NORDP LEAD: Developing Leadership Pathways Within the Field of Research Development

Applications for the second cohort of NORDP Leadership, Engagement and Development (LEAD) are being accepted through 11:59pm EDT on Monday, August 22, 2022.

NORDP LEAD is focused on creating pathways for member engagement, service, and leadership across all levels of NORDP and within the research development profession. The program initially grew out of a need to develop strong leadership pathways within NORDP and has expanded to help prepare members to become committee chairs, working group leads, or Board Members within NORDP, as well as to step into leadership roles within their home organizations.

Lisa Lopez, 2022-2023 LEAD Cohort Leader

Lisa Lopez, a Senior Research Development Officer in the College of Health and Human Development at Cal State Fullerton, participated in the first LEAD cohort and is looking forward to working with the second LEAD cohort this fall. “What we want to do this year is build on the strong foundation of the first LEAD cohort and bring in elements that will give participants the tools to help them grow within the field and at their home institutions,” said Lopez. “Ultimately, we want participants to leave the program with a better understanding of where they want to take their next level of commitment to this work.”

Participants in the 2022-2023 LEAD cohort will gain an understanding of different leadership strengths and styles; planning for professional growth; and opportunities for advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in research development. They also will learn about NORDP’s operations and structure, what it looks like to serve on the NORDP or other non-profit boards, and opportunities for service throughout the organization.

The upcoming LEAD cohort will be limited to 12 individuals to maximize opportunities for learning, community building, and professional networking. The cohort will meet on the third Thursday monthly from September 2022 to April 2023. Nathan Meier, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and one of the LEAD program co-leaders believes the small cohort size will provide an even better experience for participants. “We want to spend quality time together as a group, and this cohort size will allow for deeper opportunities for more intimate connections among participants,” noted Meier. 

When asked what an ideal candidate for the LEAD program would look like, Lopez and Meier emphasized that they view LEAD as a program for NORDP members at all levels, not just long-time NORDP members. “There’s no requirement to have been working in RD for a long time,” pointed out Lopez. “We’re just looking for folks who have been in RD long enough to know that this is what they want to do.” Added Meier, “An ideal applicant is someone who’s at a place in their NORDP membership or RD career where they feel at home and want to put down roots. Someone who is ready to spend some time thinking about where they want to go within the organization and the profession and is interested in receiving support as they move along that path.”

Jessica Moon, previous LEAD Cohort Member

Jessica Moon, the Executive Director of the Stanford Aging and Ethnogeriatrics Research Center and member of the first LEAD Cohort, says that participating in LEAD has paved the way for subsequent opportunities and positions within NORDP, and she continues to apply the lessons learned from LEAD. “I learned a lot about NORDP as a nonprofit organization, which I think makes LEAD unique from other opportunities within NORDP. Many of the topics we discussed focused on growing as a professional, not just as a leader within NORDP, and I have applied those lessons broadly to my professional life,” said Moon. “I had a lot of feelings of imposter syndrome, but LEAD gave me the confidence I needed to (successfully!) run for the Board this year.”

Participants in the 2022-2023 LEAD cohort will create a professional growth plan as part of their capstone project for the program, which they’ll be able to put into practice within NORDP and at their home institutions. This element of the program is what Lopez is most excited about. “Developing leadership and growth plans and engaging in strength finding are going to provide tremendous opportunities for LEAD participants to learn about themselves and connect with others around shared professional goals,” said Lopez. “It’s so important to have these kinds of intentional spaces to engage in this important reflection and development.”

Nathan Meier, 2022-2023 LEAD Cohort Leader

Meier added, “The benefit of participating in LEAD is that participants will get to focus on their growth in a way that’s proactive. Oftentimes in our RD jobs, we’re reacting to things and solving problems for others. Folks in the program will get to take some time for themselves once a month to reflect on and dream about what they want out of their careers. They’ll get to know themselves better as an RD professional and as a member of the NORDP community.”

Moon encourages all NORDP members to consider applying for LEAD. “Taking a page from Nike—Just Do It! Even if you don’t want to run for the Board right now, the professional networks, leadership training, and better understanding of NORDP as a nonprofit organization are highly valuable.”

Cohort 2 applications should be submitted via InfoReady by 11:59pm. EDT on Monday, August 22, 2022. Applicants must submit their contact information; a short statement of interest and readiness; and a copy of their curriculum vitae or résumé. All NORDP members in good standing are eligible to apply.

For additional information or questions about NORDP LEAD – Cohort 2, contact Lisa Lopez or Nathan Meier.

2022 Innovation Award: Karen Walker

The NORDP Innovation Award recognizes individuals, groups, or teams; functional units; or organizations who leverage unique skills or resources to kick-start innovation in research development and advance the profession or the field in ways that generate evidence of promise or demonstrable results. Innovators leverage partnerships, experiment with tools and techniques, or generate and share knowledge to advance NORDP and the work of its members.

