NSPN Introduces New Leadership Structure to Support Science Policy Goals

The National Science Policy Network (NSPN) is the fastest growing science policy organization in the United States. As our goals of providing community, training, and advocacy opportunities continue to expand, we recognize the need for our structure and governance process to evolve. The leadership team is excited to introduce an updated NSPN structure that will take effect July 2021. Read more about how this new structure will support our mission and help us grow throughout 2021 and beyond.

To learn more, join us for a virtual information session and discussion on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at 8pm ET. Register for the event here.

The logo of the National Science Policy Network (NSPN). On a dark purple background, white text reads: "National Science Policy Network: NSPN."

Regional Hubs

As NSPN expands nationwide, we are excited to share that Regional Hubs (East, South, Central, and West) will transition into a regional project-based role, with other current roles being filled by new committees. Hubs will be led by a single Chair (two Co-Chairs in the initial transition period until December 2021). Examples of Hub projects include op-ed campaigns and Hill days to encourage local advocacy and community engagement.

Committees

We are excited to introduce the following new committees, effective July 2021:

  • The Advocacy Committee will lead and develop non-partisan initiatives and activities that provide an opportunity for members to express their recommendations for causes or policies and how these relate to science, access to science, and the benefits of science and scientific research. This committee will lead projects such as op-ed campaigns, regional Hill days, phone banks, and limited lobbying.
  • The Chapter Support Committee will fill some roles previously filled by the Regional Hubs. Members will develop and administer programming to support the sustainability and long-term impact of NSPN chapters by cultivating relationships between chapter leaders, providing one-on-one support, orchestrating leadership training opportunities, and arranging training in chapter development. This committee will work in partnership with other committees and be responsive to chapter needs and priorities in planning future programming. Projects will include holding check-in meetings with chapter leadership, connecting chapters with funding opportunities, and providing leadership development resources for new chapters.
  • The Professional Development Committee will work with chapters and other committees to provide member-driven opportunities for personal and professional development via workshops and mentoring programs. This committee will lead and develop programs that help members hone policy skills (e.g., memo writing, policy analysis) and prepare for job applications (e.g., resumes and CVs).
  • The Recruiting, Onboarding, and Early Retention (ROAR) Committee will proactively engage in conversations and outreach with early career researchers that may have an interest in science policy, related careers, and joining NSPN. This committee will inform and guide recent recruits on how they can get the most out of their NSPN membership through projects such as hosting information sessions and building contact lists for appropriate outreach.

Additionally, the Communications Committee will undergo a structural change to better support our mission. The current committee will be split into two new committees:

Finally, we will continue to support the following existing committees in fulfilling their ongoing missions:

  • The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee will develop and support inclusive programming and initiatives, provide a space for understanding the impacts of science, policy, and science policy on issues affecting marginalized communities, and empower members and communities to work within this space. This committee will lead projects such as creating opportunities to reflect and engage with DEI topics, crafting resources for more inclusive policymaking, and forming partnerships with community organizations.
  • The Graduate Education Committee will work to improve the landscape of available resources to support graduate student educational experiences. This committee will lead projects such as refining course materials to help graduate students navigate the science policy space, creating a graduate student handbook to empower graduate students to create policy changes at their institutions, and conducting surveys to better understand the landscape of available resources and their perception at academic institutions.
  • The Grants & Finance Committee will plan and execute financial programs that serve NSPN members and chapters. This committee will lead projects such as administering the application and review process for existing financial programs, evaluating and improving existing financial programs, organizing events to provide financial skills and resources for members, and hosting office hours for members to inquire about funding opportunities.
  • The Science Diplomacy Committee will lead and develop initiatives that link diplomatic efforts with the scientific community. This committee will lead projects such as developing science diplomacy training opportunities, helping members obtain marketable skills through the SciDEAL program, and partnering with sister organizations abroad.

The State Fellowships Committee, an ad hoc committee for the 2020-2021 NSPN year, is transitioning to an affinity group structure as members look to additional sources for support in starting state-level science policy fellowship programs.

Leadership and Governance

A quickly growing organization necessitates an experienced leader. We are excited to be hiring our first full-time Managing Director to begin work this summer. The Managing Director will formalize NSPN’s new governance model, drive our scaling and expansion strategy, and lead our partnership strategy while supporting programs and day-to-day operations.

The NSPN Leadership Council (Committee and Regional Hub Chairs) will elect a National Chair to work in partnership with the Managing Director to establish governance for NSPN during this pivotal transition. The National Chair will also oversee the Leadership Council, serving as an advisory resource for Committee and Hub Chairs as they lead their own projects. The National Chair will be succeeded by a National Chair Elect, a two-year position designed to ensure a smooth transition from the Leadership Council to National Chair. NSPN members who have previously served on the Leadership Council are eligible to run for National Chair or National Chair Elect.

Finally, we are excited to welcome several part-time staff members to manage daily operations. Staff will lead ongoing needs such as website maintenance, social media, newsletter curation, and public relations, as well as existing programs such as SciPol Scholars, Mentorship and Professional Development, and SciDEAL. These staff positions will be overseen by a full-time Chief of Staff, Briana Brown (transitioning from Programs & Operations Coordinator).

The Managing Director, National Chair, National Chair Elect, and Chief of Staff will serve as the Executive Committee for the governance of NSPN.

Elections

All NSPN members are eligible to nominate themselves or others for Regional Hub Chair or Committee Chair positions, and can participate in the election process in June and July.

Nominations will be collected in May, and candidates will present brief pitches at committee and hub meetings in June. Voting will take place June 30 through July 13, and newly-elected leadership will take their positions in late July.

The NSPN Leadership Council will nominate and elect the National Chair and National Chair Elect, and these individuals will take their positions July 1, 2021.

Learn More

To learn more about NSPN’s new leadership structure, governance model, and opportunities to get involved with the new committees, join NSPN leadership for a virtual information session and discussion on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at 8pm ET. Register for the event here.

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