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NACAS Foundation Announces 2018 Mereese Ladson Scholarship Recipients

Charlottesville, VA (April 4, 2018) – NACAS Foundation, a non-profit corporation that promotes the auxiliary services profession through NACAS, announced today they have awarded the 2018 Mereese Ladson Diversity Scholarship to:

  • Ana Alvarez, CASP, executive director of auxiliary services at the University of Miami; and
  • Katia Zakhem Nakhle, director of auxiliary services at the American University of Beirut; and
  • Melvine Walker, director of marketing/communications for Auxiliary Services for Old Dominion University.

“It is my sincere honor to award the Mereese Ladson Diversity Scholarship to three worthy candidates,” said Matt Portner, president of the NACAS Foundation. “The NACAS East Region created this endowment as a tribute to honor Mereese Ladson for her leadership in the Auxiliary Services industry. This effort has been a success from the start and is only furthered with these new Diversity Scholarship recipients.”

The Mereese Ladson Diversity Scholarship was established in 2005 in honor of the late Mereese Ladson, controller at Brooklyn College. Ms. Ladson was a president and long-time leader of NACAS East and a great friend to the entire Association. This scholarship is intended to further her work to promote the advancement of diverse, career-minded higher education professionals.

Ana Alvarez, CASP, executive director of auxiliary services at the University of Miami, has been working in the industry since 2002 and attended her first NACAS conference in 2004. Over the years, she has attended and presented at a number of NACAS events, including regional conferences and educational institutes. This year, she’ll be attending NACAS South and presenting a session called, “Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery at the U! It’s a Team Effort.”

“As a Cuban, American woman in a leadership role in a vibrant and diverse academic community, I feel I am in a great position to share my experiences and knowledge base with other auxiliary services professionals. I love the work that we do on campus every day and I’m always challenging myself to take on new initiatives and programs that contribute towards the overall student experience,” Alvarez said. “I expect to use this scholarship to continue my participation in NACAS and plan to further my involvement so I may impart much of the wisdom that has been shared with me over the years with other young professionals. It’s an exciting time for our industry, with the rapid changes in technology and services, and it’s my hope to give back time and share unique experiences with the association that has taught me so much throughout the years.”

As director of auxiliary services at the American University of Beirut, Katia Zakhem Nakhle is responsible for a diversified range of university services to students, faculty, staff and visitors. With enriched experience in management, passion and dedicated skills, she has spent the past twenty years managing the bookstore, the contracted food services, the central duplicating services, the digital center, the ID center; the motor pool, including the shuttle bus, the Post office; and all related contractual services, including corporate hotels rates, parking, university regalia, and other faculty, staff and student services.

“Joining NACAS is boarding a ship stopping at ports of consecutive successes. An unexpected gratitude coming from an honorable institution like NACAS, this award instigates me to work harder and accomplish more. I am honored and thankful that NACAS has chosen me for this prestigious award,” Zakhem Nahkle said.

Melvine Walker is the director of marketing/communications for Auxiliary Services for Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. She began her career at Old Dominion 28 years ago and has served in several capacities in housing and residence life and auxiliary services. Walker has been a member of NACAS for 10 years and has held many volunteer positions: conference coordinator, diversity inclusiveness member, host institution for On the Road, and registration volunteer, nationally and regionally. In addition, in 2010 she was recognized as NACAS Emerging Professional.

“Receiving the Mereese Ladson Scholarship supports one of my professional goals: changing the lives of others. This honorable and well appreciated award is two-fold; funds from this scholarship will further promote the opportunity to advance my leadership skill and an opportunity to engage a first-timer to experience the unlimited benefits of NACAS,” Walker said. “The funds that the university normally pays for me can now be used to support one of my mentees. I perceive the Mereese Ladson Scholarship to be an extension of Ms. Ladson’s passion. My greatest passion is to be an integral part of humanity’s growth and the Mereese Ladson Scholarship is providing me this privilege. I’m elated to share in Ms. Ladson’s legacy and just as eager to give back through my strong commitment and servitude to NACAS, NACAS East, and my campus community.”


Founded in 1969 as the National Association of College Auxiliary Services, NACAS is a professional trade association that supports the non-academic segment of higher education responsible for generating business through a diverse array of campus services that students need and value – such as food services, bookstores, housing, and transportation. NACAS Members work at a leadership level within 4-year and 2-year colleges and universities located worldwide and oversee multiple auxiliary services, making executive decisions that shape them to create hospitable and well-rounded campus communities. As the leading organization supporting all campus services, NACAS is the community-of-choice for strategic leaders who advance campus environments to improve the quality of life for students.

About the NACAS Foundation 

The NACAS Foundation is a non-profit, charitable 501(c)(3) corporation formed for the sole purpose of supporting and promoting the auxiliary services profession through NACAS. The Foundation supports the professional development and leadership opportunities necessary for NACAS members to be successful as they support higher education through auxiliary/campus services in an ever-changing environment. Through generous support of members and business partners, the Foundation has been able to help fund new professional development programs, assist in improving technology, support scholarships, provide research funds, and support the CASP certification.