View from the Top | SRAI = Amazing People Sharing, Caring, and Learning Together!
As we are now a little more than a month away from the 2021 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA (October 23-27), it is time to reflect on what makes SRAI so special.
I attended my first SRAI Annual Meeting in October 2003 in Pittsburgh, PA. At the time I was a Research Education Coordinator at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCM). As of August 1, 2021, I am the Vice President of Research Outreach and Compliance at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). As I reflect back, and many of you have heard me say this through the years, I owe a huge part of my success and ability to rise through the ranks to the professional development I received from my colleagues all over the world at SRAI.
SRAI taught me that research administration is a valuable profession - one that contributes to the health and well-being of the scientific enterprise, and as a result, supports us all. As a newcomer, I was welcomed and encouraged to join the conversations. It did not take long before I was asked to give a session or be a panelist. Once my toe hit the facilitation waters, I jumped in full force.
I was fortunate to have amazing bosses who were also great mentors – Jeff Cohen and Sheila Zimmet at WCM and from 2008 till today, Eric Cottington at MSK. From the beginning they encouraged and supported my professional development by allowing me to attend and participate in SRAI and sister organizations around the world. They understood that what I taught and learned not only benefited others, but me personally and professionally – which ultimately was a huge benefit to my home institution.
I have met and become close to so many amazing colleagues world-wide. As a result, I have been asked to write articles and a book chapter, review research integrity grants, speak at numerous venues, be featured in articles, be a co-investigator for a Research Integrity Conference grant, and teach in a Research Administration and Compliance Graduate Program. At age 65 I am busier than ever, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
None of this would have been possible without the generosity of spirit of SRAI members. We are a family – one that I sorely miss seeing in person… but that will be rectified in October!
We are diligently working to ensure a safe and engaging environment for the Annual Meeting while complying with all local and federal requirements. Here is a link to our FAQ page with additional details on those preparations: https://www.sraannualmeeting.org/2021/faqs.cfm.
So, grab your masks, vaccination cards, and your enthusiasm for a joyous reunion as we gather again for a wonderful professional development experience. I hope you will be there to cheer on our 2021 award winners, welcome our incoming officers, and thank our outgoing officers, as well.
Before I close, a special shout out to our SRAI HQ staff. Under the leadership of Evan Roberts, Executive Director, and Ellen Quinn, COO, they have done an outstanding job of keeping the Society flourishing under the most chaotic and overwhelming circumstances. I know I speak for all of us, the Board and members alike, when I say THANK YOU for all you do. Without your dedication and professionalism, there would be no SRAI!
I want to remind you about some other SRAI initiatives:
- SRAI’s Podcast series, Shop Talk, took the month of August off, but will continue in September with Carla DeMarco talking to the 2021 Annual Meeting co-chairs Cindy Morin, Gina Hedberg, and Mir Asghar Ali Khan about what’s in store for us in NOLA and their “Pathway and Perspectives.”
- Spring 2022 Section Meetings: Details for the International (Virtual International Convention for Research Administrators - VICRA), Northeast/Southern (Philadelphia), and Midwest/Western (Phoenix) section meetings are already posted. Calls for proposals for Philadelphia and Phoenix are open now.
- iSRA Intensives:We are already planning for a full winter schedule of training intensives – check the website in the coming months for more details.
- SRAI on Social Media: Do you Tweet? Post on Facebook? Check LinkedIn? Peek at Instagram? Watch YouTube? Or maybe you don’t post or interact, but are always looking and reading… either way, we hope you are friending, sharing, and liking all things SRAI! Look for SRAI’s #SRAIUnMasked! series – we highlight different members, and you can be next! To share your story, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
There’s so much happening each month – don’t miss an opportunity to share, learn, engage, and grow.
See you all soon. Always looking to continue the conversation…
Authored by Debra Schaller-Demers, Vice President of Research Outreach and Compliance
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
SRAI Board of Directors President