Reflections from our 10th President – Mary Mahoney

It has been fun and informative to read reflections from those who have served as President of SoACE over the last 10 years. For me, having served as your President in 2016-2017, it has been an honor and privilege to be a part of such an esteemed association and colleagues. Being in SoACE is being a part of a larger family who shares your daily challenges, frustrations and rewards. It’s having colleagues you can reach out to and say, “How did you handle this?” and know all are willing to share whatever information, experiences or suggestions they may have.

Reflecting on the upcoming 10th anniversary of SoACE takes me back even further in time. I have been around for quite a while and remember the decision to merge two organizations to form a new, larger association with a shared vision and passion to serve our career center and employer HR/college relations members.  I remember the apprehension of leaving behind an association that existed for over 50 years and itself been through many changes. I needed to learn another new name and acronym. Over the years I have been a part of SCPA (Southern College Placement Association) which I joined in the early 90’s; from there we changed our name to SACE (Southern Association of Colleges and Employers). The name changes were reflective of the path that NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) took over the years.

The first Conference Committee had strong intentions of being inclusive of values and incorporating fun things from each association, so we chose to have dual representatives: one person from each of the previous SWACE and SACE associations. I fondly remember planning meetings held at the Hyatt Regency on the Riverwalk and the lasting friendships that were made. It was a large committee but one that wanted to be sure the first SoACE Conference was one to be remembered and one which would set the tone for the future of the new association. I believe we had close to 700 attendees at that Conference. An amazing Conference, amazing time and many amazing new friends. I still, to this day, reach out to those friends and colleagues for their professional opinions and personal friendships.

So many memories and so many places we have met over these 10 years: exploring Disney, riding the monorail and partying at the Animal Kingdom; dancing at the Opryland Hotel and meeting Dolly (yes, she was an impersonator but it was fun!); deep dive fun at the aquarium in Dallas; dancing on the beach in St. Petersburg; another Riverwalk but in Savannah; SnowACE in Chantilly, Virginia; bats in Austin and cruising on a yacht in Ft. Lauderdale. What a 10 years we have had! I can only hope that as we begin our next 10 years we will continue to grow and develop lasting relationships—both professional and personal. I’m looking forward to seeing  you all in San Antonio – renewing friendships and making new friends. See you all soon!

Mary Mahoney, SoACE Past-President 2017-2018

Reflections from our 3rd President – Norma Guerra Gaier

When I stop and think about SoACE and all of the incredible colleagues and friends I’ve been blessed to meet and work with over the years, I immediately find myself in my happy place! Dating back to the very beginning of our association’s existence, I vividly remember serving on the board for SWACE on the day that both SACE and SWACE sat at the table to solidify our existence as SoACE! That was only the beginning of a highly collaborative and spirited movement that has paved the way for fruitful conversations and great memories at conferences, hot topic discussions at board meetings, and new initiatives that have helped us realize great success for our membership and for those we serve. While each group brought their own identity, conviction, traditions and passion for our work, we realized that by merging together as SoACE, we would become one of the strongest and most impactful regional associations in the country.

That year, I was excited to welcome new friends to the Alamo City, San Antonio, Texas, which was my home at the time, for the inaugural SoACE conference. It was at this conference that my candidacy for SoACE president-elect was announced on the slate with other phenomenal nominees, and it was also at this conference that I met folks from other states in our newly expanded regional association who are now longtime friends.

My time as president of SoACE, during the 2009-2010 term, is an experience that I will always hold very dear to my heart. I was surrounded by amazing leaders on the board and within our organization, who taught me so much about leadership and life. I can only hope that I did the same for them. One of the stand-out memories that I have is our conference at the Gaylord Hotel in Nashville. If you know me, you know that I have a deep appreciation for music, so hosting the SoACE Live and In Concert Conference was perfect! We had a special appearance from “Dolly” that was quite entertaining, but the biggest treat of all was a special SoACE Unplugged session that featured some of my all-time favorites performed by SoACE volunteer musicians, Charlie Wilder, Mike Phillips and Darrell Easley! That is a performance I will never forget! I wonder if we can get them to do an encore in San Antonio this year?!

Aside from my fond memories, there are a few strong pillars that I believe define SoACE:

Strength – SoACE is solid! We are strong in our membership and our contributions to the field…too many to name!

Opportunity –We provide our membership with every opportunity to network, learn, and lead. If you have served our association, THANK YOU! If you haven’t yet engaged, I highly encourage you to do so. There are countless ways you can contribute, so contact a board member to learn more.

Action – Take the initiative and share your thoughts and ideas. Many of the incredible initiatives, services and programs that are part of SoACE originated because a member spoke up and shared their thoughts…we want to hear your voice!

Connections – Reach out to others and benefit from the tremendously diverse talent that comprises our membership. Ask questions, find common grounds, challenge each other, and learn along the way!

Energy – Contribute to and feed off of the high voltage energy that defines SoACE. As our association continues to expand, I am excited to see all of the great things we will realize over the next 10 years!

I hope that our paths will cross again soon, and I definitely look forward to welcoming y’all back to San Antonio, Texas in December for our 10th anniversary SoACE conference!


Reflections from our 9th President – Wayne Hampton

I have enjoyed reading the reflections of each of our past few presidents of SoACE, and know that we are so fortunate to have had such amazing individuals leading this organization for the past 10 years!  I am truly humbled to be in their company.  The work that they started, continued, and championed, is the reason why our organization is as strong as it is today.

As I write this, coincidentally, it is my last day on the Board as I move out of the Past President role.  I still remember when I was approached to represent my current home state of Tennessee in the “state showcase” for breakout sessions at that year’s annual conference.  Little did I know that this would eventually lead to helping with the conferences in Nashville, Savannah, and St. Petersburg, and then two opportunities to serve on the Board!

The Board in Fort Lauderdale

Being a part of SoACE has given me the opportunity to develop leadership skills (well, at least I hope I developed these skills – the Board members I served with may disagree!).  It has also reminded me why we do the things we do.  Our motto this past year in Disney Campus Recruitment has been “We Change Lives” and being part of SoACE has allowed all of us to do that.  SoACE is filled with dedicated, passionate, smart people whose number one goal is to employ students.  After all, isn’t that the main reason most students are attending college?

From the variety (and evolution) of Knowledge Groups, to recently hosting our third successful Employer Relations Summit, to fantastic webinars, to raising the bar year after year with our annual conference, we have the opportunity through SoACE to develop our skills in ways that not only benefit our colleges, universities, and organizations, but benefit the students we serve as well.  I know that I am better in my role because of having been a part of SoACE.

I appreciate all of the visionaries who have served before and with me, who have created an organization that, in my opinion, is second to none.  When I first moved into the role of SoACE President, I told the Board at the time that my one goal was not to mess things up. 🙂  I am glad that I was successful in that one endeavor.

For those of you who have been involved over the years in any capacity – thank you for your service!  For those who have been thinking about it – I encourage you to find a way to get involved.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t recognize and thank our partners at cmcglobal, our association management firm, whose guidance has also helped us to become a strong organization.

I am excited about another year of SoACE and look forward to seeing many of you in San Antonio!