Karen Walker

Who: Karen Walker, Associate Director of Research Development

Where: Arizona State University

Number of years in research development: 12

Length of NORDP membership: 10 years


Karen Walker was awarded the 2022 NORDP Innovation Award for her contributions to establishing academic competitive intelligence as a field within research development. She founded the function at ASU and has given numerous national and international presentations on the topic. She also founded the Competitive Intelligence Working Group, a national group of professionals that meets monthly to share insights and best practices within the world of competitive intelligence.


What is competitive intelligence and how did you first become interested in establishing CI as a component of research development?

Competitive intelligence is the ethical collection and analysis of information, which informs decision making. We’re taking both quantitative and qualitative information, and we’re putting it into context in order to arrive at actionable insights for our stakeholders. So in an academic setting, CI is an approach that provides a better understanding of the funding landscape, allowing our faculty to submit more competitive proposals. At ASU, we also use it to help our leadership gain a better understanding of how our university is positioned in various research areas, which allows them to make more informed decisions. Competitive Intelligence has been around in industry and government for many years, and I first became interested in applying CI practices to work practices in the research office at ASU around 2012. I was trying to get a better understanding of sponsors and other universities, and figure out how we could help faculty develop more targeted strategies for seeking funding, and CI seemed to be a useful tool for doing that.


What was the process of building out competitive intelligence, both at ASU and at the national level, and how did your membership in NORDP play a role in your efforts?

For the first four years that I was doing CI, I was working on my own. At that time, I was also running our limited submissions process, so it was a bit of a challenge trying to get CI off the ground here. But I was fortunate in that there were a number of people at ASU who saw the value in what I was trying to do, not the least of which was Faye Farmer our Executive Director of Research Development at ASU. In fact, Faye was the one who encouraged me to submit an abstract to NORDP for a presentation at the 2016 conference, and that got accepted. I didn’t expect much response, but I presented to a packed room, and I think so many people were interested in learning more about CI because it was such a new thing. 

After that presentation, I had a number of people come up to me and I was able to connect with them and begin to form a network of people interested in CI. We have a CI working group (founded in 2017), which is a national group that meets and puts on presentations, about six times a year. Our goal is to build best practices and increase our exposure to different CI techniques. And the formation of that group is all due to those NORDP connections

Meanwhile, back at ASU, we were getting more and more requests from the leadership for projects. And so the team started to grow. We have a team of three amazing analysts now! It has been wonderful to see institutional investment in CI grow over the years, not only here at ASU, but also at other universities. I have talked to a number of colleagues at other universities who are either getting practices off the ground, or actually building out full-time positions within their offices, which is something I never would have imagined when I first started working on CI and has been incredibly rewarding to see.


What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP, and how have these relationships influenced your work?

The relationships I’ve built through NORDP have been really amazing. I have made some good friends, and the people I’ve met have exposed me to things I never would have thought of. Ryan Champagne, from University of Pittsburgh was one of the first people who reached out to me after that presentation. Ryan is not only a fantastic person, but he was the first person who exposed me to the whole world of Library Science and he brought that to our whole CI working group. Alba Clivati McIntyre and Matthieu Karamoko at The Ohio State University have also become close colleagues for our team at ASU. Alba is an incredible source of knowledge. And there are so many other people who have joined the CI working group or who have contacted me because they’ve heard, through NORDP, about CI and they’re interested in learning about it or building CI out at their institutions. It has been wonderful to have an extensive network to draw on, and people are extremely generous with their ideas and their time.

I was honestly shocked to have received this award and I am so grateful to my colleagues for nominating me. I feel immensely rewarded that competitive intelligence has been taken up so much by the NORDP community.


What other innovations have you observed within NORDP (or the field of research development) since you first joined?

After working in research development for more than ten years, one thing I’ve noticed many of us in the field collectively doing is trying to shift our faculty and leadership away from being so reactive, and toward being more proactive or more strategic. It seems like there has always been that mindset of “What’s the latest funding opportunity that has come out? What can I apply to right now?” But what we want our leaders and faculty thinking about is how to plan years out into the future. I think adopting a strategic mindset is so much more at the forefront now than it was years ago, and I think that is a really great place for those of us in RD to be — supporting our leadership and helping shift into that proactive mindset.


What advice do you have for NORDP members leading their own innovative initiatives within the field of RD?

One thing I have learned throughout this process is that nobody is an island. You can’t do it alone. You can have the idea and the vision and believe in it passionately, and that’s great, but you need to find others who will understand what you’re trying to do and support you and want to be part of that journey. I have been thrilled to see people incorporating CI into their office — that is something I never would have imagined when I first started doing CI. And the process of growing CI as a priority within RD wasn’t always easy, but luckily I had people who supported me and who could see the value of what I was doing. So my advice would be to find your vision, but also find your people. Cultivating a network is key to reaching those lofty goals and it’s also really rewarding to see people appreciate and see the value in what you’re doing. It can feel hard at times to let others in on something you may feel ownership of, but I also believe people will recognize you for what you do, so be generous and let people in.

