New NORDP Board Member Cameo: Becca Latimer

Becca Latimer, NORDP Board Member

Who: Becca Latimer, Research Program Director

Where: University of Virginia Comprehensive Cancer Center

Number of Years Working in RD: Seven Years

Length of NORDP Membership: Seven years

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

I fell into RD, as many of us in NORDP do. I had just completed a postdoctoral position in developmental biology, and I knew I wanted to stay in research but I did not want to open a lab. I knew there had to be something else out there that would allow me to utilize the skill sets I had learned at the bench. We had just moved to Virginia when I heard about a position in the office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia – they were starting up a research development team. While I didn’t get the job I had originally applied for, I stayed in touch with the hiring manager and was offered a position to lead a funding discovery project the office was trying to get off the ground. I jumped in and learned quickly, and the rest is history!

As for the work I do now, I’ve recently started in a new position in the University of Virginia Cancer Center. My new role allows me to support many of the key functions that keep the center running. So far, I have taken on projects like putting together new seed grants and revamping and streamlining our processes to make the center function more efficiently. I’ve also been doing a lot of work on our internal metrics. We have more than 200 members so there’s a lot of data to keep up with! So in my time at UVA, I’ve gone from a very central to a very focused role – two totally different beasts, but both important to the whole research enterprise.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented, other roles you’ve held)?

My history with NORDP started when I attended my first NORDP conference and it opened my eyes to the fact that these are my people and this is a really cool organization. I quickly became interested in committee service and decided to join the professional development committee, although it was a tough choice because all of the committees interested me! In 2019, there was an opportunity to step up to serve as a co-chair for the PD Committee, and I decided to say yes because I knew it would give me a chance to be more involved and meet more people and contribute to the projects the committee was trying to move forward.

I’ve also worked with Kimberly Eck on the salary survey committee in 2019, which I found to be very fun and fulfilling. I feel like the salary survey really gives us a good idea of where we stand as professionals and as an organization. And I think it has been a useful tool to our members that they can use to advocate for themselves and their colleagues when it comes to negotiating with their institutions.

Most recently, I became involved with the NORDP Conference Planning Committee. I started right before we put on the 2021 virtual conference, which was our first virtual conference, and served as a co-chair for the 2022 virtual conference. I’m currently serving as a co-chair for our 2023 conference (our first in-person conference in four years), and I also serve on the executive conference committee. I’ve been reflecting on the fact that the last time NORDP held our conference in Crystal City, it was 2018 and I was serving as a conference ambassador, and now we’re back in this venue and I’m serving as a co-chair. It’s kind of wild!

What motivated you to run for the NORDP Board?

I actually decided I wanted to be more involved in NORDP during the pandemic. I saw it as an opportunity, because I was working from home and decided I could use the time I was no longer spending commuting to the office to do more volunteering. So I really just made a conscious decision to really immerse myself more and step up and roll up my sleeves to get the work done. And in doing that, I feel like it’s really fostered a lot of great relationships with my NORDP colleagues. And I realized just how important NORDP has become to me, because of our organization’s vision and mission. I don’t work with any other group or organization that works to be as inclusive and is filled with people that are so thoughtful and united in their desire to push things forward and institute change. I’ve gotten so much out of NORDP and benefitted from the people who have served on the Board before me and put their time and effort into progressing and evolving our organization. I felt like it was time for me to contribute that kind of effort back to our members as well and pay it forward.

What are you most excited about as a new NORDP Board member?

I think one great step our Board has taken previously is to outline some key initiatives and key result areas (KRAs) that we as an organization can focus on. I’m really looking forward to building on those KRAs going forward. I’m also just really excited to work with our Board, because we have an awesome Board! So many of my fellow Board members are trusted colleagues and friends who I’ve built relationships with since joining NORDP and everyone is so supportive. Our Board is really engaged and interactive, and motivated to keep improving our organization.

