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View from the Top | A Season to Give Thanks

By SRAI News posted 11-10-2021 03:18 PM


View from the Top | A Season to Give Thanks

November is typically the time of year in the US when we come together with family and friends, over wonderful food, and give thanks for our blessings. This year, we have even more to be grateful for as we were finally able to gather in person in New Orleans for the 2021 SRAI Annual Meeting. 

This was my first air travel experience since February 2020. I was both exhilarated and apprehensive as we endeavored to hold a “Safe and Clean” meeting experience. I am happy to report that the meeting was a wonderful return to in-person professional development. Everyone I met was so happy to be back. The program, expertly crafted by our co-chairs Cindy Morin, Gina Hedberg, and Mir Khan, and delivered by our dedicated speakers, was outstanding. We kicked off the first morning with Pin Stripe, a true New Orleans First Line band; our members dressed up and danced-in behind as the second line. The opening keynote by Neil Lamb, PhD, Vice President for Educational Outreach & Faculty Investigator, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, on ”The Emerging Impact of Genomics on Our World,” was enlightening. The closing keynote by Michael White, PhD, Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities, Xavier University of Louisiana gave us the history of New Orleans jazz and a lively performance by the Michael White Quartet.

In between, we had expert exhibitors, workshops, sessions, quick talks, an award ceremony, a business meeting, dinner groups, section meet-ups, a ghost vampire walking tour, and an amazing Opening Reception with great food, signature drinks with flashing ice cubes (thanks Cayuse), dancing to a wonderful band with a guest performance by our own Mike McCallister (aka Spanky), and even a live alligator for photo ops.

Research administration is truly a team sport and hosting an SRAI event is a great example of this – it takes a village with lots of moving parts to make it work. It starts with our outstanding headquarters staff, led by Evan Roberts, CEO and Ellen Quinn, COO. Once again, they delivered a fabulous meeting experience without missing a beat, despite the long hiatus since our last in-person event. 

For those unable to join us at the annual meeting, check out SRAI’s ENCORE Series, launching in November, 2021. This innovative program provides members with access to the hottest, most relevant and highly-rated sessions from our annual meeting from the comfort of your office or home. Join us every Tuesday for a new live one-hour iSession. Registration now open. 

Lastly, I want to thank all of you – our members and volunteers – for your support and generosity of spirit. We came together in times of uncertainty and the synergy kicked in – together we accomplished far more than we could have done alone in isolation. 

I want to remind you about some other SRAI initiatives:

  • 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.
  • 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 you 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 for details.
  • SRAI’s Podcast series, “Shop Talk” will continue in December after a fall holiday hiatus – check the web page for details.

 There’s so much happening each month – don’t miss an opportunity to share, learn, engage, and grow.

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


1 comment



11-12-2021 10:44 AM

Congrats on a successful meeting!  Looking forward to attending in person in the near future!