2022 Mentoring Award: Jan Abramson

First awarded in 2022, the NORDP Mentoring Award recognizes an individual NORDP member’s unique ability to provide an engaging, supportive, and inclusive environment for professional and/or personal growth through mentorship in the research development community. This award is bestowed with the acknowledgement that effective mentoring occurs through formal and informal channels and may vary in style and substance.

Jan Abramson

Who: Jan Abramson, Principal Consultant

Where: Penultimate Advantage

Number of years in research development: 17

Length of NORDP membership: 11 years


What has your mentoring journey within NORDP looked like?

In 2011, on the advice of a colleague, I joined NORDP shortly after taking a new position at the University of Utah. Like many, I ‘found my people’ when I joined NORDP. I applied for the mentoring program – and was not matched my first year. It was a disappointment, but I’m pretty tenacious – I found other ways to get involved as a NORDP volunteer, including expressing an interest to volunteer for the mentoring committee. Within a year, I was on the committee, and matched with a mentor, too.

Since then, I have remained involved with the Mentoring Committee, served as a mentor, and have benefited from being a mentee. It’s been exciting and rewarding to watch the mentoring program grow as NORDP has increased membership, and to have been a part of the committee that has focused on supporting mentors, mentees and members, providing new programs and services, and adapting to the needs of NORDP members. It pleases me that the Mentoring Committee works hard to make sure everyone who wants to be a part of the mentoring program, can, indeed participate. AND that the Mentoring Committee is an open, welcoming, awesome group, so come join us!.

One fun story about how the mentor-mentee process has evolved over the years: in the early days, matching took place manually (this was when NORDP was a smaller organization). As the number of people interested in mentoring grew, the first step toward an automated matching process was that someone wrote  R code to do the matching. So we would  receive applications, run the code,  go back in and tweak the matches, then recruit more mentors to ensure that everyone could be matched. Now, as you know, the committee uses WisdomShare, which has been a real help as the number of NORDP members interested in participating in the mentoring program continues to grow!


What initially drew you to mentoring?

I think, because early in my professional journey, I didn’t really have mentors, I had an ‘unnamed need.’ My first work in higher ed was in student development, student leadership, and orientation, and I soon recognized the power of mentoring to help students tap into their potential. From there, my commitment and passion grew, and I began to seek out mentors, and mentor others. I have been able to immerse myself in the world of mentoring, seek formal training, and really start to bring together the elements of mentoring that had always been in the orbit of my career. I found it so rewarding to be able to give, share and support others, that mentoring is woven into the fabric of my professional and volunteer work.


What does being a good mentor mean to you?

My mentoring philosophy is my foundation: I mentor to #PayItForward, to help colleagues see and become their best selves. Being a good mentor does not mean having all the answers, being perfect, or having to fix things. Being a good mentor is being human, learning along the way (the easy lessons, and the hard ones), and at the end of the day, honestly believing you did the best you could. (and being willing to learn and grow)! I have also found that good mentoring is oftentimes just attentive listening, and then being willing to reflect on what you’ve heard. It’s really important to build a relationship with your mentee so that when you listen attentively and offer your perspective, you can say the things that will help the mentee, especially the hard things.

And if you’re nervous about making that transition from a mentee to a mentor, it’s really important to remember that the Mentoring Committee has put together tools and resources and help and stop gaps and checks. Nobody becomes a mentor in NORDP on their own, all you need to do is reach out to somebody on the mentoring committee and ask for support. The Mentoring Committee has put together a solid support system in order to help anyone who’s ready to step into the role of mentor!


What do you wish you had known when you began your mentoring journey?

As a mentee, I wish I had not been so worried about imposing on my mentors’ time, and hadn’t spent time feeling intimidated by my mentors. As I became a mentor, it became clear to me that a person who volunteers to be a mentor is doing it from a place of wanting to be a mentor. Sometimes life gets in the way (see my earlier point about mentors being human), but mentors really do take on that role because they want to be involved in those relationships.

And as a mentor, I wish I would have been more aware of the many resources available to those looking to hone their mentoring skills. Looking back, I wish I had started that deliberate learning around mentorship skills earlier. I also wish I had known how much I would learn, grow and benefit from being a mentor. I wish I had known how much joy mentoring would bring, and how my personal and professional networks would expand exponentially!

It can be intimidating to become a mentor — yet, we all have something to give, share, and so many ways to #PayItForward. And always remember, the Mentoring Committee is ready to help you in your mentoring journey. Being a mentor is an opportunity to keep learning, expanding networks, and enjoying colleagues.


What have you found most rewarding, and most challenging, about being a mentor?

The most rewarding part of being a mentor is all of the great people that have become a part of my life. It has been the human-to-human connections that have turned into heart-to-heart connections –– and the connections that continue through career and life changes. It’s the reconnecting, and picking up where we left off. I recently ran into a student that I mentored more than 20 years ago and whom I hadn’t  seen in 10 years. And as we struck up a conversation, we both had that immediate recognition of connecting at a heartfelt level. It is an amazing feeling. 

The most challenging times, as a mentor, is when the relationship seemingly goes off the rails. When, for whatever reason, the space for grace is gone. Those times, albeit, very rare, are for me, times of pain and sorrow. But they have propelled me to new insight about myself, my mentoring style, and what is really most important for me.


