All In On Mentoring

A mentoring reflection from Marie Teemant, Associate, Research Development Services, Research, Innovation & Impact (RII), University of Arizona.

Marie Teemant

I have thought a lot about mentorship in the last few years. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the University of Arizona. My personal experience and my observations of others’ in this realm appears to be uneven, to say the least. I hear from various colleagues of their own levels of satisfaction or want in terms of the levels of support, engagement, openness, and feedback they receive from their mentors (often an advisor or committee member). Of course, this type of mentorship also appears to serve as an often-singular pipeline of student to academic.

My experience as a new research development professional has significantly opened my eyes to the amount of discovery that can be found within a well-considered and planned mentorship program. I am quite new to this field, having found this path as a graduate fellow in my department at the University of Arizona, assisting in the communications of development opportunities, before moving into my current full-time position supporting faculty in external Honors & Awards. The structure within my department has been open in terms of sharing experiences to support one another as we build campus networks and improve our methods of faculty support. If the learning curve is steep stepping into a research development role, I have always felt like those ahead of me have built in markers and hand holds to follow while working through this learning. 

It has been the NORDP mentorship program, however, that has helped me identify growth areas, connected me with extensive resources, assisted in the beginnings of my research development network, and has anchored me in my own professional development. Recently, my NORDP mentor, Samarpita Sengupta, invited and encouraged me to seriously consider being a mentor myself next year. On the face of it, my limited experience and green-ness made me immediately enumerate what I lack in terms of my ability to help someone else. However, as I discussed the idea with Samar and thought about how mentorship has nurtured me over the last year, I have come around to a new way of thinking about what someone as new as myself might offer. 

To that end, I would like to elaborate on three key ways I have benefited from my participation in the mentorship program: building skills with my mentor, centering professional development in my career life, and identifying gaps in my knowledge.

Building Skills with my Mentor

My art history professors never explained how hydrophobic cells interact with various medications, the terms of details of the gut microbiome, or novel methods for measuring antibodies. Like many other research development professionals, my academic career does not always align with the disciplines of faculty I support on nominations or proposals. On particularly challenging nominations, the organization may ask for a robust explanation of the science, which, at times, I found myself at a loss for how to best direct and support the faculty. While co-workers with such expertise were always willing to look over the technical jargon and support the faculty as well, I looked to my mentor to learn to read scientific literature more competently and improve my editing skills on this front.

Samar was more than willing to look over an anonymized, past nomination with me. She broke down the process of understanding enough to get past the area-specific language and ask questions that would improve the proposal. She introduced me to the structure and types of writings within medical sciences, for one, which could help me gain a quick grasp on some of the basics to make the topics less intimidating. Most importantly, she was a person I could turn to without judgement and with the background knowledge to help me see what I could not before. 

Since this early conversation, these skills have provided me with confidence to move forward advising on narratives, proposals, and other materials that may require deeper knowledge in areas outside my training background.

Centering Professional Development in my Career Life

Even with the mentorship program, it is easy for my personal growth to take a back seat to the myriad of deadlines, last-minute requests, and meetings that occur in my day-to-day. I will confess to not always being the most diligent mentee in making consistent times for robust professional development activities, but simply having monthly check-ins with my mentor keeps what I want in my professional life in the forefront (… okay, maybe middle front, some weeks). 

Months where I have more time to dedicate to specific activities and bring the results back to my mentor have often been the ones with the most growth attached to them. Afterall, a mentor cannot give to you what you have not prepared to receive. However, even during the months when I had a smaller capacity for my own professional development, the regular meetings have allowed me to check in with myself and not let a significant amount of time pass between revisiting my own goals for building my knowledge and career.

Identifying Knowledge Gaps

There’s a challenging time in the early stages of learning that I consider the “you don’t know what you don’t know” phase. Whether it’s terminology, processes, systems, or organizations, there is plenty to learn and sometimes the only real barrier is not knowing the questions to ask or resources to seek out.

In addition to having a built-in guide to the world of research development in my mentor, the structured program itself has provided a roadmap to think through where I am, where I’m headed, and where I see myself long term. The à la carte approach to these materials has been helpful in the early stages to familiarize myself with the overall field. I have made a more concerted effort as I approached and passed my first anniversary as a research development professional to take time with these workshops and reflect on where I have come from as well as where I would like to go. 

