Director's Message

Director’s Message

Gretal Leibnitz(full)

Welcome to the ADVANCE Implementation Mentors (AIM) Network website!

At the November 2010 ADVANCE Program Workshop, Drs Donna Dean, Miriam Rossi and Barbara Whitten spoke of their experience in forming and participating in a mentoring group—a group that helped them cope with discipline-specific, general academic, and sometimes personal challenges faced. I realized this would be a valuable model for those serving as ADVANCE Change Leaders (i.e., PI’s/Program Directors/Coordinators).  Like STEM Faculty women, ADVANCE Change Leaders are often isolated professionally and geographically (i.e., typically there is one primary person per institution responsible for coordinating ADVANCE activities/programs, and there were less than 50 ADVANCE organizations nationally, at that time).

With the support of NSF ADVANCE Program Officer Dr. Kelly Mack, I requested a 7:30 a.m. meeting of ADVANCE Change Leaders. More than 20 people showed up! It was fabulous to talk to individuals whogot it,” shared similar experiences at their institutions, and faced common challenges in thewalk.” There was a clear need to share process information and valuable lessons learned. Out of this spontaneous, early morning meeting, the ADVANCE Implementation Mentors (AIM) Network emerged.

The new network needed a means for storing and sharing documents and process papers. Collaboration with a sister network, the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) afforded this support. The WEPAN Women in STEM Knowledge Center provided the platform for the AIM Network Interest Group.  The Knowledge Center connection also provided access to an extensive, growing, resource library of women in STEM research.   Thus, a means to support an active Community of Practice was established.

As the AIM Network Community of  Practice evolved, it became evident that Women of Color (WOC) were often missing from the ADVANCEtable.’ In an effort to address this concern, Dr. Ming Shi Trammel and I wrote a request for ADVANCE supplemental funds. The project, entitled AIM Network Women of Color Allies and Partners Project was funded in August, 2012. This project targeted support for historically disadvantaged faculty women in STEM disciplines by providing tools for ADVANCE Change Leaders to serve as better informed advocates and partners.

One product of the project was a website.  Toinette Rorie, WOC business owner of Premier Web Design Solutions and talented web designer; Dr. Manorama Khare, Project Evaluator; Dr. Ming Shi Trammel, and I envisioned a rich, vibrant, interactive website to reflect the community supported. The envisioned AIM website would: 1) support the efforts and development of ADVANCE Change Leaders, in general, and 2) provide a vehicle for the Women of Color (WOC) Allies and Partners Toolkit, in specific. We are delighted with the AIM website produced.

The “living” AIM website is one that affords an online “public face,” with connection to theprivate space” of the Women in STEM Knowledge Center: AIM Network Interest Group.  In addition to our monthly meetings, frequent email exchanges, and annual face-to-face ADVANCE gathering, our intention is that this electronic resource be yet another way to bring the ADVANCE community closer, foster an open and inclusive foundation to our work, and broaden our collective reach” and impact.

Preliminary evidence suggests that this networked environment has not only fostered support for and the professional development of individual ADVANCE Change Leaders, but, through these individuals, expanded and broadened the impact of the national ADVANCE effort as well.  I am honored to work with such a talented community of people!

I welcome your suggestions, comments and, most importantly, YOU to the ADVANCE Implementation Mentors (AIM) Network!


Gretal Leibnitz, Ph.D.

Founder and Executive Director