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Effecting Change as a Leader in the NPA: Q&A with Kate Sleeth
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Board member Marina Ramon, PhD, (right) presents a token of appreciation to Sleeth (left) for her service to the NPA.

Kate Sleeth, PhD, has been a member of the NPA Board of Directors for the past six years, serving as chair of the Board in 2017. The NPA is grateful for her leadership. As she concludes her term, we asked her about her work and support for the Association.


What brought you to the NPA? How long have you been involved and in what capacities?


I was a member of the City of Hope PDA, and it was suggested that I attend the Annual Meeting held in Philadelphia in 2010. The chair of the Outreach Committee recruited me following the meeting, and I began my relationship with the NPA after that. I have served as a committee member and taskforce leader for Outreach. I joined the Board in 2012, served as oversight officer for three years and chair of the Board for two years.


Why do you think the mission of the NPA is so important?


Seeking sustainable change and improvement for the postdoctoral experiences is just as important today as it was when we were founded in 2003. We have certainly helped improve matters by advocating for increased stipends, more training opportunities, and funding specifically for young investigators. We have provided tool kits and resources which are utilized by many institutions and individuals. When I look at our Agenda for Change, I am happy to see all the positive milestones we have helped achieve. With continued support from the postdoctoral community, we will be able to expand the good work and enhance the postdoctoral experience.


What milestones has the Board accomplished during your leadership?


The past two years have been very busy for the Board. We have hired a new executive director and made many statements on a variety of issues including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), immigration, diversity and inclusion, and postdoctoral training. Three board members have also presented NPA data to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine for the next generation of researchers and the impacts of sexual harassment in academia. We have also surveyed our membership three times: for information regarding pregnancy and maternity/paternity leave, for our second institutional policy survey, and for information regarding experiences with sexual harassment. The NPA has highlighted achievements of scientists during Black History month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, and LGBT History Month on our social media platforms and begun the myPostdoc and diversity webinar series.


You are a substantial personal donor to the NPA. Why is it important that individuals support the NPA?


It is vital that we receive donations so that we can continue to provide resources for our members. We often receive grants. However, that funding is for specific projects. A donation is not earmarked for a particular project, and we can be more flexible when we use the funds—paying staff, travel for meetings, the Annual Conference, etc.


What’s the next challenge in your professional life?


I want to continue providing professional development opportunities within my institution. Now that I will have a little more time I plan to complete my training to be an MBTI [Myers-Briggs Type Indicator] master practitioner, I also want to become accredited to do the DiSC [personality] assessment.


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