Q&A With Community Leaders on the Benefits of Supporting Their Staff Through the Internet2 Inclusivity Scholarship
By Taleitha McGuinnis - Program Manager, Affiliates & Federal Affiliates
In this Q&A blog, we asked three community leaders to share why they encourage colleagues across research and education (R&E) to invest in their staff by nominating them for the Internet2 Inclusivity (I2I) scholarship program.
All three – Lois Brooks, chief information officer and vice provost for information technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Damian Doyle, deputy chief information officer, senior associate vice president, and interim chief information security officer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and David Marble, chief executive officer and president at OSHEAN – have nominated staff. They have seen first-hand how scholarship recipients benefit from the I2I experience.
|Apply for the I2I Scholarship|
|Internet2 is now accepting I2I scholarship applications and nominations for the 2023 Community Exchange being held May 8-11 in Atlanta, GA! The deadline to apply and/or nominate an individual is Wednesday, March 1 at 5:00 p.m. CT.|
What was the spark or motivation that led you to nominate a member of your staff for the I2I scholarship?
Lois Brooks: We greatly value the Internet2 community experience. UW-Madison staff attend conferences and participate in communities of practice where they learn new ideas, share their experience, and connect on emerging topics. Opening this community to our rising stars is a real benefit. The I2I scholarship is particularly appealing for two reasons. The cohort model provides a group of peers so the recipients are immediately connected with others. Also, it’s a curated experience, and the Internet2 team makes sure the cohort meets people and attends events. It can be a bit overwhelming to be at a conference where you don’t know people, and the scholarship experience ensures that our staff make connections.
Damian Doyle: I wanted Ally Hepp to get exposure to the variety of what Internet2 offers in the most meaningful way possible. The conference would be great by itself, but I really wanted her to have a cohort and group to connect with and get a different set of perspectives from. The networking opportunities, and the mentor network that Internet2 connects the scholarship recipients to, is something invaluable to someone in the beginning stages of their career. Making those connections and having the opportunity to learn from and interact with so many great leaders is something that can be truly transformational.
David Marble: Jacqueline Barber was a fairly new employee at the time, already showing great potential both in technical acumen and personal drive. Her story of perseverance in getting to OSHEAN was something to be nurtured and rewarded by exposure to the world beyond the four walls of OSHEAN engineering. The broader world of the R&E community has always been welcoming to me and I try to expose my team to it as best I can.
In the wake of your staff member’s experience with I2I, what impacts have you observed on her career development and trajectory? How has the experience impacted her contributions to her team and your institution/organization?
Lois Brooks: We have had four people participate in the program, with the most recent being Steffanie Johnson who attended the 2022 Technology Exchange. Among the other three, Tomomi Imamura and Bridget Bartell have since taken on new responsibilities for us with new projects and greater engagement in the organization, and Meloney Linder has pursued a new career opportunity as a VP at another university in the community. The scholarship allows professional development by giving an opportunity to learn at the conference and build a national network of peers, which of course helps people build skills. I think nominating someone sends a special message to say that we’re investing in them, taking the time to prepare materials in support of their candidacy because we want them to have the opportunity. It lets them know in a tangible way that we believe in them.
“We have a responsibility to build the next generation of leaders, and this program is a piece of the puzzle. I know Jacqueline will never forget the experience.” — David Marble, OSHEAN
Damian Doyle: I knew it would be an eye-opening experience, and I’ve seen that reflected in her thinking already. It really gave her some good insights into different career possibilities within the specializations showcased at the Technology Exchange. Being able to go between tracks and be exposed to so many areas broadened her thinking and has already influenced where she wants to focus her career.
She has taken initiative since the conference to seek out leaders throughout our division in some of the areas she learned more about and is looking at how each area connects and interacts with a new lens. This broader view has a direct impact on her work, since she is considering and including more disciplines and approaches in her projects, and really starting to think about how one initiative can affect and influence another.
“I think nominating someone sends a special message to say that we’re investing in them, taking the time to prepare materials in support of their candidacy because we want them to have the opportunity. It lets them know in a tangible way that we believe in them.” — Lois Brooks, University of Wisconsin-Madison
David Marble: The first aspect was to instill a measure of confidence in her that, not only her direct management, but a larger ecosystem appreciates what she brings to OSHEAN. Confidence that she fits with the team as peers in a complex and challenging world. She has developed leadership-level work by going beyond the reactive nature of task-based assignments. Some of the work she has done in our cloud services space has been exemplary and shared with the broader R&E engineering community.
” … there are few scholarships that expose them to so many different levels of technical and strategic thinking in such a short time, combined with small groups and one-on-one interactions with some of the community’s most influential and dynamic leaders.” — Damian Doyle, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
What advice can you share with peers in the community who have employees who would be a great fit for the I2I experience?
Lois Brooks: Definitely encourage them to apply. Our scholarship recipients have a strong, positive experience at the conference, and say the time spent there was well worth it.
Damian Doyle: I would have two main pieces of advice. First, if you have someone who would benefit from this, or even someone who is just very curious and is trying to determine the next steps in their career, nominate them, and do it now. The application is straightforward, and there are few scholarships that expose them to so many different levels of technical and strategic thinking in such a short time, combined with small groups and one-on-one interactions with some of the community’s most influential and dynamic leaders.
The second piece of advice is not to be a passive leader. Get involved, even if your employee isn’t selected, get involved. The scholars are always a tremendous group, embodying the kind of fresh thinking and self-motivated people we want at the core of our community. Volunteer to meet them over lunch, introduce them to groups that they might not think to connect with, mentor them, or do anything else you can to be supportive. I guarantee you will learn as much from these interactions as they do. You can help make these scholarships transformative and really work to affect the diversity of our teams and our industry in meaningful ways.
David Marble: Do it. The R&E community is unlike anything I have witnessed in my 40 years in the business. The openness to collaboration and the willingness of the community to expand horizons is unmatched elsewhere, and we should never keep that experience to a select few.