Director of Financial Aid Myra Pfannenstiel was recently elected to fill the position of president-elect for the Rocky Mountain Association of Student Financial Aid and Administration (RMASFAA).
According to its website, “RMASFAA exists to promote the professional preparation, leadership development, effectiveness, and mutual support of persons involved in student financial aid administration. In addition, RMASFAA exists to bring about the implementation of programs that will have a positive impact on students’ ability to pay for higher education.”
RMASFAA has eight regions for financial aid administration, which includes Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Because it is a three-year commitment, Pfannenstiel will be installed as president-elect this October at the Hyatt Regency Wichita — a conference that she planned as chair of the conference planning committee. At the following year’s fall conference, she will become president and serve on the national board in Washington, D.C. For her final year, she will serve as past president.
Pfannenstiel started as director of financial aid at Newman in July 2016 and has 23 years of experience in financial aid. She first got involved with RMASFAA 23 years ago, when she was offered an all-expenses paid scholarship to its Leadership Pipeline Training.
“As a new person in financial aid, I was learning the ropes of not only leadership at a school level but also at a regional and national level,” Pfannenstiel said. “If you got this scholarship, one suggestion was to pay it forward and give back. So one of the things that pushed me out of my comfort zone at an early time in my career was that we were tasked to give a presentation on leadership.”
Pfannenstiel worked in a group to deliver the presentation and learned soon after that someone submitted the presentation to the National Association of Financial Aid administration. The presentation must have gone well, Pfannenstiel said, because she was selected to attend a session at a national conference. From there, she returned to Kansas and did the presentation at the regional and state levels.
“I think one of the best tools you can have is a network of people,” she said. “None of us are alone — there is someone else out there, doing it or having that same question or concern. I believe in whatever profession you have.”
Pfannenstiel currently instructs at Rocky Mountain Summer Institute, where she has chaired the committee and done “almost everything you could do in that program,” she said. “It’s what we’re known for nationally. We have people come from not only our region but from all over the United States to attend our training because it is that good. So we take pride in doing that piece of it.”
As president-elect, her job will be to shadow the president of RMASFAA. She will fill the ballot for officers in the following year’s election and will solicit volunteers and individuals who the organization thinks will be a good fit to the association to run on the ballot.
“We like to have a really strong ballot,” she said. “At least two individuals for every position open so that there are choices. So it’s a little finesse to convince someone to give back or pay it forward.”
Pfannenstiel will also select all the committees that the organization has as well as their co-chairs, who will be her chairs when she is president.
“(What I look most forward to is) the networking. Meeting people while you give back — I think you gain more than you ever give when you do that. When you volunteer and give back to somebody, my experience has been that you gain and grow way more. And everybody who has held this position, those are the sentiments. They get so much more than they give.”
Pfannenstiel’s new role as president-elect will put Newman on the regional and national map. “We can actually have our voice heard,” she said. “We will attend a national leadership symposium and part of that is meeting with your state representatives, congressmen, representatives. So I will be able to express those issues and (give Newman) a voice.
“I am totally honored and blown away that my peers chose me to lead their organization,” she said. “And I am very humbled by it.”