Take Care of Each Other and NCMPR

by Debra Halsey
NCMPR Executive Director
Albuquerque, NM

I’m not good at saying goodbye. In fact, I’m downright terrible at it. When I announced my plans to retire, I knew it would be difficult to leave NCMPR. Even so, when asked if I’d like to write something for NCMPR’s blog before walking out the door, I said yes. Go figure. I’m saying goodbye.

NCMPR has been part of my professional life for some 30 years. I’ve had the unique privilege of experiencing NCMPR from all sides – first as a member during my 15 years in community college marketing and PR (most of them at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico), then as a board member when I served as District 4 director, and finally as part of the national office, where I started as Counsel editor and eventually moved up to executive director.

Being on staff over the past 20 years, including seven years as executive director, has been an experience like none other. I’ve always considered it a one-of-a-kind opportunity to serve NCMPR’s members – an amazing group of communication professionals dedicated to telling the community college story and to showing through words and images how anyone can achieve their educational dreams. It’s a noble profession.

And so … when thinking about what I ultimately might say as I head out the door, two things come immediately to mind.

First, take care of each other. Continue to lean on one another – to coach, to mentor, to commiserate. I’ve always admired NCMPR members for unselfishly sharing ideas. NCMPR’s national network of colleagues is truly remarkable. There’s a reason why so many members refer to NCMPR as a “family.”

Second, take care of NCMPR. She’s a mighty organization – nearly 50 years old and 1,600 members strong – that stands steady and ready to support two-year colleges in their mission of student success. The important work of NCMPR will never be done, and your support is essential to shaping the organization’s next 50 years.

Of course, I can’t say goodbye without adding one more thing. To NCMPR’s members, to the board of directors, and to the national office staff (those nearest and dearest to me who I can’t help but name individually – Connie, Lawanna, Ben, Jaclyn, Natalie and James), you have my utmost respect. I’m deeply grateful for having the opportunity to work with you.

Debra Halsey has served as executive director of NCMPR since 2013 and served as associate director from 2004 to 2013. 


  • Scott Knauer says:

    Debbie, it was a pleasure working with you while I was at CCC and you were with NCMPR. Thanks for all of the support, not just for District 4, but for the entire organization and the massive events that brought such great value to community college marketers like myself. Wishing you all the best!

    • Debra Halsey says:

      Thanks, Scott. And likewise! We’re still hoping you’ll return to the ranks of community college marketers at some point in the future. We miss you!

  • Susan Herney says:

    Way to go, my friend. Congratulations as you enter the next stage of your life and world.
    We have seen NCMPR grow and mature as an organization, nurtured by skillful leaders and committed members.
    NCMPR was integral to my professional growth, as it has become to so many who contribute to the organization for the benefit of those who will follow in our footsteps.
    Keep on smiling and laughing and know how much you are appreciated!
    Happy Trails to you.

    • Debra Halsey says:

      Susan, we go way back, don’t we. I was thrilled to work with you on the board and are glad you’ve stayed in touch with NCMPR all these years. As a past president, you contributed much to our organization. Thanks for the kind note, my friend. And all the best to you!

  • Sally Cameron says:

    Such a privilege to know you and work with you. Welcome to the bright side, where your time is your own! Thank you for all you did for me and for the organization. You were member-centered and such a joy to know and to work with. Hugs and kisses and lots of love as you move into your next great adventure!

  • Debra Halsey says:

    Thanks, Sally. You’ve always had a way with words! It was MY pleasure and privilege to work with you on the board, and as another past president of NCMPR, you left an enormous footprint on our organization. It’s a joy to know you … being part of NCMPR has given me the greatest gift of friendships that span the country! Hugs back at you!

  • Linda Baker says:

    Debbie – It’s certainly the end of an era. It’s ironic that our paths have crossed again, even if from afar. You were always the shining example for me when I started at San Juan College back in 1995. You were such a great friend and colleague, even going way beyond expectations when you helped me with my twin baby boys in the Albuquerque airport! I hope that one day I’ll be back in the lovely Southwest – I will look you up!

    • Debra Halsey says:

      Thanks, Linda. You were such an inspiration to me. You knew what you wanted, and you went for it! Your boys, now grown, are a testament to that, and how lucky they are! I will always look fondly back on our days at SFCC and San Juan College. I do, indeed, hope to see you back in the Southwest someday, and you absolutely better look me up! All the best …

  • Sherika Attipoe says:

    What a remarkable woman you are. Since I originally joined NCMPR in 2014, you have been a reliable sounding board and a center of support when I was seeking to learn more about the organization. Your vision for this organization flows throughout the national office and through our members as well. I am thankful for you and your service to assisting in making NCMPR what is today. I look forward to continuing to support this organization and will miss you soooo much! Best wishes to you as well as a big and safe socially distanced hug!! 🙂

    • Debra Halsey says:

      Oh my, Sherika, thanks so much for your kind words. YOU are one of NCMPR’s shining stars, and you have so much more to give to our organization, so please, please stay involved. I enjoyed our conversations (although too infrequent), and I always walked away feeling the positive and enthusiastic energy you exuded. It’s contagious. All the best to you, and hugs right back!

  • Timothy Leong says:

    As a former president of the California organization, Community College Public Relations Organization (CCPRO), I understand the commitment and responsibility of leading a group of peers. It is not a job, rather a calling that demonstrates your respect of your peers, and the importance of building relationships to help understand/navigate the ever-changing landscape and issues facing community colleges today. Kudos to your decision to let someone else have the opportunity you have enjoyed these last few years, knowing you left the organization in great shape and able to provide the support needed by its members.

    Thank you for your service to community college PR folks!
    Tim Leong

    • Debra Halsey says:

      Tim, I’m overwhelmed by your message. Thanks so much. It was a pleasure working with you, and thanks right back for YOUR commitment to community colleges. Keep on answering the call and telling their story! All the best to you …

  • Judy Urben says:

    As always, Debbie, you continue to provide such wonderful words of advice for all us. Thank you for all of your years of commitment and service. You will be missed!! You be sure and take great care of yourself as well, as you move onto this next step in your life – retirement! I am thrilled for you and know you will continue to offer inspiration to many.

    Take good care — and all the best to you — Judy

    • Debra Halsey says:

      Thanks, Judy. As I’ve said so many times, getting to know members like you from all across the country has been the biggest joy of my job. You, too, have logged in many years of service to the community college cause, and we are grateful for YOU! All the best to you as well!

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