Mentoring Reflections: How we learned to stop worrying and choose what works for us

In this installment of Mentoring Reflections, Christine Erlien from Duke University (mentor) and Paula Carney from Loyola University (mentee), from the 2021-22 cohort of the Mentoring Program share their experiences with the program and the mentoring software, WisdomShare.  


The Mentoring Program is a NORDP member benefit. I, as a mentee, see it as one of its treasures. The Program includes several successful components: committed mentors, high quality content, and engaging programming. Among the many resources developed to support the Program is the web portal WisdomShare, launched in 2021 to enable robust, metric-based matching for mentor-mentee dyads, to better engage mentors and mentees, and to provide a foundation for the mentoring relationship as well as a single location for mentoring program resources. 

Below, my mentor and I describe how we have used WisdomShare to support our mentoring relationship.  

Paula’s Mentee reflections

As a first-time mentee (and a previous mentor), I looked forward to seeing how WisdomShare could support our journey. I knew that the Mentoring Program resources had been integrated into the system, making them available to mentors and mentees. I also knew that I wanted to forge a relationship with my mentor and let our mentoring relationship determine what resources we used and how we used them.  

We were introduced by our mentoring program facilitator, through an email sent via WisdomShare. Chris then reached out to me, using the portal. While the portal was useful for making that initial connection, we have found using email worked better for us in terms of maintaining contact. 

I think the matching process facilitated through WisdomShare worked well and that Chris is perfectly suited to help me meet my goals as a mentee.  

I’d like to highlight two sections in WisdomShare that I have found useful: the Goal section on the Dashboard tab and the resource library available on the Learning tab. Among those resources is “Getting Off to a Strong Start,” which provides guidance for both the mentor and mentee on approaching the initial conversation, self assessment, the MESHH network (Mentorship, Expertise, Support, Helping-Hands), and the Individual Professional Development Plan. Both of us reviewed these materials. We reviewed the resource library and selected those that made sense for us to use. We reviewed the onboarding packet and used portions of it. Reflecting on the Individual Development Plan, I decided to include two major goals on my dashboard. I developed SMART objectives and have chosen to monitor progress using a Gantt chart with specific milestones and a timeline rather than the dashboard. I store the Gantt chart on a Google drive, which Chris can access.  

We discussed how we would approach confidentiality, referring to the checklist document, but decided a verbal discussion worked for us. I adapted the reflection worksheet from the reflections packet and completed it after attending a workshop related to my long-term goal. The reflection worksheet helped me consider goal feasibility and chart the best path forward. 

Chris’ Mentor reflections

I’d like to echo Paula in applauding the resources developed by the Mentoring Program. I have previously served as a mentor through NORDP but had no formal training. I participated in the mentor training in spring 2021, and Paula is one of my mentee matches.  

WisdomShare is a powerful integrator of resources, and I have found the materials helpful guides in structuring our conversation and provoking reflection. 

I will say, though, that the experience this year had a bit of “baptism by fire” feel. Mentoring matches were announced, followed by Mentoring Days and reveal of the WisdomShare software. We were off to the races! (Note: the Mentoring Committee is reflecting on and considering how to adjust the timeline around the match reveal.) There was lots to look at before the first meeting, and I felt a bit behind from the get-go given the prepopulated milestones in the system. But we quickly realized that the milestone deadlines were suggestions. Therefore, acknowledging the nature of summer (vacations!) and the need to be flexible with those dates, we had our initial meeting and have been working through the milestone sections. I have thoroughly enjoyed discussing goals and progress toward them with Paula.


There is a treasure trove of resources on WisdomShare that felt a little overwhelming in the beginning, but we quickly figured out how to choose what to use to support our mentoring journey. WisdomShare provides a great way to offer the Mentoring Program’s resources for flexible use, allowing mentors and mentees to choose the resources best fit to support their needs. As we work through the Mentoring Program calendar, we will continue to revisit these great resources. Thank you, NORDP Mentoring Program!

