First Year Programs

Natalie McKinnis Awarded Outstanding Professional Award

February 23, 2016

Natalie’s impact around orientation, transition and retention over the past nine years has been vast, varied and wide reaching among staff and students. For her efforts, she received the Regional Outstanding Orientation Professional award at the NODA Region I conference.

NODA is an association providing education, leadership and professional development in the fields of orientation, transition and retention in higher education. Its Regional Outstanding Professional Award recognizes committed professionals in the field of orientation, transition and retention (OTR) for their energy, enthusiasm and outstanding abilities, which are the backbone of dynamic orientation programs.

Natalie is an individual that is committed to student success and she has a passion for the transition of non-traditional students. She has given presentations with a focus on Commuters, Transfers and Adult learners on behalf of NODA twice. Additionally she has given numerous other conference educational sessions and served on the ACPA  Commission for Admissions, Orientation, and First Year Experience, Directorate Board from 2010-2013.

Under Natalie’s guidance, the quality of the Orientation program has increased two fold. She has recruited several academic advisers as daily presenters, developed a first year experience programming fund for campus partners, and enhanced online materials while reducing printed materials. Natalie has negotiated more competitive contracts with minority and women-owned caterers, improved services for international students, collaborated with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity to strengthen and rebuild office relationships, and reworked her program finances to find $30,000 in programmatic cost savings, all while increasing student engagement.

NODA award plaque, reading "outstanding orientation, transition, & retention professional award; Natalie Gempesaw-Pangan McKinnis, assistant director University of Washington - Seattle, 2016 NODA Region 1 Conference, Pullman Washington

Natalie is also committed to the student leaders she works with in FYP. She established a professional development series for these students and provides mentorship tirelessly. She provides advice on everything from graduate school and internships to resume critique. In Natalie students have found an encouraging, friendly figure who is invested in their success.

First Year Programs is deeply grateful of all of Natalie’s contributions and very proud and excited for her to receive this award!