Going all in

I look forward to the upcoming year as part of the mentorship program. As I have considered the invitation to step into the role as a mentor, I reflect on the real basis and need for mentorship. While this can include deep skills and knowledge of the profession, some of the best mentorship I have received is simply having someone whose expertise, involvement, network, viewpoint, and pathway has been different from mine. We are also in a unique position as professionals where our numbers are consistently and robustly growing, creating a need for our peer mentorship in the process. 

So next year I look forward to expanding my participation in the mentorship program as both mentor and mentee. On the one hand, I hope to continue inscribing my path on my RD roadmap, while also helping someone else consider theirs.

The 2022-23 NORDP Mentoring Program is now open for applications! Current users of Wisdom Share have the ability to change their profile to make themselves available for being a mentor, mentee or both. For first time users, a registration step is required. We highly encourage everyone to sign up to be a mentor! Application period closes by May 16th.

NORDP Mentoring Reflection: Erica Severan-Webb and Erin Meyer

As the 2021-22 Mentoring year draws to a close, the mentoring committee caught up with another dyad pair. Erica Severan-Webb, who serves as the Director of Diversity Programs and Initiatives within the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center in New Orleans mentored Erin Meyer, who serves the University of Utah College of Nursing as a Research Associate. 

Bios:

Erica Severan-Webb is an experienced leader in both the education and non-profit sectors who has conceptualized, designed, and implemented inclusive programming and initiatives to achieve institutional transformation.  She co-authored and served as Co-PI on XULA STRIDES, a NSF ADVANCE grant designed to increase retention of African American STEM faculty at an HBCU.  Her passion for organizational diversity, equity, and accessibility is demonstrated through her work with colleagues, students, and community partners and her continuous engagement and empowerment of individuals and organizations in transformative change models.   

Erin Meyer

Erin Meyer earned a PhD in pharmacology from Georgetown University. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She completed a six year postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience and genetics at the University of Utah and she was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Utah. She is currently a Research Administrator at the University of Utah, College of Nursing. Erin is also a yoga therapist and she is interested in DEIA and disability studies. 

What influenced you to apply to be a mentor and a mentee for the 2020-21 NORDP Mentoring Program?

Erica: I have had incredible mentors who have encouraged my development and challenged my thinking and leadership practice.  My mentoring relationships have contributed to my career progression and have made me a better RD professional and leader.  I was excited to serve as a mentor to be able to provide that opportunity for a colleague.  

Erin: I have had many great mentors in the past. When I started this program, it had been a long time since I worked with a mentor. I was at a place in my career where I wanted a mentor and I was at a loss about where to find one. I felt stuck without options to advance my career or to change career paths, and I wanted some advice. I am glad NORDP has a program.

What was your favorite part about your relationship? 

Erica: I am always so passionate about learning about individuals and organizations through mentoring relationships.  Erin was such an amazing colleague to discuss how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) principles and RD intersect, as well as how institutions and professionals can leverage both their expertise and skillsets as RD professionals to advocate for a more inclusive culture within their institution as well as more broadly throughout academia.   

Erin: I specifically requested a mentor from a diverse community. I am from a diverse community, and I have never had a mentor who understood DEI challenges in RD, and in the broader context, DEI challenges in academia. I learned so much from my mentor in these areas. I am now empowered to make a difference in DEI, no matter where I am working.

How has participation in the Mentoring Program helped broaden your horizons about Research Development in general and/or affected your daily work in particular? 

Erica: Erin and I had great conversations and discussions about how DEI and RD intersect.  I always look forward to our chats and treat our discussions as a priority where I disconnect and am fully engaged to provide substantive feedback and strategies that have been beneficial to me in my own development.

Erin: I always look forward to my calls with Erica. I learned from Erica the differences in RD career trajectories and career limitations among large public academic institutions, smaller private academic institutions, and companies in the private sector. In addition, Erica took the time to reach out to someone who knows people at my current institution and through this contact, I have expanded my network. I now have some plans of how to move my career forward. I do not want my relationship with Erica to end.

What surprised you about being a mentor or a mentee?  

Erica: While not surprised, I am always humbled by the incredible talent and expertise that exists within the NORDP community.  So many colleagues sustain institutional initiatives and programming that are innovative while also maintaining service commitments within their institutions and other national organizations.  Erin is no exception as she has been a DEI champion on her campus – this is truly inspiring to my own work and practice.  

