Posted December 9, 2014 by Mandi Bryson 

Getting to Know Kim Pho

Kim PhoKim Pho
Institution: Southern New Hampshire University
Institution location: Manchester, N.H.
Position: Associate Director
Communities of Practice: Catholic Colleges and Universities, Facilities and Operations, Graduate Students and New Professionals, Multi-Ethnic Professionals and Allies, Student Employee Supervisors, Technology, Women’s Leadership
Conference Responsibilities/Focus: Newcomers, Graduate Student Track, Keynote Speakers

What are you looking forward to most at the 2015 annual conference?

Food, fun, learning, basking in the warmth, friends new and old—oh, and did I mention food? Nothing says good eats like some Texas BBQ and Tex-Mex!

What advice would you give to first-time delegates?
Do you! I know the first time going to the Annual Conference can be daunting, but make sure you take the time you need for yourself. Try to take advantage of the opportunities for networking and education, and don’t hesitate to get involved in any of the programs. Hopefully, you’ll see that the ACUI family can extend to outside of the regional level!

Why did you become involved in ACUI and the Conference Planning Team?

I won’t lie; I kind of feel like I was spoon-fed ACUI as an undergraduate student. I had my first taste of ACUI at my first regional conference at the University of Vermont in 2009 (Whoo! Shout-out to UVM and Region VIII), and ever since then, I’ve kept taking opportunities to get involved with the Association through regional conference teams and Regional Leadership Teams alike. This was definitely a great life decision, and I’ve been able to work with so many amazing professionals and students alike! Having been on a few Regional Conference Planning Teams, I wanted to experience the challenge of conference planning on an international level. I felt like the Annual Conference Program Team would be a great place to meet new people and gain experiences I wouldn’t have gotten through my current job. So far, I can say it was an awesome decision and highly encourage everyone else to get involved.

What is your favorite part of the annual conference?
I really love being able to be reunited with colleagues and friends from across all regions. ACUI has always been a giant family reunion for me, and every year I attend I feel like my family has gotten exponentially bigger.

Who has been one of the most influential people in your career and why?
Remember how I mentioned I feel like I’ve been spoon-fed ACUI? Well, the holder of that spoon was Mike Makoski from Fitchburg State University. There has been one constant that has aligned with my involvement with ACUI throughout my career, and that has been having him as a mentor. Even though I’m not one of his student employees anymore, I can always count on him to have my back and be the support I need. He introduced me to the field, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without his influence. (He would probably say this is the nicest thing I’ve ever said about him, too!)

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become more involved in ACUI?
Just do it! I think Nike had it right when they coined that slogan. I believe seeking out any opportunity, big or small, and getting involved with the Association will open so many doors for you. It’s a great learning experience, and it doesn’t hurt to try, because every little bit helps.

If you could select three core competencies that best describe you, what would they be and why?

  • Student Learning—I believe that learning can occur outside of the classroom, and learning is a main focus I have when working with students.
  • Intercultural Proficiency—I think this is something that is important to me personally. We should always be working toward breaking those boundaries and fully keeping our minds open to everyone’s stories.
  • Planning—my number-one strength from StrengthsFinder is “Strategic,” and I really do think that decisions we make are aligned with our missions, values, and vision.

When/where was your first annual conference?
My first annual conference was in Boston in 2012 when I was a graduate student. This conference was probably a huge game changer for me because it led me to my current position as a professional. Also, I’m a Boston girl at heart, so naturally, it’s rather appropriate.

What three things in your office could you not live without?

My computer, food (everyone has a snack drawer), and maybe my Diplomas? I don’t really keep valuables in my office.

What has been your greatest adventure?
When I studied abroad in London, I traveled all over the U.K. and Europe, and I would say it was one of my favorite adventures.

Random fact about yourself:
I have my bartending license.

My iPod top five songs:

In no particular order as of April 2 (It changes constantly depending on my mood and time of year): “Pompeii” – Bastille, “Young And Beautiful” – Lana Del Rey, “Team” – Lorde, “She Keeps Me Warm” – Mary Lambert, “Chasing the Sun” – Sara Bareilles

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love be able to fly. I wouldn’t have to pay for gas, and I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted!

In high school, I would have been/was voted:
Most likely to direct a Broadway play. (If only that were true!)

If you could be in charge of any organization, what would it be and why?

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science, because I love film and I would get to go to the Academy Awards every year.

If you could have a meal with three people, alive or dead, who would they be and why?
Jennifer Lawrence, Matt Damon, and Dennis Lehane. I just think Jennifer Lawrence would be so much fun to hang out with. Matt Damon, because he’s one of my celebrity crushes (no lie!) and we both share the same stomping grounds (Massachusetts). Dennis Lehane is my favorite author, and I would love to just have a conversation about his writing. (He is also from Massachusetts—see a trend?)

What was your major (or majors) in college?
Fitchburg State University, B. S. in Communications Media with a double concentration in Graphic Design and Interactive Media. University of Connecticut, M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs.

Mandi Bryson

Mandi Bryson is the Associate Director for Events & Operations at College of Charleston.


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