2022 Volunteer of the Year Award: Katie Shoaf

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

2022 Volunteer of the Year, Katie Shoaf

Who: Katie Shoaf, Director of Grants Resources & Services

Where: Office of Research, Appalachian State University

Number of years in research development: 7

Length of NORDP membership: 5 years


What has your experience being a NORDP volunteer looked like so far?

When I first joined NORDP in 2017 my boss, Karen Fletcher, was really involved in the organization and really encouraged me to also get involved. The first conference I attended was the 2017 NORDP Conference in Washington D.C., and at that conference I went to all the committee meetings to check them out and see what committee work might interest me. 

After shopping around, I ended up joining two committees right away: the Professional Development Committee and the Mentoring Committee. Each committee functions very differently, so they provided unique ways for me to provide support to the organization, and within both committees I was able to jump right in and start helping with things. For example, within the Mentoring Committee, I joined the MESHH subgroup and we built a lot of the tools that NORDP mentoring pairs use today, which was a really fun experience.

One of the next big initiatives I became involved with as NORDP volunteer was the RD101 course offered to new research development professionals. I had known Kari Whittenberger-Keith from the Professional Development Committee and knew that she was pulling together a group of volunteers to begin to build a curriculum of sorts for folks who had recently matriculated into the field. The RD101 course had been piloted at a previous NORDP conference, but there were a lot of changes that needed to be made, and there was demand to offer the course virtually. Because Kari knew my reputation as a hard worker and that I would follow through with things, she generously gave me the opportunity to be involved in updating the RD101 course and offering it virtually in 2020. And I feel like that has happened to me a lot within NORDP. I would not be where I am in the organization today without people saying, “Hey, I’ve been really impressed with you and your work, and I think you have a lot of potential. I think you can do this thing, do you want to do it?” Being able to say yes to those opportunities and have the support for that from my fellow NORDP volunteers has been so important.

My most recent NORDP volunteer role has been serving as the National Conference Co-Chair in 2021 and 2022. I had actually run for the NORDP Board before I was asked to be conference co-chair. And while my run for the Board was unsuccessful, I think it put me on people’s radar, and it was a great learning experience for me and opened up my volunteer time to get involved in NORDP in other ways. Serving as a conference co-chair has been a very time-intensive experience, one I undertook while also working full-time and working toward my PhD, so it has been so important for me to be able to set boundaries around my volunteering in order to take care of my own health. And I think that one of the best things about volunteering within NORDP – there is space for you to step back when needed to take care of yourself, and there’s room for you to jump back in whenever you feel you’re ready.


What was the first volunteer position you held within NORDP, and what led you to say yes to subsequent opportunities to volunteer within the organization?

As I mentioned previously, I first became involved as a NORDP volunteer through the Mentoring and Professional Development committees. In addition to working on the MESHH subgroup of the Mentoring Committee, I quickly got involved in the webinar planning and production working group within the PD committee, learning how to host webinars on Zoom (this was years before we were all forced into a virtual work environment, so it turns out my experience learning how to host webinars for the PD committee came in handy in 2020)! I really enjoyed the different sets of responsibilities and tasks that came with volunteering on these two different committees.

As for what led me to say yes to subsequent opportunities within NORDP, part of it is my personality. I’ve always been the kind of person who says “yes” to things, and as a young professional I’ve viewed volunteering as a way to both prove myself and get better at my job and learn new things. I also genuinely wanted to say yes because of the incredible people that I was working with – through my committee service I’ve gotten to know so many people from very eclectic and diverse backgrounds and built so many meaningful relationships, so signing up to spend more time working alongside my fellow volunteers was an easy call. I do think one thing I have learned with experience is when to say “yes” to a new opportunity and when I need to hold off on taking on something new so I can have balance, which I think is an important lesson to learn (and one that most people learn the hard way by perhaps saying “yes” to too many things).


As you’ve gotten more involved in NORDP and taken on multiple volunteer roles, which experiences stand out to you?

