2024 Steering Committee Strategic Planning Meeting Recap

Published: Apr 11, 2024 by Abbey Roelofs

In February, the Steering Committee continued the tradition of yearly strategic planning meetings. Like last year, we focused on the direction and areas of focus for US-RSE over the next 3-5 years.

We started by reflecting on the highlights and successes of the past year, including the receipt of the Sloan Foundation grant, the creation of a new Code of Conduct, hiring our first two paid staff members, hosting many events including our first US-RSE Conference, producing resources such as a Hiring Guidebook) and Career Guide, and starting the new Community Funds and Community Awards initiatives.

We then transitioned over to identifying topics of focus for the coming year that will help us fulfill our mission. These included the following:

Creating a 5-year vision for US-RSE

  • We discussed how we envision growth in different aspects of our community, including membership, conference attendance, and locally-focused initiatives.
  • We identified potential pathways to advocate further for RSEs, for example with training initiatives and conference attendances.
  • We discussed resources that US-RSE could potentially create or expand upon, as well as other communities US-RSE could partner with.
  • To obtain measurable growth of diversity in the RSE profession and in US-RSE, we will conduct an annual survey of our membership. We identified this as the next immediate goal for US-RSE.

Supporting and Sustaining Working Groups

  • Identifying different types of engagement opportunities (including passive roles that don’t involve meeting attendance) for volunteers may increase participation and help spread the workload.
  • Encourage working groups to identify tangible tasks volunteers could help out with that don’t require meeting attendance.
  • Better convey the level of effort expected when joining a Working Group.
  • Consider creating a recognition or incentive program to show Working Group volunteers that their effort is appreciated.

Investigating Individual and Organizational Membership Models

  • Introducing memberships for organizations could have mutual benefits, but membership rates and programs require careful consideration.
  • Paid individual memberships could increase funding and allow new programs, but we would need to address the concern that cost could be a barrier to joining.
    • We stressed that we want to keep US-RSE welcome to anyone and that we do not want to deter anyone from joining because of a paid membership model.
    • Although we won’t pursue this in 2024, future options could include free membership with optional paid tiers incorporating additional benefits.

Improving the Onboarding Process for New Steering Committee Members

  • New members of the Steering Committee need to feel independent and capable of contributing quickly, without lots of instruction from incumbent members or on-the-fly learning during meetings.
  • Create a checklist of resources to which new members should be given access.
  • Create a reference document of information to know and expectations regarding responsibilities and norms within the Steering Committee.

Addressing Differences of Opinion Within the Community As We Grow

  • We are growing in number and diversity of opinion. How can we ensure that there is space for conflicting opinions while maintaining the welcoming nature of our community?
  • This is not a novel challenge: talk to other organizations like ours to learn how they handle it.
  • Identify the roles and responsibilities of the Steering Committee, Executive Director, and Community Manager with regard to discussion moderation on Slack, in order to ensure inclusive and productive discussions.

Working documents were created for each topic and at least one person from the Steering Committee was assigned as the responsible party to follow up on each topic going forward.

We also identified a number of additional topics of interest, including Steering Committee involvement in the planning of the US-RSE Conference and long-term planning for the governance and election model of the organization. These were recorded for discussion at future Steering Committee meetings.

As always, if you’d like to help with any of the above goals, or just get more involved with the US-RSE Association, please reach out to the Steering Committee on Slack (@sc) or via email (contact@us-rse.org).