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Update from the Chair: Are You Ready to Join the NPA Board?
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Kate Sleeth


“How do I know I am ready or good enough?” This is a question I hear a lot, both in my day job and when I encourage people to participate with the NPA. My answer is that we never know if we are completely ready. When I ran for the Board six years ago, current Board members explained the responsibilities to me, but it was an abstract idea that didn’t become a reality until I was elected and began the role. When I became an administrator within a graduate program, people told me they knew I was capable of the role, but I didn’t know for sure. When I became a mother, the doctors handed my baby over, and I still had doubts about my readiness! My point is that when you are put in these positions, you find out how capable you really are. I believe all of us can be successful; we just need to keep trying different opportunities. If something appears exciting but a little scary for you, then that is probably the perfect new role to try. A little trepidation is what can make us all grow stronger in our personal and professional lives. For some of you reading this, it could be joining the NPA Board of Directors or another leadership volunteer position in the NPA.


The NPA Board of Directors election will occur in the early fall, and the deadline to apply as a potential candidate is July 7, 2017. The NPA serves both postdocs and postdoc offices. Therefore it is crucial that we have a blend of individuals from both backgrounds. One of the bylaws of the NPA is that the majority of the members of the Board need to either be a postdoc or have been a postdoc within the past 5 years at the time of their election. It can be challenging to fill these positions because people worry they won’t be up to the task. Remember, a little trepidation is what can make you grow and succeed! For non-postdoc candidates, we need you too! Your experiences and opinions offer a valuable counterpoint and often lead to unexpected discussions.


Whether you have leadership experience or not, have been involved with the NPA for years or a short time, just a desire to work with like-minded people to improve the postdoctoral experience is sufficient to warrant you throwing your hat into the ring. There is a misperception that only individuals who have been NPA committee leaders are elected to the Board, which simply is not true. There are currently five Board members who never held committee leadership positions, myself included. While it may be beneficial to understand the NPA’s history, it is certainly not a requirement.


I encourage your participation in improving the postdoc community. Progress takes time, but being on the NPA Board of Directors gives you a unique opportunity to make a positive change—along with practicing and improving your leadership skills, building your network, and improving the lives of postdocs nationwide. As I will be leaving the Board at the end of the year, I hope you will consider running to ensure progress continues.


Please find more information for the Board election in the call for applications.


Kate Sleeth is associate dean of administration and student development at City of Hope and chair of the Board of Directors of the NPA.


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