a first-generation college graduate and being a member of color, I feel that often we are overlooked and that our voices are not always heard.  It would be an honor to serve as a Secondary School Representative and advocate for a more equitable representation within higher education.  NJACAC has been an excellent way to share wonderful information with my students and parents.  Being a member has definitely made me a much better counselor to my students due to all the resources and contacts I have access to by being a member of NJACAC.  It is one of the reasons I want to give back and serve on the board.



Ashley Whittemore

Current Place of Employment: School Counselor, Student Intervention Team, Success Program Liaison, Diversity Team 
Job Title: Union Catholic High School

Candidate Message:

As a Secondary School Representative candidate, I stand firmly in my ability to advocate and support students as they transition to careers and postsecondary education. I have worked closely with a diverse population of learners over the past ten years and have experienced many shifts in the educational landscape. We’re all still learning how to navigate this unique space that the pandemic has created, and I’m confident that NJACAC can address these important challenges. This is our opportunity as professional educators within these domains to be defined not by disparities, but by equity, access, and ingenuity for all learners.



Delegates

The duties of the National Assembly Delegates shall be to:

  1. Represent the interests of the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling.
  2. Attend Executive Board meetings as voting member.
  3. Attend the annual NACAC conference, and to represent NJACAC at National Assembly meetings, during their term.
  4. Perform such other duties from time to time as may be prescribed by the President.
  5. Alternate delegate(s), will be appointed by the President (with the approval of the Executive Committee) to attend the NACAC National Assembly meeting as outlined in Article IV, should an elected delegate be unable to fulfill this responsibility or another Delegate position is created by This person may or may not be a member of the Executive Board and must be a voting member of NJACAC and NACAC.
  6. Delegates must serve on, and chair, at least one committee, subcommittee, or event of the organization.

*YOU MUST BE A NATIONAL (NACAC) MEMBER TO VOTE FOR ASSEMBLY DELEGATES

Delegate Candidates


Dr. Niki Mendrinos

Current Place of Employment: Bishop Eustace Preparatory School
Job Title: Director of School and College Counseling

Candidate Message:

 I continue to love the experience I have had on both sides of the desk as a college admissions professional for 19 years and now as a high school college counselor director. I’d like to represent the members of NJACAC as I have the organization’s best interest at heart and understand the many challenges and opportunities there are in the higher ed/secondary school counseling landscape.  I’m also a strong public speaker who does not easily shy away from tough conversations, enjoy meeting and working with new colleagues, and I know how to handle different (and sometimes) difficult situations diplomatically and professionally. 

What issues are important for NJACAC to address at this time? As a delegate, this is the first question I would ask our members (what they feel are the most important issues for NJACAC to address) first.  It’s a conversation to have within our organization with our members, and should not be one sided (this is not my agenda, it is what we feel collectively are the most pressing/important issues we are facing in education as a state, in our country, and what potential  issues to we foresee in the near future).   On a personal note, some of the important issues I feel need to be addressed (and discussed) include the upcoming changes to financial aid (how this will impact families), transparency between high school counselors and college admission offices (having candid conversations and building stronger partnerships), etc. 



Ryan DePuy

Current Place of Employment: Iona College
Job Title: Sr. Director of Undergraduate Admissions

Candidate Message:

I have been a member of NJACAC since 2012, and have been actively serving on the Executive Board since 2019.  In 2019 I served as a College Rep, later serving as a one of the Tri-Chairs of Professional Development.  I am interested in becoming a Delegate as I recognize that the landscape of higher education is as dynamic as ever.  Throughout the ever changing landscape, it will be important for NJACAC to engage with NACAC while representing the interests of NJACAC, its membership, and most importantly, those we serve.


Secretary

The duties of the Secretary shall be to:

  1. Be responsible for the non-financial records of the Association.
  2. Record the minutes of all Executive Board and General Membership meetings and to distribute them to the members of the Executive Board.
  3. Send out all necessary notices affecting business meetings of the Executive Board and committees.
  4. Provide any documentation required by NACAC, including copies of minutes and new copies of Bylaws.
  5. Serve as an Alternate Delegate to the National Assembly (if needed, eligible and attending the annual NACAC conference)
  6. Perform such other duties as may from time to time be prescribed by the President.

Secretary Candidate


Cassandra Smith

Current Place of Employment: West Virginia University
Job Title: Regional Recruiter

Candidate Message:

I am looking for an opportunity to engage with others, grow professionally, and advance my career.  Since the mission of NJACAC is to advocate and support ethical and professional practice in helping students transition to careers and postsecondary education, I feel it’s important that we continue to address barriers students and families are facing in the post Covid world with the right intentions and approaches. 

Transitioning from one chapter of your life to another is full of change, opportunity, and a number of emotions. I feel as an organization we can provide support, services, information, and assistance to families and students who are going through this massive life change in hopes of making the transition seemly and easy. I think as an organization, we can work together to make sure we are following and practicing ethical and professional practices by working together, having a safe space to ask questions, and continue to support each other with trainings, brainstorming, events, and development opportunities outside of what our current schools offer us.


President-Elect

The duties of the President -Elect shall be to:

  1. Preside at any meeting of the Association in the absence of the President and to assist the President as requested.
  2. Succeed to the office of President in the event of a vacancy in that office;
  3. Chair the Conference Planning Committee and coordinate the activities of the Conference Planning Committee.
  4. Serve as a delegate to the National Assembly of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
  5. Perform such other duties as may from time to time be prescribed by the President, attend and assist in leading the NJACAC Summer Leadership Retreat.
  6. With the President, represent the Association at the following forums:
    1. NACAC Leadership Development Retreat (LDI) (mid -summer)
    2. Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. (usually March)
    3. NACAC National Conference (late September/early October)

President-Elect Candidate


Randy Stamm

Current Place of Employment: Hackensack High School
Job Title: School Counselor

Candidate Message:

I first joined NJACAC and NACAC in 2014 when I was transferred to Hackensack High School. My motivation was to ensure that my own lack of knowledge did not negatively impact any of my students. Over the years, I have learned so much about the landscape of college admissions and have seen the disparities that exist in the process. Having served on the NJACAC Executive Board as a Secondary School Representative, NACAC Delegate, and College Key Tri-Chair, I have tried to give a voice to the needs of secondary counselors and our students. New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the country and it is essential that the experiences of all students are represented and elevated. Serving as part of the Presidential Trio will allow me to continue advocating for all students, especially those who are often under-represented. Working at a Title 1 school where we do not have a dedicated College/Career Counselor, I know, firsthand, the challenges of balancing multiple priorities (many of which overshadow the college admission process).

Additionally, my service on the NJACAC Executive Board afforded me the opportunity to serve as only one of three School Counselors in the state on the On Ramps to College working group within the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. In 2021, I was honored to be selected as a member of the NACAC Ad Hoc Committee on engaging Public School Counselors. As stated on the NACAC website, “The Ad Hoc Committee on Engaging Public High School Counselors will develop practical recommendations for expanding NACAC membership among public high school counselors, with special attention to counselors at Title I schools”. This work helped me to gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of collaboration from stakeholders on all “sides of the desk”. This committee work also exposed me to some of the inner workings of NACAC and establish personal relationships, which will undoubtedly be a critical asset while serving as a member of the Presidential trio.

I am running for President-Elect to ensure that all students and families, regardless of identity and background have access to the information to make informed decisions throughout the entire college search and admission process. This goal can be accomplished, in part, by engaging with our current membership in new and proactive ways and growing our membership through targeted outreach and providing timely and relevant opportunities to engage in professional development.