(Note: On March 14,  2022 TPE Committee Chair, Kirby R. Gibson offered her welcoming address to TPE Virtual candidates and employers. Her words are shared below). 

It is with great enthusiasm that I get to serve as the Chair for the 2022 TPE Planning Committee and I am incredibly honored to officially welcome you to this year’s TPE Virtual event! The TPE Planning Committee has been hard at work for the past year to put together a fantastic event for our candidates and employers. I extend most sincere appreciation for working with a phenomenal committee! Whether you are participating in TPE for the umpteenth time, or this is your first time attending, you all are in for a treat!

My relationship with The Placement Exchange runs deep. It goes back to 2014 where I had the opportunity to serve as a graduate ambassador and intern with the TPE Planning Committee in Baltimore, Maryland. It was during this time that I came to meet other dedicated practitioners and begin to discover who I wanted to be and the impact I wanted to have in the field. From being a candidate to an employer to coming back full circle and serving as this year’s committee chair is an amazing privilege. I am committed to advancing the future of the profession. I am an educator. A facilitator. A cultivator. An interrogator. A disruptor. A liberator. A motivator. Scholar-practitioner personified. This PROUD Queer Black womxn from the southside of Chicago never could have imagined serving in this capacity and I owe it to TPE and countless others for helping me get to where I am. Much love to my village; you know who you are!

Since 2008, TPE has served as a “professional” home for hundreds of aspiring and current student affairs practitioners. We pride ourselves on being the preeminent organization for the student affairs and higher education job search. With the combined support and resources of our partner associations, TPE is dedicated to helping candidates find the “perfect” job and employers find the “perfect” hire.

Some of you that may have a longstanding relationship with The Placement Exchange may be disappointed that the event is not taking place in person. I too was looking forward to wrapping up my tenure with TPE by connecting with attendees and colleagues in the great city of Baltimore as well eating my fair share of blue crab. The hustle and bustle of the interview hall, linking up with old and new peers, and celebrating career wins for candidates and employers is an experience that is irreplaceable. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to create space for grieving and loss. May there be comfort in knowing that something so special will never be forgotten. And, with the everchanging landscape of student affairs and higher education, it is imperative that our associations and practitioners are informed and becoming versed in ways to better serve our students, staff, campuses, and greater communities.

So TPE is answering the call. TPE is more than a placement event; we are committed to career development, personal and professional exploration, and collaboration one connection at a time. Through inclusive excellence, innovative practice, and advocacy and responsiveness, we believe that a permanent transition to a newly envisioned virtual event will allow us to continue to strengthen our foundation, meet our goal, and evolve into a more diverse and robust experience. There may be a few stumbles along the way, but we cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.

Although we are not in Baltimore right now, I encourage folx to be inspired by one of the city’s nicknames…B’More. TPE Virtual is providing the platform for our field to be more. Be more visionary. Be more deliberate. Be more willing to share our narratives, take up space, and reclaim what is often taken advantage of or spoken on without permission. Be more committed to the work. Be more innovative. Be more courageous. Be more willing to understand the importance of developing and engaging with a critical consciousness of our past, present, and future.

As I close, I leave you with a quote from the late Howard Thurman. “There are two questions that we have to ask ourselves. The first is ‘where am I going?’ and the second is “who will go with me?”. Thank you.