New NORDP Board Member Cameo: Kim Patten

Kim Patten, NORDP Board Member

Who: Kim Patten, Assistant Vice President for Research Development

Where: University of Arizona

Number of Years Working in RD: 15 years

Length of NORDP Membership: Nine years

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

My first position was working for a science-informed nonprofit started by a bunch of astronomers and engineers. I worked on the issue of light pollution, and one of my first assignments was to build a coalition of researchers, nonprofits, and governmental entities. Working with my director at the time, we received NSF funding for a workshop (my first NSF grant!). With preliminary data based on connections made at that workshop, an instrument that was designed and funded by NSF. And that was my introduction to RD, forming teams, getting funding, and sponsoring research (and I was hooked).

I went to graduate school, but stopped at my masters, and then joined the Arizona Geological Survey, running a large Department of Energy center that was nationwide, therefore, logging some frequent flyer miles in the process. I enjoyed working with these teams, providing dedicated support throughout the lifecycle of the research process. With just under a year left on the project, a friend told me the University of Arizona was starting a new department within the research office and encouraged me to apply. And I made the leap. There were better benefits at the university than in my other state job, including parental leave benefits, and better work-life-balance. In all honesty, I’m really happy I made that leap. The transition was difficult as I really loved what I was doing at the Survey, and the people, but here I am!

Today, I engage in a lot of strategic initiatives. I’m one of the primary liaisons for the research office with our federal relations arm. So, I have moved (and this is a Jennifer Lyon Gardener and Jeff Agnoli term) further “left of proposal” in my current efforts than in my previous positions. A lot of what I’m doing these days is leveraging federal relations activities for and toward appropriations and authorizations requests. We’re trying to get ahead of the major research activities authorized in the CHIPS+ Ac and Inflation Reduction Act. My work has transition to more of a strategic direction while others on our team focus on relationship development and proposal development.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I’ve been a NORDP member since 2014, first presenting at the annual conference in 2015. I missed 2016 because of the birth of my kiddo, but I’ve been to every one since then. I’ve participated in numerous committees, including the Nominating Committee (NomCom), and the Strategic Alliances Committee (SAC). I’ve also been working to help and support both my institution and NORDP with professional career lines and career development activities. If you look back at some of my conference presentations, you’ll see how I worked with HR to get six lines of professional contributor and five lines of management for my RD team. Now, I’m trying to implement those, which is much easier said than done.

I joined the NomCom in 2015 and served as its chair through the pandemic. I was drawn to serve on SAC because of its focus on partnerships and engaged research. Partnership development, especially at the organizational level, was of particular interest to me, as I was transitioning part of my team into more partnership development, including supporting my leadership as they stood up a societal impacts unit. I was really interested in learning from the organization called Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) about that potential, and that’s how I got recruited to be a NORDP liaison to ARIS. We do now have an Office of Societal Impact at the University of Arizona. It does not report to me, but it’s a parallel office to mine, and we report up to the same VP, which is nice. And we collaborate significantly. All to say, I appreciate NORDP for the personal and professional growth as well as lessons learned from across the organization and with/from other organizations. We are a community of lifelong learners, and it shows.

What motivated you to run for the NORDP Board?

I’ve had my eye on the board for a little while; that’s part of why I wanted to be on NomCom, to see what the process was like. I was serving on another board through 2021, so I felt that I could not feasibly add the commitment, especially one with such a high volunteer load. To serve well takes a significant commitment, and hopefully a commitment that is supported by your employer (mine has been wonderful in supporting me).

My previous board service gave me experience with organizational development and growth, and I can to bring that to NORDP. From a bylaws overhaul to an investment policy, that board work took on a “cleanup” of the organization’s systems and support infrastructure, and I felt that experience would help the NORDP board and NORDP as an organization. That service also provided me with insights into staffing and outsourcing of a small, but mighty, non-profit. I’d argue that NORDP is at a transition point in its growth, and I’m excited to be part of the board that helps us reach the next level of infrastructure and support for our phenomenal community of contributors.

