Four IECA Members Honored with 2022 Making a Difference Awards

IECA has recognized four independent educational consultants (IECs) from across the U.S. with its annual Making a Difference Awards in recognition of their selfless volunteer efforts that have made a difference in the work of the association’s 2,600 members during this year.

Award recipients include Chris Andersson of New York, NY; Cheryl Chamberlain of Riverwoods, IL; Yesim Erez of Anaheim Hills, CA and Istanbul, Turkey; and Yvonne Espinoza of Austin, TX.

Through their efforts, these members have added significantly to the strengths and skills of their IECA member colleagues in their work with tens of thousands of students annually. The lifelong learning, collegiality, and ethical standards represented by the awardees are the hallmarks of IECA.

The Making a Difference Awards were presented by IECA Board President Ibrahim Firat during the organization’s Fall Conference (November 7-9, 2022 in San Diego, CA), which was attended by over 1,000 independent educational consultants and college, school, and therapeutic program representatives.

“Our Making a Difference awardees have fostered connections and community among IECA members, and shared resources benefiting all members’ IEC practices,” said IECA CEO Mark Sklarow. “Their collegiality and generosity are hallmarks of IECA.”

Ibrahim Firat (left) with Chris Andersson (right)
Cheryl Chamberlain
Ibrahim Firat (left) with Yesim Erez (right)
Yvonne Espinoza

IECA Presents to US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions

On October 19, 2022, IECA members Bar Clarke,  Karen Mabie, Heidi Molbak, and Jesse Quam joined CEO Mark Sklarow in presenting to the senior staff of the Senate Committee that oversees a wide area of legislative responsibility. The US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) requested IECA’s input as it explores adolescents and mental health, with a particular focus on health and safety of teens in therapeutic residential programs. Staff leaders representing Senator Patty Murray (WA) and IECA’s legislative counsel, Craig Saperstein of Pillsbury Law, also participated in the meeting.

At the outset, IECA had the chance to explain the Association’s work, our criteria for membership, and earning designations in therapeutic placements. IECA’s Principles of Good Practice, our Standards of Excellence and training new independent educational consultants (IECs) through our Summer Training Institute were all explored by the Committee staff. They seemed particularly interested in our prohibition against accepting kickbacks or expensive gifts as well as the role IECs play beyond student placement including after-care, family dynamics, and communication with parties during treatment periods.

In response to questions about campus visits, IECA members noted that being able to visit a campus and speak with students was incredibly valuable, and that the online Member Network allows IECA members to find trusted colleagues who may have a recent experience with a program. Mark Sklarow cautioned that while IECA members can visit programs, these are planned and controlled, and that state government and credentialing organization hold greater authority in evaluative visits which can be unscheduled and more invasive.

The Senate Committee staffers seemed interested to learn that IECs are, at times, brought on to assist a school district in finding residential care when local options have been exhausted. Likewise, referrals from psychologists and other professionals were discussed.

Bringing up the “horror stories” at programs that surfaced in the news recently, the IECA team offered several insights. They noted that many of these stories relate to instances more than two decades old, which was followed by a period of dramatic change and improvement in program staff training, new policies to safeguard children, and the like. Additionally, we noted that many of the stories specifically relate to publicly financed programs, not those privately held. Even so, the IECA team was clear that IECA supports new legislation that can assure the safety and care of teens, including extensive staff training on therapeutic holds and isolation, record-keeping, improved communication between teens and parents, and recognition of client rights.

IECA also addressed the work of some unaffiliated consultants who act as program recruiters or agents, accepting kickbacks (while masquerading as IECs), and indicated that such actions hurt the professional reputation of legitimate IECs. IECA endorsed mental health parity and expressed concern that those who go too far to attack all therapeutic schools and programs run the risk of stigmatizing adolescents seeking mental health care.

IECA and our Therapeutic and Government Relations Committees anticipate providing additional input to the Senate Committee in the new legislative year.

IECA Grants Annual Making a Difference Award to Seven Independent Educational Consultants

Honorees Have Gone Above and Beyond to Support Their Fellow Members During the Year

IECA has recognized seven independent educational consultants (IECs) across the US with its annual Making a Difference Awards in recognition of their selfless volunteer efforts that have made a difference in the work of the association’s 2,300 members during this year.

Award recipients include Christopher Bell of Boulder, CO; Cynthia Cohen of Denver, CO; Eric Dobler of Cheshire, CT; Deborah Davis Groves of Austin, TX; Sylvia Jackman of Lexington, SC; Stephanie Meade of Studio City, CA; and Luisa Rabe of Haverford, PA. . They were selected from the general membership and are not currently serving in formal leadership roles in IECA.

The efforts of these members have added significantly to the strengths and skills of their IECA member colleagues in their work with tens of thousands of students annually. The lifelong learning, collegiality, and ethical standards represented by the awardees are the hallmarks of IECA.

The Making a Difference Awards were presented by Kristina Dooley, IECA board president, during the organization’s Fall Conference (November 10-12, 2021), which was attended by more than 600 independent educational consultants and over 250 colleges, schools, and programs.

“Our seven awardees have gone above and beyond by fostering connections among IECA members and sharing resources, information, and ideas that have been invaluable to their IEC practices,” said IECA CEO Mark Sklarow. “Their efforts are a testament to the collegiality of IECA members.”

