Takeaways from the 2022 International Mentoring Association Conference: The Transformational Power of Mentoring

In February, four NORDP members – Jan Abramson, Rachel Goff-Albritton, Kathy Partlow, and David Widmer – attended the International Mentoring Association conference in Gainesville, Florida. The conference occurs every other year and includes a wide spectrum of mentoring enthusiasts across education, business, and other sectors. Since 1987, the International Mentoring Association has been the premier source for best practice solutions and support of mentoring professionals. For this blog post, we feature takeaways from one of the many sessions that were part of the conference. 

Session: The Art and Science of Mentoring: Testimonies from Research and Practice

Takeaways by: Kathy Partlow


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Picture a conference session with a long table of panelists packed in elbow-to-elbow at the front of the room. You might be thinking the panel organizers were overzealous in their invitations; however, I soon discovered that the table was a visual representation of the impact of mentoring. Dr. Frances (Fran) Kochan, a well-known education leadership scholar and master mentor, was surrounded by a few select mentees that she had impacted throughout her academic career. Her mentees had decided to honor her with a festschrift – a German word for a commemorative of someone who is still living – to pay tribute to her influence and contribution to the field. Each mentee wrote about how Fran’s mentorship helped them navigate skill development, career progression, or work/life integration topics as examples of putting mentoring theory into practice within a chapter of The Art and Science of Mentoring: A Festschrift in Honor of Dr. Frances Kochan. Each shared powerful and moving testimonials on what they learned from Fran about mentoring and how one person “can cross our paths and change us forever.” As Fran – and really the entire audience – worked to control emotions throughout the testimonials, Fran closed the session by encouraging each of us to always be a mentor and a mentee. I found the session inspiring. I want to be like Fran and what I learned from this session is that having that kind of impact is possible for each of us. 

Afterwards, as we NORDies gathered and talked about that session, one of the clearest session messages was how mentoring leads to growth and transformation. The impact of mentoring begins reciprocally: the mentee and mentor both benefit. Then, the impact of that mentoring grows exponentially: each mentee goes on to influence multiple others and so on. Importantly, the impact of mentoring happens through small acts: being kind and supportive to others, actively listening, picking up a phone, or returning an email. The impact of mentoring also happens through big acts: being a role model, collaborating together, giving psychological and emotional support, or providing sponsorship. 

Overall, the impact of mentoring is transformational for self and others. Registration opens soon for the next cohort of the NORDP Mentoring Program. What will your impact be as a mentee? As a mentor? Who will be at your table? What legacy do you want to leave?

NORDP 2022: Early Registration Closes Next Week

Early-bird registration for the fully virtual 14th Annual Research Development Conference, #NORDP2022,  closes next week.  Registration through March 31 is $179 for members and $279 for nonmembers, but after March 31 prices will increase $40 until registration closes April 20. 

Just a reminder that anyone participating in the Conference program (speakers, sponsors) will need to register in order to access the platform.  If you need assistance or have any questions, please email the NORDP office.   

After registering, get ready for #NORDP2022 with swag. You voted on your favorite mug mottos — now you can purchase your favorite designs on a real mug! Check out the volunteer-run shop and make your purchases before the conference to be ready for the morning coffee chats.

See you next month! 

The NORDP 2022 Conference Planning Committee

Great Lakes Region’s Half-day Retreat Recap

The 2022 NORDP Great Lakes Region held its annual retreat on January 18 via Zoom. The event saw about 30 participants from 17 organizations. This year’s theme was wellness and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB).

The retreat kicked off with musical performances by University of Michigan student musicians, setting a calming atmosphere at the beginning. The programming included an inspiring guest presentation, titled How Trust Levels and “Thinking Traps” Influence Work Team Engagement and Effectiveness, by Denise Williams, PhD, University of Michigan Organizational Effectiveness Consultant. Next, the Great Lakes Region community was invited into a conversation on DEIB, where the participants discussed their institutions’ approaches to implementing DEIB in research development work. The Great Lakes Region Executive Committee gave regional updates on the governance of the regional Executive Committee, asked for input on potential activities to engage members, and introduced the region’s book club. Finally, the retreat concluded with a casual virtual happy hour.

Ten participating members were randomly selected to receive a copy of the book Lessons from Plants, by Michigan State University’s Dr. Beronda Montgomery, the first read for the book club. With the consideration of wellness, health breaks were provided while fun and relaxing music was played. Colleen Greene, University of Michigan Senior Wellness Coordinator, also demonstrated invigorating and restorative desk stretches between two sessions. The half-day event received positive feedback, including insightful discussions and professional connections.

