Career Path to Executive Director of the HERC

Posted by Ronald | November 7, 2014  |  No Comment

Nancy Aebersold is the founder of the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the ability of member institutions to recruit and retain the most diverse and talented workforce and to assist dual-career couples. Aebersold is currently the executive director of the HERC. She is nationally recognized as an expert in the dual-career field. An excerpt of the interview with Aebersold follows:

What career path led to your profession, executive director of the HERC? 

I have worked in higher education administration for over twenty years. Fifteen years ago, while at the University of California, Santa Cruz, I saw a need for our campus to provide dual-career couples with assistance to find jobs within a commutable distance. In a campus-wide study, dual-career needs were cited among the top issues candidates reported as being a barrier to accepting academic job offers. I knew that to solve this problem, we could not go it alone. We would need to collaborate with other colleges and universities in our area.

In early 2000, I organized a meeting of chief human resources, faculty affairs and diversity professionals at colleges and universities in northern California to discuss mutual interests. In addition to universal interest being expressed in helping dual-career couples, the participants also felt there was work to be done in attracting more diverse applicant pools to faculty, staff and administrative positions at our institutions.

Soon after, the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) was born. HERC is now 600 member institutions strong, representing 25 states and the District of Columbia. HERC supports a jobs website, that features over 20,000 higher education openings at any given time, a robust dual-career search, and concerted outreach to women, underrepresented minority, LGBTQ, disabled, and veteran professionals to consider higher education careers.

What educational background and/or professional training are essential for this profession?

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. My education helped me understand organizational and interpersonal systems and gave me considerable experience facilitating people, solving problems and understanding social change.

Early in my career, I worked for several non-profit organizations. In the various roles I held (executive director, development director and campaign coordinator), I learned about governance, strategic planning, collaboration and leveraging limited resources for a common good. These experiences prepared me for envisioning and managing a large, national non-profit with multiple stakeholders and a clear vision and mission.

What influenced you to pursue a career in your profession?

I believe we can do more together than we can alone. HERC is a testament to this belief. By leveraging human, financial and aspirational resources, the members of HERC have come together to create one of the largest and most utilized jobs website for diverse professionals seeking careers in higher education.

What professional, civic or community organization do you belong?

I belong to the Association for Collaborative Leadership (ACL), the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) and the College and University Professional Association – Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

What advice do you give to students who desire to pursue a career as an executive director of an educational institution or organization?

There are non-profit management programs (both certificates and degree programs) that provide extremely helpful underpinnings to a non-profit career. Volunteering, internships and mentorship relationships are all great ways to get “real life” experience working in a non-profit environment. If you choose to work in the non-profit sector, choose something that you are passionate about. There are so many ways to make a difference and utilize your organizational leadership skills. I am fortunate that I have combined my passions for non-profit leadership, helping scholars and other higher education professionals achieve their career goals, and contributing to creating a more diverse academic workforce.

Tell me about the HERC and the New England HERC region?

The HERC organization was established to advance the ability of member institutions to recruit and retain the most diverse and talented workforce and to assist dual-career couples.HERC has 17 distinct regions throughout the United States. The New England HERC  is one of the largest regions with 70 member institutions encompassing Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and northern Connecticut.If you are a jobseeker and want to zero in on a specific region for your search, visit the regional HERC page to see where HERC regions are located.If you are conducting a national job search, visit to search for positions in your field.

What is the HERC purpose for attending the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring?

HERC wants to expose doctoral scholars to the many higher education job opportunities at that our 600 college and university member institutions are seeking the most qualified and diverse jobseekers to apply for. All of the resources on the website are free to jobseekers.

Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of seven books, “Education Questions to be Answered,” “Current Issues and Answers in Education,” “How to Eradicate Hazing,” “Professional Career Paths” “Your Answers to Education Questions,” “How to revitalize the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.” and “Completing the Dissertation: Tips, techniques and real-life experiences from Ph.D. graduates.” He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper.  Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at [email protected]


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