I think volunteering with NORDP has been a great way to build confidence, not only in myself, but in my ability to do my job. It has been very reinforcing to know that I do know things about the field of RD. I’ve learned a lot about this organization and have seen the value that it adds to people’s lives and careers. And so I think that the experiences that stand out to me are the ones where I’ve seen my fellow volunteers grow and lift each other up. There are so many members I have worked with who are so quick to say kind things and build each other up. More than once people have come up to me and commended me on presentations I’ve given or committee tasks I’ve taken on, and that’s not an experience that’s unique to me, it speaks to the broader volunteer culture within NORDP where volunteers are so quick to show gratitude, compassion, kindness, and genuine care for each other.


What do you see as the biggest rewards, and challenges, of being a NORDP volunteer?

I think the biggest rewards of being a NORDP volunteer are the professional growth opportunities that come with stepping up and volunteering. You can be a NORDP member and attend webinars and conferences and learn a lot, but I’d say volunteering adds an additional level of professional growth and more opportunities to step into leadership positions. The other huge reward is the relationships you build with other volunteers. The NORDP community is made up of so many genuinely wonderful humans and I’ve made so many lasting and meaningful friendships. And I don’t think I would have gotten that without getting involved in the organization. You don’t just get that from attending a webinar, or attending a conference once a year, you get that reward from engaging meaningfully with other people around a shared goal of supporting an organization that we all care about. 

Among the biggest challenges are finding balance and preventing burnout. It’s hard! You want to say yes to all the things when you love something, and sometimes you’ll end up saying yes to too many things. I wish there was infinite time and energy and the ability to say yes to everything, but there’s not. And I think we in NORDP are working to shift the culture of volunteering to make it more acceptable for people to have boundaries, which is so important. We ask a lot of our volunteers and we need to make sure that we’re building a culture that supports and shows gratitude to them, and welcomes in new volunteers so that we can spread the work around and ensure that nobody feels overwhelmed. There are so many reasons people may already be tapped out and burnt out right now that it can be hard  to ask someone to give another hour of their month away to volunteer, so volunteer recruitment is an ongoing challenge. But at the same time, the rewards of being a NORDP volunteer make those challenges worth it. And the upside is that these challenges are to some extent self-correcting. If we can show folks the rewards of being a volunteer, more people will seek out those volunteer opportunities and we’ll be able to distribute the work across a wide volunteer base, lessening the time burden on everyone (or at least that’s how I like to think about it)!


Are there particular volunteer opportunities (within or outside of NORDP) you’re looking forward to pursuing next?

I think at some point in the future, maybe in the next couple of years, I will run for the NORDP Board (probably once I’m closer to being finished with my PhD)! I also do a lot of local volunteering in my community that I really enjoy.


What advice do you have for NORDP members who aspire to be highly involved volunteers?

Go for it! Find things that are meaningful to you so that you don’t feel like volunteering is a chore – you want it to be something you look forward to. For me, the people within NORDP have provided that meaning, and that has made it very easy to enjoy the things that I’ve done. I also think that it’s good to have boundaries – you don’t need to volunteer for every single thing, just show up and volunteer for the thing that really compels you. And once you do get involved, take an active role in building a positive volunteer culture. Lift others up with you and give them a chance to succeed!

2022 Rising Star Award: Kim Patten

Kim Patten, Rising Star Awardee

Who: Kimberly Patten, Assistant Vice President for Research Development; NORDP Board of Directors, Designated MSI Seat

Where: University of Arizona

Number of years in research development: 17 years total: 8 years in academic research; 4 years in science research management; 5 years in nonprofit research management

Length of NORDP membership: 8 years


What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer?

As a NORDP volunteer the thing I am most proud of is spending time with the Strategic Alliances Committee and working with them to formalize our relationships with sister organizations. From a professional perspective I think the thing I have done and willingly shared in service to both my institution and the profession is trying to help think through career progression in research development and developing these lines of progression. The structure I have developed at the University of Arizona is six different levels within research development, plus an additional five levels of management lines. There are eleven different career progression steps that you could be involved in research development. I’ll admit that implementing these lines is more difficult than creating them, but just having them is a start.


How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

How has it not? The best thing about NORDP is the community and sharing, willingness of individuals to share best practices. I’m reluctant to say that I have come up with anything originally. Instead, it’s a culmination of best practices, digging in deep and talking to people. Then taking the pieces that would fit at my institution. People are so willing to give, share and provide support within this community. That willingness to share has enabled me to think about implementing infrastructure within my institution and how we fit into the larger research development picture.


