Mentor/Mentee Spotlight: The NORDP Mentoring Program in Five Questions featuring Karen Eck


Name: Karen Eck
Institution: Old Dominion University
Are you a Mentor? Mentee? Both? Mentor x 2
1. What influenced you to become a mentor or mentee?
I’ve been lucky to have some great mentors in my career but I also know what it’s like to feel a bit isolated in my work and looking for advice, support, and someone with whom to share ideas. NORDP’s Mentorship Program has been a great opportunity to connect with colleagues and provide an outlet for exchange to our mutual benefit.

2. What surprised you about being a mentor or mentee?
How easy it is to reach out and develop rapport with people you either don’t know at all or have met briefly at a NORDP conference. RD professionals have so much in common and this becomes apparent once you start talking! Common ground for us is easy to find and that’s the basis for any good conversation – or relationship.

3. How has participating in the NORDP mentoring program impacted your day-to-day work?
The insight I get about the reality of RD at other institutions helps me to think more strategically about my own. I look forward to the time I spend with my mentees. I learn so much from them; it’s a real exchange and I get as much as I give.

4. What is one way being in the mentoring program has helped increase or broaden your understanding of research development?
RD professionals play many different roles. It’s interesting to learn about other jobs, which may mirror your job responsibilities, but due to institutional size, history, geography, policy, politics, etc. require a different approach or different strategies.

5. What other thoughts would you like to share about the program?
We have not set goals for the relationship yet but we have a really good give-and-take. We compare our institutions and share stories. It doesn’t feel like a mentor-mentee relationship but more two colleagues getting together to mull things over. Our experiences are different but our level of expertise feels similar although in different areas.

The NORDP Mentoring Program
The NORDP Mentoring Program offers a formalized pairing process to match a mentor and a mentee with similar professional interests and different levels of experience in order to frame a relationship that offers mutual guidance and support. Once pairs are matched, the mentoring process is an informal one based on the needs of each individual pair.

Posted on behalf of the Mentoring Committee

Mentee Spotlight: The NORDP Mentoring Program in Five Questions featuring Christina Papke

Name: Christina Papke
Institution: Texas A&M University
Are you a Mentor? Mentee? Both? Mentee


1. What influenced you to become a mentor or mentee?
I joined the program as a mentee because I wanted to receive feedback and advice from a research development professional outside of my institution. I felt this could be a great way of generating ideas and gaining different perspectives on how to best assist faculty with their grants. I was also interested in broadening my understanding of research development and how it is structured to meet the needs of faculty at other institutions.

2. What surprised you about being a mentor or mentee?
As a mentee, I was surprised – and pleased – to discover that there is a lot of flexibility in the program. Rather than being very formal and structured, it is up to each mentor-mentee pair to set agendas and decide what works best for them.

3. How has participating in the NORDP mentoring program impacted your day-to-day work?
Through interacting with my mentor, I have gained a number of ideas that I have been able to incorporate into programs, events, and meetings with faculty members. I also look forward to sharing my ideas and gaining feedback on how to refine and improve them.

4. What is one way being in the mentoring program has helped increase or broaden your understanding of research development?
I feel that I have gained a better appreciation for the services offered and structure of research development offices at other institutions. It has been fun to compare notes and see how our offices are both similar and different, and to use those notes to think about things that might be useful to suggest at my institution.

5. What other thoughts would you like to share about the program?
The NORDP Mentoring Program has been excellent! Hearing a perspective from someone outside my institution has allowed me to learn more broadly about research development. During our hour-long meeting each month, I enjoy asking questions, hearing about resources my mentor has found helpful, and exchanging ideas. I see the Mentoring Program as a great starting point for learning how to develop a professional network that includes multiple mentors with expertise in different areas, and also mentees as I grow in my experience.

Mentoring comes in all shapes and sizes

Have you ever been influenced by someone and chances are that person never even knew their impact on you?

During the 2013 Annual NORDP meeting in Austin, TX I was invited to join a dinner group hosted by Ioannis Konstantinidis.  It turned out that the dinner group was full, but he told me to come anyway.  We walked a short distance to a restaurant and when we sat down at our table Ioannis told us about the rich history of the restaurant, Threadgills.  I love history, music, and stories so I was captivated: a country music lover, Kenneth Threadgill, opened a filling station in Austin, TX in the 1930s and was granted a beer license, making him the first person in the county with alcohol.  His filling station/tavern became a popular place for musicians who played in the area to grab a drink after their shows.  Threadgill loved people and found that music “smoothed out…conflicts that usually occurred when longhairs crossed paths with rednecks.” In the 1960s his establishment welcomed “folkies, hippies, and beatniks” to sing on Wednesday nights.  Janis Joplin is said to have developed her “brassy” style at Threadgills. (For more information on Threadgills, visit

Ioannis continued to host the dinner group as if we were all old friends and we shared stories and conflicts from our own universities. He gave the entire dinner group his business card and later via the NORDP website, asked me to join his professional NORDP network. Ioannis reached out to this professional network occasionally afterwards, which strengthened my commitment to participate in NORDP and give back. Research Development professionals may not be musicians, but it seems Threadgills is still a place where people can cross paths and share stories.

Because of Ioannis’ dinner invitation, I then attended one of the NORDP committee meetings during the meeting the next day, I later volunteered on a committee, I volunteer during our Annual meetings, I became a mentor, and now volunteer on various committees as well as serve on NORDP’s Board of Directors…with Ioannis. I emailed Ioannis recently to let him know how his kind gesture of allowing me to join his dinner group impacted how I view my NORDP membership and my growth in Research Development, he said he had no idea.

