Lisa Branson and Milena Velez

Lisa Branson, Vice President for Enrollment Systems Lisa has 22 years of experience in public, private, and proprietary higher education, in both four-year and two-year sectors. During her career, Lisa served as both Chief Enrollment Officer and Chief Retention Officer, and she has led large national financial aid divisions across the country. She began her career at Mary Baldwin University, where she held a variety of positions including Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. Lisa also served as the Director of Student Finance at DeVry University, and held financial aid management positions at Northern Virginia Community College. Lisa is a subject matter expert on both enrollment management and all aspects of financial aid. Throughout her diverse career, she has led many successful initiatives to increase enrollment, expand diversity, implement improved financial aid leveraging strategies, and develop “re-recruitment” retention plans. Lisa received her bachelor’s degree from Mary Baldwin College and her master’s degree in Human Resource Development from James Madison University. She currently holds several NASFAA credentials and has presented at a variety of financial aid conferences to students, parents, and higher education colleagues. Lisa was also voted as the “Staff Member of the Year” by students at Northern Virginia Community College, and she received DeVry’s prestigious “PRIDE” award during her time there. Lisa resides in Ashburn, Virginia, with her husband, Adam, and her two children, Matt who is 19, and Hannah, who is 10. When she’s not working, Lisa enjoys boating and is currently learning to scuba dive. Milena Velez, Project Manager Milena has over thirteen years of experience in enrollment management in a variety of roles and with diverse student populations. As a former international student herself, she began her career as Coordinator of International Recruitment at Knox College. Over the next decade, she served in progressive roles across the Midwest and the South as a senior admissions counselor at Lake Erie College, Assistant Director of Graduate and Transfer Admission at the University of Findlay, and Director of Admission at Newberry College. During that time, Milena developed communication plans, strategies, and content for different target audiences and revamped institutional processes on a number of occasions, including creating a module-based comprehensive training and on-boarding program for new admission counselors. As a professional, Milena believes that it is the mission and goal of enrollment managers to provide students from all backgrounds with the higher education experience they need and to support them in the unique ways they need to be supported throughout that experience. She is confident that this mission is best served through collaboration across the industry, especially when it comes to raising the next generation of admissions counselors. Milena has served as an OACAC Summer Institute Mentor, as well as a member of the OACAC Articulation Committee and a Site Chair. Milena received her Bachelor’s degree in creative writing and politics from Oberlin College, her Master of Business Administration from Lake Erie College, and her Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Findlay. Born and raised in Bulgaria, Milena currently calls South Carolina her home. She lives just north of Columbia, SC, with her husband, Joel, and their daughter, Stella. When not hiking with the family or conducting science experiments with Stella, Milena enjoys a good long run or a good long book, followed by a nice cup of tea.

Powering Up: Enrollment Leaders battle the great resignation

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Replacements with Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. If you have never seen it, it’s the story of a fictional pro-football team that must scramble to find new players in the middle of the season due to a players’ strike.