How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?

I started at the University of Arizona in 2014. The grant funding I had was coming to a close and a friend sent me this job opportunity.

I came into the position under a former NORDP board member, Anne McGuigan, who provided phenomenal mentorship and that connection to NORDP. I became a member of NORDP almost from day one of joining the University of Arizona and attended my first conference in 2015, where like many before me have said, I found my people.


What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

I serve in the mentoring program as both a mentor and a mentee.  I have been paired frequently with people at less resourced institutions and it’s just incredible to me what they can accomplish as a one-person shop. I have also grown an informal mentor network through committee connections. And then there’s the listserv postings; I’ve reached out on more than one occasion based on someone’s job posting or guidance on the listserv. People at NORDP are so kind and willing to help. As a hiring manager, bringing on new talent is one area that I have relied on help through the NORDP network. For example, engaging with postdocs and through the national postdoc association group or looking at faculty spousal hires. These are a couple of the ideas that have come up through NORDP.


Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined

NORDP has certainly grown. It is constantly improving processes and remaining flexible. NORDP is still in a discovery mode. It is still an incredibly welcoming organization and the work done by committees like the Committee on Inclusive Excellence and Member Services is making it an even more welcoming organization. We are at a tipping point for thinking through what services we can provide as an organization for our growing membership. Really there is nowhere to go but up. The bigger and broader the network, the better informed we all are and the more ideas to harness.


What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?

My first recommendation is to sign up for mentorship. One of the most important things that a research development professional and NORDP member can do is expand your network – find someone outside your institution you can throw ideas around with, learn from and grow with. The next one is to think about your strengths and whether you want to continue building and growing them or try something new. It’s not a bad thing to try something new, especially if you’re brand-new to RD. We all fall back on our comfort zone. New experiences can help you network and build collaborations (and this is coming from someone that finds networking incredibly uncomfortable). Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself because NORDP is such a welcoming and open community that you will find a way to contribute regardless of what you decide to do.

I am incredibly humbled at the nomination and to actually receive the award I find it hard to put into words how I feel. I sincerely appreciate this organization and what it has done for me, professionally and personally. I hope I have given back even a percentage of what I have received. To be in the cohort that was selected – these are some of the people that I also look up to, is humbling.

2022 Rising Star Award: Joshua Roney

The NORDP Rising Star Award recognizes individuals for their outstanding, early volunteer contributions to NORDP and strong potential for future contributions to the organization and the profession or the field. 

Joshua Roney, Rising Star Awardee

Who: Joshua Roney, PhD, Associate Director, Research Development, Office of Research

Where: University of Central Florida

Number of years in research development: 11 ½ years

Length of NORDP membership: 9 years


What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer?

I started with the Professional Development (PD) Committee who were looking to transition to a new platform for webinars and other online events. We helped the transition to Zoom to be successful and developed procedures for running web-based events that continue to be utilized and updated as needed. Another initiative I am proud of is the Tools and Tips (“TNT”) talks launched last year – this was a collaborative effort to capture a more informal way to briefly share helpful resources with NORDP members. This has been well received and is now a regular offering through the year.


How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

It has made me more confident as an RD professional and has given me experience in specific areas like planning and delivering engaging workshops. Serving has also allowed me to gain insights and training on some areas that have evolved and grown in our profession (Competitive Intelligence, for example). Being mindful of changing opportunities for RD support and being proactive at my institution with regard to them has helped me to advance in my career and be successful.


How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?

My manager, Jo Smith, encouraged me to join and participate in NORDP. She was passionate about research development and helped to continually strengthen the Research Development office at UCF. She passed that along to me – the philosophy that NORDP is the authority in RD information and a valuable community to be involved in. She wanted me to be an actively involved NORDP member, and I trusted her advice. It has been a rewarding experience.


