Brenda Hicks – NASFAA Chair 2020-2021

We are so excited to know that NASFAA will have one of our very own as its upcoming NASFAA Chair!! She will begin this coming summer.

Brenda Headshot 2016

Brenda is the Director of Financial Aid at Southwestern College, a private 4-year Liberal Arts college in Winfield, Kansas. She received her BA in English from Kansas State University and her MA in Organizational Communication from Wichita State University.

Her summary of professional activities takes up a page and a half of her resume. Besides her involvement with KASFAA, RMASFAA, and NASFAA, she has been active in her Church, President of her kids’ school PTO, involved in community and county activities (Cowley County), and a 4H Youth Ambassador Sponsor. Along with all that is listed at the link below, she has just recently earned the designation of Certified Financial Aid Administrator (CFAA).


She’s one busy lady and will continue at this high level of energy and enthusiasm as our NASFAA Chair. Congratulations Brenda!! We are so proud of you!!




Darcy’s journey to the NASFAA Leadership and Legislative Conference as President-Elect

I had the opportunity to attend the NASFAA Leadership and Legislative Conference February 3-5 as a benefit of being KASFAA President-Elect. I would like to recognize KASFAA for providing the support to send the President-Elect, and now also Treasurer-Elect, to this conference each year; especially prior to their year as President. In her post on February 19th, Tammy shared information about out conference location, Washington update, and trip to the Hill. I would like to highlight what I learned and some ideas I’m excited to bring to KASFAA.

The idea that excited me the most and I started to implement before I even left DC, was to hold a board retreat for the incoming board members prior to their year on the board. Turns out there are many associations currently holding these retreats and in a variety of formats and lengths. The inaugural KASFAA board retreat will be March 9th for the 2020-2021 KASFAA board. I feel that this will help us make the most of our year, allow the committees to start on their work early in the year, and begin thinking about the 2021-2024 Strategic Long Range Plan which we are tasked to develop this year.

Two items that I highlighted in my notes as I was typing them was the 3-foot rule and to read Road to Relevance. I’m going to encourage everyone to follow the 3-foot rule at our Spring Conference. This rule means that you introduce yourself to everyone that you come within three feet of. I had this happen to me on the elevator before the conference even started and I wasn’t wearing my nametag; and let me tell you, it made an impact. Not to mention it’s then fun to say “HEY” to those same people in the airport on the way home (…gas station since we’ll be driving?). The latter task of reading Road to Relevance (and browsing in the airport bookstore) (and Amazon shopping at 2am after arriving in KC after midnight), let to my husband asking me, “why did you order $100 worth of books?” when he received the order email. (I would change the email on the account if he actually cared).

LLC - Darcy 1

Leaders Eat Last was the book I saw in the airport and I love Simon Simek’s TED Talk about starting with Why. I’ve started reading Start With Why and Race For Relevance and already have some ideas to propose to the board that I hope they think are good ideas (or that they tell me I’m crazy if they don’t think they are good ideas).

The one thing that I learned that was most eye-opening to me was about advocacy. Straight from Justin and Megan’s mouths, “Advocacy is not always lobbying. Advocacy is education.” They also shared that we don’t always need to be in DC to be an effective advocate. During this session, we practiced developing a one-pager using an inverted pyramid model. This helped me later that evening as Tammy and I were researching the senators and representative we were meeting with the next day, and formulating how we hoped our conversation would go with them.

LLC - Darcy 2(left to right) Christiana Reasor, Benedictine College alum and Senator Moran aide, Tammy Higgins (KASFAA Treasurer-Elect), Pittsburg State University, Darcy Johnson (KASFAA President-Elect), Emporia State University, Brenda Hicks (NASFAA National Chair-Elect), Southwestern College, Christal Williams (RMASFAA President-Elect), Johnson County Community College


NASFAA arranged an optional bus tour for the evening before the conference started that would take us around to see the monuments at night. We had a smaller group, a great driver, and many Chiefs fans watching the game!

LLC - Darcy 3

All states are listed around the Lincoln Memorial.