What advice do you have for others within NORDP who wish to follow in your footsteps?

My advice for my fellow NORDP members: get involved. Wherever, however, and whenever you can. Find the place where you can make a difference. I’ve served on committees, co-chaired a NORDP conference and served on the NORDP board. I have valued each of these experiences, and through them learned that it’s committee work where I feel I have made the most lasting contributions.

And there’s no need to follow in my footsteps! Forge a new path. It’s so exciting to see all of the growth and changes taking place in NORDP, under the leadership and guidance of the next generations of RD professionals. Be true to your own path, build on the connections you make along the way, and pay it forward!

2022 Mentoring Award: Susan Carter

First awarded in 2022, the NORDP Mentoring Award recognizes an individual NORDP member’s unique ability to provide an engaging, supportive, and inclusive environment for professional and/or personal growth through mentorship in the research development community. This award is bestowed with the acknowledgement that effective mentoring occurs through formal and informal channels and may vary in style and substance.

Susan Carter

Who: Susan Carter, Director of Research Development

Where: Santa Fe Institute

Number of years in research development: 20 plus

Length of NORDP membership: since 2010; founding member of NORDP


What has your mentoring journey within NORDP looked like?

I was the co-founder, with Leigh Bottner, of what was originally the Mentoring working group and is now the Mentoring Committee. Our efforts to build up mentoring began during the first couple of years after the founding of NORDP because we thought it was really important, particularly given the fact that research development was a relatively new profession, and we saw the field was already growing rapidly. I didn’t have a formal background or training in mentoring, but I was interested in the topic. 

We started out doing matches of mentees and mentors using Excel (the process was much less automated than it is now). I really enjoyed the matchmaking process; I’ve always liked the process of figuring out what would lead to the most successful partnerships between people. In fact, a good portion of my work throughout my career has involved matchmaking in various contexts, whether as a program officer for a funding agency matching reviewers to proposals, or bringing together teams of researchers to work collaboratively on proposals and projects.

Even after I stepped back from a leadership role on the Mentoring Committee, I continue to be involved in mentoring within NORDP, formally through the mentoring program as well as informally. I’ve had several mentees who I’ve developed mentoring relationships with outside of the formal program because I believed I could offer them support, and I’ve really enjoyed those relationships as well.


What initially drew you to mentoring?

I was immediately drawn to mentoring because I could see the enormous need for mentoring infrastructure within RD because it was such a new profession. There were some of us who had a background in research development before it was called research development, but I could see there were going to be a lot of newcomers to the field as more institutions recognized the value of having RD staff from diverse backgrounds supporting the development of research and researchers. As a program officer, I could see firsthand that there were so many researchers doing fantastic science who would really benefit from additional support, and when I left that position to start the RD office at UC Merced, I knew I wanted to engage with researchers to help them grow their careers. And as more people were stepping into these kinds of roles and joining the field of RD, I could also see there were going to be questions about how RD professionals could progress in their careers and move up the ladder (I saw members of my own team, and colleagues in NORDP, confront this challenge). I thought mentoring could be very helpful in this respect.


What does being a good mentor mean to you?

If I had to pick one word to describe good mentoring relationships, I would say “flexibility.” And if I had to pick one more word, it would be “trust.” As a mentor, your relationship with your mentee is often about what the mentee needs and is looking for. It’s about the individual, and each mentee is going to have different needs (and each mentor will have different strengths), so I think flexibility on the part of both the mentor and mentee is important. I also encourage my mentees to have a flexible mindset as they approach their career planning; to have a plan for where they’re going, but if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that things can change unexpectedly and it’s important to be able to adapt. I also see my role as a mentor to serve as a sounding board as my mentees contemplate the directions in which they’d like to take their careers, which is a role that requires quite a bit of trust to be built between mentor and mentee.

I also think it’s incredibly important for mentors to encourage their mentees to take action when it comes to their professional development and help them recognize where their talents lie. One of the things I have been successful in doing with my NORDP mentees is encouraging them to become increasingly involved in NORDP and helping them see pathways to do that. And that has been really rewarding for me, because I know RD continues to be a growing, changing profession. I think having whether it’s NORDP or some other organization, encouraging mentees to be engaged with the broader community outside of the mentoring relationship really helps with their professional development. I also know that I’ve gained as much or more from my involvement with NORDP as I’ve given; it has had a tremendous positive impact on my career and I want to see that same impact for mentees.


What do you wish you had known when you began your mentoring journey?

That’s an interesting question. I wish I had known more about the systems and structures that exist within academia. When I started in RD, I knew quite a bit about research and research funding, but my knowledge of the ways that academic institutions really work is something that I have gained over time. One thing a mentor does is listen to a mentee’s experience and offer them an outside perspective on it, and sometimes the issues that mentees are bringing to you are interpersonal issues, and other times they’re systemic issues. And it can be hard to tell the difference if you don’t understand academic systems and institutional culture.


What have you found most rewarding, and most challenging, about being a mentor?