While I hope that my previous board experiences will help, I also hope that my experience in running and leading a comprehensive RD shop is also relevant. One of my goals for my own team is to encompass the four core areas of RD, as defined by NORDP: (1) strategic research advancement, (2) communication of research and research opportunities, (3) enhancement of collaboration/team science, and (4) proposal support functions.

What are you most excited about as a new NORDP Board member?

I am most excited about the fact that we are primed for success. I think the previous boards and the membership have done a great job of building a fantastic community and making sure that RD is a recognized field. I think that we are at that make-or-break moment, and I’m looking forward to helping make it happen. I think that the existing board members are phenomenal and talented individuals. They have been welcoming and have treated me warmly. I also have a board mentor, so that’s fantastic. I’m really looking forward to supporting NORDP to provide the infrastructure that’s needed for future success. I’m a big fan of collective impact and thinking about backbone organizations. Excited to make that happen for NORDP.

New NORDP Board Member Cameo: Jessica Moon

Jessica Moon, PhD, PMP, NORDP Board Member
Jessica Moon, PhD, PMP, NORDP Board Member

Who: Jessica Moon, PhD, PMP. Executive Director, Stanford Aging and Ethnogeriatrics Research Center

Where: Stanford University

Number of Years Working in RD: Six years

Length of NORDP Membership: Five years

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

My daughter was three years old when I started graduate school at the University of Vermont, and I realized quickly that I did not want to pursue a tenure-track faculty position. I had worked for several years as a writing center consultant for undergraduates, grad students, and postdocs, and I thought perhaps my scientific and writing consultation backgrounds would be an effective combination. Another tipoff was that I really enjoyed my phase 2 qualifying exam—i.e., writing an NIH grant. I happened to see a presentation by Jeralyn Haraldsen (now the Director of Research Development at UVM) about the newly minted research development office. I reached out to Jeralyn—“Your work sounds really interesting! I’d love to hear more about your background and the RD field. Would you be willing to get coffee?” She introduced me to NORDP, and we carpooled down to my first Northeast regional meeting in Amherst, MA. The whole world opened up from there so to speak. 

My goal was to position myself for an RD job straight out of graduate school. There’s not a standard career path or ladder into RD (I recently heard someone refer to it as a “climbing wall”). The common thread from talking to NORDP members was scientific editing experience, so I started by diversifying my editing portfolio. I became a contract scientific editor for Cactus Communications, where I edited journal articles, scientific protocols, responses to reviewers, and other works for university researchers and drug companies across the biomedical and chemical sciences. About a year later, I started a small freelance business editing manuscripts and grant proposals. Basically, I fit in extra editing jobs wherever I could—between experiments, late in the evening, Christmas break…This gave me some hardcore copyediting experience that complemented the consultation and writing pedagogy work at the writing center.

My first research development job out of graduate school was at the University of Arizona in Kim Patten’s office as a Research Development Associate for the biomedical sciences. Jamie Boehmer (a Senior RD Associate at the time) took me under her wing and identified opportunities for me to network across campus. As a former VA Program Officer, she has a wealth of knowledge, and I learned a lot from her. In my two years there, my portfolio grew to include faculty from across the five health sciences colleges, many more types of NIH proposals, and other funders (e.g., HRSA, CDC, foundations).

Now, as Executive Director, I oversee all aspects of the SAGE Center. I refer to my role as RD+, because it encompasses a broad range of research development activities—advising on funding strategy, grant writing/editing, and faculty development, as well as things like program management and evaluation, research compliance, budgets, and scientific event planning. I am also the program officer for our pilot award program, and mentor all SAGE junior faculty and postdocs. One thing that is unique from my prior position at UArizona is that I do actual grant writing and intellectually contribute to the design and implementation of projects and programs. Hence, the scope and my view of RD has grown since coming to Stanford.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

As mentioned above, I started engaging with NORDP via the Northeast regional meetings and attended my first NORDP conference in 2017. I moved to Tucson, AZ shortly after graduating. My supervisor at the University of Arizona, Kim Patten, is a strong advocate of NORDP and encourages everyone in her unit to be engaged. My first volunteer activity at the national-level was the Affiliated Medical Centers special interest group. As a member of the inaugural leadership team, I helped shepherd AMC through its development into an affinity group. My NORDP mentor encouraged me to explore other committees. In 2021, I joined the Professional Development Committee, Committee on Inclusive Excellence, and Mentoring Committee with the thought that I could try them and see what I liked the best—I’m still a member on all.