What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

I have friends that I have now worked with for years through serving on the PD Committee and connecting and presenting at conferences. I have also been able to collaborate with some of them outside of NORDP through scholarship and grant activities. Connecting with people in PD Committee has been great for me because people join for different reasons. I initially joined PD Committee because I wanted to get promoted from GRA to a full-time employee, which meant for me the start of my career. Others may have joined because they wanted to advance their skillset, expand their office, or strengthen the depth and range of resources available. Because we’re coming from different places, we’re bringing different energy and experience to our group. Working in RD, there may be only a small number of RD professionals at that institution, and I think that may be part of why NORDP is so collaborative. I’ve found that members are extremely willing to share information, resources, advice, and assistance. That spirit is baked into NORDP.


Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined

When I first started in NORDP, everything felt brand new. I’m so glad that the sense of finding new opportunities ahead has been a continual experience while being an involved member. I’ve been happy to see trends in RD workshops and discussions continue to evolve over time, and the growth of the organization has continued to bring more voices into the mix. I’ve also seen exciting developments in RD growing in the production of scholarly works, and it’s nice to see new vision elements periodically noted by NORDP leadership.


What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?

Don’t feel like you have to wait for a good fit opportunity to appear before getting involved. If you have ideas for things, you will likely find people or initiatives that can align with that good idea. Don’t wait to give things a try. If you do that with the intention of connecting with the people you will be working with, then I think you won’t be disappointed.

I’m so grateful to NORDP and the experience of being involved. Where I am in my institution and professionally is intertwined with my positive experience as a member of this organization. My original plan was to get my graduate degree then become a teacher, but I changed plans because I found RD to be a better fit for me. I still have opportunities to teach through things like workshops and mentoring, and there are always new things up ahead to learn and adapt for my institution.

2022 Rising Star Award: Kelsey Hassevoort

The NORDP Rising Star Award recognizes individuals for their outstanding, early volunteer contributions to NORDP and strong potential for future contributions to the organization and the profession or the field. 

Kelsey Hassevoort, Rising Star Awardee

Who: Kelsey Hassevoort, Research Development Manager

Where: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Number of years in research development: 4

Length of NORDP membership: 3 years


What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer?

I have been involved with both the Professional Development (PD) Committee and Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CIE) during my time with NORDP. I am particularly excited about the success of the TnT (Tools & Tips) talks that have grown out of PD. These are monthly informal events that bring members together without having the high bar of a formal presentation. TnT talks have become a space for people to give advice and share strategies and tools that they use in their day-to-day work, and I think they’ve come to serve as a virtual water cooler of sorts for NORDP members.  It has been gratifying to see the TnT concept evolve from a PD committee idea to actual events for NORDP members. I hosted one this spring and it felt like I was talking to forty of my closest friends!  NORDP members can join these sessions live or watch recordings in the LMS.


How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

My work with NORDP has not only broadened my professional network, but it has also provided me with a deeper understanding of what a career in RD can look like. I have been fortunate to be able to do a lot of job crafting throughout my (relatively short) career in RD, which has allowed me to create a perfect blend of responsibilities in my current role as a Research Development Manager focused on community engagement. I wasn’t quite sure if there was anyone else in NORDP thinking about the same kinds of issues, but that concern was quickly put to rest when I posted to the NORDP conference idea board about leading a conference session about research impact or community engagement and immediately heard from multiple NORDP colleagues interested in teaming up! I have learned so much from the other members of the NORDP community, from strategies and approaches that I have brought back to my home institution to ideas about the directions in which I’d like to guide my career in the future.


How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?

When I joined the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute at the University of Illinois, my fellow RD colleagues were all already NORDP members. My boss immediately encouraged me to join and I’m fortunate to work at an Institute that financially supports staff professional development, so joining NORDP was an easy call. The first (and so far, only) in-person NORDP event I’ve attended was the fall 2019 Great Lakes regional meeting at the University of Michigan, and the first person I remember meeting there was Jill Jividen, who was incredibly welcoming. I know many of my fellow NORDP members have said this, but after spending that meeting in a room full of brilliant RD professionals, hearing them share their philosophy about their work, I had that moment of realization that, “these are my kind of people.” RD folks are smart, organized, and love to think about big questions.  I went to the sessions and remember thinking that it was so cool that there are so many people whose job it is to think about these things.


