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Jenny Baker
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Taking Our Ambassador Membership Program Virtual: The 2021 Ambassador Subcommittee Seeks Your Help This Fall

Jenna-Lyn Roman and Stefanie Mockler, Ambassador Program Subcommittee SIOP Membership Committee

SIOP’s Ambassador Program seeks to support new conference attendees by providing an opportunity to receive mentorship from a more experienced SIOP member. For the 2020 Annual Conference, we achieved several ambitious goals, including having nearly 600 conference registrants sign up to participate. This is a record number!

Then, COVID-19 hit the world hard, conference programming changed rapidly, and the Ambassador Program Subcommittee had to pivot along with it. Although we weren’t able to deliver on a virtual program for 2020, under the leadership of two new subcommittee chairs (viz. Stefanie Mockler and Catherine Savage) and with an energized and engaged team, we have a vision to make future Ambassador Programs virtually accessible and better than ever! Our world is changing, and we understand the need to change along with it.

To execute our vision, we need your help. Specifically, we are looking for volunteers to help us pilot a “hybrid” Ambassador Program that will include both virtual and, if possible, in-person components. With your support, we can test our ideas and gather feedback to help us take this program to the next level in 2021 and years to come. We believe that at least some elements of virtual programming are here to stay, and we want to ensure the ambassador experience can pivot quickly no matter what the future looks like.

In the next sections, we describe a brief history of the Ambassador Program, map out our future vision, and offer more details for how you can help us strengthen and improve the program.

Where We’ve Been: The History of the Ambassador Program

The SIOP Annual Conference is, without a doubt, an overwhelming experience, particularly for those who are new to the event and aren’t quite sure where to start or how to make the most of the experience.  Since 2010, the SIOP Ambassador Program has sought to make the newcomer experience less overwhelming by matching our newest attendees with previous conference goers who were willing to share what they’ve learned and serve as a mentor throughout the conference.  Serving as an ambassador is a relatively small time commitment that can have a tremendous impact on first-time SIOP attendees, including providing a positive introduction to the SIOP community. 

Where We’re Headed: Exploring and Designing Ambassador Program Options for SIOP 2021

The vision for SIOP 2021 is to develop and provide a hybrid program consisting of in-person sessions, virtual live sessions, and virtual asynchronous sessions (i.e., prerecorded materials to help set newcomers and ambassadors up for success).  Although we aren’t certain what the upcoming conference will look and feel like, we know it will be different than what we experienced in the past.  The Ambassador Program Subcommittee is committed to learning how we can best accommodate newcomers and ambassadors who attend the conference, both in person and virtually. As noted, to do that, we need your help.

To pave the path for the SIOP 2021 Ambassador Program, we will need SIOP members to test out our matching system and provide us with feedback regarding how best to design a hybrid experience.  

We will reach out to the 600 members who committed to the 2020 Ambassador Program, and we would greatly welcome other SIOP members who would like to assist as well.

Our Call to Action: Your Role and Our Needs

If you’re willing to help, please visit our web page to volunteer.

We will ask you to devote 1–2 hours this fall (i.e., October 2020).

This will consist of

  • taking a brief survey,
  • reaching out to another SIOP member that you have been matched with, and
  • interacting in an online platform.

By volunteering you would get the opportunity to connect with and possibly make a difference for another SIOP member.  In addition, you could assist our team in making sure the offerings of the Ambassador Program will continue to be high quality, impactful, and viable as we move toward a hybrid conference in 2021.

Any SIOP members who desire to participate as an ambassador or newcomer for the 2021 SIOP Annual Conference are encouraged to do so when the registration process opens. We encourage everyone from graduate students who are more advanced in their programs to recent graduates in academic or applied jobs to more veteran SIOP members to consider making a first-time SIOP conference attendee feel welcome, especially in these uncertain times.  As we look forward to the 2021 conference, our committee is determined to help even more members make connections through the Ambassador Program.

We thank everyone who is willing in advance for volunteering to help shape the Ambassador Program for the 2021 Annual Conference and beyond!  

For more information about the Ambassador Program, contact us at ambassador@siop.org or visit our web page.   

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