What motivated you to run for the NORDP Board?

The encouragement from my NORDP mentor was a big part of it. I enjoy the strategic planning aspects of my work at Stanford and looking at things from a big picture/organizational systems standpoint—my role on the NORDP Board provides this from the non-profit perspective. I also wanted to give back to NORDP, because it has played such an integral role in helping me find and obtain RD positions after grad school. I learned about both of my jobs at UArizona and Stanford through NORDP connections. NORDP’s members are a wealth of information and their warmth and willingness to share ideas is remarkable and wonderful. For all those reasons, I was excited (and a bit intimidated) to run for the Board. I wanted the experience of strategic planning and understanding things from that lens while contributing to the good of the organization.

What are you most excited about as a new NORDP Board member?

It’s a fantastic group. I have attended three board meetings so far and have been amazed and energized by the team dynamic—everyone takes their duty of care seriously, meaning that discussion and deliberation is very thoughtful and open. I am introverted and have a hard time inserting myself into conversations, because I second guess that what I want to say will be helpful. There is conscious effort by Board members to invite everyone’s input, so I am excited to work with this really awesome group. I’m also excited because NORDP is in this transition period between thinking of ourselves as a smaller organization to a larger and more mature organization…Which I guess means we are in the awkward teen phase. I think part of that has to do with how quickly our membership has expanded—yay us! But we are also experiencing some growing pains, and the Board’s goal is to help NORDP work through that.

New Board Member Cameo: Samarpita Sengupta

Samarpita Sengupta, PhD, NORDP Board Member

Who: Samarpita Sengupta, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director of Research

Where: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Number of Years Working in RD: Seven years

Length of NORDP Membership: Five years

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

I came to the United States in 2007 for my PhD. After my PhD, I was almost convinced that the traditional academic route was not meant for me, however, three years into my postdoc I knew that for certain. I started doing informational interviews to find out what career paths aligned with my interests. After several of these, I spoke to someone who ended up being my boss in my first research development job. We had talked about grant writing, and I didn’t know the term research development existed when I was interviewing. I joined as a scientific research writer in the newly formed Neuroscience Research Development (NeRD) office. We created the office from the ground up. Our responsibilities spanned the research cycle from idea generation to grant submission We went from submitting between five and 20 grants a year to over 100 grants per year. We kept that momentum going until 2020 when my boss moved to a different role and I started directing the office. In 2021, in search of career growth, I landed into what I called a RD plus role.

Right now, I serve as the Director of Research in the physician assistant studies program at UT Southwestern. I also have a faculty role which means I get to advise and mentor students as well, but my main focus is creating strategic programs and working with faculty and students to increase research capacity and scholarly output in the areas of education research, quality improvement with the goal of getting people engaged in allied health related clinical research. I also have some administrative responsibilities around maintaining program accreditation.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

When we started the RD office we fell into research development “by accident”. We didn’t have any formal training or a formal path to it. So we decided we wanted to make it better for people for people coming after us so we created a training program in our office where we would allow students, staff and trainees to shadow us for four weeks, eight hours a week using their personal time. This program was called the NeRD associate in training or NeAT program. We would teach them the basics of research development – how to talk to a faculty member, how you create teams, how you edit or refine a proposal, how you create a budget, how you work with sponsored programs. I presented this program at the 2017 NORDP conference which was the first conference where I presented a poster.

