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Update from the Chair: Reflecting on Responsibilities and Opportunities
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Kate Sleeth


NPA Board of Directors assembled at its 2017 retreat in Rockville, MD.

It is with mixed emotions that I write my final article as the chair of the NPA Board of Directors.


What will I do in January when my weekly and monthly phone calls end?


It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on the Board, a journey that began eight years ago. While I hope that I have made a difference to the postdoctoral experience, I know that my service on the Board has certainly made a difference to me. I have had the opportunity to learn from great Board members with whom I served. I am fortunate to call many of these individuals friends with whom I will continue to be in contact with once my tenure is over.


Being on the Board is a team initiative. The Board sets the tone for the NPA’s activities, establishes the goals we wish to achieve both in the short and long term, and determines how we will proceed. I have been fortunate enough to contribute to two strategic planning initiatives and know how much time, thought, and effort go into shaping the future of the association. The Strategic Planning Committee, under the superb guidance of Marina Ramon, PhD, crafted our goals for the next three years following discussions with our members and stakeholders. I look forward to seeing the implementation and progress the NPA will make in the future, especially as we continue to add value for our members and provide the resources they want.


In my eight years as an NPA member, I have had many opportunities to grow personally, and I am appreciative that I took on responsibilities gradually. First, I was a member of the Outreach Committee and then a taskforce leader for Outreach before joining the Board of Directors. The first year on the Board is challenging. It feels like drinking from a fire hose, but the more you know, the easier it gets. I became the oversight officer and held the position for three years before becoming the chair. During my first year as chair, the NPA found itself searching for a new executive director, which was rather stressful but also exciting. Before the NPA, I had never interviewed anyone, and now I have plenty of experience interviewing individuals for a wide range of roles.


Similarly, I had never led a virtual team. How do you motivate someone you only see once or twice a year? The skills I am taking with me are hugely beneficial, and I will be forever grateful to the individuals who encouraged me to attend my first NPA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA. I am also grateful to the individuals who have encouraged and supported me throughout my NPA journey. Now it is my chance to pay it forward and encourage others to take their NPA path. You never know where it might lead!


We have so many individuals who generously donate their time to ensure that the NPA is a success. From the committee leaders and officers who guide countless volunteers in the development of timely, high-quality products and resources for postdoctoral scholars, to the Board, which ensures individual efforts are strategic and mission-driven, to the Advisory Board members who provide expert advice, and the staff who move mountains daily—the NPA is truly a team sport! I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of you, as without your individual efforts, we couldn’t have achieved so much. The NPA is fortunate to have such talented, hard-working individuals dedicated to improving the postdoctoral experience.


Then again, that is the essence of what a postdoc is—someone who is willing to go the extra mile to ensure success.


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


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