Guidance for Potential Steering Committee Candidates

Published: Jul 1, 2022

This post is the result of work from attendees of the 2022 Community Building Workshop and members of the DEI Working Group.

Our community is always interested in improving our methods for ensuring an equitable and inclusive space to celebrate and support our diverse membership, and the diversity of the Steering Committee itself is important to us. The goal of this post is to improve the transparency of the work involved in serving on the Steering Committee and to provide concrete and detailed guidance to interested community members about how to strengthen your case for election, through the candidate statement and by acquiring relevant experience. So even if you aren’t ready to run this year, you may want to read this guide to prepare for future elections. We also hope that this level of transparency encourages diverse candidates to pursue leadership in our community.

About the Steering Committee

First of all, it is important for nominees to understand the role and the level of commitment required for serving on the committee. This might be particularly helpful for individuals beginning to work on a committee or in professional leadership for the first time. As you read this section, it may help to envision how your perspective or experiences might have prepared you for certain roles or activities taken on by the members of the Steering Committee.

Expectations for Steering Committee Members

  • Serve for at least one two-year term (time commitment is approximately 6-10 hours per month)
  • Attend Steering Committee meetings every two weeks (virtual)
  • Perform operational work for US-RSE (see below for examples)

What the Steering Committee Does

  • Sets guiding priorities for what we as an organization would like to accomplish in a year (see examples from 2022 and 2021)
    • Steering Committee members divide up responsibilities for working towards these priorities throughout the year
    • Often includes leading or participating in working groups
  • Responds to incoming requests for collaboration from other organizations or individuals
  • Responds to issues that arise in the community, including handling Code of Conduct violations
  • Pursues opportunities that benefit the community, such as applying for funding or organizing event participation
  • Advocates and champions the RSE cause:
    • At multiple conferences, workshops, and events at other venues (online or in-person)
    • By promoting US-RSE member contributions and career development in the profession
  • Listens to and mentors current members
  • Attracts new members
  • Manages the logistics and finances for the organization

Some specific Steering Committee positions are defined in the governance document, in addition to informal roles such as managing membership information or administrative systems, or organizing community calls or virtual workshops.

Election Candidate Statements

Currently, candidates standing for election for the Steering Committee make their case for why they should be elected in a written introduction statement (Candidate Statement) and via a live or recorded presentation during the Annual General Meeting (details vary slightly from year to year). See examples of candidate statements from 2021. Framing your experience to craft an informative and inspirational candidate statement is critical for helping your fellow community members see what you will bring to the Steering Committee.

The Candidate Statement is your opportunity to make a case for your preparedness and/or suitability for the Steering Committee. The bullets below are intended to help you frame your current experience, skills, or perspective into a statement that informs and inspires the community to support you in the election. This is not a comprehensive list. Rather, it is meant to get you thinking about what makes you uniquely suitable to furthering the US-RSE Association. Particularly, consider the questions: what will you contribute to the Steering Committee, and what is your vision for the future?

  • Do you have experiences or perspectives that might be useful to be represented on the Steering Committee?
    • Working at a type of institution or in an industry not currently represented on the Steering Committee
    • Education or work experience in specific scientific domains, especially those underrepresented in the RSE community
    • Non-traditional career path
    • Your personal experiences or identity as they relate to the RSE community (e.g., what diverse perspectives would you bring to the position?) Some potential examples:
      • Learning a new language to collaborate with colleagues
      • How you’ve dealt with not feeling welcome in a computing space or event
      • Switching to an RSE career mid-life
  • What previous leadership roles have you taken on?
    • Early career idea: being an officer in undergraduate or volunteer organizations
    • Managing other individuals, including in volunteer positions (e.g., organizing youth sports team/groups, helping a nonprofit with communications or organizing volunteers)
    • Managing an open source software project with collaborators
    • Organizing or participating in conferences, events, and workshops in your field or avocation
    • Community organizing or building roles
    • Writing grant proposals or bringing in funding for your group
    • Work or career-related (e.g., project management roles, developing structural changes in groups, leading cross collaboration with other institutions)
  • What have you done to support the RSE community?
    • Work done with the domestic and international RSE community outside of US-RSE
    • Being a reviewer or editor for a research software journal
    • Work done with US-RSE specifically. (e.g., being part of workshops, working groups, conference event proposals, discussions, etc.)
    • Involvement in a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative
  • What are you hoping to contribute to US-RSE, the Steering Committee, and the broader RSE community?
    • What activities or areas do you hope to focus on?
    • What new initiatives do you hope to lead?

Ideas for Building Your Experience

As we are a community-driven organization, one of the easiest ways to prepare to run for the Steering Committee is to actively participate and contribute to US-RSE activities. This is beneficial in many ways. Participating in Slack will give you a sense for how much time it takes to keep up with our virtual community. Attending community calls and working groups will give you more awareness of the organization’s needs, current initiatives, and the general culture. If you address these areas of growth in your candidate statement, the US-RSE members are more likely to feel heard and that you will best represent them. Perhaps most importantly, your participation in the community ensures that voting members will be familiar with you, which is a factor in elections. In summary, taking initiative within the community is our top recommendation when preparing to nominate yourself for the Steering Committee. Here are some ways you can do so:

  • Join a working group
    • Actively participate in the group
    • Be the lead on an initiative
    • Become a co-chair
  • Be a presenter at a community call (see the #communitycalls Slack channel)
  • Participate in or help organize a sponsored event, such as the Virtual Workshop
  • Participate in a mentor/mentee relationship (e.g., academically, career-oriented)
  • Contribute to website content or reviews
  • Contribute to RSE Stories (as an interviewer, as an interviewee, by editing)
  • Advocate and work on championing the RSE cause in the community and outside the community
  • Write papers, presentations, podcasts, or blog posts on research software, RSEs, or related topics.
  • Outreach activities (e.g., presentations about RSEs, finding new members)

Ready?

Ready to help lead US-RSE? Elections for the Steering Committee are held each fall. Watch the newsletter and Slack channel for announcements on the timing. Thanks for contributing to US-RSE and working to make it a successful organization.

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