At that conference, I attended the Strategic Alliances Committee meeting and Peggy Sundermeyer was looking for someone to volunteer as a liaison between NORDP and the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA). I had volunteered for NPA while a postdoc, so I figured this would be a really good fit for me. I volunteered to be a liaison. My initial term was for two years and then it was extended for two more years. I attended conferences with NPA and had people from NPA come and attend NORDP conferences. The goal was to create a pipeline from postdocs to RD. Not a lot of postdocs know about RD, therefore, there is a rich niche of people we can recruit from. That relationship led to a couple of changes for NORDP as well.  We created the trainee and emeritus memberships in NORDP because we wanted to attract trainees and students to get a foot in the door through NORDP. I worked on this project in collaboration with the then chair of the MSC, Kathy Cataneo. At the NPA conferences I attended, postdocs were curious about RD internships. Through the generosity of NORDP members, we solicited other examples of onboarding programs, combined them with NeAT program’s structure and created a resource that RD offices can take to create their own internship, training or onboarding programs called NROAD to RD. The teams that worked on this project was awarded the NORDP Innovation award this year and I couldn’t be more grateful to have worked with these dedicated individuals.  

With the Member Services Committee I also helped create the Ambassador Program which matched up new conference attendees with seasoned conference attendees so they had at least one point of contact to talk to and ask questions so they wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed at their first conference. I joined the Professional Development Committee and the Mentoring Committee and served as a mentor and a mentee. I’ve been part of the NORDP Certification Task Force. We’re also trying to get an Immigrant Affinity Group off the ground. I have presented at each of the NORDP conferences since 2017 and was part of the inaugural LEAD cohort. I served as co-chair of the Mentoring Committee as well.

What motivated you to run for the NORDP Board?

I have been thinking about the board for a while, but while I had started several projects, I had not led a committee.  Last year I participated in the Lead Program, and I served as the Mentoring Committee co-chair for a year. I have tried to be very intentional about using all my experience volunteering for several different committees so I could know what most committees do and where they stand, so I can be a voice for everyone. This year, I knew that I had the experience to back up any decisions that needed to be made regarding the organization. I think I understood the organization enough, had some ideas of what people wanted from it, what the mission and vision was and could morph into in the future so I would be comfortable being part of making larger decisions.

What are you most excited about as a new NORDP Board member?

I get excited about everything! From the beginning, my work in NORDP has been about creating a path for people who want to do RD but don’t really know about RD. As our organization grows, we need more people to join us, and we need more revenue sources as we grow to keep the organization afloat.

One of the things I am passionate about is to help people make the conscious decision to join RD and not just “fall into” it as I and many others have done. I want to continue the work NORDP has ongoing to making sure academics, funders, and institutional leaders understand what RD is, how it is different from and similar to RA, how it is different from R&D.

I’m also excited about several new NORDP offerings, such as the work being done by the certification task force. If and when this comes to fruition, it would be a really big deal for our organization. I am excited about the work done by all the NORDP committees, putting forth innovative programs and resources. I am excited about the commitment from NORDP leadership and its members on being a forerunner on inclusive excellence. I am excited and humbled to be working with some amazing individuals on the NORDP Board, many of whom have been mentors and personal heroes! Finally, I am incredibly grateful to the NORDP membership who have placed their trust in me and my fellow new Board members and I hope I can help propel our organization forward.

A Message from the NORDP President

As we begin a new NORDP program year, we have a lot to be excited about!

Our membership continues to reach its highest ever numbers (over 1,150 members), and our 14th Annual (virtual) Conference was packed with outstanding content and a record number of attendees (over 800). 

Our committees and volunteers have been working hard to provide new content and services for members, including new affinity groups, a new member orientation guide, early planning for a NORDP journal, new content available in our learning management system, dozens of professional development webinars and events, new partnerships with other professional societies, a monthly newsletter, and much, much more.

The Committee for Inclusive Excellence recently conducted an organizational-wide climate survey. Survey results will inform continued efforts to improve NORDP’s culture of inclusion and support for diversity in all its forms.

