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New Faces, New Ways to Serve SPSSI’s Membership

   by Susan Dudley, Executive Director

Routine is elusive at SPSSI’s Central Office. Because the SPSSI calendar is dominated by our biennial convention in even-numbered years, the tasks that kept us busy in our work on behalf of the SPSSI membership this spring and summer have been quite different from those we were concentrating on at the same time last year. With the many programmatic and administrative tasks and activities that require attention every week, month, or year, even a two-year calendar involves some degree of repetition over time. Nevertheless, variety seems always to trump routine around here, and that’s almost always a good thing.

For example, even with our small permanent administrative staff -- consisting until very recently of just Anila Balkissoon (who most of our members know as SPSSI’s Administrative Coordinator) and me -- we are fortunate to have many opportunities to host and work with new people, and this keeps the office an exciting place to be. The changing cast of interesting SPSSI folks includes fellows, interns, and scholars who cycle into and out of our office “community.” Most recently, these have included Carrie Langner, the 2007-2008 James Marshall Fellow, who has now moved on to a faculty position at UC Santa Cruz, and Rachel Casas, the 2008 Dalmas Taylor Intern, who is starting a new phase of her research in Puerto Rico. Most recently, we've welcomed the 2008-2009 Marshall Fellow, Jutta Tobias, who was in Rwanda this summer collecting data for her just-finished dissertation. (See pictures below).

We’ve also been able to expand our full-time SPSSI staff in 2008 in order to meet SPSSI’s administrative and programmatic goals more efficiently. Our two new staff members are:

Garrett Ducker, a graduate of the University of Maryland (where his major was social psychology!) and a Washington area native, joined the staff in April as our full-time Administrative Assistant. Garrett came to SPSSI from the American College of Cardiologists, a very large professional association that is functionally similar to SPSSI in many ways. The experience he gained in his three years there has already proven beneficial to SPSSI, and he adds new capacity to the services we can provide to SPSSI’s members and leaders. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to meet Garrett at the SPSSI Convention in Chicago this summer, his is probably the voice you’ll hear first when you call the Central Office.

Christopher Woodside

Christopher Woodside, another DC area native, received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Miami University. He worked for a couple of years for Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland’s 8th District - initially on the congressman’s election campaign, and then as an aide. Christopher’s experience also includes public relations work and, most recently, a position as Director of Government Relations & Outreach at MENC, the National Association for Music Education. At MENC, Christopher was responsible for the development and implementation of a comprehensive advocacy and public policy agenda designed to promote the cause of music education in America’s schools. With his strong passion for social justice, he joins the SPSSI staff in the newly created Policy Coordinator position, and looks forward to applying his “insider’s” knowledge of policy processes to helping SPSSI’s members bring good science into public policy.

There is no question that with these new staff members on board to support SPSSI’s work and help keep our programs strong and growing, we’ll be seeing a lot of creative activity in the Central Office ? keeping that tension between routine and variety always exciting!

From left: Balkissoon, Langner, Casas, Tobias

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