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Faces of Nelnet: Kristi Jones, Southern Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

November 9, 2011

Kristi Jones, Southern Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Dawn Knight: What conferences are you attending this fall?  Please tell me about any presentations or sessions you’ll be doing.

Kristi Jones: The states I cover in the SASFAA region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico) no longer have fall conferences.  I will be attending the fall training events in each state and looking forward to seeing multiple school clients in one setting and of course learning great material.  My first conference will be the SASFAA conference, which will be in late February.  Last year, Nelnet presented at every state conference in SASFAA and hope to do the same in 2012. 

Dawn: What is your main focus right now?  I know you’re on some projects for Nelnet; can you give me some insight on those?

Kristi: Financial Literacy has been a huge focus for our team.  I am on a project to help develop documents that schools can distribute to their students in order to help promote financial wellness.  We have created several pieces including a Budgeting Worksheet, Facts about Delinquency and Default, and Loan Repayment Options.  The documents are customizable so that the school can display their name.  Our goal is to remain viable to schools and provide resources to educate their borrowers and help lower their default rates.

Dawn: Have you had any memorable moments over the past year work-wise that you’d like to share? 

Kristi: I am honored to be a part of such a great team.  Everyone on the team is extremely passionate about serving our school customers and trying to find ways to improve our current processes.  Over the past year, we have grown closer as a team and have developed new initiatives to help promote financial literacy for borrowers and have created tools to help make the Direct Lending process as smooth as possible.

Dawn: What is your favorite work-related iPad app that you can’t live without?

Kristi: I absolutely love the Face Time application that is built into the iPad.  It is so nice to be able to talk with my son and hubby when I am traveling for work and makes being away a bit easier.  Being able to see my son’s smile for a few moments is a great way to end my day.

Dawn: What do you see as the biggest challenge schools are facing right now?

Kristi: I hear frequently that schools are having a hard time keeping up with the continuous changes in regulations.  They also feel that with these changes brings additional work load; but with budget cuts, they are unable to hire new employees to help manage the new requirements.  Veteran Financial Aid Directors are saying that this has been the toughest year in the 20 plus years that they have worked in the industry. 

Dawn: What is your best recent read or CD you’ve purchased?

Kristi: What is a CD? I am teasing but have to admit that it has been years since I have purchased a CD.  With iTunes, I get caught up in purchasing singles only.  The last CD that I purchased was Sarah Evans’ first album, and I still love her “Suds in the Bucket” song.  In regards to books, I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. 

Dawn: Who has been your Work / Life mentor throughout the years and why?

Kristi: I feel very fortunate that I have been a part of the Nelnet family for almost 8 years.  I have learned a lot from the people I work with and am proud of the core values of our Executive Leadership.  They treat employees with the utmost respect and also expect us to treat our customers the same way. 

I am also fortunate to have grown up with an amazing mentor, my big sister, Lori.  She has been my role model my entire life.  She has always excelled academically, socially, and athletically and has inspired me to do the same.  Today, she is not only my mentor, but my best friend. 

Dawn: What was the most recent meal you cooked that turned out awful?

Kristi: We were in Publix recently and the Apron Menu item of the day was home-made pizza.  We had a sample and it was delicious.  The person cooking it told us how easy it was and had all the ingredients right there for us to purchase.  We thought it would be a great idea to make it a family event and have everyone pitch in with forming the dough and putting on all the toppings.  For some reason, we could not get the dough to form properly and it was extremely thin in the middle and thick on the outside.  The dough did not cook through evenly and needless to say, that was the worst pizza I have ever had.   We called Papa John’s that same night!

Dawn Knight, Western Regional Director: AZ, WA, OR, ID, NV, CA, WY and ND

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