NORDP’s Peer Mentoring Groups: Building Support Networks

In May 2019, NORDP launched the Peer Mentoring Group (PMG) pilot program. So far, 89 members have engaged with the program, and the invitation remains for others to join.

To recap, the PMG program is structured around the six pillars of research development; the liaisons for each group are included:

  1. Career & Professional Development – Christina Howard
  2. Enhancing Collaboration & Team Science – Paula Carney
  3. Communication – Scott Balderson, Svetlana Pitts, Rachel Goff-Albritton
  4. Leadership & Management – Katie Howard
  5. Proposal Development – David Widmer
  6. Strategic Planning & Advancement – Samarpita Sengupta

Members were invited to select one or more of the PMGs in which they would like to participate, and NORDP’s Mentoring Committee initiated the first meeting of the six PMGs.

The effort was driven by Christina Howard and David Widmer, who are co-chairs of NORDP’s Mentoring Committee and are joined by Jan Abramson, Kathy Partlow, and Faye Farmer to form the committee’s leadership team.   The Mentoring Committee is made up of about two dozen other NORDP members to help facilitate the Mentoring program, which paired up 112 mentors/mentees this year.

David explains that the initial goal of the Peer Mentoring Group pilot was to help members build a network of support among members. “We are never really fully developed by a single mentor.  If you think about your broader network, it’s clear that you are being mentored by multiple people.”

“PMGs are an example of this committee in action,” Jan Abramson says. “One idea leads to another to another to another … and from a discussion about member needs, the importance of building a network of mentors, and making sure anyone who requests a member has one, the Mentoring Committee decided to launch the pilot.”

David, himself, is participating in three PMGs – the proposal development, enhancing collaboration & team science, and leadership & management groups.  He says this is yet one more time he’s been impressed by the willingness of NORDP members to share best practices. He invites other NORDP members to join in with the PMGs that interest them.

“These groups are coalescing, building closer relationships, and beginning to collaborate,” he says, explaining that one group, the Proposal Development PMG, has scheduled a monthly Zoom call and set up a Google folder to share resources.

“Everybody speaks and interacts on the calls.  As the hour comes to an end, it feels like we want to keep talking more,” he says, noting several members have continued conversations via emails in-between calls.

“Participating in PMG has been a great learning process,” Katie Howard, Mentoring Committee member and a part of the Leadership and Management PMG, says. “Our group has really gelled and enjoys coming together for lively conversation about our selected topic of the day – it’s a refreshing way to share best practices and learn from colleagues.” This group shares facilitation responsibility and rotates discussion leaders each month for the calls.

NORDP members who would like to join one of the PMGs should send an email to the Mentoring Committee at mentorprogram@nordp.org.

Submitted by Sharon Pound

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.