LLC - Darcy 4

This was my first time to visit DC (or be anywhere east of Indianapolis), so I took the opportunity to travel out a few days early for a sightseeing vacation. As a nerd, I very much enjoyed seeing the sights and packed as much in as I could. If you have the opportunity, work with your Congressperson’s office to get tours, however try to space them out. Our Library of Congress tour was Friday morning, and then 20 minutes after it was over was our Capitol tour. I would have loved to have had the entire day to explore the Library of Congress after that tour was over.

LLC - Darcy 5

As a former banker, I really wanted to visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and drove us like cattle to make it there in time. It was my second favorite thing that we saw. And this is how tall I am in 100s:

LLC - Darcy 6

Saturday was the White House tour, National Portrait Gallery, and walking past the NASFAA office building so I could say that I knew where it was.

LLC - Darcy 7

Sunday was the National Archives and Smithsonian Natural History Museum, plus the aforementioned bus tour.

Whew. With as much sightseeing as I did before, it was the conference itself that filled my brain, excited me, and exhausted me. I’m looking forward to the upcoming KASFAA year!

I now leave you with a few more photos surrounding the trip (and trust me I took 100s).

LLC - Darcy 8Abby trying to make her point that she wasn’t going to allow me to leave.

LLC - Darcy 9Leaving before dawn ensures a good sunrise view from the plane.

LLC - Darcy 10

Last but not least, I made Traylor download Google Duo on his phone so that I could video chat with Abby because I was missing her something fierce.


Kibitzing with Kelly

Retired KASFAA Cub Reporter, Keith Fitzsimmons (KU Med Center), submits his reflections on the Proclamation signing…

This year, March has been declared as Financial Aid Awareness Month. Like its name, it is designed to promote all the many facets of the Financial Aid process for higher education. Each year, the Governor signs a proclamation to honor the event. This year the ceremony was on February 28th in Governor Laura Kelly’s office at the State Capitol Building in Topeka. The KASFAA group gathered in the waiting hallway along with many other groups involved with their own events. We were marshaled in by assigned numbers (we were number 5), about 1/2 hour prior to our scheduled 9:00 am time. We chatted among ourselves and met some folks from several of the other groups. Senior citizens to high school groups filled the hall that morning. When it was our turn, we entered the ceremonial office single file. Governor Kelly stood beside her desk and greeted each one of us personally. Diane led the way and gave an explanation of who KASFAA is and what was going on.

Being the polite gentleman, I was last in line. When it was my turn to greet the Governor, it went something like this:

Keith: Good Morning Governor. My name is Keith Fitzsimmons and I am the University of Kansas Medical Center. Governor, today is my last day of my 34 years as a State of Kansas Employee as I will be retiring tomorrow.

Governor: Well, Congratulations Keith! My daughter went to medical school at KU.

Keith: That’s wonderful. Does she owe me any money?

Governor: Well, she owes someone.

Keith: Good, Now we know where to look.

After the signing and several pictures from the half dozen photographers in the room, the Governor turned to me, handed me the signed proclamation, gave me the pen she used for the signing and said,

Governor: Keith, Here, you deserve this after such a career!

Keith: Thank you Governor. It’s been wild!

Keith goes to Topeka

As we left the room, I turned and waved to Kel (I call her Kel now) and we were done. A few more informal pictures along with a stroll through the beautiful Capitol building capped off a wonderful morning.


The Proclamation and the pen were confiscated by the others as I wasn’t really contacting eBay…Promise



Governor’s Proclamation Signing for Financial Aid Awareness Month

Governor Laura Kelly signed the Proclamation on February 28, 2020, declaring March as Financial Aid Awareness Month on behalf of the Kansas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. This annual event raises awareness of the various types of aid available to help students and families afford higher education opportunities.

From left to right, the following KASFAA members attended: Back Row…Keith Fitzsimmons (The University of Kansas Medical Center), Courtney Stensaas (Cloud County CC),  Linda Oldham-Burns (Kansas Board of Regents), Jamie Whitmore (Kansas Board of Regents), and Tanya McGee (Kansas State University); Front Row…Governor Laura Kelly, Diane Lindeman (Kansas Board of Regents) and Ashley Jost (Johnson County Community College).

Governor's Proclamation Signing February 2020 (002)


The group also enjoyed a few other photos while visiting the Capitol….

Proclamation Signing (2)


Capitol Dome