The Mentoring Committee employs a process of continual program improvement by soliciting and acting upon feedback from program participants. Plans for next year include spreading the information out over a more extended time period and developing a quick start guide for using the software. To learn more about Wisdom Share and other Mentoring Committee programs, please plan to attend the NORDP Mentoring Committee Open House, a meeting dedicated to celebrating current Committee members, taking stock of committee accomplishments, and welcoming NORDP members who are willing to get involved. Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 27th at 1pm CST for the Mentoring Committee Open House. All NORDP members are invited to attend!

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.

NORDP Consultant Pilot Program – Participants Selected

The National Organization of Research Development Professionals is pleased to announce the consultants, HBCUs, and evaluator that will be participating in the NORDP Consulting Pilot Program.

Led by Dr. Kimberly Eck, Immediate Past President of NORDP and Associate Vice President at Emory University, the NORDP Consultant Pilot Program seeks to grow research capacity and competitiveness within historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) by increasing institutional capacity for research development. With the generous support of Eric and Wendy Schmidt via recommendation of the Schmidt Futures program, NORDP consultants will provide a total of 2,400 hours on consulting services over a two-year period to participating HBCUs at no cost to the institutions.

These HBCUs were invited to participate in the pilot program because of their demonstrable commitment to growing research and to evaluate how RD can help build research capacity in institutions of different Carnegie classifications.

“HBCUs were matched with NORDP Consultants based on the institutions’ unique goals for growing their research ecosystem.” Dr. Eck said, “These consulting teams are highly capable and bring complementary skillsets and diverse experiences.”

Dr. Jacob Levin and Ms. Marta Collier Youngblood will work with Florida Memorial University, a private, coeducational, Baptist-affiliated institution located in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Dr. Jacob Levin and Dr. Lekita Scott Dawkins will work with Morehouse School of Medicine, a doctoral/professional institution dedicated to increasing the diversity of the health professional and scientific workforce in Atlanta, GA.

Mr. Michael Spires and Mr. Mike Marcinkowski will work with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a land grant, doctoral research university with a national reputation in STEM education located in Greensboro, NC.

Ms. Camille Coley, JD, Dr. Barbara Endemaño Walker, Mr. Quyen Wickham, and Dr. Peggy Sundermeyer will work with Spelman College, a primarily undergraduate institution and global leader in the education of women of African descent located in Atlanta, GA.

The Mark USA, led by Traci Shirachi, has been selected to serve as the evaluator for the pilot program.

More than 25 NORDP members supported the launch of this pilot program by drafting RFAs, serving as reviewers, preparing communications and related activities. We are incredibly grateful to our volunteers and NORDP community for supporting this project.

Career Navigators: Providing structure and support for the very first RD career transition

To sustain the growth in Research Development (RD), it is critical that we build pipelines and provide support to usher in the next generation of professionals. With that goal in mind, NORDP created strategic alliances with the National Postdoctoral Association, and that relationship heralded new early career development programs in the organization. One such leap forward was the creation of a trainee membership category by the Member Services Committee in 2019, which allowed those new to RD to avail a NORDP membership at a reduced cost but reap the same benefits of being part of this community. 

To provide additional support to these trainee members, the Mentoring Committee piloted a program called the Career Navigator, where trainee members were each paired with a more experienced NORDP member, the Career Navigator, who had a similar background as the trainee member and a career path the trainee member desired. The navigator would be a mentor who helped the trainee member determine whether RD is the right fit and if so, help them through the challenges of landing their first RD position. Seven trainee members were paired, and provided with mentoring resources and support. 

We caught up with the most recent pair of Career Navigator and trainee member: Dr. Kelsey Hassevoort, a Research Development Manager for the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Dr. Kellie Gross who recently accepted her first RD position at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and talked to them about their experiences with the program. 

Kelsey and Kellie met monthly and covered topics like creating job application materials, interview preparation, what a RD job could look like and networking. One of Kelsey’s favorite aspects of participating in the Career Navigator program was realizing how much in common she had with Kellie beyond their training as neuroscience researchers. The pair found common ground in their Midwestern roots, liberal arts education, and close family ties. Kellie similarly felt like she could relate to Kelsey from the beginning. This not only helped the pair form a strong bond, but also helped Kelsey tailor her advice. Kellie found the program “extremely helpful for my transition from postdoc to a full-time RD role.” The Career Navigator program further helped Kellie “feel welcomed into the NORDP community, and provided valuable structure and support to my career transition.” 