Erin: I was not surprised that I learned a lot about RD and DEI. I knew that I was lacking in my knowledge in how these areas intersect. I was surprised to learn that feeling stuck in my career has a lot to do with where I work—the type of institution. I learned from Erica how to navigate this institution.

Any words of wisdom or encouragement for those wanting to apply next year? Any other thoughts you would like to share?  

Erica: Participation in the program always serves to motivate me to continue to look for opportunities to cultivate meaningful mentoring relationships where I can serve as a resource to mentees and foster support as they navigate through specific projects or career transitions points. 

Erin: I went for a long time without a mentor. I will never do that again. I realize how important it is to have a mentor, so I plan to always have at least one. I am also willing to be a mentor.

Erica: Please sign up to be a mentor for the NORDP mentoring program! It is phenomenal in its ability to foster mentoring relationships that facilitate incredible learning opportunities for both mentees and mentors.     

The 2022-23 NORDP Mentoring Program is now open for applications! Current users of Wisdom Share have the ability to change their profile to make themselves available for being a mentor, mentee or both. For first time users, a registration step is required. We highly encourage everyone to sign up to be a mentor! Application period closes by May 16th.

Compiled by Samarpita Sengupta, Mentoring Committee

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

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?

Spotlight on Certified Facilitators

Mentoring is a skill that becomes part of us as we grow in our careers. For some, it comes easily, but for everyone, it is a skill that can be taught, nurtured and blossomed with time and space. To help with this, the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) and the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) launched the Mentor training workshops. CIMER not only trains mentors, but also trains and certifies facilitators who can then facilitate the mentor training workshops and help shepherd a chain reaction to promote good mentoring practices far and wide. 

“The CIMER certification is another way to build capacity across the research enterprise. This training opportunity builds relationships and understanding of RD with our research leaders. Our faculty face unique challenges and mentoring offers solutions for a variety of situations. I also found the evidence base and evaluation model of CIMER to be both educational and innovative. We integrated some of the design concepts into our GRO Academy, a research leadership development program,” says Jeff Agnoli, from the Ohio State University. 

The CIMER-trained facilitators have to conduct a certain number of hours of training with a specific number of attendees to be identified by CIMER as a Certified Facilitator. Today, we shine a spotlight on some of these certified facilitators among our NORDP colleagues. Jeff is one of them!

Paula Carney, of Loyola University Chicago, who is one of the driving forces behind the Mentor training sessions offered by NORDP, has also connected NORDP to the development of faculty and trainees as researchers. She states that “NORDP is increasingly involved in national and international mentoring conversations. My involvement in these initiatives also lets me bring new ideas and opportunities back to NORDP, helping enrich our mentoring program activities.”

Etta Ward, of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, found her calling in mentoring. She credits becoming a Certified Facilitator with “what I have always called my purpose and calling to becoming an integral part of my professional identity and has opened a world of opportunities across sectors.”

CIMER has recently invited Paula, Etta, Jan Abramson, Kathryn Partlow and Tabitha Finch to support their mentor training sessions nationally. These training sessions are attended by researchers, trainees, faculty, research development professionals and administrators across universities. Tabitha feels the Certification gives her an “added level of confidence when I lead mentoring training, because I know my skills and experience have been vetted by the CIMER team.”

“When you become a Certified Facilitator with CIMER, you join a community that includes the best mentor trainers in the nation. It’s an honor to learn from them and have them be part of my network. I’m excited to continue my work as a Certified Facilitator and support infusing a culture of mentoring throughout the research enterprise,” says Kathy.

Please join us in recognizing and congratulating our fellow NORDP colleagues and the hard work they have put in to make mentoring a priority in their careers and across NORDP.

Written by Samarpita Sengupta

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.  

Introduction

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.

Summary

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!  

https://nordpmentoring.mywisdomshare.com/Portals/0/OpenContent/Files/01-ImageTitleLink/Cropped/MESHH_Network_pic-crop.jpg

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.

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.

January is National Mentoring Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Leverage the NRMN Network Webinar Series (Monthly Series) – Jan. 17 at 11am CST. Register here: https://unthsc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_z3ZWYl8TRSyyHPosIoIc9w

Mentoring Month Webinar: The Importance of Mentorship Throughout Your Professional Journey w/ J. Marcela Hernandez – Jan. 27 at 11am CST. Register here: https://unthsc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4laIf1V2Q8uFsm2N20F99g 

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

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

Happy New Year!