The most rewarding part for me has been seeing the development of my mentees. That’s just fun to see. I can count mentees among members of the board of NORDP, and I view my mentoring work as supporting the next generation of leaders within NORDP. It has been a fascinating and rewarding process to witness the development of each of my mentees and I continue to stay in touch with them as they move on to exciting new things.

As far as challenges go, I think the biggest challenge, honestly, is time. Being in a mentoring relationship is a commitment on the part of everyone involved. Building the relationship that really works takes time, whether it’s peer mentoring or a pair mentoring relationship, whether you’re in a formal or informal mentoring relationship. My mindset around mentoring is that I invest the time because I consider it part of my job. Being a mentor gives me a new perspective: when I’m helping a mentee deal with the issues they’re having in their institution, that helps me see what maybe we could be doing differently at my institution. You learn a lot from being a mentor. It’s a worthwhile commitment, you get a lot out of it, but finding the time to engage can be a real challenge. 


What advice do you have for others within NORDP who wish to follow in your footsteps?

Make the time for mentoring, and make the value proposition clear to others (peers, supervisors) that being a mentor really is an investment in your own professional development. Mentoring is a two-way street and you definitely get as much out of being a mentor as you give.

The other advice I have to offer is to look for informal mentoring opportunities as well as the formal opportunities NORDP offers. It can be an incredibly valuable way to build and broaden your network. I remain in touch with many of my former mentees, and while this can be a time commitment, think of these kinds of mentoring opportunities as a way to develop your own professional support system, not just a way to give back. If you see an opportunity to make a mentoring connection, whether it’s through a formal relationship or an informal relationship, that’s worth your time. 

I’ll also put in a plug for the resources that the mentoring committee has spent so much time cultivating and the other mentoring opportunities, like peer mentoring groups, that they’ve developed. NORDP members should definitely be taking advantage of all of the great mentoring programming that we offer in our organization.

Congratulations to the 2022 NORDP Awardees!

NORDP is powered by the excellence and impact of its members. Each year, NORDP Awards celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of members making exemplary contributions to the organization, the profession, or the field, and external supporters of NORDP’s mission and the work of its members. NORDP Awards are given to celebrate the distinctive achievements and/or contributions of individuals, collaborative groups or work teams, programs or projects, and organizations. 

Recipients of the 2022 NORDP Awards were recognized during the annual NORDP Research Development Conference in April, and over the next month we will be featuring interviews with these awardees on the NORDP blog. Congratulations to all of the awardees for your service to our organization!


Research Development Champion Award: Susan Renoe, Associate Vice Chancellor of Research, Extension, and Engagement, University of Missouri


Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski Service Award: Karen Fletcher, Director of Grants Resources & Services, Appalachian State University


Rising Star Award

  • Daniel Arriaga, Assistant Director for Research Engagement, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Kelsey Hassevoort, Research Development Manager, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Becca Latimer, Research Program Director, University of Virginia Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Kim Patten, Assistant Vice President, Research Development, University of Arizona
  • Josh Roney, Associate Director, Research Development, University of Central Florida

Innovation Award (Individual): Karen Walker, Associate Director, Research Development, Arizona State University


Innovation Award (Team): NROAD-to-RD Team

  • Samarpita Sengupta (Chair), Director of Research & Assistant Professor, UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • Joanna Downer, Associate Dean for Research Development, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Nicole Frank, Associate Director, Immunology, Inflammation, and Infectious Disease Initiative, University of Utah Health
  • Maile Henson, Research Development Associate, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Becca Latimer, Research Program Director, University of Virginia Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Elaine Lee, Assistant Professor and Grant Strategist, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Danielle Matsushima, Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives, Columbia University
  • Sarah Messbauer, Senior Research Development Analyst, University of California, Davis
  • Beth Moser, Organizational Development Consultant, Arizona State University
  • Alexis Nagel, Principal, Lexicon Grants
  • Sharon Pound,  Research Development Manager,  University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Paige Sorenson, Product Lead, Invitae
  • Peggy Sundermeyer, Partner, Academic Affairs, ORGTransitions

Leadership Award: Kathy Partlow, Senior Proposal Development Coordinator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Mentoring Award:

  • Susan Carter, Director of Research Development, Santa Fe Institute
  • Jan Abramson, Principal Consultant, Penultimate Advantage

NORDP Fellow: Rachel Dresbeck, Senior Director, Research Development, Oregon Health and Science University


Volunteer of the Year Award: Katie Shoaf, Associate Director, Grants Resources & Services, Appalachian State

Call for 2023 ARIS Senior Fellows!

We have some great news! ARIS is enhancing the 2023 ARIS Fellowship Program structure with the addition of Senior Fellows. Fellowship teams will be led by a pair of Senior Fellows who will act as co-chairs. Senior Fellows will also participate in recruiting, reviewing and selecting Fellows who will be invited to work on a collaborative team.

