Dear Colleagues,

Did you ever wonder why New Orleans is nicknamed “The Big Easy”? Local lore suggests there was a local dance hall with this moniker in the early 1900s, but the nickname didn’t become popular until 70 years later, when local gossip columnist Betty Guillaud compared the city and its easygoing ways to the hurried pace of New York City (“The Big Apple”).

Not to be outdone, local crime author James Conaway claims that it was his novel The Big Easy that caused this nickname to take off. No matter its roots, The Big Easy demands that all conference attendees slow down and enjoy the good things in life, even as you dig into a rich professional program. It makes sense that we are celebrating EMA’s 60th anniversary in a city where “laissez les bons temps rouler” is the order of the day!

The theme for this year’s annual conference, “Everything is Possible,” is forward-thinking and hopeful by design. Especially in 2017, it seems that the work of independent school enrollment management can be overwhelming, with never-ending obstacles and ever-new challenges to overcome. While that is true, it is also important to note that according to a recent survey of our members, more schools showed increases than decreases in the number of inquiries, applications, and enrollments in the last year, despite dampened international interest and new competitors at our heels. Nearly everyone working in admission has had to switch up tried and true methods, and take risks with new kinds of outreach and marketing in order to find a new generation of students and their families.

As you know, at The Enrollment Management Association we believe that “the admission practices of the past will not sustain the independent schools of the future,” and we applaud your achievements over the recent years. We know that you make everything possible for your school and—importantly—the outstanding students for whom you open the door to a great education. This year’s conference program is filled with opportunities for celebration and empowerment, all with an eye to helping you feel a personal sense of renewal and optimism. Dr. Americus Reed will inspire you to consider the ways your brand becomes a part of your families’ identities, and Dr. Bertice Berry is sure to instill you with a sense of the importance and purpose you have in students’ lives. With 40 peer-designed sessions, you can learn the latest best practices for your school’s marketing, data and finance, and assessment needs, whether you are a beginner or a senior enrollment leader.

The last time our conference was held in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city. Twelve years later, we can take heart that the The Big Easy has been reborn—and that rebirth should be an important lesson for us all. May our independent school community enjoy a similar renewal, so that we can continue to make everything possible for deserving students and their families.  We look forward to welcoming you to NOLA, and “laissez les bons temps rouler!”






Heather Hoerle, Executive Director