Representing NORDP at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute

Mentoring Committee Members Jan Abramson, Paula Carney, and Geoffrey Pollock represented NORDP at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute in late October. Addressing the conference theme Mentoring in an Interconnected World, the Mentor Training Team developed “Virtual Mentoring: You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The presentation, presented virtually (of course), provided a high-level overview of the NORDP 1:1 Mentoring Program.

To support virtual mentoring, we discussed the importance of 1) developing expertise in mentor training, 2) adapting the Center for Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research’s (CIMER) Entering Mentoring curriculum for Research Development Professionals, and 3) developing and piloting virtual mentor training workshops. Because the NORDP 1:1 Mentoring Program has always been virtual, there was a great amount of experience and best practices to share.

Using the Mentoring Relationship Roadmap, participants were led through the support of the 1-year mentoring program. We had the opportunity to share lessons learned and adaptations that have been made, as well as program successes. The idea could not be simpler: help less experienced colleagues navigate the professional landscape by sharing relevant knowledge and insights. NORDP Mentor Training Team members shared knowledge and insights to foster development of mentoring in broader professional settings.

The presentation was a collaboration of the Mentor Training Team, and an article based on the work will be published in The Chronicle of Mentoring & Coaching later this year. Special thanks to all who were involved!

Partlow, K., Widmer, D., Severan-Webb, E., Sengupta, S., Pollock, G., Goff-Albritton, R., Finch, T., Dickey, E., Boman, K., Abramson, J., Carney, P. Virtual Mentoring: You’ll Never Walk Alone. The Chronicle of Mentoring & Coaching. Vol 5 (December 2021, Special Issue 14) pp 574-580.

A Quick Chat about Peer Mentoring Groups (PMGs)

To all members, as we begin a new year of mentoring, the NORDP Mentoring Committee offers Peer Mentoring Groups (PMGs). The seven PMGs are formed based on the corresponding Research Development pillars and provide an ideal platform for NORDP members to network with and learn from each other. We invite you to join a PMG! PMG sign-up is currently open at Wisdom Share.

Recently Melissa Li, Program Manager, Joint Institute for Translational & Clinical Research, University of Michigan joined the Leadership & Management PMG as a co-lead. Melissa interviewed the other co-lead, Katie Shoaf, Associate Director, Grants Resources & Services, Appalachian State University, about her PMG experience.

Melissa: First of all, what is the scope of activities of the Leadership & Management PMG? 

Katie: We cover everything from managing up to growing an RD office, supporting career development, and navigating conflicts. Anything that the group wants to chat about is on the table. Naturally, we spent a lot of time last year debriefing about the impacts of COVID on our workplace interactions. 

Melissa: What prompted you to join the PMG? Could you share a couple of PMG highlights since you joined the group? 

Katie: I have been involved with PMGs since the beginning. I serve on the Mentoring committee and the MESHH (mentorship, expertise, support, helping hands) subgroup that developed some of the tools to support the PMGs as they got started. Mentoring is so important, and I love the atmosphere of a support group clustered around an area of passion for folks. The Leadership & Management PMG has been a great fit. I’m in a quasi-leadership role as an Associate Director, but am very interested in professional development around leadership, so it’s been great to learn from my peers in this group. I’ve developed some really amazing relationships with my PMG cohort. It’s a different vibe than other committee work and other mentoring relationships, and has allowed me to grow alongside people I greatly respect. 

Melissa: Your PMG experience sounds great. How has the experience impacted your professional work? 

Katie: As with most mentoring and NORDP-related things, I learn so much from my peers and it is all translatable into my daily work. I get ideas about how to work better with others and positively impact research culture on my campus. There are also a lot of aspirational things that we discuss in these groups that spark discussions in my own office about long-term goals for RD on our campus. 

Melissa: The PMGs are currently open for sign-up. Any words to those who are considering/debating to join? 

Katie: Do it! It has been so great to build relationships in these types of groups. We support each other, share ideas, discuss our fears and areas of growth. It is a great, low-stakes way to get involved, meet new people, and leverage your NORDP membership. 

Melissa: Thank you so much for sharing your PMG experience and encouraging notes, Katie.

An overview on PMGs is available here. PMG sign-up is currently open at Wisdom Share. See this blog for more information on signing up for PMGs this year.

Please join us for a PMG Orientation on October 21 at 2:30-3:30pm EST. The Zoom link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81529400705.