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Meet SRAI Leadership: Membership & Catalyst Committees

By SRAI News posted 05-02-2019 03:40 PM


Authored by: Seema Dhindaw, Katie Watkins, Tonya K. Edvalson, & Angela Willis

In each monthly issue of the Catalyst, the “Meet SRAI Leadership?” column introduces you to the SRAI leadership, committee members and volunteers. This virtual platform serves as a good starting base for meeting the members of the SRAI community. This is a great opportunity to get to know each other and we at the Catalyst want to hear from you! Share your story! Contact us to be featured in a future column, or nominate a co-worker or colleague to share their story.

Per SRAI Bylaws, the committees of the Society organize and utilize the expertise of members to carry out the mission and purposes of the Society.  Standing and special committees are responsible to the Board of Directors. Ad hoc committees and task forces are responsible to the President. 

In this issue, we introduce you to the co-chairs from the Catalyst and Membership committees: Seema Dhindaw & Katie Watkins; Tonya K. Edvalson & Angela Willis.

The Catalyst committee oversees and prepares the monthly SRAI newsletter. Did you know that the newsletter has been around for many many years? It launched almost at the same time as the Society in 1969. It started as a printed publication and was called SRA newsletter. The bi-monthly newsletter got a couple more overhauls to get to its look nowadays. In the late 80s, the newsletter was renamed to SRAnews. It was still published on a bi-monthly basis and sent to the SRA membership with news around the Society, the Board of Directors, all of the different educational opportunities and additional resources for research administrators. At the beginning of the 2000s, the newsletter was moved to an electronic format and SRAnews became eConnections.  

Today, the SRAI Catalyst is available to members and nonmembers and is sent every month. Since 2017, Katie Watkins and Seema Dhindaw have been the co-editors for the newsletter. The Board liaison to the Catalyst committee is Angela Behrend, a great supporter of the newsletter herself. 

Katie Watkins

Katie Watkins, MEd, CRA, CFRA
Assistant Vice President, Office of Research Administration
The University of Akron

How many years have you been in RA?

When did you join SRAI? And why did you choose the Society? 
In 2005. I belong to more than one professional society, however, the majority of my volunteer time is spent on SRAI-related activities.  I find SRAI as a whole to be a welcoming and friendly group of people who are inspiring, interesting, and willing to give of their time and knowledge.

You are a co-editor for the Catalyst and have been volunteering with SRAI for some time now at different volunteer positions, what does volunteering mean for you?
Volunteering to me means giving back to the profession that has supported me for nearly my entire career, as well as being a role model and mentor for others coming up in the profession.

Can you tell us something that people don’t know about you?
I’m training to be a professional chef. 

What makes you smile?
Good food, good company, and kittens (in no particular order).

Is the glass half empty or half full?
To me the glass is always half full.  Sometimes it is difficult to maintain that attitude (especially when I’m having ‘one of those days’) but overall I have a generally positive attitude about life. I believe in enjoying life to the fullest.

What is your life philosophy?
This is it.  Make the best of it


Seema Dhindaw

Seema Dhindaw, MS Biomedical Science
Assistant Director of Operations, Radiology Research
New York University School of Medicine

How many years have you been in RA?

When did you join SRAI? And why did you choose the Society? 
In 2017. It was introduced to me by a former supervisor and I became interested when I saw an editor position open for the Catalyst.

Your first volunteer position with SRAI has been the co-editor for the Catalyst now for 2 years, can you tell us what does volunteering mean for you.
It means to help others in some way. At SRAI we provide a community of support for our fellow administrators and colleagues as well as disseminate information on best practices and the latest updates on research. It also provides me an opportunity to meet new people, network and hopefully advance my career.

Can you tell us something that people don’t know about you?
I am pursuing a second Master’s degree at my own slow pace!

What makes you smile?
The love of my life, my heart-my 11-year-old beagle Layla.

Is the glass half empty or half full?
It is both half empty and half full.

What is your life philosophy?
Live, love and learn with enthusiasm.


The Membership Committee is one of the standing committees of the Society and is responsible for reviewing membership criteria and benefits, developing and recommending programs for the recruitment and retention of members, maintaining close liaison with the Sections, Chapters and Divisions in relation to their membership programs, and ensuring that statistical data and information on membership are maintained by the Society. Tonya K. Edvalson has been the chair for the membership committee for the last two years and after co-chairing with Lynda Olin in 2018,  Angela Willis was appointed a vice chair of the committee in 2019.

Tonya Edvalson

Tonya K. Edvalson
Clinical Research Compliance Officer
University of Utah

How many years have you been in RA and when did you join SRAI?
20 years in RA and joined 9 years ago, in 2010. 

Why did you choose SRAI?

SRAI has offered an opportunity to network with others in the field who have similar experiences and can share their solutions and outcomes. I have gained more knowledge about other areas of research administration and how they impact my area, compliance. Being part of SRAI has provided opportunities in professional growth and leadership where I couldn’t have gotten it even at my local institution. Being part of an organization where members are welcoming and open to sharing their resources has been career-changing and given me a track that I want to follow as I progress into other facets of research administration. 

What does volunteering mean for you?
I volunteered at my first annual meeting, at the registration desk. It was the best way to get to know others who have been in the organization and what other opportunities exist. Being part of planning committees for annual and section meetings since have helped me with leadership and organizational skills that carry into my roles at my institution. I have made many friends throughout the process and gained more confidence in myself as I grow in my career. 

Can you tell us something that people don’t know about you?
When I was younger, I played viola for many years. I was selected as one of the youngest players in the Utah Valley Youth Symphony at 13 years old. This orchestra included musicians from our entire county who were anywhere from 8th to 12th grade. Being an orchestra geek was awesome!

What makes you smile?
Animals are part of my heart and soul. Being near a living, breathing animal will always put me in a good mood. I have three dogs who are incredibly cute, very quirky and have extremely bad manners. But, they are my best companions when I am stressed. Animals show unconditional love and forgiveness that I find inspiring.

Is the glass half empty or half full?
The glass is always half full. No matter how difficult life can be, I will do my best to find the silver lining or a lesson that I am supposed to learn in the situations coming my way. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have my bad days, we all do and those feelings are real and need attention. But, I find when reaching out to our friends when we are in those hard places we can find the goodness in the world. Don’t forget to find those people who can make the hard times better or at least lend a listening ear. If you don’t know who to call, call me!

What is your life philosophy?
Part of living is being here to make life better for those around us. Otherwise, what is the purpose? We can all be there to lend a hand, a listening ear, or just a smile. You never know when your kindness is just what someone needed in a particular moment.

Angela Willis

Angela Willis, BME, MME, MPA, CRA
Research Associate (IRB Administrator and Grants Accountant)
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

How many years have you been in RA and when did you join SRAI?
35 years in RA and joined in 2003. 

Why did you choose SRAI?

I love the fact that the organization has members from the colleges and universities, but also RAs from industry, corporate, federal, state and local government.

What does volunteering mean for you?
I get a chance to be a part of the workings of the organization and am able to add any assistance that I can. It is also a learning opportunity.

Can you tell us something that people don’t know about you?
My first profession, though seemingly short-lived, was as a music educator (6th-12th-grade band director and 8th-grade math teacher).  I have played piano and organ for church, directed the youth choir, serve as an assistant choir director, and sing in the choir.

What makes you smile?
My family (especially my niece and my nephew).

Is the glass half empty or half full?
Half full – I like to be optimistic about most things.

What is your life philosophy?
“The friendship of those we serve is the foundation of our progress.”  I want to treat people the way I want to be treated regardless of how they treat me, and to be the best person that I can be.