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What is the NIA? 

The NIA is NOLS' Labor Organization.  We strive to represent all NOLS employees below the level of the Executive Team.  We are a 501(c)(5) tax exempt Labor Organization, legally, financially, and operationally independent from the NOLS administration.  

What do we do?

We work to gather feedback from employees and represent these views to the decision makers at the School.  We also support the flow of information the other way, from the Board of Trustees to the newest hire.  The NIA's role can be summed up as working directly with the administration to support the work done by dedicated employees to make the school a better place to work, to learn, and to live.  Specific examples of our efforts include:  

  • Representing employees at Board of Trustees meetings.
  • Maintaining a dialogue with Terri Watson, the Executive Team, and Program Directors
  • Holding Annual and Campus Meetings to gather input from staff
  • Administering a Facebook Group and website to allow for the free exchange of ideas among staff and to to facilitate the flow of crucial information to employees outside of Lander
  • Conducting Staff Surveys on issues such as travel reimbursement so that our advocacy is evidence based
  • Run a Mentorship Program to connect newer instructors with their more experienced peers.
  • Administering the Flamingo Fund to bankroll quality of life improvements at NOLS campuses around the world 
  • Hosting social events and an info table at the Faculty Summit
  • Supporting staff trainings such as the various Rendezvous




Our themes for the current Strategic Plan:

  • Employee Engagement, including:
    • The inclusion of at least one person whose primary role at NOLS is as a faculty member at all Board of Trustees meetings
    • Continue to advocate for a Director-Level Faculty Chair, funded by a Sal-Fac or endowed position, to represent faculty at the Director and Executive Director level
    • Educating employees about NOLS' structure and strategy and facilitate consistent communication between Headquarters and far-flung faculty and staff
    • Field Faculty Travel, including:
      • Establishing a Travel Plank for the NIA platform that sets a goal of 100% reimbursement of average travel costs
      • Pushing for greater timeliness and clarity in the travel reimbursement process
      • Advocating for an accessible Travel Advance program for faculty who are financially unable to fund their travel in advance of reimbursement
      • Mentorship & Careers, including:
        • Expanding the NIA Mentorship Program
        • Working with the Education, Program, and Staffing departments to improve the SPE process to ensure that faculty can fully engage in feedback without fear of adverse impact on their careers
        • Advocating for Semi-Annual Faculty Positions, increased off-season employment, more predictable career progressions, and intentional hiring of summer-only instructors


      What have we accomplished?

      Many of the things that NOLS does to support employees began as NIA projects. Today we may take these “basics” for granted, but it was NIA advocacy, organization, and/or funding that got the ball rolling.

      Examples include:

      • Seminars
      • The Staff Newsletter
      • Instructor Storage in the Noble Hotel
      • Pro Deal Privileges
      • Instructor Development Fund

      We have successfully advocated for:

      • Increasing Compensation
      • Growing Travel Reimbursements
      • More Equitable International Pay Scales
      • Pay for Instructors Aiding One Section During a Proctorship
      • Additional Briefing Time for Rescue Practice
      • A Faculty Only WiFi Network in the Noble Hotel


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