Fletcher’s Leadership Honored with 2022 Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski Service Award

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.

Karen Fletcher, Holly Falk-Krzesinski Service Awardee

Who: Karen Fletcher, Director of Grants Resources & Services

Where: Appalachian State University

Number of years in research development: 13

Length of NORDP membership: 11 years


You have served NORDP in numerous roles and capacities over the years. Could you share a bit about what that journey has been like?

The visual metaphor that comes to mind when I think about my journey with NORDP is that of a flashlight where the light starts out very concentrated but grows, and shines over a wider and wider area. When I started out in NORDP I was really cautious – I was new to research development and the field was just getting off the ground. As I got to know NORDP, I was asking myself: “Where do I see myself in this organization given the talents I feel I can bring? And what are the skills I’d like to develop?” I feel like I’m good at organization, so when I initially joined the Mentoring Committee, I started volunteering to do things like writing up meeting minutes; my involvement continued to grow as I was invited to take on additional tasks – and I said yes to all of those invitations because everything was so interesting to me and I wanted to learn how to do it all. I was eventually asked to be a co-chair of the Mentoring Committee, and then I had the opportunity to run for the Board. I thought, “Hey, I think my organization skills could be put to good use to support the Board and NORDP at large.” I may be starting to sound like a broken record at this point, but as the secretary position on the Board became open, I thought, “Oh, here’s another chance to use my organizational skills.” I thought the secretary position would be a safe role because I couldn’t become Board President if I held that role, but the joke was on me because I ended up leaving the secretary position (which I loved) early when I was invited to be vice president.

Within NORDP, there are so many opportunities to be involved. I just started trying everything because I wanted to know what it was about. I was willing to take things on where I felt like I had the talent and skills to put towards them. I’ve ended up doing a lot of things, which has been really exciting for me.


In your view, what makes an effective leader, and how has your philosophy of leadership informed your work within NORDP?

I think good leadership boils down to this question: “How do you empower the people who are around you?” When you empower people to make what they think is the right move, it makes them effective, and the job of a leader is to highlight that. A big part of my philosophy is servant leadership, which I think helps empower the teams I lead. Good leaders give advice and input, but they also know when to ask their team, “How do you think we should be solving this problem?” It’s about giving power back. My philosophy of leadership has changed throughout my professional journey, from wanting to do all the things to realizing – as I held various leadership positions – that one person can’t do it all and that collective ideas are much more effective. And as a leader, if you empower your team, it allows you to put your attention elsewhere when needed.


As NORDP president from 2019-2020, you played a key role in implementing a long-term vision for NORDP, informed by input from NORDP members. Why do you think this process was so important for the organization?

I think 2019-2020 was a turning point for NORDP as an organization. It felt like the organization had entered our “teenage years.” Membership had been growing and exceeded 1000 for the first time. As a Board, we knew it was important to start mapping out where NORDP goes next as an organization and that the time was right to create a more formal strategic plan. When I was vice president and Karen Eck was president, we, with the Board, initiated a member survey because we needed to know what the members wanted for NORDP, what they thought was working, and what needed improvement. We’re an organization of volunteers and we’ve grown because of the efforts of our volunteers. NORDP benefits from having members in a variety of positions across a variety of institutions and we wanted to hear from members about where they saw research development going as a field, making sure that we were serving them during the strategic planning process.

The next year when I was president, the Board mapped out the strategic plan, relying on all of the member feedback gathered through the member survey to create seven Key Result Areas (KRAs). It was a whirlwind two-year process, and I think it was an important learning experience for all of us on the Board. We had a lot of enlightening conversations about the field and where the Board and NORDP membership saw it going that have really stayed with me.


What do you see as the biggest rewards, and challenges, of serving in leadership roles within NORDP?

I’m going to start with the challenges, and one that immediately jumps out at me is imposter syndrome. I’ve certainly felt it as a NORDP member when I contemplated serving as a committee co-chair or running for the Board. I think imposter syndrome is alive and well, particularly when you start out in research development and you may feel like, “I don’t really know what’s going on” or “I don’t have anything to contribute.” But you do! We have amazing members with amazing talent, and we all deserve to be here. I think time is another challenge – so many NORDP members are doers, and there’s almost always so much that we want to be involved in but balancing that with the commitments of our everyday jobs and our other lives can certainly be a challenge. Communication – getting the right information to the right people at the right time – can also be a challenge. I remember working on the messaging when we had to cancel the 2020 conference due to Covid-19 and being confronted with the challenge of how, when, and with whom to communicate when so much was unknown.

But the rewards are so plentiful. The network that I’ve developed since I’ve been in NORDP and the enduring friendships that have come out of that have been some of the biggest rewards. Beyond that, I have had opportunities to share my talents in new ways and try things I didn’t know I wanted to try. Leading an organization of 1000 people is an opportunity NORDP gave me that I never saw coming. You get back what you give when you’re a NORDP volunteer. Everything I’ve done in NORDP has in some way informed what I do in my everyday job in positive ways and I’ve been able to move up in my career because of the information I’ve learned and the skills I’ve gained as a NORDP member and leader.