We are requesting nominations for these special leadership roles. Nominees should have a deep knowledge of the current conditions, practices, and policies shaping graduate education or the research enterprise at MSIs. In recognition of their leadership, selected Senior Fellows will receive a stipend. Please visit the 2023 ARIS Fellowship Program webpage for more details. Nominations are due July 22, 2022.

There are two priority areas for 2023 Fellowships: preparing the next generation of researchers for impact and spotlight on minority-serving institutions. This priority area is funded and designed in partnership with the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP).

The Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) Fellows program is for professionals, researchers, faculty, educators, graduate students and others working to advance research impact. The goal of the program is to provide professional development through collaborative creation of key resources that support the research community in achieving impacts.

Applications to become a 2023 Fellow will open in Summer 2022.

Career and Professional Development Peer Mentoring Group (CPD PMG):  Reflecting on this Year and Looking Forward

Phew! It is June already.  Where has the time gone?

In the NORDP Career and Professional Development Peer Mentoring Group (CPD PMG), we began the year by coming together, introducing ourselves, and determining what we’d like to do by collecting jam board entries and prioritizing them using a survey. After discussing the survey, we decided to begin by sharing about ourselves — how we got into Research Development (RD), how our careers have progressed, and the structure of our offices.  We moved on to reviewing fireside chats for lessons that we could apply to our careers and professional development, learning from presenters: Kelly Rose, Daniel Arriaga, David Widmer, Peg Atkisson, Rebekah Hersch, Samar Sengupta, Mark Milutinovich, Karen Fletcher, and Susan Carter.

What did we learn from our NORDP colleagues sharing their journeys?

Networking and connecting with others: Networking is important!

  • Get to know people, even if you are an introvert, e.g., set a goal to meet and learn about a targeted number of people at a conference.
  • Reach out to colleagues at your organization and get involved with NORDP. Getting involved with NORDP can simultaneously help you get to know others and what they are doing to further the goals of their organizations, while providing thoughts for how what you learn can be applied at your own organization.
  • Getting to know your faculty and building trust with them will benefit your work.

Professional Development: Believe in yourself — “own your own value”! 

  • Make professional development a priority. Identify a niche area that can pay off for your own growth. You may find that what you learn and how you grow not only allows for your own advancement, but for that of the RD profession as well.
  • Upskilling to learn additional skills is important.  
  • Doing a skills assessment can help identify your strengths and areas where you could grow. See NORDP Mentoring’s self-assessment tool.
  • Mentoring, both providing and receiving, is an important piece of career and professional development. Get mentoring from a number of people (see NORDP Mentoring’s MESHH Network tool for assistance in identifying a mentoring network).
  • Look at new opportunities as learning experiences.

Career Development: Remain open to change!

  • Sometimes serendipity helps us land in a new position; other times a career move is purposeful and may arise out of doing a skills assessment. Putting in the [sometimes hard] work, persevering, and engaging with others at your organization and within NORDP can lay the foundation for future opportunities.  
  • Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and ask for informational interviews.
  • If a position meets your interests/desires, be willing to try for it.

Our professional development discussion led to sharing thoughts on potential connections to other relevant professional organizations. Examples included the International Network for the Science of Team Science (many NORDP members subscribe to the INSciTS listserv) and Intereach — a community of practice whose stated purpose is “to articulate and promote the need for a dedicated career path around interdisciplinary research expertise, and to improve practitioners’ tools, best practices, success metrics, and career trajectories.”

If Intereach sounds interesting, note that Christine Hendren, Intereach co-Chair, presented to the Collaboration and Team Science PMG on May 17, 2022. Dr. Hendren founded Intereach in 2015 “to connect research professionals with expertise in synthesizing and communicating integrated science across disciplinary and organizational boundaries to effectively address wicked problems.” The CPD PMG hopes to learn how RD professionals can contribute to solving issues as one of the many diverse perspectives needed to tackle challenges, potential professional development opportunities within Intereach, and related careers that utilize RD skills. A transcript of this conversation can be found here.

Where will the 2022 NORDP Conference and the rest of the year take us?

The time we’ve spent together talking about goals and strategies on professional development prepared us well for the annual NORDP Conference, which provides a meaningful occasion to gather new ideas to implement on the job, to connect and reconnect with colleagues, to further develop professional networks, and to find new ways to become actively involved with NORDP. 

For the remainder of the year, we plan to focus on discussions that will help position us for the next career move with topics such as articulating RD professional impact, obtaining management experience without formal direct reports, or engaging in RD research and publications. We will push ourselves out of our comfort zones and help increase marketability for the next career opportunity!

Compiled by Christine Erlien (Duke University School of Medicine Office of Research), Deborah Lundin (East Carolina University Office of Research Administration), and Danielle Matsushima (Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons).

Transitioning from Mentee to Mentor

A mentoring reflection from Melissa Li, a Research Manager at the University of Michigan.

Melissa Li

As the 2021 – 2022 NORDP Mentoring Program is coming to the end, I have officially been a mentor for one year at NORDP. Looking back at my journey of becoming a mentor, I’d like to share a few reflections with the NORDP community.

Why be a mentor?