And there is much more ahead for this coming year. Here are some of the priorities the board and officers will be supporting:

  • Proposed changes to the bylaws that will make eligibility to serve on the board more inclusive. (Join us for a July 29 town hall to learn more!)
  • Developing and implementing a new strategic plan
  • Focus on building NORDP’s organizational infrastructure and financial stability
  • Increasing NORDP’s capacity for partnerships (including federal funding)
  • More resources to fund our growing operations and services (partially supported by a $30 dues increase)
  • Ongoing work to identify and improve NORDP policies (thank you Policy Task Force!)
  • Piloting a second large annual event (e.g., a virtual conference) to complement our annual in-person conference

We have four outstanding new board members joining this year–Rebecca Latimer (University of Virginia), Jessica Moon (Stanford University), Kimberly Patten (University of Arizona), and Samar Sengupta (UT Southwestern Medical Center). Each has been a dedicated NORDP leader and volunteer, and we are delighted to add their energy and enthusiasm to the board.  We will miss the contributions of outgoing board members Etta Ward and Paul Tuttle and Immediate Past President Kimberly Eck. Thank you for your dedication and service to NORDP and the RD profession

I want to thank Jill Jividen, our Immediate Past President, for her exceptional leadership during a very difficult year. I continue to learn so much from her and look forward to working with her, our new Vice President Nathan Meier, returning Secretary Joanna Downer, and returning Treasurer Eva Allen. I could not wish for a better leadership team!

I also want to express my sincerest gratitude to the many volunteers and committee co-chairs who make NORDP such an energetic and empowering organization. Without your efforts, NORDP could not provide all the services and professional development opportunities that make our organization great. 

Finally, I would like to thank our FirstPoint Management Resources partners Laura Nakoneczny and Arielle Stout, whose day-to-day organizational management efforts keep NORDP running.

As in previous years, NORDP’s leadership team will continue to be accessible to members. Please reach out to me ( or Nathan ( at any time. We will continue to hold periodic town halls and listening sessions throughout the year. Please watch your email and subscribe to NORDP listserv(s) and the NORDP News Blog for relevant NORDP and RD news.

I look forward to working with you this year and hope to see you in Crystal City in May for our in-person annual conference!

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:

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

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 New Board Member Cameo – Antje Harnisch

Who: Antje Harnisch, Assistant Vice Provost for Research

Where: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Number of Years in RD:  RA and RD 20+

Length of NORDP Membership: 5 years

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

I entered the field through Research Administration 20-plus years ago. I spent the first 15 years at a land-grant R1 university, and I’ve been at a small technical university for the past seven years. There I have helped set up a research development office (RSI), participated in recruitment efforts, mentored the hires, and facilitated attempts at defining roles and responsibilities between OSP and RSI. Our team helps faculty with their proposals, provides training, and runs internal grant opportunities and limited submissions. 

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

I have participated at the regional level for a number of years and have been involved at the national level for the past four years. I have presented at a regional conference, and we have hosted one at WPI, which was a great experience. It was truly a pleasure to work with Northeast NORDP leadership to put the conference together and arrange logistics to make the event a success. I’ve also participated in leadership roundtables and found them consistently informative and inspiring exchanges of information, experiences, best practices, and last but not least, a sense of community. I always went away with new ideas and feeling a sense of belonging. 

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP ?

I’ve appreciated the role that NORDP has played in representing and shaping this profession. I have been consistently impressed with the colleagues that make up the group and the programming the organization provides. NORDP colleagues have proven to be a wonderful resource for me professionally and kindred spirits on a personal level too.

What are you most excited about as a board member?

I appreciate sitting on the NORDP board as an opportunity to learn and grow through working with and learning from colleagues who I respect and with whom I share passions, goals, and values. I’m excited about contributing to the implementation of the current strategic plan and engage in future strategizing to move NORDP and the profession into the future.

Compiled by Sharon Pound, Communications Working Group

NORDP New Board Member Cameo – Melinda Laroco Boehm

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

Where: University of California, Merced

Number of Years in RD: 6.5

Length of NORDP Membership: 6.5

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

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

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

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

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

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

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

What are you most excited about as a board member?