The retreat was organized by the Great Lakes Region’s inaugural Executive Committee. The committee members are Maggie Berg (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Jessica Brassard (University of Michigan), Ellen Freeman (U of Minnesota-Twin Cities), Sarah James (AtKisson Training Group), and Melissa Li (University of Michigan). It was financially supported by a mini grant from a recent competition organized by NORDP’s Member Services Committee aimed at assisting affinity and regional groups with retention, recruitment, and engagement of members. 

Written by the NORDP Great Lakes Region Executive Committee

NORDP 2022 Conference Scholarships Available

NORDP Conference Scholarships (known as “Attendance Awards” when we meet in person) are intended to help members offset the cost of conference registration. These scholarships are intended for those who need financial support beyond what their institutions or organizations will provide. NORDP 2022 awards will fund the cost of one (1) conference registration per award at the early-bird member rate.

These awards, funded by AtKisson Training Group, support NORDP’s mission to enhance the diversity of our membership and member institutions. Members who are new to NORDP, are attending their first NORDP conference, identify as belonging to a group that is underrepresented in NORDP, or represent Minority-Serving Institutions, are strongly encouraged to apply.

Special thanks to AtKisson Training Group for these Scholarship Awards.

Scholarship recipients are expected to volunteer at the conference and serve on a NORDP committee or subcommittee following the 2022 conference.

Eligibility: These awards are not available to current and prior NORDP Board of Directors members, Affiliate Members or consultants. Anyone who has received conference/travel support from NORDP in the previous three conference years (2019, 2020 or 2021 conferences) is not eligible in 2022.

To Apply: Visit https://nordp.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1863054. Applications are due March 15, 2022 by 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. (If this is your first time using NORDP’s InfoReady site, please select “Register” in the upper right-hand corner to create a login for this site.)

PLEASE DO NOT REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE UNTIL YOU ARE NOTIFIED OF THE STATUS OF YOUR SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION. We will contact applicants with decisions before the Early-Bird registration window closes on March 31.

NORDP 2022: Registration is Now Open

Registration for the fully virtual 14th Annual Research Development Conference, #NORDP2022, is now open. Details of the full program, which takes place April 24-28, 2022, are also online. Click here for details.

This year’s conference features 11 concurrent education sessions, along with 6 hours of prerecorded content. Keynotes/plenaries, Program Officer sessions and evening events round out the program, along with a limited number of capped-attendance workshops for an additional fee.

Early-bird registration, through March 31, is $179 for members and $279 for nonmembers.

After registering, get ready for #NORDP2022with swag. You voted on your favorite mug mottos — now you can purchase your favorite designs on a real mug! Check out the volunteer-run shop and make your purchases before the conference to be ready for the morning coffee chats.

See you in April!

The NORDP 2022 Conference Planning Committee

Launch of Task Force Focused on Improving NORDP Policies

The NORDP Board of Directors is asking you to join a task force focused on improving NORDP policies.

As a growing organization, NORDP may lack some policies and processes for the operation and sustainability of the organization. In addition, there may be unintentionally biased content that can be updated and improved toward a more inclusive culture across NORDP.

We recognize that these gaps in policies and procedures potentially increase the risk to NORDP’s long-term success as an organization. The work of this task force will be to address gaps, update language, and recommend new policies. The task force will be asked to pay specific attention to integrating inclusivity throughout all policies and processes.

The Board of Directors, under the direction of Board Champions, is inviting you and other NORDP member volunteers to review current policies, identify inadequacies or needed policies and compose relevant policies that reflect our aspirational culture and activities in order to create a more responsive and sustainable association. Specifically, we are asking the task force to:

  • Gather a diverse membership together to influence the organizational direction.
  • Ensure that our organization reflects the values of our membership.
  • Intentionally inform the transparent and collaborative governance of our organization.

The Board Champions imagine that this work will require one planning/design meeting and one hackathon event to be held in late February 2022 (there is flexibility), with subsequent edit and review of documents by all committees in March.

Task force members will be expected to self-organize, with the assistance of the Board Champions, design the events such that they are inclusive of all voices and experiences, and reflect a commitment to DEI/DEIB practices throughout.

If you are interested in joining this important work, please complete the interest form here: https://forms.gle/PUVtMAv2StGqP5vZ8.

Entering your information will put you on the contact list. You will be able to volunteer at any time, for any aspect of the task force work, and there are no restrictions or expectations for participation.

If you have questions, please email Faye.Farmer@asu.edu.

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 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 mentorprogram@nordp.org 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.