As with many mentoring positions, Kelsey was initially unsure about whether she would have enough useful information about job seeking in RD to be able to adequately support Kellie. But she was pleasantly surprised to discover “just how much information about searching and interviewing for RD jobs I’ve managed to absorb since starting in the field,” going on to say, “I fully credit NORDP’s professional development programming and my experience as a NORDP mentee, along with the opportunity to serve on multiple search committees at the University of Illinois, with providing so much useful information and advice about building a career and finding that first job in RD, which, in turn, I’ve been able to share with Kellie.”

Kellie felt that the Career Navigator program helped solidify her decision to pursue a career in RD. She noted, “Being able to hear in detail about someone else’s experiences working in RD, and seeing the level of support that NORDP has for its members’ mentorship and career development, further convinced me that I wanted to be a part of both this field and professional community.” 

As parting words of wisdom, Kelsey encourages pairs to approach the relationship with an open mind and be cognizant of the different skill sets each brings to the relationship. For Kelsey it was important to “be able to truly hear what Kellie wanted out of a career in research development, without projecting my own career aspirations onto our discussions.” Kellie wants trainee members to know that “it’s helpful to be specific about what you’re trying to get out of the program, whether that’s more information about RD careers, or guidance on navigating the job market or help with networking.” She adds, “I think a great aspect of this program is that you can make of it what you want, so don’t be afraid to speak up about what you need.”

The relationship Kelsey and Kellie have built has enriched them and allowed them to look at RD with a new perspective. As Kellie grows in her new role, she and Kelsey plan to keep in touch regularly and continue their mentoring relationship beyond the Career Navigator program. 

The Career Navigator program has led to four first-time RD positions, one RD postdoctoral position and one trainee member realizing a career in RD is not the right fit. The NORDP Mentoring Committee is engaged in formalizing the Career Navigators program in collaboration with the Member Services Committee.

To hear about this and other programs the NORDP Mentoring Committee has to offer, please plan to attend the NORDP Mentoring Committee Open House, a meeting dedicated to celebrating current Committee members, taking stock of committee accomplishments, and welcoming NORDP members who are willing to get involved. Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 27th at 1pm CST for the Mentoring Committee Open House. All NORDP members are invited to attend!

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.

Mentoring Philosophy: A Mentor’s True North

Contributed by Melissa Li, Mentoring Committee

Mentoring is a dynamic, multidimensional, and complex relationship. How do seasoned and new mentors and mentees navigate these relationships? A mentoring philosophy could act as a compass to help relationships find their true north. So, what is mentoring philosophy?  A mentoring philosophy is a statement of a mentor’s guiding principles and approach in the mentoring relationship. Mentoring philosophies evolve with people and relationships. A mentoring philosophy can help mentors steer varied mentoring relationships and guide their mentoring practice. 

To understand the creation and evolution of mentoring philosophies, the NORDP Mentoring Committee had the privilege of inviting two colleagues who are seasoned mentors to share their mentoring philosophies and how they have been evolving along their mentoring journeys. Rebekah Hersch, Interim Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation at George Mason University, and Etta Ward, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) have 20+ years of mentoring experience each. Rebekah and Etta have mentored diverse groups of mentees, including students, staff, faculty, postdocs, and alumni. Both are active mentors in the NORDP Mentoring Program.

At the early stage of Rebekah’s mentoring journey, she was more mission-oriented, dedicating help to solve her mentees’ problems, so that the mentees could achieve their goals. Two decades later, Rebekah now focuses more on fostering mentees’ independence by being an effective listener and empowering the mentees to find solutions themselves. Rebekah also believes in #PayingItForward. She attributes her success to many excellent mentors, from whom she has learned valuable strategies and tools that she has been applying when mentoring others. Rebekah also recognizes the importance of showing empathy to mentees and constantly seeking mentees’ feedback. What has remained a constant beacon in Rebekah’s mentoring philosophy is that she is committed to helping mentees achieve their goals for their professional development.