More recently, you have played a crucial role in revitalizing the New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) Committee. What has that process been like, and what do you see as the greatest opportunities for the field of research development moving forward?

I’m excited about this effort! Dave Stone, the original chair of NORD, really laid the framework for this committee, and it’s been exciting to take up the mantle. The NORD / InfoReady Grant program is now an annual competition and the previous grant awardees have been collecting data and generating reports. Our effort is focused on making sure we’re continuing to put those grant dollars to use to advance projects that will benefit RD as a field. The other really exciting project that NORD has been diligently working on is the Research Development Review: The NORDP Journal. I think this is one of the biggest and most exciting things for research development: to have a home for the information and research on research development as a discipline and how it impacts other disciplines. NORDP members are asking when The NORDP Journal will debut because they want to publish there going forward, and the fact that we will soon have a dedicated publishing space for RD is very exciting. I think this is an endeavor that is really going to make a difference for our field. Keep an eye out for NORD’s announcement of the inaugural Editorial Board soon!


What advice do you have for NORDP members who aspire to greater service within NORDP or the field at large?

I would tell members to find that talent or passion that you would like to do more of, and try it out within NORDP! It could be something that you’re passionate about but that you don’t get to do much in your everyday job. Or, if there’s something you’d like to learn how to do that you don’t feel you’re an expert in, NORDP can offer a safe space to learn new skills. Maybe you’d like to learn more about technology and hosting virtual meetings but you don’t get to do that much in your job. You can come to NORDP, join the Professional Development Committee and learn all about hosting webinars and have a ton of support while you learn. I love that within NORDP: we’re all here to help each other and learn together.

2022 Leadership Award: Kathy Partlow

As part of the April 27, 2022 NORDP Awards session, NORDP Fellow Jan Abramson presented the 2022 NORDP Leadership Award with heartfelt emotion to her peer, colleague and friend — Kathy Partlow. The NORDP Leadership Award “honors a member, a group of members or team, an RD unit, or an organization that demonstrates exceptional leadership and/or a deep commitment to volunteerism in ways that advance the profession or field of RD.”

Jan began her recognition of Kathy with a quote from Peter Strople, former director of Dell Computer Corporation — “Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people. The legacy of leadership begins at the first moment of impact.” Jan’s moment of impact with Kathy began when they worked together on the Mentoring Committee. Whether we know it or not, our NORDP experiences have been touched in some way by Kathy’s quiet, behind-the-scenes leadership. 

Jess Brassard from the Communications Working Group interviewed Kathy about her take on leadership. 

Who: Kathy Parlow

Where: Remote-working from Oklahoma. Note: Kathy participated in this interview in her personal capacity. 

Number of years in research development: 10

Length of NORDP membership: 10

What is leadership to you? 

KP: Formally, I am a co-chair of the Mentoring Committee and the lead for the Evaluation & Innovation team. Broadly, I believe leadership is noticing that one is in a position to to bring others up. This can happen from any title or position. Leadership also means having a big-picture, strategic mindset to guide a group of people toward the group’s mission.

How did you learn or develop your style of leadership? 

KP: My style of leadership is focused on others. I use the unit’s mission as a meter. My contributions started small and really grew as I became passionate about mentoring. Along the way, other leaders mentored me and helped me “settle in” to the style that best suits me. I was very much mentored into my servant leadership style.

How does your membership in NORDP develop your leadership style? 

KP: I came to a point in my career where there was no pathway to leadership in my job and had a mentor that encouraged me to think more broadly about where I could gain leadership experience. I chose to develop my leadership capabilities outside my “day job” through volunteering and community service. 

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

KP: I have connected to amazing colleagues and formed lasting friendships through mentee/mentor relationships and volunteer activities. Their guidance is infused through my work and career journey. I learned to be active and intentional about building relationships. Within the Mentoring Committee, I take it to heart. It’s the foundation of everything the Mentoring Committee does. 

What do you wish you would have known when you began your leadership journey within NORDP? 

KP: I wish I would have known earlier that leadership is a gentle pathway. It doesn’t need to be a switch that is flipped. I eased into the time commitment. The “rising co-chair model” of the Mentoring Committee and other NORDP committees helps with transitions. I appreciate the co-leadership and support this model enables. 

What have you found most rewarding, and most challenging, about leading within NORDP? In your CAREER? 

KP: As far as the most challenging — the Mentoring Committee leadership team saw the need to adapt to a growing NORDP. That meant large initiatives were needed to adapt and diversify the resources for mentoring (e.g. peer mentoring groups (PMGs) and implementing Wisdom Share mentoring software ). The reward from this hard work has been the feasibility of supporting record-breaking numbers of NORDP Mentoring Program participants. . 

By far, the most rewarding part of NORDP is the people. I love to recognize and celebrate with NORDP volunteers in these accomplishments (and all the mini-milestones throughout). 

What advice do you have for others within NORDP who are looking to develop as leaders? 