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

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

Compiled by Sharon Pound, Communications Working Group

NORDP New Board Member Cameo – Lisa Lopez

Who:   Lisa Lopez, Senior Research Development Officer

Where:   College of Health and Human Development, California State University, Fullerton

Number of Years in RD:  7

Length of NORDP Membership:   6

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

I entered RD after completing my postdoc. I was looking for an alternative career away from the typical research scientist trajectory, but I knew I still loved working in academia. The problem was that I didn’t have anyone in my network who could help me navigate a transition outside of the laboratory. When looking for jobs, I found various RD opportunities, but I had no clue if I would even be qualified for such a position. After a quick Google search, I found the NORDP website with information on the responsibilities of a “research development professional.” I read all I could find about this “new” profession and found that it was indeed something I was qualified for and could find rewarding. Most importantly, I found a community of folks who, while working at their own institutions, had a shared passion for RD and supported each other along the journey.  I started to apply for RD jobs and was fortunate to land at a local Cal State, where I’ve been ever since.

In my current role, I perform RD duties at the college level as a member of the Dean’s senior leadership team.  I work closely with my colleagues in the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects to put on grant-related trainings for faculty, and I work as part of the Pre-Award team for my college to help faculty submit proposals.  In my college, I focus on faculty development.  I provide guidance to help faculty position themselves for success in their research and as they seek external funding, and I develop and manage several college programs to support faculty research.  I am also involved in a college task force aimed at increasing the hiring and retention of diverse faculty. 

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

I joined NORDP in 2015.  I started to attend the annual meetings and presented a poster in Colorado in 2017.  In 2020, I increased my engagement with NORDP and joined the Nomination Committee.  This was such a worthwhile experience, and I encourage anyone looking to get started in volunteer work with the organization to consider joining NomCom.  Committee work gave me insight into the organizational structure of NORDP and also exposed me to the skills and experiences of the Board candidates.  It was through my work on NomCom that I was able to see myself as a future member of the NORDP Board. 

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

NORDP members are such a supportive and engaging group.  When I was new to RD, I really appreciated going to the annual conference and meeting and learning from members who had been in the field a lot longer than me.  I’ve also been fortunate to meet some really awesome members as part of the Nomination Committee.  This year, I’m taking part in the Mentorship Program as both a mentor and a mentee.  So far, I’ve really enjoyed the experience, and I’m incredibly thankful to have already met so many new folks as a participant in this summer’s Celebrating Mentoring Days.   

What are you most excited about as a board member?

NORDP is growing and changing, and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to be part of the leadership that will help shape what our organization looks like in the coming years as we prepare to develop our next strategic plan.  I’m also eager to meet more members and learn how others enhance their professional development and how institutions support the profession.  I’m interested in exploring the different models of RD at institutions and how NORDP can best meet the needs of our members in varied RD roles and from diverse backgrounds.  NORDP is now over 1,000 members strong, and it’s an exciting time to be involved in this organization.  I can’t wait to see what we all can accomplish in the years ahead!

Compiled by Sharon Pound, Communications Working Group

NORDP New Board Member Cameo – Nathan Meier

Who: Nathan Meier, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research

Where: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Number of Years in RD: 18

Length of NORDP Membership: 10

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

Like many NORDP members, I followed a circuitous route to the profession. Following undergraduate study, I farmed full-time with my family for two years before going on to earn a Master of Technical and Professional Communication from Auburn University—the only place in the country where that specific degree is offered. I started out wanting to be an English professor but changed my focus as I learned more about the challenges of the tenure track once I began my graduate work. My first semester at Auburn, I ended up in a principles of technical communication course and really enjoyed the experience because it gave me a chance to meld my interests in writing and technology. The MTPC program was a great fit for me and felt like an applied English degree. During my final semester at Auburn, I audited a class called “The Proposal as Genre and Argument,” and it was another natural blend of my interest in writing, rhetoric, literature, and technology. When I returned to Nebraska after graduating, I applied for a proposal writing position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and have been in RD ever since. I did not set out to be in this field, but the skills I brought and learned and my natural interests led me here. I am grateful to have the opportunity to add value to faculty-led projects on our campus.