Etta started IUPUI’s first-ever Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program in the early 2000s. While she did not formally develop a mentoring philosophy at that time, she was deeply driven by this type of work as her professional calling and purpose. Over the years and through the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Entering Mentoring Facilitator training, she developed a simple but critical guiding philosophy: the mentee drives the relationship, the relationship must be reciprocal, and both the mentee and mentor must continue to #PayItForward. She refers to this philosophy at the beginning of every mentoring relationship in the many presentations she gives on the topic. Etta also realizes the critical importance of competency-based, culturally aware mentoring practices. She is intentional in her approach to integrate aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion, access, belonging, and justice (DEIABJ) throughout her mentoring efforts and to achieve a mutually beneficial experience.

As the NORDP community celebrates the National Mentoring Month, Etta and Rebekah are sharing their wise words with all of us: 

  • Do not be afraid to be a mentor or think that you are not ready. Everyone has something they bring to mentoring relationships. Mentors do not need to know all as they can help mentees by identifying experts who can help.
  • It is beneficial that mentees develop a network of multiple mentors. 
  • Mentors and mentees are encouraged to learn how to notice, name and nurture the various types of mentoring and other developmental relationships (coaching, sponsorship, etc.).
  • Take advantage of NORDP’s resources.

To celebrate National Mentoring Month, the NORDP Mentoring Committee is hosting an Open House, a meeting dedicated to celebrate current Committee members, take stock of our accomplishments, and welcome NORDP members who are willing to get involved. Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 27th at 1pm CST for the Mentoring Committee Open House. Email for the Zoom link. All NORDP members are invited to attend!

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.

January is National Mentoring Month

The Mentoring Committee invites every NORDP member to celebrate National Mentoring Month from January 1-31. Originally developed as a campaign to expand quality mentoring opportunities for youth, the month-designation can be a catalyst to remember the mentors and mentees who have supported you along your path.

Watch social media and engage in conversation on mentoring (using #NORDPMentoringMatters and #MentoringMonth), take time to listen to a podcast or two (The Science of Mentorship from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is a great listen), or explore the NORDP Wisdom Share Learning Library (register here if you don’t have an account in Wisdom Share). Here are some dates to make note of:

  • January 6: I am a Mentor Day – own it!
  • January 17: International Mentoring Day – #MentoringAmplifies support around the world
  • January 27: Thank Your Mentor Day –  share your story to inspire

Also explore some offerings from the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN).

The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) is an NIH grant-funded initiative whose entire purpose is to diversify the STEM workforce by providing researchers across all career stages in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences field with evidence-based mentorship and professional development programming that emphasizes the benefits and challenges of diversity, inclusivity, and culture. Their program achieves that through mentorship, networking, and professional development through their online networking platform, MyNRMN, which has over 21,000 mentors and mentees.

NRMN Twitter Chat – Jan. 12 from 11am-12pm CST Follow the hashtag #NRMNchat

How to Leverage the NRMN Network Webinar Series (Monthly Series) – Jan. 17 at 11am CST. Register here:

Mentoring Month Webinar: The Importance of Mentorship Throughout Your Professional Journey w/ J. Marcela Hernandez – Jan. 27 at 11am CST. Register here: 

The NORDP Mentoring Program is a benefit available to all NORDP Members. The Mentoring Committee strives to provide resources and support for all NORDP Members interested in mentorship. To do this, the committee leverages national partnership and engages in a variety of scholarly activities. Members supporting members as mentors, mentees, or as part of a peer mentoring or learning group, making NORDP and the profession of research development a stronger community!

Applications will open in the spring for the 1:1 Mentoring Program. Peer Mentoring Groups are available to join any time, and we invite you to start 2022 by joining  and exploring opportunities within the Mentoring Committee. For more information, email the Mentoring Committee and a member of the Leadership Team will respond!

Happy New Year!