KP: My advice is to choose a measured path. Most NORDP leadership roles allow you to ease into them. Make small contributions at first. Share your time and skills in areas that interest you. Find reward in the volunteer work.

2023 NORDP Awards: Two Weeks Left to Nominate Your Colleagues!

Do you know a colleague or group of members making outstanding contributions to NORDP or the practice/field of research development? Consider nominating them for a 2023 NORDP Award!

NORDP members are invited to submit nominations for the following awards:
• Innovation Award
• Leadership Award
• Mentoring Award
• NORDP Fellow
• Rising Star Award
• Volunteer of the Year Award

Collectively, these NORDP Awards celebrate the distinctive achievements of individuals, collaborative groups or work teams, programs or projects, and organizations. More information about the different award types, including eligibility, and the process for submitting nominations is available on the NORDP website.

The deadline to submit nominations, including self-nominations, for the 2023 NORDP Awards is 8 pm EST on Friday, February 10, 2023. Winners of 2023 NORDP Awards will be recognized during the annual NORDP Research Development Conference May 7 to 10, 2023.

An informational webinar about the 2023 NORDP Awards cycle was held on January 18. During the webinar, NORDP Awards task force members reviewed opportunities for recognition, highlighted changes to the 2023 call for nominations, and addressed participant questions.

Contact Nathan Meier or Petrina Suiter to request a copy of the slides presented during the informational webinar or to ask a question about the nomination process. 

2022 Rising Star Award: Becca Latimer

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. 

Becca Latimer, Rising Star Awardee

Who: Becca Latimer, Ph. D., Research Program Director


Where: University of Virginia Comprehensive Cancer Center


Number of years in research development: 6


Length of NORDP membership: 6 years


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

It is a tie between my work on the annual conference and past efforts with the salary survey committee.

I am one of the co-chairs for the 2023 national conference and I have served a variety of roles on the recent virtual ones as well. I really enjoy this area as it not only provides a way for our members to get together, but also learn important tools, tips and educational content from our experienced membership. I truly appreciate that as a member myself and my efforts with the upcoming and past conferences focus on providing the most valuable, useful, relevant, and current content for NORDP members.

A few years ago, I helped put together the report from the 2019-20 Salary Survey which I believe is a valuable asset to members. It allowed us to collect data to gauge how our membership is evolving and diversifying over time. It is helpful to new members and allows them to see the varied backgrounds and
types of positions in the RD field. It is also beneficial if your institution does not support RD functions. Finally, it is also useful to RD veterans in their work towards merit raises and promotions.


How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

My volunteer efforts have truly helped me come into my own in a profession I did not know about seven years ago. I came from a bench research background, and I really did not know much about the various careers you could use a research background for beyond that. I came to NORDP with an open mind and it has been helpful since day one. The various service experiences have allowed me to meet many other engaged volunteers. These folks have mentoring characteristics and skill sets that have helped me enhance my own skills as well. Working on projects for NORDP has allowed me to progress in my current career and mentor new people coming into NORDP and at my home institution, too.


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

When I started in RD my supervisor recommended checking out the annual conference. In my prior sciences work I really valued attending national meetings and engaging with people that shared similar interests as me – I was pleased with my first NORDP conference experience. It was exciting to be a part
of a group that were interested the same topics as I was and who had similar career goals.


What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

My engagement with NORDP really allowed me to step outside of my own experience. I’ve learned more about interacting with a wide variety of individuals from different institutions, including MSIs, PUIs, and R universities, than I ever would have on my own. I came to realize that we all have the same goal. Everyone I have encountered through NORDP has been collaborative and giving. They are always willing to take time out of their workday and life to help if they can.


Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined

The overall general mission has not changed, but I have noticed in the past few years that NORDP has incorporated a lot more inclusivity work and activities, which has been extremely beneficial. It has provided more opportunities for members to learn how to include DEIB into their everyday practices.
This has been evident through conference speakers, webinars, workshops, and training activities. Additionally, the growth in the membership in recent years is also an indicator that this is a positive community that welcomes people who are interested in learning, collaborating, and practicing inclusivity.


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

It actually took me a few years to get involved myself. It can seem intimidating at first, but there are so many ways to volunteer. Think about what you like to do and what seems of interest to you that is going on right now. Think about what group would allow you to learn a new skill sets or a group that would
benefit from you bringing your skills into the mix. I would say to start with one activity and see where it takes you. If you like it and see areas where you would contribute more, consider taking on a leadership position. There are opportunities for any type of work that might be of interest to you. It is also such a great way to meet new people and learn novel and different methods of completing tasks or projects.

As conference co-chair I definitely have to recommend that the conference (May 5-11, 2023 in Crystal City, VA) will be great place to learn about or engage with all of these things. Our theme is Growing Connections – and we’ll have plenty of time for networking. You can connect with committees & affinity
groups, present a poster or during a concurrent session, or volunteer in some capacity. The call for abstracts is out! Consider submitting one. I’m looking forward to seeing you all there – sporting your favorite NORDP gear!

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 acknowledgment that effective mentoring occurs through formal and informal channels and may vary in style and substance.

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 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 a 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!