Leaders in Enrollment Advancing Diversity (LEAD)

ASCEND Leadership Development Program

Launched in 2019 as a part of the LEAD initiative, ASCEND is a unique and affordable leadership development program for mid-level managers in admissions, advising, financial aid, records and academic services. The program aims to diversify the leadership in the enrollment management profession by recruiting and developing a diverse cohort of mid-level professionals and preparing them to take on roles in enrollment management in North America and around the globe.


Our institutions are facing challenges ahead: negative public perceptions of higher education, ongoing budget shortfalls, free speech and race relations crises, spiraling student debt, increasing regulatory restrictions, and the approaching student enrollment cliff in 2025. Recruiting and retaining talented and diverse campus leaders will be a crucial factor in institutional success.

Why Now?

Recent data from the 2019 CUPA-HR association survey on Administrators in Higher Education give us troubling benchmarks. Results indicate 85% of those who hold the role of Senior Enrollment Management Officer and 89% of those who hold the role of Director of Admissions are white. We know that 22% of the non-white population in the US holds a bachelor degree or better. If the most traditional and obvious path to Senior Enrollment Officer is through the admissions office, the fact that Directors of Admission are currently less diverse than the qualified field means we must act now to ensure our institutions have a strong set of professionals to fill the roles of enrollment leaders in the future.

2022-2023 Cohort Program Cost - $899
SEM 2022 Conference*$1400
Online Course: Essentials of SEM$495
Books and Materials$200
Personal Program Coach$1200
Monthly Virtual Education Sessions$1200
SEM 2023 Conference*$1450
Total Value     $5945



    Faculty will lead the cohort through a year-long curriculum that incorporates the essential competencies required to take the next step in enrollment management leadership. The curriculum design will incorporate the AACRAO Professional Competencies and Proficiencies and leverage existing professional development opportunities offered by AACRAO.


    Coaches will be assigned to each participant as additional support and guide customized to the individual needs and goals of the participant. Those admitted to the program will participate in monthly cohort meetings plus no less than one hour meeting with their coach.

We invite you to join the ASCEND Leadership Development Program.

Applications Closed

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Important Dates

August 19 - September 16
Application window

October 2022
Selection of Cohort

November 2022
Program Begins

Give to the LEAD Fund

Blue and White Spelman Johnson Logo.

The ASCEND program is sponsored by Spellman Johnson.

Learn more about Spellman Johnson's President Ellen Heffernan and Search Consultant Michel Frendian