The ASPIRE Committees were restructured in 2018. Some of the committees were combined with other committees to create sub-committees. In some cases an appointment for an individual, fulfills the duties as needed for ASPIRE, Inc.

Co-Chairs:  Marilyn Thayer, Cynthia Ayala

Members: Theresa Rader, Paul Thayer

Faculty: Marilyn Thayer, Paul Thayer, Andrea Reeve, Amy Verlanic & Oscar Felix

Description: The ALI intends to focus on aspirations, visions, and the power of the organization to improve projects and advocate powerfully for TRIO and our students.  In particular, it is designed to equip TRIO professionals with the essential insights, knowledge, and skills that will directly increase / strengthen leadership effectiveness.

Archivist: Theresa Rader

Description:  The Archivist is responsible for the storage and maintenance of ASPIRE documents.

  • Documents to be maintained in the archives include, but are not limited to, Treasurer’s documents, minutes, committee reports, conference materials, membership rolls, and State Reports.
  • Annually, at or immediately following the Annual Conference, the Archivist will collect, catalog, and file all appropriate documents from former ASPIRE officers and committee chairs.
  • ASPIRE will reimburse the Archivist for collapsible file drawers, file folders, and other supplies as needed to maintain the archives.

Chair: Alison Grendahl

Committee Members: Representatives from each State Chapter.

Description: The Awards Committee is responsible for the selection of the recipients and purchases of all ASPIRE awards including Membership, Retirees, Friend of ASPIRE, Rising Star, Art Quinn Memorial, Champion of TRIO, and any other awards identified in the Operating Guidelines.

Committee Chair: ASPIRE Treasurer

Committee Members: ASPIRE Board

Purpose: The Budget & Finance Committee is responsible for planning and monitoring the ASPIRE budget for the current Fiscal Year. Charges: Review and update fiscal policies as necessary and present recommendations for the Board’s consideration.

Chair:  Darlene Samson

Committee Members: Cynthia Ayala

Description: To consider proposals for changes in the OG’s By-Laws and to recommend changes in the By-Laws to the Board of Directors.

Purpose: Under the direction of the Board, the Conference Committee plans, implements, and evaluates the ASPIRE Annual Conference. The Conference Committee Chair will oversee the conference and utilize subcommittees to organize and carry out the Annual Conference. Subcommittees will be co-chaired by one ASPIRE board member and a representative of the host state. Representatives from the host state will be submitted to the ASPIRE board at the board meeting immediately following the annual conference, and one year prior to the host states conference. One board member will be assigned as co-chair to each committee at that same meeting. Subcommittee co-chairs will report regularly to the Conference Committee Chair and coordinate with each other.

Subcommittees may include, but are not limited to, the following: Agenda, Logistics, Registration
Charges: Develop a marketing plan for the 2018 annual conference.


2019 Co-Chairs: Brandi Roesener and Angelica Valdez

Registration/Agenda: Dennis Stangl


ASPIRE Board & Others: Alison Grendahl, Representatives from each state

Purpose: The Awards Committee is responsible for the selection of the recipients and purchases of all ASPIRE Awards including Membership, Retirees, Friend of ASPIRE, Rising Star, Art Quinn Memorial, Champion of TRIO, and any other awards identified in the Operating Guidelines

Charges: Establish timeline for awards process for 2018 ASPIRE Conference

Nominations and Elections:

Committee Members: Ben Hamman, Cara Davis

Purpose: The Elections Committee educates ASPIRE members on the duties, responsibilities, benefits, and importance of ASPIRE offices; encourages and secures nominations for the offices of ASPIRE; and supervises the election process during the Annual Conference.

Charges: Investigate ways to encourage and expand the pool of candidates and alternatives for conducting ASPIRE elections. Conduct ASPIRE 2019 annual elections in accordance with current by-laws.

Corporate Development

Purpose: The Corporate Development Committee is responsible for advancing the mission of ASPIRE through fundraising and professional development opportunities and partnerships with corporations, foundations, and businesses. It also enhances Annual Conference revenue by making partnerships with and soliciting sponsorships from corporations, foundations and businesses for the banquet, awards, and conference materials; annually updates development incentive packages, as part of the corporate development strategy, and present to the board for approval at the winter board meeting, and the chair serves as member of annual conference Corporate Development subcommittee.

Charges: Identify corporations, foundations, and individuals interested in supporting college access and success and cultivate partnership. Develop fundraising materials highlighting the impact of ASPIRE programs bases on data received from each state Investigate possible fundraiser to for 2019 ASPIRE conference.

Chair: Allyson Garcia

Committee Members:  Darlene Samson, Laci Hettick, Liz Schoenleber, Paul Hesco, Rosio Suarez, Rachel Lund, Laurie Laurence, Ben Shapiro

  • Purpose: The Governmental Relations Committee disseminates legislative, Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), and Department of Education (ED) information to the membership, coordinating with COE in Education Government Relations Committee.Charges:
  • Disseminate pertinent information regarding legislative issues relevant to college access and success programs.
    Provide opportunities in region for discussion of annual appropriations and reauthorization issues.
  • Continue to identify and cultivate strategic relationships with elected officials, corporate entities, and others to advance college access and success.

