As the 2021-22 Mentoring year draws to a close, the mentoring committee caught up with another dyad pair. Erica Severan-Webb, who serves as the Director of Diversity Programs and Initiatives within the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center in New Orleans mentored Erin Meyer, who serves the University of Utah College of Nursing as a Research Associate.
Erica Severan-Webb is an experienced leader in both the education and non-profit sectors who has conceptualized, designed, and implemented inclusive programming and initiatives to achieve institutional transformation. She co-authored and served as Co-PI on XULA STRIDES, a NSF ADVANCE grant designed to increase retention of African American STEM faculty at an HBCU. Her passion for organizational diversity, equity, and accessibility is demonstrated through her work with colleagues, students, and community partners and her continuous engagement and empowerment of individuals and organizations in transformative change models.
Erin Meyer earned a PhD in pharmacology from Georgetown University. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She completed a six year postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience and genetics at the University of Utah and she was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Utah. She is currently a Research Administrator at the University of Utah, College of Nursing. Erin is also a yoga therapist and she is interested in DEIA and disability studies.
What influenced you to apply to be a mentor and a mentee for the 2020-21 NORDP Mentoring Program?
Erica: I have had incredible mentors who have encouraged my development and challenged my thinking and leadership practice. My mentoring relationships have contributed to my career progression and have made me a better RD professional and leader. I was excited to serve as a mentor to be able to provide that opportunity for a colleague.
Erin: I have had many great mentors in the past. When I started this program, it had been a long time since I worked with a mentor. I was at a place in my career where I wanted a mentor and I was at a loss about where to find one. I felt stuck without options to advance my career or to change career paths, and I wanted some advice. I am glad NORDP has a program.
What was your favorite part about your relationship?
Erica: I am always so passionate about learning about individuals and organizations through mentoring relationships. Erin was such an amazing colleague to discuss how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) principles and RD intersect, as well as how institutions and professionals can leverage both their expertise and skillsets as RD professionals to advocate for a more inclusive culture within their institution as well as more broadly throughout academia.
Erin: I specifically requested a mentor from a diverse community. I am from a diverse community, and I have never had a mentor who understood DEI challenges in RD, and in the broader context, DEI challenges in academia. I learned so much from my mentor in these areas. I am now empowered to make a difference in DEI, no matter where I am working.
How has participation in the Mentoring Program helped broaden your horizons about Research Development in general and/or affected your daily work in particular?
Erica: Erin and I had great conversations and discussions about how DEI and RD intersect. I always look forward to our chats and treat our discussions as a priority where I disconnect and am fully engaged to provide substantive feedback and strategies that have been beneficial to me in my own development.
Erin: I always look forward to my calls with Erica. I learned from Erica the differences in RD career trajectories and career limitations among large public academic institutions, smaller private academic institutions, and companies in the private sector. In addition, Erica took the time to reach out to someone who knows people at my current institution and through this contact, I have expanded my network. I now have some plans of how to move my career forward. I do not want my relationship with Erica to end.
What surprised you about being a mentor or a mentee?
Erica: While not surprised, I am always humbled by the incredible talent and expertise that exists within the NORDP community. So many colleagues sustain institutional initiatives and programming that are innovative while also maintaining service commitments within their institutions and other national organizations. Erin is no exception as she has been a DEI champion on her campus – this is truly inspiring to my own work and practice.
Erin: I was not surprised that I learned a lot about RD and DEI. I knew that I was lacking in my knowledge in how these areas intersect. I was surprised to learn that feeling stuck in my career has a lot to do with where I work—the type of institution. I learned from Erica how to navigate this institution.
Any words of wisdom or encouragement for those wanting to apply next year? Any other thoughts you would like to share?
Erica: Participation in the program always serves to motivate me to continue to look for opportunities to cultivate meaningful mentoring relationships where I can serve as a resource to mentees and foster support as they navigate through specific projects or career transitions points.
Erin: I went for a long time without a mentor. I will never do that again. I realize how important it is to have a mentor, so I plan to always have at least one. I am also willing to be a mentor.
Erica: Please sign up to be a mentor for the NORDP mentoring program! It is phenomenal in its ability to foster mentoring relationships that facilitate incredible learning opportunities for both mentees and mentors.
The 2022-23 NORDP Mentoring Program is now open for applications! Current users of Wisdom Share have the ability to change their profile to make themselves available for being a mentor, mentee or both. For first time users, a registration step is required. We highly encourage everyone to sign up to be a mentor! Application period closes by May 16th.
Compiled by Samarpita Sengupta, Mentoring Committee
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.