Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Michael Groth. Mike is Director of Marketing at KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. and co-chair of the SSP Marketing and Communications Committee.

The Society for Scholarly Publishing recently celebrated National Volunteer Week by sending appreciations to all of its committee and task force members, thanking them for their commitment to the organization and everything they do to support the advancement of scholarly communications. While juggling work and personal obligations can be a challenge for many people, even on a good day, volunteering for a professional, mission-driven, political, or community organization can be a very rewarding experience.

As the long-awaited, in-person SSP Annual Meeting approaches, we are hosting two events where prospective volunteers can learn about opportunities within the Society: the 2022-2023 Volunteer Call Out webinar on Wednesday, May 11 at 11:00 am ET; and the Get Involved in SSP Luncheon, on Friday, June 3 at 11:30 am CT, live in Chicago. In case you are still not sure about contributing your time, expertise, and enthusiasm to volunteer for SSP or elsewhere, we asked members of the community to share:

Which organization(s) do you volunteer for and why? 

volunteers stacking hands to express support and unity before starting work

Michelle English, Executive Editor, American Society of Civil Engineers.

I’m a current Co-Chair of SSP’s Career Development Committee where we oversee the Mentorship program, Fellowship, Professional Profiles, and Professional Skills Survey and Map. I love to volunteer with SSP because I can see a direct positive impact being made, especially as it relates to building bridges between early career and more seasoned members of our community. Volunteering has helped me make lots of professional connections that have gone on to impact me in tangible and concrete ways; not to mention the sense of collaboration, community, and belonging that has been so important to maintain during the pandemic. In addition to SSP, I’ve been a volunteer with ISMTE for over a decade, as well as volunteering at my son’s school and coaching his Little League team. Over the last several years I’ve also been volunteering with a voter turnout organization writing postcards (thousands!) to encourage citizens to make it to the polls on Election Day. I believe that we can all make a difference when we support causes and organizations we believe in.

Dawit Tegbaru, Director, Community Publishing Services, Knowledge Futures Group

I currently volunteer for C4DISC and YMCA Dallas because of their focus on advancing equity and collaboration across a spectrum of communities. I’ve long held the belief that one’s service is greater than their status. To me volunteering is about memorializing the support I received along my path by giving back a portion of my time and talents to assist others.

Heather Kotula, VP, Marketing and Communications, Access Innovations

I volunteer for SSP and SLA and there are a lot of reasons why I do. I volunteer because I see a need within the organization that I have the skills to address; I meet new people, growing my network and making friends with some of them; I want to contribute to the overall success of the organization; and I will work for thanks and compliments. Quite simply, it make me feel good to volunteer, which is confirmed by a Corporation for National & Community Service report that stated: “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” It’s a win-win.

Emilie Delquié, Director, Rightsholder Relations and Global Alliances at Copyright Clearance Center

I volunteer for SSP because the organization is a great community of creative, enthusiastic and committed individuals. As a group, we’re all able to contribute to so many meaningful initiatives for our industry like the Generations Fund, the Fellowship and the Mentorship programs to name a few of my favorites. We’re all individuals with full-time jobs and full lives, but yet, I’m amazed by how much progress we make together every year. Plus, I get to meet great new friends!

Chhavi Chauhan, Ph.D., E.L.S., Director of Scientific Outreach, American Society for Investigative Pathology

I volunteer for an array of not-for-profit organizations including the Society for Scholarly PublishingDigital Pathology AssociationWomen in AI Ethics, and Women In AI to name a few in which I have assumed leadership roles. I am a strong proponent of inclusive, equitable, and accessible knowledge, education, and healthcare. Each one of these organizations has been working tirelessly on several initiatives that align with my personal goals and I am proud of each one of them for extending opportunities to empower masses, especially minorities.

Byron Russell, Director, Woodstock Publishing Services

I’m currently co-chair of SSP’s Community Engagement Committee, a role which I have found truly rewarding over the past three years as it has given me the opportunity, despite the pandemic, to continue to engage with and learn from so many members of the scholarly publishing community. Beyond that, I volunteer with English Heritage — I am UK based—which involves meeting and advising visitors at our local Roman villa; it’s quite a privilege to work on a beautiful site that was built over 1800 years ago. I also edit and read with the UK’s Talking News Federation. This audio streaming service produces weekly news broadcasts for those who are visually impaired or unable for whatever reason to read town newspapers, with all the highly local information these provide.

Patti O. Davis, Senior Product Manager, EBSCO Information Services

I volunteer for SSP and then for the Medford Community Gardens. I love volunteering for the Gardens because it involves no computer work, which makes it very different from my regular work. We keep the community parks clean and I have a small plot in the gardens for growing vegetables and flowers for cutting. It’s great to get outdoors with folks and helps me appreciate our parks even more.

Chelsea Tharp, North American Sales Manager, BioOne

Currently, I volunteer on SSP’s Advancement Committee and I’m also looking forward to speaking in two sessions during the Annual Meeting in Chicago next month. I’ve found value in so many SSP programs — from mentorship to webinars and events — so it’s great to be able to re-invest my time back into the organization through volunteering. Being a part of SSP has also been a catalyst to meeting so many others in scholarly publishing, which is the main reason I enjoy participating. Beyond SSP, I’m a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA), which I’m looking to get more involved in through regional and subject-focused committees moving forward.

Sanjay Tangri, Senior Director, Content Services, KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd.

I volunteer for the SSP Career development committee (CDC). I enjoy doing this work as it gives me opportunities to interact with other professionals within our publishing industry.

It’s a great way to share new ideas and learn from experiences of other professionals with similar interests. CDC has programs like Leadership Academy calls, virtual networking sessions and professional profiles, which give an opportunity to learn more about different people’s lives and how their careers evolved. I have mentored early career professionals, which gave me insight into the challenges faced by professionals who are new to the industry. Helping them overcome those challenges and celebrating their wins is fulfilling.

Keith Gigliello, MS, Deputy Director, Publications, American Society of Hematology

I have been a member of the SSP Marketing & Communications Committee and MarCom liaison to the Education Committee for several years. Becoming active within the SSP community has been of tremendous benefit to my career and organization.  Establishing a network of peers is vital for growth on many levels and I have made many lasting relationships through SSP events.

Gabriel Harp, Director of Product, Research Square Company

I aim to volunteer both for organizations that are local to where I live (e.g., trail work for land trusts) and for professional organizations in the scholarly communications realm (e.g., the SSP). I am continually amazed at how many wonderful non-profits exist, large and small, and I strive to do what I can to give back to the communities that I am a part of. I also enjoy meeting new people and learning new things, and volunteering is a great way to do both!

Michael Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. where he oversees strategy and implementation of digital, social, advertising, PR, and event programs. Mike has spent over 25 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, NEJM, and Wolters Kluwer.


1 Thought on "Ask the Community: Why Do You Volunteer?"

It’s great to read the fantastic notes on volunteerism by the members of the wider SSP family. We do see many common motivations and results, and can relate those with us.

Last July, I wrote a piece in The Scholarly Kitchen, where I explored diverse colours of volunteerism in academic publishing ecosystem —
“Let’s Talk About the Volunteers in Scholarly Publishing”: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2021/07/21/lets-talk-about-the-volunteers-in-scholarly-publishing/

One thing always worries me, how do we draw a line between a volunteer and a person being exploited by the system, and how do we maintain this distinction …

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