Governmental Relations includes the following sub-committees:

Fair Share:

Committee Members: Jami Bayles, Dan Benge


  • Increase institutional memberships and engagement.
  • Ensure each state has Fair Share coordinators who are directly connected to COE to assist with meeting Fair Share target.
  • Increase personal contributions.


State Initiatives: 

Committee Members: Theresa Rader & a Representative from each state chapter

Purpose: The State Initiative Committee acts as a liaison to the COE State Leadership Committee, coordinates regional and state initiative activities, and acts as a resource to State Chapter Presidents on state initiative and activities.

Coordinate with COE State Leadership Caucus prior to the annual COE conference for state leaders.

  • Administer Paul Spraggins State Initiative grant program.
  • Develop and market a state-toolkit designed to assist states with; 1) Developing Fact books that communicate Return On Investment, 2) Templates for best practices at the state and chapter level • Develop a plan to orient state leaders to these resources.


Committee Members:



Committee Members:  Cara Davis, and each state chapter president

Purpose: The Membership Committee is responsible for promoting and increasing the ASPIRE membership through distribution of membership materials and providing information to new ASPIRE TRIO personnel. This committee also organizes fund- raising activities for ASPIRE Development and COE Fair Share campaigns.


  • Ensure membership information is up to date and continually updated.


Committee Members: Morgen Tau Patrick & Representatives from each state

Purpose: The TRIO Alumni Committee coordinates with Council for Opportunity in Education to promote the National TRIO Alumni Society, organize Alumni Societies in the ASPIRE Region, and publicize the purposes of creating Alumni Societies which include directing social media efforts; providing a network of social and professional support for former participants in TRIO programs; increasing public awareness of the needs of disadvantaged students enrolled in, or aspiring to attend postsecondary institutions; providing recognition of achievements to former TRIO participants; providing a mechanism for former TRIO participants to voice support for TRIO programs; and providing assistance with the initiation, organization, and implementation of individual chapter of TRIO Alumni Societies.


  • Define alumni on a regional level, create a standardized alumni form to compile state data of alumni
  • Unite regional alumni database and sync with COE’s Alumni database.
  • Provide alumni social media links on the website and link to each state and COE.
  • Ensure that the region sponsors at least two alumni events annually

Chairs: Darlene Samson & Allen Addison

Committee Members: Kyle Ethelbah  (U of Utah), Twila Old Coyote (U of M), Alison Grendahl (U of Wyo), Nathan Biggerstaff (Dakota College) & Theresa Rader (MT Tech)

Purpose: The Native American Committee coordinates training and professional development needs for personnel who work with American Indian programs, advocates for Native Americans within TRIO, and encourages participation through professional development & best practices of Tribal Colleges within ASPIRE.


  • Coordinate with COE Native American engagement conversation.
  • Conduct annual leadership luncheon to staff from Tribal Colleges and Universities.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for members within TCU structure.

Committee Members: Marilyn Thayer

Purpose: The Professional Development Committee provides resources to membership on topics such as CAS Standards and other evaluation tools; and provides professional development opportunities at annual regional conference as well as state conferences as requested.


  • Conduct survey of membership to identify perceived professional development needs and preferred delivery mechanisms prior to each state meeting and the annual conference
  • Investigate continued training opportunities open to other TRIO associations in areas like grant writing, legislation and regulation, budgeting, and best practices. Host trainings in an area that fosters attendance and cost saving measures for participants.
  • Establish a curriculum/faculty for the trainings and a create plan for advertisements.

Emerging Leaders Institute:

Purpose: Committee provides professional development for individuals interested in preparing for and participating in the leadership of ASPIRE and COE; and provides an opportunity for persons who have an interest in developing their personal and professional leadership skills.

Committee Members: Dennis Stangl & Thomas Madut

Purpose: The Public Relations Committee coordinates all public relations activities for ASPIRE, relating to media relations.


  • Development regional marketing material in conjunction with technology committee.
  • Use the ASPIRE website to list, sync, and distribute successful media relations to other regions, agencies, and COE.

Committee Chair: Ben Shapiro

Resource Development.

Chair: Fabiola Mora

Committee Members: Rachel Lund, Christine Lesher, Samantha Hill, Jacqueline Webb, Bernie Phelps, Deryle Matland & Meghan Yerhot

Purpose: In recognizing there are many barriers and struggles facing our students that keep them from enrolling and succeeding in postsecondary education, ASPIRE Inc. established the Social Justice Committee. The Committee will be compiled of one executive board member and at least three representatives from different states within ASPIRE. Committee is tasked with acting as a resource and advisory committee on various social justice issues facing our students to ASPIRE members.


  • Assist with volunteer project at regional annual conference. •
  • Develop social justice program as part of established curriculum.

ASPIRE Technology: Dennis Stangl

Description: The responsibility of the of the Technology person is to provide technology support, management, and maintenance for the Association, to maintain the ASPIRE, Inc., website with incorporated emerging technologies, and to ensure the dissemination and availability of ASPIRE publications/updates, pertinent documents, event information and membership information.