Christopher Bell
Cynthia Cohen
Eric Dobler
Deborah Davis Groves

Sylvia Jackman
Stephanie Meade
Luisa Rabe

IECA Grants Inaugural Making a Difference Awards to Seven Independent Educational Consultants

Recipients Have Gone Above and Beyond to Support Their Fellow Members During This Tumultuous Year

IECA has recognized seven independent educational consultants (IECs) across the U.S. with its inaugural Making a Difference Awards in recognition of their unprompted and cooperative efforts that have made a difference in the work of its 2,300 members during this tumultuous year.

Award recipients include Katherine Andersen of Dana Point, CA; Stacey Cunitz of Philadelphia, PA; Eric Endlich of Needham, MA; Heidi Molbak of New Orleans, LA; Sydney Montgomery of Clarksburg, MD; Holly Ramsey of Naperville, IL; and David Stoeckel of Laguna Hills, CA. They were selected from the general membership and are not currently serving in formal leadership roles in IECA.

The specific efforts of the awardees include:

  • Katherine Andersen and David Stoeckel: Co-creating an IECs Advising College Bound Student Athletes Affinity Group and sharing information about NCAA and NAIA rules changes and news, especially those due to the pandemic
  • Stacey Cunitz: Being the “voice of reason” in tough conversations on equity, privilege, and other discussion topics on the IECA Member Network listserv
  • Eric Endlich: Sharing resources particular to the learning differences/neurodiversity differences (LD/ND) student population
  • Heidi Molbak: Creating a crowdsourcing document to track the opening status and operational changes of boarding schools across the U.S. due to COVID-19, and keeping it up-to-date and available to IECA members through fall 2020
  • Sydney Montgomery: Sharing resources on antiracism, content marketing, and other topics and participating as an active member of the Black IECs Affinity Group and Graduate School Committee
  • Holly Ramsey: Establishing a Homeschooling Affinity Group to provide ongoing discussion and support for IECA members interested in this specialized topic

The Making a Difference Awards were presented by Kristina Dooley, IECA board president, during the organization’s virtual Fall Conference (November 16-20, 2020), which was attended by more than 650 independent educational consultants and 400 school, program and college representatives.

“Our seven awardees have stepped up to support their colleagues by sharing resources, information, and ideas that have been invaluable to their IEC practices, especially considering how rapidly the pandemic has impacted the school, college, and therapeutic landscape,” said IECA CEO Mark Sklarow. “Their efforts speak to the importance of community within IECA.”

Katherine Andersen
Stacey Cunitz
Eric Endlich
Heidi Molbak
Sydney Montgomery
David Stoeckel

UPDATE: IECA EVENTS and the CORONAVIRUS

Like you, we are all doing our best to adjust to the ever-changing situation here in the United States and around the globe. Even as things change quickly, we wanted to provide the following update to IECA’s upcoming live events, including changes to dates, fees, cancellation, and more.

  1. Our Spring Conference has been postponed an additional 8 weeks, from May to July 15–17 with the same location and schedule, at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Connecticut.
  1. All campus tours scheduled prior to and following the conference have been rescheduled for the new July dates.
  1. All registrants have had their registration and hotel bookings forwarded to the new dates (some campus tour hotels will need to be rebooked—you will be contacted).
  1. Our College Symposium has been postponed from June to September 9–10 in Cleveland.
  1. Because of the change in Connecticut conference dates to mid-July, our 2020 West Coast Summer Training Institute had to be cancelled. The East Coast Summer Training Institute at Swarthmore College will take place as scheduled, July 28–31.
  1. We have eliminated all late fees for our conference in Connecticut. We understand that you may feel more comfortable waiting until closer to the event to sign up for our events in July.
  1. If you are unable to attend the Connecticut event on the new dates, you will be given the opportunity in several weeks to cancel and IECA will provide a full credit for 100% of fees paid, automatically provided within our registration system that will be tied to you for use for a future conference, towards membership dues, or another IECA event. Your willingness to use a credit allows IECA to keep cash flow from becoming an extreme hardship.
  1. In several weeks, schools, colleges, programs and IEC firms will be given the opportunity to substitute a different attendee from their institution. We will waive all change fees.
  1. Those who wish to take another option, rather than the 100% credit noted in #7 above, will be given the chance to request either a cash/credit refund (which may take up to 4 weeks, subject to the administrative charges noted below) or may choose to support the Association by donating the payment made to IECA to assure continuity of operations.
  1. For the conference and Summer Training Institute (STI), we have updated all cancellation fees, eliminating 50% or 100% retentions for all cancellations that occur beyond 5 days of these events. IECA will only retain (for refunds) an amount equal to or less than our direct administrative cost charged by our online system and credit card processor. This will be $35 for the CT conference and $75 for STI. You can feel good about registering for events knowing you will be treated fairly.
  1. If we are forced to cancel these events due to health advisories we will do so, and issue full credits or full refunds to all registrants automatically.
  1. Please know that IECA is continuing to operate in all departments: membership benefits and outreach, education and training (including online learning), communications (including 5 Minute News and Insights), business support, conference and tour planning, and much more. Those looking for opportunities for advertising and sponsorships should contact Jean Lockwood.

To keep up with the latest from IECA, visit our Facebook page.