What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

My first connections were primarily within the Great Lakes region with people I met at that first regional meeting. But my committee work over the past year or two has expanded that network significantly.  I have also participated in the mentoring program as a mentee for the last two years, and am embarking upon my first year as a NORDP mentor after serving as a Career Navigator last year. As I’ve become more involved in presenting at the NORDP conference, I’ve made connections with my co-presenters who are each doing incredible work at their institutions when it comes to research impact. These relationships clearly take many forms, but they have all furthered my understanding and made me more excited to expand my involvement in NORDP. The relationships I’ve built and the diverse perspectives my NORDP colleagues have generously shared have certainly given me a better perspective to bring back to my own RD work at the University of Illinois. 


Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined

I have been really pleased about how innovative NORDP members and leadership have been in the face of the pandemic that forced us to change how we gather at the regional and national level. Virtual retreats and conferences have offered new ways to engage with each other, and our conference committees have figured out how to make them energizing and fun! There is so much value in coming together and I’m glad that we have been able to continue to do so throughout the pandemic. It has also been heartening to see the increased focus and conversations on DEIB and accessibility issues, and I hope that each of us will continue to advance the progress that has been made so far within NORDP and will push for change at our home institutions.


What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?

I would recommend picking a committee or a program that sounds interesting and try it out by showing up for a committee meeting or event! When I was exploring where I could volunteer within NORDP, I looked at each of the committees and talked to other NORDP members to get a sense of how each committee functions. The NORDP committees I’ve served on so far have been full of welcoming members who are happy to help new members get their bearings and encourage others to step up and lead initiatives without putting too much pressure on them. That is one of the best things about NORDP as a volunteer organization – people are willing to let you serve at your own pace and find the thing that is exciting to you!

Stepping into a leadership position within the Communication Working Group has also been a true growth opportunity for me, and I would strongly encourage my fellow NORDP members to take on a leadership role within the organization where they can, whether it is as a mentor, a committee chair or working group lead, or the host of a virtual event! Serving in a leadership role can help you recognize talents you didn’t realize you had and find ways to build skills and stretch yourself in ways that you may not be able to at your home institution.

At its core, service to NORDP offers a chance to meet a lot of great people, further your own development, and help create value for an organization doing amazing work. So try it out!

2022 Innovation Award: Karen Walker

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

Karen Walker

Who: Karen Walker, Associate Director of Research Development

Where: Arizona State University

Number of years in research development: 12

Length of NORDP membership: 10 years


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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

2022 Mentoring Award: Jan Abramson

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

Jan Abramson

Who: Jan Abramson, Principal Consultant

Where: Penultimate Advantage

Number of years in research development: 17

Length of NORDP membership: 11 years


What has your mentoring journey within NORDP looked like?

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

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

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


What initially drew you to mentoring?

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


What does being a good mentor mean to you?

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

2022 Mentoring Award: Susan Carter

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

Susan Carter

Who: Susan Carter, Director of Research Development

Where: Santa Fe Institute

Number of years in research development: 20 plus

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


What has your mentoring journey within NORDP looked like?

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

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

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


What initially drew you to mentoring?

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


What does being a good mentor mean to you?

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

2022 Rising Star Award: Daniel Arriaga

The NORDP Rising Star Award recognizes individuals for their outstanding, early volunteer contributions to NORDP and strong potential for future contributions to the organization and the profession or the field. 

Daniel Arriaga

Who: Daniel Arriaga, Assistant Director for Research Engagement

Where: University of Texas at Austin

Number of years in research development: 6

Length of NORDP membership: 6


What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer?

I would say the re-envisioning of the Leadership Forum would be the initiative I am most proud of. The updated Leadership Forum came in response to a call in NORDP’s strategic plan. Our group worked on the effort for a year, evolving from the initial call for applications to meetings to topics, to the final product. We engaged many veteran and senior NORDP members throughout the process. I feel that we truly absorbed what they shared, and we were able to inject new ideas from fresh perspectives as well. It was truly a two-way street of ideas that came together.

We are hoping that it can become a central tenet of the professional development that NORDP offers, and have strived to make it relevant to help prepare current and future leaders in the field. We hope that it helps reinforce the importance that Research Development plays in our institutions as well. How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

My service has benefited my career in many ways. The most impactful area has been to allow me to explore diverse perspectives from across the U.S. and beyond. It has been interesting to learn how different RD colleagues approach various challenges and opportunities. I believe that diversity is something to be celebrated and applauded. At times academia can be a very siloed environment, so having access to the hugely diverse membership of NORDP has been incredibly valuable to me.