Being a mentor requires time, energy and commitment. What motivates mentors to be willing to make investments in others? Generally speaking, mentors are at a career stage where they have been in a mentoring relationship as mentees formally or informally. They have benefited in their career growth from others’ time and investment. One of mentoring’s positive impacts is to inspire former mentees to help others who may be in similar situations or face similar challenges by  paying it forward. Also, being an effective mentor requires a skill set that is gained through training, practice and constant refinement. Mentors, particularly new mentors, have unique opportunities to hone their skills that may not be developed in a regular work environment. Another benefit of being a mentor is that mentors get to know more people and expand their own networks. Last but not least, learning is not one-way. Everyone has strengths and unique experiences. Mentors can learn new perspectives, new knowledge and new tools from their mentees. 

When to be a mentor?

For those who are considering becoming a mentor, one of the biggest questions probably is “Am I ready?” This was the question that I asked myself before I decided to become a mentor. There are a few factors that can be taken into account. The first is experience. Mentors often share insights based on empirical evidence which requires first-hand experience. So mentors usually have been in their fields for some years. However, the experience is not exclusively about professional experience; experience gained in one’s personal life is often transformable in professional contexts. A mentor’s experience is viewed as a holistic whole. Second, a mentor comes with a genuine willingness to engage in the mentoring relationship. To me, becoming a mentor was a calling. The idea of being able to help others gives me joy. There are at least two-fold meanings of willingness. One is about being willing to share knowledge and experience; and the other is about being willing to discuss one’s own lessons learned, including success as well as regrets and mistakes. Then, I asked myself, “Am I qualified to be a mentor?” This is about the next factor – confidence, which is the certainty one feels about the mentor role. A great way to seek validation is to ask those who you trust. For example, I asked two of my mentors, both of whom are senior leaders in my institution. Both fully supported my decision of becoming a NORDP mentor. Hearing them say “Melissa, you’re ready” gave me reassurance and confidence. Another important factor is commitment. As I mentioned earlier, mentoring requires time and energy. One should evaluate their bandwidth and make sure promised time is honored consistently. If you just changed your job recently or you are starting a major renovation project in your newly purchased house, it’s probably a good idea to delay starting the mentor role.

How to be a supportive mentor?

In my experience, the most fundamental and universal skill is active listening. Active listening enables us to gather information and recognize others’ perspectives and feelings. Remember, listening is to understand, not necessarily to respond. Via effective listening, mentors understand mentees’ questions, needs, challenges and so on. Demonstrating compassion without being judgmental helps develop trust in the mentoring relationship, so that mentees feel comfortable sharing “difficult things”. By effective listening, mentors also can understand what mentees want, including career goals and expectations during the committed mentoring period. Mentees usually are the drivers of the mentoring relationship. The job of the mentor is to align mentoring efforts to help mentees achieve their goals. 

Another way to develop trust and create a safe space is to show vulnerability, which takes courage. This also circles back to the willingness that I mentioned earlier. Being willing to share not only successes but also “detours” along our career journeys will make mentees’ experiences richer so that they become conscious to avoid similar mistakes and they fully trust mentors by telling their struggles. In some cases, mentors don’t know some subject matters, simply acknowledging not knowing the answers is completely fine and normal. Using myself as an example, I asked one of my mentors “What do I do if I can’t answer my mentee’s questions?” My mentor said “You can just say ‘I don’t know.’” I have said “I don’t know” from time to time while trying to find answers by connecting them with others who are subject matter experts.

In addition, it takes a bit of project management skills for logistics. If I promise to follow up with my mentees on resources/information, I either do it right after the meeting or write a reminder on my calendar so that I don’t forget. Also, I take notes during meetings and review the notes 5 – 10 minutes before each meeting to be prepared.

Becoming  a mentor provides a rich and rewarding learning experience!  There are numerous mentor training opportunities and I have benefited through two programs. First, I participated in NORDP’s mentor training program organized by the Mentoring Committee. During the training, I learned that the facilitators were all trained by CIMER, the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research. I was inspired by my CIMER-trained peers and have since become a trained CIMER facilitator too. The training prepared me well as a mentor. I know this is just the beginning of my mentor journey. I look forward to many years ahead being a mentor. 

2022 NORDP Mentoring Days Celebration

Alt text: Image of six humans interacting and supporting each other, juxtaposed with large block letters spelling MENTORING. Image Source: Adobe stock #296042991.

Registration is now live!

The NORDP Mentoring Committee presents the 2022 Celebrating Mentoring Days on Wednesday, June 29 and Thursday, June 30. All NORDP members are invited to attend! 

What: 2022 Celebrating Mentoring Days to kick off the NORDP mentoring activities!

When: Wednesday, June 29, 1pm – 3:15pm EDT and Thursday, June 30, 12:30pm – 3:15pm EDT. Registration will open soon!

Who: NORDP members who are excited about Mentoring

Dr. Mica Estrada, UCSF

We have the great pleasure of having Dr. Mica Estrada back to talk about strategies for cultivating kind and inclusive mentoring relationships. Dr. Estrada is the Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California at San Francisco’s School of Nursing. We will hold a watch party of her 2022 NORDP Conference Plenary on “Why Kindness Is Important When Mentoring in an Interconnected World”. Dr. Estrada will then join us in a follow-up discussion and Q&A as we dig deeper into how to incorporate strategies for inclusive and kind mentoring in our relationships.

