A new year is a time of transition for NSGC when volunteer leadership shifts, from Committees to the Board of Directors. It is an honor to be your President this year and I’m thankful to receive a strong baton from Heather Zierhut, Immediate Past President. Heather texted me a congratulatory, “You got this, Prez!” just after midnight on January 1, which made it all real. The remarkable individuals who make up NSGC’s Board of Directors and our staff team are key partners in the discussions and decisions for the year ahead.
As I write this, the Board is preparing for our first meeting of the year. It will be an opportunity to build a shared understanding of each other and the work before us. It will also look starkly different than we expected because the Board will be missing someone. Our genetic counseling community experienced a deep loss last month when Lauren Ryan, NSGC volunteer and leader extraordinaire, tragically passed away. Lauren was an incoming Director at Large on the Board and meant to be with us. We miss her very much and are still processing the loss of a future envisioned with her in it. Many of you may be feeling similarly. During our meeting, we are making space to remember Lauren and draw inspiration from her impactful words, actions, and energy as we explore how to carry forward her legacy.
We will also be looking to NSGC’s 2022-2024 Strategic Plan during our meeting and throughout the year. This plan guides the priorities of the Board and every NSGC Committee, Task Force and Workgroup; it is a powerful filter. We are in year two of the plan, an important “connecting” year before a new plan is developed. This year we are recognizing the progress made, assessing the lessons learned, and using that to purposefully move forward.
In 2023, many NSGC Committees are processing and evaluating alongside many other activities. Here are four examples, each mapping tightly to one pillar of NSGC’s Strategic Plan.
Growth and Sustainability
NSGC’s Board of Directors will be evaluating our Federal bill advocacy strategy, as the Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act did not get included in last year’s end-of-year legislative package. We are determining effective ways to advance the bill in this new Congressional session, propelled by the momentum and progress that the Advocacy Coordinating Committee (ACC), Government Relations staff team, and many volunteers gained last year. Watch NSGC’s social media and your email for video messages from ACC leaders Antonina Wojcik (2023 Chair) and Colleen Campbell (2022 Chair and 2023 President-Elect). Antonina and Colleen will reflect on last year’s advancements, upcoming efforts, and ways to help.
Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.)
NSGC’s J.E.D.I. Stewardship Committee – which now has “stewardship” in its name to fully capture its role – will be evaluating how NSGC’s J.E.D.I. Action Plan, released last year, is progressing and stacking up to established metrics. As this Committee assesses the work by all of us to further the Action Plan, periodic updates will be shared. These will be available on the J.E.D.I. webpage and in the J.E.D.I. dashboard (currently in development). All of this is essential in the process of stewarding and embedding J.E.D.I. throughout our organization.
Fostering Professional Excellence
NSGC’s Position Statement Committee (formerly called the Public Policy Committee) will be evaluating a new process for developing and reviewing NSGC’s position statements, including carefully considering whether each of our existing statements aligns to the Strategic Plan. Position statements are critical for external organizations and the public to learn NSGC’s stance on issues affecting the delivery of genetic services or directly impacting the genetic counseling profession.
Empowering Our Communities
NSGC’s Membership Committee will be evaluating the needs of members with respect to leadership training, something that many have been asking for across the organization, in different ways. Part of the Committee’s assessment will be to better understand exactly what we mean by “leadership training” and what the specific needs are, to develop recommendations, and to outline what success looks like so we are effectively supporting NSGC’s growing and diversifying membership.
One of the privileges of my role is that I gain visibility and input into many parts of NSGC. It is wonderful to see volunteer and staff teams rolling up sleeves to get started. We are also incorporating approaches from last year to focus the work ahead. Heather Zierhut’s December message shared that the work is, “…prioritized and strategized so as to leave space for the expected and unexpected.” Making space to process and evaluate, considering our human capacity and real need to pace ourselves, is fundamental to sustainable and meaningful progress. I’m grateful to see this happening already, and I look forward to the year ahead with you.
Deepti Babu, MS, CGC (she/her) is 2023 NSGC President and Founder of Integrity Content Consulting. Deepti's engagement with NSGC spans 25 years, since joining as a student member and catching the volunteerism bug. She enjoys making meaning of complex scientific topics for varied audiences through her medical writing.