Announcing Elizabeth as New Director of Membership

Once, at a cousin’s birthday party, I was excited to announce to my family that I wanted to become a spy when I grew up. Now, I am excited to announce my new role as Director of Membership with The Carpentries. At first glance, the path between the two seems unclear, but I am excited to bring to this new role the experiences and perspectives I gained along the way.

Along the Way

I abandoned my dreams of espionage after being disillusioned by an understanding of the job outside of the movies and, instead, earned a B.S. in Cultural Anthropology from University of California, Davis. I then stepped in as Director of the tutoring center I taught at during my undergraduate years. I was able to continue teaching, an activity that brought me both challenges and joy, while running a small business. I found I excelled in communication, organisation, and administration, and found fulfilment in helping people solve their problems.

So, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. I was accepted as a Research Assistant (RA) in Professor Simine Vazire’s lab at UC Davis, and later became the lab manager, which gave me the opportunity to work closely with Simine, her graduate students, and the fifty RAs rotating through the lab. Three very important things happened during my time at this lab.

First, I saw the impact of our lab community on the RAs who passed through. This community was formed around a common interest but changed lives by respecting and listening to each member. Second, I developed a passionate understanding of the need for open and reproducible science. Finally, I came to understand the challenges faced by people in research and research-adjacent positions in practicing open and reproducible science. You can find a few of the resources about reproducibility that inspired my short-lived existential crisis in the early stages of these realisations here, here, and here.

After two years in the lab, I decided against graduate school. I wasn’t convinced it would be the best use of my strengths or would bring me satisfaction in the long term. I also realized that the challenges of reproducible and open science apply to all disciplines, not just psychology. I wanted a world made better by better science, and I wanted to support that vision in the most effective way available to me.

Just like, I think, many of you, I didn’t know I was looking for The Carpentries until I found you.

Finding The Carpentries

I gladly accepted the position of Business Administrator for The Carpentries in August of 2017. From the beginning I gained fulfilment from the knowledge that what I was doing- each miscommunication unraveled, signature secured, invoice sent, or question answered, was supporting a community dedicated to better science. The work itself didn’t always delight me, but I also went through trainer training, participated in discussion sessions, attended workshops, began using the command line regularly, and submitted my first issue. I was welcomed at every turn, despite needing to have the acronym GUI defined for me (for others like me, it means Graphical User Interface), by this wonderfully diverse, inclusive, and dedicated community. It didn’t take long before I was happy to tell anyone who would listen what The Carpentries could do for their organisation.

In 2018 I worked closely with Jonah Duckles, our previous Director of Membership and Technology, discussing and coordinating memberships. I talked with people about their local communities and the challenges they faced. I saw the amazing things people are doing with memberships and understood the important role that memberships currently play in supporting The Carpentries’ operations. I delighted in how being involved in the membership program allowed me to use the strengths and skills I developed along my winding career path to serve the important mission of The Carpentries. When the time came, with Jonah’s encouragement and the support of the rest of our wonderful team, I positively jumped at the opportunity to make this program my primary focus.

The Path Ahead

It has been an eventful couple of years for The Carpentries community; we merged Software and Data Carpentry into The Carpentries, formed The Carpentries Executive Council, updated our Code of Conduct, and incorporated Library Carpentry as a lesson program, just to name a few achievements. It makes sense that our membership program, which brings together so many pieces of The Carpentries, will need to respond to the growth of our community and adapt as we move into this new year.

I intend to take this opportunity to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening over the next few months, gathering experiences and information. I am not sure what the membership program will look like in the future; it needs to be shaped by the needs and goals of our community.

I will be reaching out to you, and I will value hearing from you at anytime, whether you are a part of a member organisation, you are considering Carpentries membership, or you have advice or information you think might be useful. What is working about our membership program? What could be improved? What could this program include to help you achieve your goals for your local community? Please feel free to drop me a line or grab a time on my calendarto talk, anytime.

I am looking forward to continuing to support this community and working with you to create a membership program that will help build, grow and sustain Carpentries communities through organisations around the world.

Dialogue & Discussion