NAFA looks forward to welcoming attendees in-person for the next Biennial Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, July 11 – 14, 2023.

Until then, we hope you will continue to engage through the listserv and participate in our July 2022 opportunities for study tours and workshops.

2021 Biennial Conference – “Embracing Change”

The conference included keynote presentations, panels, and interactive workshops, including an opening workshop focused on “Working Towards Inclusive Excellence in Fellowships Advising, Selection, and Scholar Support.” Foundations were able to connect with each other in panels on alumni relations and fundraising. Those who attended the conference continue to have access to the educational content made available on the Eventsential site through January 2022.

Visit Conference Site

Past Conference Locations

Conference proceedings from several of the events below are available for purchase. NAFA members can purchase at a discounted rate by using the code UAPAUTHOR.

The conference theme, “The Process Continues,” acknowledged that our learning process is perpetual, our professional development never-ending. Conference sessions explored topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion in fellowships advising; the changing landscape of higher education; and recognizing excellence in the 21st century. The conference also included a wildly popular speed share focused on scholar development.

The 9th Biennial Conference was organized around the theme of “Mind the Gap.” Sessions considered what ‘gaps’ exist in our advising practice, which potential applicants we miss in our outreach and recruitment practices, how well we support students beyond the process, and what collaborative opportunities (institutional, profession-wide, with allied organizations or other academic professionals) we should be pursuing.

The conference theme, “The Road Less Traveled,” explored ways to think past the norm of fellowship advising. From expanding the range of awards on which we advise, to recruiting underrepresented candidates for fellowship programs and thinking beyond the traditional institutions and countries students seek to experience, attendees were challenged to explore creative ways to elevate fellowship advising to the next level.

The 7th Biennial NAFA Conference, “Focusing on the Scholar in the Scholarship Process,” highlighted the central role of academic preparation and academic goals in the scholarship process. Topics related to the theme included undergraduate research, developing study and research proposals, and fellowships for graduate students.

“Broadening Opportunities, Encouraging Diversity” was the theme of the sixth conference. The theme reflected the importance of identifying diverse candidates and diverse scholarship opportunities while fostering relationships on our campuses, in our communities, and internationally.

“Building Foundations, Building Partnerships: Paving Avenues for Success” was the theme of the fifth conference. Our theme reflected the role of scholarship advising in providing opportunities for our students through fostering relationships on our campuses, in our communities, and internationally. Capitalizing on our location in Seattle, Washington, and our theme of building partnerships, we highlighted West Coast foundations and speakers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Udall Foundation. Gordon Johnson, provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, who has been involved in NAFA since it started in 2000, was given a lunch in his honor. Several of the NAFA leadership recounted how Gordon’s role had been foundational in the organization.

“Scholarships in a National Context” was the theme of the fourth conference. Capitalizing on our location in Washington, D.C., we presented programming on the political institutions that created and defined scholarship programs (such as embassies, Congress, and the State Department).

The conference addressed:

  1. New scholarship initiatives within the federal government;
  2. The political context surrounding national scholarships (trends in the appropriations process and scholarship initiatives under the Bush administration);
  3. Alternatives and complements to prestigious scholarships (Peace Corps, Teach for America, etc.).

“Serving Students and the Public Good: Contexts for Fellowship Advising” was the theme of our third conference.

“Celebrating Traditions, Creating Strong Foundations” was the theme of the second conference. The conference featured a series of twelve half-hour information sessions by individual, nationally competitive scholarship programs such as the Truman, Marshall, and Rhodes. We also hosted a Fulbright FPA workshop on the first day. Over the three days, NAFA created opportunities to address professional concerns in plenary sessions and in small break out groups focusing on such issues as institutional support, concerns for new advisors, ethics of the profession, student perspectives on the process and awards for international students. The conference closed with a special celebration of the Marshall 50th and Rhodes 100th anniversaries.

“Organizing the Process, Enriching Our Students” was the theme of this inaugural conference of the National Association of Fellowships Advisors held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 2001. More than 230 advisors and foundation representatives turned out to attend packed sessions and swapped strategies. Highlights of the conference were an evening at the Gilcrease Museum, sponsored by the Gates Cambridge Trust, and an Ethics Panel that addressed many of the ethical dilemmas, large and small, that advisors face daily. Ethical advising was also the focus of the Chronicle of Education’s September 14, 2001, cover story Ambitious Colleges End the Ivy Lock on Prestigious Fellowships by Andrew Brownstein.