How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?

At the beginning of my RD career, I was encouraged to join by my then supervisor, Jaclyn Shaw. In the beginning, I was somewhat loosely affiliated, participating in professional development sessions and the 2017 Conference in Colorado, but not much beyond that. When I was looking to transition to UT Austin, part of what attracted me to the role was the fact that Jennifer Lyon Gardner, UT’s Deputy Vice President for Research, was very active in the organization. Almost immediately after I came on board, she encouraged me to join the Professional Development (PD) committee. I followed her advice and took advantage of my prior PD related work. Ultimately, the experience of riding shotgun with her propelled me to even more involvement, which has culminated in me joining the Conference Committee for 2023!


What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

There are many examples that come to mind, but my work with Kelsey Hassevoort and Nathan Meier for our last conference presentation have really helped to expand my vision of what a research impact arm can do. The strategic partnerships that I support on behalf of the UT research enterprise rely heavily on

the relationship building skills that NORDP helps to foster and support. Because of my relationships with these and other NORDP professionals, I feel more confident in growing out our research impact arm to facilitate community-based research & interaction, and more broadly engage with researchers here at UT. Additionally, if it was not for NORDP I would not have learned about ARIS (Advancing Research Impact in Society). I am participating in the current ARIS Organizational Research Impact Capacity (ORIC) cohort. My hope is that this will help me learn how to better connect our local community with researchers and explore ways to scale up our partnership building capacity so that our efforts are sustainable long term. The collegial environment of my work with the PD committee also connected me with Becca Latimer

who inspired me to join the conference committee. NORDP has a reinforcing positive culture where I admire the work of my peers which only encourages me to continue my volunteer work. Overall, the biggest reward from my NORDP engagement has been the support and structure which have helped me tremendously.


Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined

When I first joined it was a challenge to filter all of the content coming at me. It is less daunting now with tools like the LMS. NORDP truly embraced the virtual world we were forced into with the pandemic. The conference planners have put together amazing virtual conferences over the past two years. We are more put together, think more strategically, and are more willing to adapt and change. In the beginning I did not feel as connected or that I had as much of a say. I think we are now more welcoming to new ideas and fresh perspectives. I believe everyone should have a stake in the organization and I think that NORP has created an environment that welcomes new points of view.


What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?

I would say to take a bite out of every committee. Go to an information session, check out the

Professional Development activities, think about changes you would like to see, figure out what you are passionate about, and explore where you think you can make an impact. Challenge your own biases and perspectives. So much of our work is relationship based and engaging with NORDP will help you build capacity of your own networks to enhance the quality research happening at your institution. There is never a shortage of ways to get involved and you will find it rewarding if you take advantage of your engagement!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

Nominations for 2022 NORDP Awards due Dec. 1

NORDP offers a number of member-nominated awards to shine a spotlight on the outstanding accomplishments of individuals making exemplary contributions to the organization as well as the profession and/or field of research development.

Each year, NORDP members are invited to submit nominations for the Innovation Award, Leadership Award, Rising Star Award, and NORDP Fellow designation. These awards honor NORDP member’s commitment to excellence and impact and recognize the contributions member-leaders make to the research development community. 

Consider nominating someone you know who is moving the needle on:

  • strategic research advancement;
  • communication of research and research opportunities;
  • enhancing research collaboration, team science, or research leadership capacity; or
  • proposal development. 

The deadline for submitting nominations for NORDP Awards to be given in 2022 is 8:00 p.m. EDT/5:00 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Nominations must be submitted via InfoReady.

An informational webinar about the NORDP Awards process featuring an overview of award types and the nomination preparation and review processes will be held on Friday, October 29, at 2:00 p.m. EDT/11:00 a.m. PDT.

Registration is required and may be completed here. For more information about member recognitions, visit the NORDP Awards website.

