Meet the AACRAO Staff: Melanie Gottlieb, Deputy Director

”Meet the AACRAO Staff” is an occasional Connect feature. It’s one way for members to get to know some of the folks hard at work in the AACRAO office. Another way? Come see us in D.C.--we’ll roll out the welcome mat for you!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, where most of my family still lives. As a freshman, I attended Simmons College, in Boston for a year and then transferred to Marlboro College in Vermont, where I eventually earned my bachelor’s degree. I earned my master’s while living in Missouri, at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

I've been working in higher education for 17 years.  My first professional job was in the Registrar’s office at Marlboro College. I worked my way up into the Registrar position, until my family relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, for a job for my husband at Webster University.  Webster gave me a wide range of experiences over the 12 years I was there, from international credential evaluation, international recruitment and admissions, and domestic admissions.  Most recently, I was the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Cottey College.

How did you start becoming actively involved with AACRAO?

I've been an AACRAO member for 17 years and an active member for the past 12 years.  I've been on a number of committees, served as the Chair of the International Admissions Committee, was Program Coordinator for Group II: International Education for two terms, served on N&E, and just finished up a board term as Vice President for International Education.

I knew as a young person that if I wanted to grow, I needed to find avenues that would help me learn how to be a better professional.  My mentor at the time introduced me to regional NEACRAO meetings, and then to AACRAO conferences.  My involvement was really eye-opening. There's no other place where you can meet people who truly understand what you do and the challenges you face.  In your campus community, it's easy to get caught up with your team and your day-to-day tasks.  By having the opportunity to share and collaborate with other institutions, you gain new ideas and new approaches. 

I was also a really shy person when I started out -- the idea that I might have to get up in front of people and speak to them was terrifying and not something I was at all comfortable doing.  I knew I had to improve on that in order to be successful, so I took every opportunity to force myself to talk in front of people, and AACRAO provided that.  My involvement in AACRAO has given me the tools and resources I needed to become more versed in my field and become a better leader. I feel incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that AACRAO has provided for me, both personally and professionally. To be able to serve the organization in this role is just such an amazing opportunity for me to give back to the profession.

What's it like transitioning from an institution to an association?

There's an interesting difference in perspective that I really appreciate.  At the institutional level, especially working in enrollment management, you're focused on what you need to do for your institution to meet the next set of goals.  While AACRAO does have a strategic plan and goals that must be met, a large piece of that is helping institutions meet their needs and their goals.  The next layer of that is supporting our individual members in meeting their career plans and goals.  It's really exciting to be approaching higher education from a more big-picture perspective and to serve the profession in a different way.

What did you do this summer?

I spent a lot of time with my family. I have two daughters, ages 10 and 17.  My 17-year-old is embarking on the college search process, and we spent the summer visiting.  We went on a road trip and visited five different cities in five days. There are more than 2,000 schools in the U.S. and probably several hundred that will be a good fit for her; I feel pretty confident that my daughter will find a school where she will be happy and get a fantastic education. We just have to narrow the list.  It has been very interesting approaching this role as a parent for the first time.   

What do you like doing in your free time?

I have a serious book habit.  Right now, I'm reading Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, and I just finished reading The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore.  I usually have a few books in rotation at any given time, usually a mix of fiction, non-fiction and a professional development book.