NORDP New Board Member Cameo – Melinda Laroco Boehm

Who: Melinda Laroco Boehm, Director, Office of Research Development

Where: University of California, Merced

Number of Years in RD: 6.5

Length of NORDP Membership: 6.5

When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?

I came into RD just after completing my Ph.D. in Medical Sociology (2014). Given we were a military family, we had orders for an international move just a few months after I completed my degree, so I purposefully delayed entering the job market. Looking back, I am grateful to have been afforded the time to really look for what I wanted to do and contribute, which was somewhere in the vicinity of an intersection of research, a deadline-driven environment, community engagement, and strategic initiatives. After those international orders were changed to California, I saw just the opportunity for what I wanted to pursue: Research Development. At UC Merced, we are a centralized unit, supporting all schools and organized research units in strategic grantseeking, proposal development support to faculty researchers, and initiatives to grow our research enterprise.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization?

You could say my career in RD aligns exactly with my time in NORDP. The NORDP 2015 Conference in Bethesda was (technically) my first day on the job. After driving for three days on a cross-country move, I interviewed at UC Merced the day after we arrived in California. Susan Carter was conference co-chair at the time and thought it was perfect timing for me to fly back cross country to the conference. It was there I met most of my new colleagues.

Since then I’ve remained active on the Professional Development Committee. I’ve attended every conference since 2015 and participated in the annual conferences in numerous capacities: Conference Planning Committee, mentee activities, workshop facilitations, panel discussions, roundtable discussions, and participation in Implicit Bias Training (2019). Over the past year I’ve remained PD Committee Co-Chair, engaged in Conversation Roadblock Sessions, presented at our Pacific Region Meeting, contributed to the CCC Task Force, and am currently in the LEAD Peer Mentoring Group. I also fully support (and encourage) my staff to contribute and participate in any capacity for the organization.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

I’ve built myriad relationships as a result of NORDP. Former colleagues have become my conference workshop co-presenters and dear friends. I’ve created my own version of a Board of Advisors made up of my peers/peer mentors, and their counsel, strategic advice, and sarcasm have helped me redirect my focus many times and solve challenges in positive and meaningful ways.

What are you most excited about as a board member?

I’m excited to better understand the infrastructure and governance aspect of the Board. If you know me, you’d know I am detail-oriented with a fondness (understatement) for organization, so I am looking forward to that aspect.

However, I’m most excited about meeting more NORDP members, hearing their thoughts and ideas, and helping to serve as a catalyst in elevating their innovative ideas to create effective (and sustainable) change. As a collective, NORDP members are some of the most innovative and strategic thinkers I’ve ever known, and I want to help ensure we are meeting the needs and interests of our members in a helpful, culturally-competent, and mission-driven way.

Compiled by Sharon Pound, Communications Working Group