CUPA-HR Wildfire Program
Learning | Connecting | Mentoring

Applications for the 2017-18 program year will be accepted here as of the week of March 6, 2017.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: Extended to March 21, 2017
NOTIFICATION: Delayed to week of April 17, 2017

This 12-month immersive experience will connect a small, select group of early-career higher ed HR professionals with CUPA-HR, key association leaders and multiple learning opportunities.

Why “Wildfire”? Because we hope the outcome of this program will be that participants’ opportunities within the profession and the association spread like wildfire!

Components of the Program

Association Leadership Program – July 13-15, 2017 – Tempe, Arizona

This annual gathering of nearly 200 CUPA-HR chapter, regional and national leaders will offer Wildfire participants an orientation to the program and the association, as well as the opportunity to connect with other higher ed HR professionals from across the country.

CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo – September 16-18, 2017 – San Diego, California

The CUPA-HR Annual Conference is the largest national conference created by and for higher ed HR professionals. At the conference, Wildfire participants will have the opportunity to connect with one another and with many of the leaders they met at the Association Leadership Program, while also attending outstanding professional development sessions.

Experiential Learning Opportunities – Flexible Timing

As part of the application process, applicants will identify key areas for development over the course of the year. With those areas in mind, the program will offer participants tailored learning experiences that could include shadowing a higher ed HR leader on his or her campus, participating in monthly phone or video conferences with CUPA-HR leaders and other higher ed HR subject matter experts or taking applicable CUPA-HR e-learning courses.

Wildfire Project – Ongoing

Each participant is required to develop a learning deliverable that reflects his or her growth in one of the areas identified for development. This deliverable will be created in a form that makes sense for the topic, such as an article, CUPA-HR conference presentation, webinar or e-learning content, etc., and can be done with the assistance of a mentor, CUPA-HR leader or staff, and in collaboration with a colleague or alone.

Download this document to review the program outline and requirements.

Costs of the Program

The program covers participant costs including registration, travel, meals and accommodations for attendance at the Association Leadership Program and CUPA-HR Annual Conference, as well as registration costs for applicable CUPA-HR e-learning courses. The program also covers participant costs including travel, meals and accommodation for a campus visit to shadow a higher ed HR leader, if applicable.

Overall, I feel as though being part of this group has unlocked something in me that motivates me to achieve something great to help the people I serve every day, empowers me to believe that it is possible and connects me with those who can offer helpful advice and wisdom so that I can make it reality.

— David Elliott, 2016-17 Wildfire Program Participant

Who Should Apply?

To be eligible for the Wildfire program, you must be:

  • Employed by a CUPA-HR member institution
  • An entry-level or mid-level professional with no more than 15 years of experience looking for opportunities to enhance your higher ed HR competencies and grow personally and professionally
  • Willing and able to commit the required time, as outlined above
  • Fully supported by your direct supervisor to participate in all components of the program
  • Committed to using your leadership skills and knowledge for the long-term benefit of the higher ed HR community
  • Committed to working in higher education
  • Interested in actively engaging with mentors and connecting with other higher ed HR professionals
  • Willing to remain engaged with CUPA-HR at the conclusion of the program in a volunteer capacity

In addition, you are eligible to apply unless you:

  • Serve on the CUPA-HR national board of directors
  • Have served as a CUPA-HR national, regional or chapter board member, officer or committee member
  • Are employed by the institution of a current national board member

Participants will be selected based on application responses explaining:

  • How the program would be of benefit personally and professionally
  • Why the participant should be selected to participate
  • Strengths and areas for development using CUPA-HR's Learning Framework

We encourage all applicants to give some thought to the criteria above before applying. Final candidates will be evaluated based on the answers given in the application.

If you have questions about the Wildfire Program, contact CUPA-HR at

Wildfire Program Alumni

Andrea Alfano (2016-17)
David Elliott (2016-17)
Kristina Gravellese (2016-17)
Veronica Lenegan (2016-17)
Katryn Stewart (2016-17)
Clarity White (2016-17)
Alisha Arnold (2015-16)
Bel Campos (2015-16)
Jaylyn Corna (2015-16)
Sarah Deitz (2015-16)
Stephanie Kelly (2015-16)
Adrienne Preddie (2015-16)
Mickelle Anderson (2014-15)
Magda Bakali (2014-15)
Joey Bracco (2014-15)
Lydell Fortune (2014-15)
Alexis Knapp (2014-15)
Elecia Smith (2014-15)