We will kick off with a welcome and cohort activities involving pair orientation for participants in the 2022 – 2023 Mentoring Program. We aim to collectively learn from former, current, and aspiring mentees and mentors in the popular McHuddle format that includes multiple engaging activities and discussions on mentoring. For those looking to get more involved with the Mentoring Program, information will be presented on Peer Mentoring Groups or PMGs. We currently have seven PMGs with various thematic focuses which are open to new members all year. You can easily sign up using the Wisdom Share platform by a simple click! 

We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Celebrating Mentoring Days!

Mentoring Takeaways from NORDP 2022

A reflection from Jessica Brassard, Mentoring Committee

Kindness. Vulnerability. Knowing ourselves deeply. Giving space to others. Invitation. There wasn’t an official theme to the NORDP 2022 Conference, but these threads of humanity wove through every session I attended. Being honest with our humanity and interconnectedness draws us to mentoring. I’ll take this opportunity to pull out sparks from under a mentoring lens in the keynote and three plenary sessions. 

Keynote (Monday) – Broader Impacts: A Strategy for Research Development – Susan Renoe

Dr. Susan Renoe, our esteemed keynote speaker and the recipient of this year’s Research Development Champion Award, opened the conference on Monday with Broader Impact (BI) advice. She balanced the broad strokes of BI with the nitty gritty of agency expectations. We often find ourselves in mentoring and matchmaking positions with researchers—helping faculty connect with the assets around them on campus, in community, and across a national network of practitioners. Whether trained in mentorship or not; whether part of a formal program or in a moment of serendipity; whether in NSF-defined BI or by doing things we love — we mentor to help the people around us realize their impact in the world. For additional background, read the pre-conference blog post about Dr. Susan Renoe here

Plenary (Tuesday) – Minority Researchers and Equity in the STEM Field – Dyhia Belhabib

In her talk, Dr. Dyhia Belhabib exposed culturally ingrained behaviors. Some behaviors we might recognize in people we work with everyday, while other behaviors might have been surprising to find in ourselves. Either way, Belhabib’s own stories, research, and vulnerability created a pathway for us to think about our own environments and behaviors within existing social frameworks. In mentoring, we must recognize in ourselves these potentially harmful behaviors and actively mitigate their impact to others. This holds true for mentors and mentees. A mentoring relationship is a safe place to be able to hold up a mirror together and think through our perceptions and how we might want to change our behaviors and reactions. One of the key takeaways, especially for our mentoring relationships, is to ask members of minoritized groups how they want to be represented and involved. Ask your mentee next time you speak with them — “How would you like me to represent you when speaking about or involving you with others?”

Plenary (Wednesday) – Examining barriers and identifying solutions towards achieving equity in STEM – Sherilynn Black

Dr. Sherilynn Black’s plenary talk highlighted that, very often, our DEI programming is structured so that we don’t actually jump into the discomfort of change, and thus change is slow or nil. Individuals within a space who want to change culture and climate often come with ideas and resources from a limited source (e.g. reading one book or paper does not make an expert!).  Mentoring is all about change. We enter mentoring relationships to find support for the change we want to make — whether in ourselves, in our professional definitions, or in the programs and systems we execute. While we talk about using the NORDP mentoring resources á la carte, perhaps this is a good reminder that we should come to our mentoring conversations fully prepared to do the hard work that is necessary to make meaningful change. Let’s push ourselves to use the self-assessment every year, update our MESHH network regularly, and consider diving into the Mentor Training program if we haven’t already. For additional background, read the pre-conference blog post about Dr. Sherilynn Black here

Plenary (Thursday) – Why Kindness is Important when Mentoring in an Interconnected World – Mica Estrada

Dr. Mica Estrada was invited to speak at #NORDP2022 by members of the Mentoring Committee specifically because of their connection to her at the 14th Annual Mentoring Conference organized by the UNM Mentoring Institute in October 2021. For NORDP, Dr. Estrada wove together stories of humanity with rigorous research on the effects of mentorship in STEM environments. She led us through thought exercises to feel the residuals of a moment of kindness. She spoke about the multi-faceted care required to live as a whole person. And for those of us who are moved by evidence, her research data speaks volumes for the life-changing benefits of access to mentoring programs. Our NORDP mentors and mentees believe in this work. With each dyad conversation that happens throughout the year and with each Peer Mentoring Group (PMG) meeting, we feel the effects of this work. Those of us who know the benefits need no further convincing, but it is amazing to see it at work in other institutions, with different people, and in other stories. For additional background, read the pre-conference blog about Dr. Mica Estrada here

As members of NORDP, and with access to our phenomenal NORDP Mentoring Program, we are swimming in a wealth of knowledge, evidence-based structure and resources, and — most importantly of all — people who care deeply about the success of each and every one of us.