We all can have an impact on one another. Mentors can be formal or informal and may have influence on people they may never consider mentees.  I encourage you to reach out to your NORDP colleagues, whether through a dinner invitation at the next Annual Meeting or by becoming a mentor through the NORDP mentor program. For more information, visit

Karen Fletcher
NORDP Board Member
Mentor Committee Co-chair

Who said July and August were slow months? An update from NORDP President Gretchen Kiser

by Gretchen Kiser

I had wanted to dedicate some substantive time to writing my first post to you all, my valued colleagues in research development, to say something prophetic and inspiring for my first blog post.  Alas, I must tell you, at the risk of revealing too much, that my “The first month or so” blog post has now become “Who said July and August were slow months?” blog post.  This is the life of a research development professional.

I hope you will forgive this delay, especially as I tell you that your Board has not been at all idle. Here’s some of the things we’ve been working on over July and part of August:

  • On-boarding Keith Osterhage, our new Executive Director, who is an enthusiastic advocate for our goals, and has already been diving right in to help with several important tasks!
  • Working with our event planners, Designing Events, and our Executive Director to vet and select our conference venue in the DC area for 2018. We’re close to making a decision.
  • Goal-setting and planning. Board member Terri Soelberg and her university Boise State University generously hosted our Board leadership meeting at the end of August. In preparing for this meeting, I had the privilege of speaking individually with each Board member and will just say that NORDP is well-served by a diverse set of insightful and dedicated professionals.  As a means of understanding the strengths of ourselves as a Board and how to best work with each other, we utilized the StrengthsFinder tool to assess our individual professional strengths.  Not surprisingly, collectively we have a lot of strength in the tool categories of Learner, Strategic, Relator, and Achiever.

We tackled quite a few topics in our 2 days in Boise and I look forward to working together to execute our ambitious strategies to: realize our academic RD research arm (aka NORD), enhance and expand our professional development offerings, including into leadership development (LDRD), drive new sources of revenue, further engage critical partners outside of NORDP, thus expanding our sphere of influence and bringing new and valuable resources to our membership, work to implement more effective communication methods, develop a framework for regional and other affinity groups within NORDP, and define ways to help increase diversity in research development.  Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll focus a set of communications on a few of the topics that we discussed at the leadership retreat and hope to then give you all a good understanding of the direction that we’d like to take NORDP this year.

Let me start with some of the changes that we’re planning for the Effective Practices and Professional Development (EPPD) Committee.  Three very important programs have been nurtured under the EPPD umbrella: Online Professional Development, Mentoring and Pre-Conference Workshops.  As we pivot to further expand our professional development resources, we are going to pull ‘professional development’ into its own committee.  The new Program Development Committee will be focused on online as well as other professional development resources, and now including Leadership Development in Research Development (LDRD) content as well. Kari Whittenberger-Keith and Ioannis Konstantinidis will be the Board co-chairs of this committee.  The newly stand-alone Mentoring Committee will continue the fantastic work they have been doing now with Karen Fletcher serving as the Board representative for that committee.  Finally, the Pre-Conference Workshop group (still led by Kari Whittenberger-Keith) will slide over to sit under the Conference Committee, headed this year by Michael Spires.

I’m so excited about working together to meet the challenges and potentials for NORDP over the next year –  setting-up NORDP for organizational success and providing our membership with valuable resources for career development and doing their jobs more effectively.

NORDP’s Rising Stars

Introducing the 2016 Rising Star Awardees

In 2016 the Board of Directors established the Rising Star Award to recognize up to three members that have made outstanding contributions to our organization and members. We are honored to share with you the 2016 Rising Star Award recipients.

2016-rising_star-gardnerJennifer Lyon Gardner, University of Texas at Austin

Jennifer Lyon Gardner is a true rising star of research development, dedicated to our emerging profession both at her own institution and to NORDP. Her work on NORDP’s annual conference has inspired us all: she is thoughtful, proactive, pragmatic, and strategic. She truly represents the future of NORDP.

2016-rising_star-mcdermott-murphyCaitlin McDermott-Murphy, Harvard University

Through her important and impactful RD work Caitlin McDermott-Murphy has become an integral part of her team at Harvard University, a valued member of our regional group, NORDP Northeast, and a strong proponent of and ambassador for NORDP National.

2016-rising_star-whittenberger-keithKari Whittenberger-Keith, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Kari Whittenberger-Keith has been a capable and reliable volunteer that strongly believes in the mission and vision of NORDP and has proved repeatedly her willingness to serve the membership in new and innovative ways. Her commitment to our members is laudable and demonstrated by the excellence of effective practices in research development programming.

Eligibility for this award includes at least three years of experience in the profession, two years of NORDP membership, and significant volunteer contributions to NORDP. Recipients receive a custom-engraved plaque and waived registration fee for a future conference. Nominations must be submitted to the Conference Scholarships & Service Awards Committee by the last day of February each year or by email to All nomination materials remain in consideration for a period of up to three years from the date of submission and supplemental materials may be submitted each year. (Current and past members of the Board of Directors are ineligible for this award.)

Applications now being accepted for the NORDP Mentor Program

Are you looking for an opportunity for professional development? Do you have wisdom to share with new research development professionals? Consider becoming a NORDP mentor.

The Mentor Program is a great opportunity for NORDP members to connect with colleagues over their specific professional interests, share their professional experiences and stories, and develop lasting individual relationships with fellow members within our broad national network.

We particularly encourage anyone who has had a mentor in the past to apply to be a mentor to our newer members, or to participate both as mentors and mentees. New this year is also the opportunity to join small Community of Practice groups that bring together people with a similar set of specific discussion interests. Mentoring pairs and CoP groups will be matched using the same on-line application.

The deadline for applications will close on April 4, so don’t delay! Find all the details on the Mentor Program web page.