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 2021 Holly Falk-Krzesinski Service Award – Etta Ward

Named for NORDP’s founding President, this award is voted on by the Board of Directors and given annually to a NORDP Member in recognition of outstanding service to the organization, to the research development profession or field, and to peers.

Who: Etta Ward, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development

Where: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Number of years in research development: 19 +

Length of NORDP membership: 6 years

What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer? 

There are several, but my work with the Mentoring Committee has been a highlight of my volunteer experience with NORDP. I enjoyed working with Jan Abramson and others to help develop and adapt resources for the Mentoring Program that would allow participants to be much more intentional about their experiences as a mentor or mentee. I was happy to partner with the Mentoring Expertise, Support and Helping Hands (MESHH) subcommittee to develop a custom kit adapted from proven research-based materials. I also loved working on this part of the program, understanding that it provides the resources needed to be successful.

Another pivotal aspect of my work with the Mentoring Committee was an effort with Jan, through funding from the NORDP Strategic Alliances Committee, to attend the National Research Mentoring Network Level One Entering Mentoring Facilitator training, which allowed us to train others. As a result, members of the Mentoring Committee built a relationship with NRMN and the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) that allowed us to modify modules for RD professionals to deliver competency-based mentor training, and now our content is an official part of their training curricula.  

I was also part of a team led by Kathryn Partlow from the Mentoring Committee to present at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute conference in 2019. This annual conference brings together a broad constituency of researchers, educators, community leaders and other professional partners who support the power of mentoring. 

At the UNM Mentoring Institute, strategic connections were made, and knowledge garnered to support NORDP’s endeavors around effective mentorship. As a result of participating in the Mentoring Institute, NORDP was published in the Journal of Coaching and Mentoring, and those in attendance discovered there was such a thing as mentoring software to support mentoring programs. By early 2021, the board had invested in mentoring software to support the membership.

Members of the NORDP Mentoring Committee will be presenting and participating in the 2021 UNM Mentoring Institute.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

NORDP has truly been catalytic in my career trajectory in RD. My first job in higher education was as a faculty development professional, which is what I considered my focus. I did not consider myself in RD at the time. Members of my staff actually got to know NORDP first. Alicia Gahimer, program and operations manager at IUPUI, went to a number of conferences and told me I had to go. I took her advice and ended up finding my people, as many of us say!  

I went to conferences and learned to be intentional in my involvement. I talked with my Vice Chancellor about NORDP being the premier RD professional organization and over time he wanted me to come up with a title and job description that represented what I was doing. I used NORDP’s salary survey to find a match for my role to accurately describe my current position as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development. 

How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?

Colleagues in my office had heard about NORDP through our regional contacts. I supported staff members who wanted to attend conferences where they could find a match/fit for the type of engagement they had with faculty. Many of us became involved with NORDP committees. It really got my attention when they were coming back with great new ideas and amplifying our existing efforts. Alicia encouraged me to join as well and when I did, I found people both similar and different than me which only added to what I was able to learn from them. 

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

When I joined the board, I began by asking a lot of questions so that I could learn more about the board and the individuals who were on it. Over time I developed strong relationships with these folks who are also leaders at their home universities. It is an honor and a privilege to work with people leading a national organization with international influence. I love that I can continue to build intentional relationships with people in strategic positions where I can create and drive the direction of the RD profession. 

Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined

When I first joined, I had the sense of a tension about access to certain groups, but I now understand that some of it was a perceived tension. I do acknowledge that there were members who found it hard to connect with others. NORDP’s leadership recognized this and has since been willing to go deep to understand the concerns of members, especially in the area of inclusion. Members expressed concerns in the membership survey and the board responded. They were willing to get to the point of discomfort and stay there if necessary to advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, something that will be a priority for the organization moving forward. NORDP’s leadership pays attention to areas where the organization needs to improve. 

What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?

When you join NORDP you will find your people, but don’t stop there. Get to know someone you don’t work with or know deeply. These relationships open up a world of possibility personally and professionally. You can reach out through the listserv, committee work, and conferences. Make it a point to connect with people you don’t know as well as those who work in different parts of RD.  

If you need help in getting involved don’t hesitate to contact a board member. We are always happy to help you. Finally, I would say get the most out of your membership. Don’t be a bystander and sit on the sidelines.   

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee