Message from the Executive Director October 2023
Dear US-RSE members and allies,
I’m honored and thrilled to be appointed the inaugural Executive Director of US-RSE. My whole work life has been immersed around software with me starting already at high-school with programming. I enjoyed working in industry as an administrator, system developer and head of a systems programming group for over a decade and then I switched from industry to research completing my PhD in a bioinformatics group. I have been an RSE, research faculty and senior research scientist with a major focus on research software in the last 17 years. This moment is very special to me because it is about a community I’m incredibly passionate about, and this community feels like home. Being a part of it means having a space for discussions, a space for learning and support of a non-traditional career path. With my resume, I often felt like a unicorn – not within US-RSE though.
The last five years have shown how much we all can achieve together as a community, and we went from around 20 members in 2018 to nearly 2000 in 2023. US-RSE is a vibrant community evident in the activities on Slack, working groups, organized workshops, participation in community calls – to name just a few. Next week will be our first in-person conference ever and I am so impressed by the energy of contributors, organization committee members, volunteers and the sponsors. The conference is sold out and as a General Chair I am relieved and grateful for everyone’s patience as we navigated these unchartered waters.
We have more unchartered waters in front of us - with a lot of support that will kick-off our exciting journey. Thanks to the Alfred Sloan Foundation, we have for the first time substantial funding for community activities, grants and awards. Additionally, we can hire staff, which is a full-time soon-to-be-announced Community Manager and me as a half-time Executive Director. I am convinced that our spectacular growth of membership and volunteer work needs this support to keep the grass-root character of US-RSE without burning out volunteers and get measures in place that can facilitate innovative ideas and activities – especially also assuring the sustainability of the organization.
Much of my work will be focused on the sustainability of the organization and my vision is that we achieve financial sustainability with different tiers of funding and contributions. Volunteer work will stay a cornerstone of US-RSE. Together with the community manager I will contribute to this thriving community to address pain points and support activities that the community would like to accomplish. We are not alone in this journey. The world-wide movement is impressive with RSE associations in Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Nordic countries and the UK. Though at times, we may feel like unicorns, we are part of an ever-expanding, diverse and extraordinary community.
I’m looking forward to this journey with you and I’m grateful for any ideas and input! Please don’t hesitate to contact me.