NASW volunteers keep wheels turning

By Siri Carpenter, NASW President

One of the rewards of being on the board of NASW is getting regular behind-the-curtain peeks at the work being done by the volunteers serving on our many active committees. This fall, we started the tradition of inviting committee chairs to present during board meetings on a rotating schedule. Here’s a sampling of what some of our committees have been doing in the past few months:

The PIO committee, co-chaired by Kelly Tyrrell and Michael Newman, is working to develop best-practices guidelines for PIOs. The committee is also planning to survey PIO members to better understand the types of professional roles PIO members play and ways NASW can further serve our PIO members.

The awards committee, co-chaired by Alla Katsnelson and Jyoti Madhusoodanan, received 376 submissions for the NASW Science in Society awards and 188 submissions for the Excellence in Institutional Writing Awards (which were expanded this year to include a second, short-form category). Judging is now underway—thanks to the dozens of NASW members who volunteered to help judge the awards. Winners will be announced in September.

The diversity committee, co-chaired by Shraddha Chakradhar and Ashley Smart, is working with a board representatives to research steps NASW can take, at a policy level, to ensure that we are fully backing our goals of diversity, inclusion and equity. This working group will deliver recommendations to the board early this summer.

The membership committee, co-chaired by Kasha Patel and Matt Shipman, and finance committee, chaired by Alexandra Witze, are collaborating on evaluating membership trends and researching opportunities for new member benefits (such as the recently announced discounts on access to JSTOR journals and to the popular Scrivener software). The committee continues to seek new member benefits, and encourages NASW members to make suggestions, especially if they have concrete leads on benefit opportunities.

The grants committee, chaired by Amy Nordrum, has awarded three new Peggy Girshman Idea Grants: to Charles Seife, to build LegalEye, an automated federal lawsuit research assistant for journalists; to Diana Crow and Anne Berlin, to expand and build capacity for the Best Shortform Science Writing Project; and to Katie Mast, Allison Mills and Phil Weaver-Stoesz, to host a workshop to help science writers use improv skills learn to be better interviewers, observers and storytellers.

The governance committee, co-chaired by Nsikan Akpan and Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato, is developing recommendations to the board on numerous policy fronts. Stay tuned for updates.

There’s plenty else going on, as well. As you’ll read about elsewhere in this newsletter, the information access committee recently released information access standards intended to guide interactions between journalists and public information officers at federal agencies. The programs committee is finishing reviewing another stellar crop of proposals for our annual meeting. The freelance committee is cooking up improvements to the Words’ Worth database, and more. And the board itself has begun to meet monthly, which will enable us to provide more timely support for the many initiatives and activities being led by so many dedicated volunteers.

Apr. 15, 2019