2016 Conference Cameo: Cortney Leach

Who: Cortney Leach, Research Development Manager, The Information School
Where: University of Washington
Number of years in research development: 3
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORP conferences attended: 2
I provide leadership for the UW iSchool in the areas of research strategy and development, Leach_20160329_finalpartner and sponsor cultivation, and promotion and external relations. Under our Associate Dean for Research, I support a highly diverse group of faculty and research scientists, with backgrounds ranging from philosophy and law to data science and systems biology. As the lead within a 2-person, unit-based RD shop, I manage services that strategically lighten the administrative load for our researchers in addition to those that propel us forward. In a given day you will find me holding proposal strategy sessions with individual faculty members; facilitating a brown bag on cracking Google research funding; reaching out to Federal Relations re: an upcoming faculty member’s visit to D.C. (our Seattle location has its challenges); drafting policies related to the management of our research centers; planning our transition to an eIRB system; helicopter-parenting a proposal as it makes its way through OSP review; advising my ADR on internal seed fund requests… If it pertains to the conduct of research, I pick up the phone. I came to the field after holding varied positions in research, non-profit, and public program management, most recently within the digital inclusion evaluation and policy spac

We do not enjoy the support of central RD office at Washington, and my position is rather unusual on campus. I discovered NORDP quite by chance within in my first 6 months, and it has been a critical lifeline. I attended the previous two NORDP conferences (Portland and Bethesda), and found the workshops, sessions, and opportunities to connect with colleagues to be invaluable. The range of topics explored as well as the level of expertise in the room (each room) has made for a consistently rewarding conference experience with tons of takeaways. For instance, the 2015 session on evaluating research development services helped me to take a leap forward in developing metrics and methods for evaluating our own services, and the session sharing findings from comparative study of proposal review criteria at federal agencies has translated to remarkable efficiencies for myself and my faculty.

In Orlando, I am especially looking forward to making new connections, the sustained reflection I hope to find at the Developing a Faculty Research Development Program pre-conference workshop, and sharing my thoughts on why it may be time to revisit crowdfunding during my session with the brilliant Cindy Bellas, Reconnecting to the Citizen: Crowdfunding Research. For those you attending, I urge you to step away from the Outlook and allow yourself to be truly present. You won’t want to miss a thing. I’m counting down the days – I know I will leave NORDP 2016 inspired, smarter, better prepared, and better connected.


We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at rdconf@nordp.org

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