Chattahoochee Tech’s SFS executive director talks financial aid on Capitol Hill

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Jody Darby’s recent trip to Washington, D.C., served a twofold purpose: to help him grow professionally as a leader and to allow him to express his views on student financial aid to Congress during Capitol Hill Day.

The executive director of Student Financial Services at Chattahoochee Technical College visited the nation’s capital to attend the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Leadership and Legislative Conference and Expo and to interact with members of Congress and their staffs during Capitol Hill Day, which occurred March 1 in conjunction with the conference.

A three-day event designed to give knowledge, perspective and insight into management issues facing financial aid leaders, the conference featured four targeted pathways: New and Aspiring Aid Directors, Fundamentals of Enrollment Management, Strategic Enrollment Management and Association Management.

“The purpose of this leadership conference is to deliver insight into management issues facing current and future financial aid leaders,” said Darby, 38, who attended as treasurer-elect of the Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “And in order to be an effective leader — both at Chattahoochee Technical College and as the treasurer for SASFAA — it is imperative that I am equipped with the necessary knowledge to guide these organizations toward identifying and achieving their goals.”

“The conference’s Association Management pathway was excellent, full of great material that will help me in this role,” he said. “The speakers were experts in their fields — some in nonprofit management, some in student aid and some in both areas.”

Darby said it is “difficult to pinpoint the most important aspect of the conference” since most of the information presented in his pathway sessions was “beneficial.”

“As a group, we learned the legal and ethical implications of leading nonprofit boards, shared ideas and concerns about volunteer management and developed action plans for implementing our goals,” he said. “I think everyone gained better insight into running a more efficient and effective organization.”

Beginning his two-year term as treasurer July 1, Darby was thrilled to be elected to the post.

“I have been a member of SASFAA for 14 years, and to serve as the treasurer is truly an honor,” he said, noting the organization paid the conference expenses for himself and the president-elect from North Carolina. “Being elected by one’s peers is a true compliment.”

On the last day of the conference, participants were encouraged to meet with their congressional delegation during Capitol Hill Day.

“Being able to meet with key officials in Washington, D.C., who are instrumental in crafting legislation that affects our students nationwide was quite an honor,” Darby said. “As a leader at any level or within any organization, one must not only reflect on today, but one must be concerned about tomorrow. The aid programs, budgetary constraints, regulatory burden, schools’ and students’ rights and obligations, etc. affect our nation’s students today, and they will continue to shape higher education in the future. It was a pleasure to advocate on behalf of students, and I remain hopeful in the college serving as a resource for those offices in the future.”

Darby, who will celebrate his eight-year anniversary as CTC’s executive director of SFS in July, was able to meet with U.S. Rep. Tom Graves from Georgia’s 14th Congressional District as well as staff members from the offices of U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Richard Burr of North Carolina and three senior-level representatives from the U.S. Secretary of Education’s office.