My current position is focused on faculty and institutional success especially as they relate to external funding competitiveness. My RD portfolio of work involves providing strategic direction for our proposal development, external faculty recognition and awards, and research impacts programs. I also get involved with many special projects for our vice chancellor and our campus (e.g., efforts related to diversity and inclusive excellence, federal relations, pursuing the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, etc.). I also have become heavily involved with our institution’s pursuit of grand challenges. 

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I started out as a listserv lurker and became a member after a couple of years. I joined the conference planning committee in 2015 as an abstract reviewer and then got involved with conference marketing. I later joined the nominating committee and was eventually designated as its chair. I basically helped out wherever I could starting with a variety of little projects and scaffolded toward increased responsibilities over time. I have been a mentor as well. Following an invitation from the board, I threw my hat in the ring to fill out the remaining portion of a departing board member’s term in 2019. During my two years serving as an appointed board member, I felt like I found my niche with NORDP and realized there is more I could do, so I decided to run for a full four-year term.

Over the years, we had been hearing from members that NORDP needed more intentional pathways to advance organizational leaders. We needed to find ways to help members become engaged members and ultimately committee leaders and then, hopefully, candidates for the board. I worked with Jan Abramson, Katie Shoaf, Mady Hymowitz, and Karen Fletcher to stand up the NORDP Leadership, Engagement and Development (LEAD) Initiative. This program, which is still evolving, is designed to nurture organizational leaders and help NORDP members cultivate their own individual careers. 

I also been working with other NORDP colleagues for the last couple of years to expand the recognitions available to NORDP members and our external champions of RD. We want to recognize and reward the important, impactful contributions our colleagues are making and ensure they capture the attention of our members.  

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

The RD community is at its core a very strong network, and NORDP is its backbone. We openly share knowledge to help our faculty and institutions succeed. Our “back of the house” support allows our nation’s research enterprise to thrive and achieve its goal, which, from my perspective, is to help improve the human condition. 

NORDP is an incredible crucible in which we can mix with others from around the world and from a variety of organizational types. I appreciate the free and open exchange of ideas we enjoy from which you can pick and choose what works best for your individual context. For example, I have learned and adapted a great deal from my colleagues at PUIs and MSIs that is helpful in my RD work at Nebraska, which is a comprehensive research, land-grant institution.

For the last few years, I have really come to value a collection informal peer mentoring groups formed by NORDP members with shared interests and goals. I get to connect with colleagues from all ranks and from a variety of institutional types. It is wonderful to know that I have many great colleagues across the country with whom I can spitball ideas and get frank, helpful feedback.

What are you most excited about as a board member?

I think that NORDP is at an inflection point. We now have 1,100 members, and we need to sustain the organization and position it for a dynamic future. The fact that our membership continued to grow during the pandemic is incredible. I am excited about the climate survey that the Committee on Inclusive Excellence is launching to help us determine what we can do better and inform strategies to make sure NORDP is a place welcoming to all. I am excited to see how we deliver on our current strategic plan as it comes to an end next year and think about how we will reflect and plan for the next stage by continuing to innovate and remain relevant to the RD community.

RD has come a long way since NORDP began. We are moving away from mostly experimentation and anecdotal evidence about what works to having colleagues laying RD down as a field through rigorous study. I hope we learn how to work smarter not harder in the RD space as a result of our colleagues’ research results. 

I am also very excited about the LEAD Peer Mentoring Group that Jan Abramson, Karen Fletcher, Katie Shoaf, and Mady Hymowitz are facilitating. We are seeing many new faces in NORDP and the profession—and this is captured well in the group’s participants. I view that as a sign of NORDP transitioning with new players coming to the table, and I hope that they will emerge as the next generation of contributors and leaders—both within NORDP and to RD.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee