Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Jennifer Regala. Jennifer is the Director of Publications/Executive Editor at the American Urological Association.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With #SSP2022 coming to a bittersweet close, it’s time for the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP’s) committees to get serious, fill out their rosters, and look ahead to goals for the year to come. Come one, come all, and sign up for the committee that most suits your skills and/or most challenges you! Chances are, though, if you are reading this post, you already have the good fortune to at the very least know about SSP, and you are likely a member. Here is my official call to action: think beyond your comfy cozy circle to think about how you can include at least one person who doesn’t know we’re all here waiting for them.

Trust me when I say that nobody is asking me to write this Scholarly Kitchen (TSK) piece, yet here I am. #WeAreSSP not only because we work together as a volunteer membership organization to make scholarly publishing better, but because we share rich core values: community, adaptability, inclusivity, and integrity. Each of us, as members, is committed to these values and to improving our beloved organization through volunteering, of course. But I encourage you to join me in a pledge to bolster these ideals further by looking past our own networks to provide opportunities to individuals we don’t even know yet. How can we grow SSP to enrich scholarly publishing with new voices and contributors?

SSP Core Values Infographic

Here’s what motivated this public call to action. Much to my complete surprise, SSP honored me this week with their Appreciation Award. I am astonished and baffled and completely, entirely undeserving. I wish I could have been there in person to accept this unexpected recognition, but because I wasn’t, Lauren Kane, Chair of the Nominating Committee, and Melanie Dolechek, Executive Director of SSP, asked me to share some brief thoughts about the award. I share those here now:

Thank you to Lauren, the nominating committee, our SSP Board, my fellow committee members, the SSP membership at large, and the wonderful, beloved SSP staff for this award. I have no idea why I am receiving it or how I am deserving of it, but I will say this. SSP has given me everything. Everything. I feel loved and supported and valued in a scholarly publishing community that is ever-changing and volatile. SSP is my home. I have found my dearest colleagues in all of you, and for that I am forever grateful. Although I have worked in scholarly publishing for over 20 years, I only had the fortune of joining SSP in 2018. In some ways, I wish I had this opportunity of membership much sooner, but in other ways, I see how much finally having a chance to join made me appreciate SSP so much more. I promise to work hard to give others this same chance and to never take my privilege of being a part of this group for granted. I wish I could hug the bits out of every single person in this room today, but I send you all my virtual love and thanks instead. I am honored and humbled and will focus my efforts on making anyone who wants to be a part of SSP feel as included as you all have always made me feel. This award is not for me. It is for people we don’t even know yet, who deserve a voice in this organization. I pledge to work with all of you in this room and share the gift of this community with each one of those individuals.

I share with you this speech not to brag about an award I truly assure you is out of my league. When I received it, though, I made a promise to myself and to scholarly publishing professionals past, present, and future. I tweeted my intentions soon after the Awards Reception:

It is now time for me to hold myself accountable and pay forward the amazing privilege I have received as a member of SSP. There are many, many more professionals out there who need this scholarly publishing home as much as I do.

I graduated from college approximately 1,893,024 years ago. I spent a few years “finding myself” career wise. I landed in scholarly publishing in 2000 and quickly fell in love. The thrill of becoming a part of bringing research to life is unparalleled for me. What a privilege it is to help important research receive quality peer review and live on forever in published form! It’s unbelievable. Even given my passion for what I do, though, I almost didn’t make it *here*. Where is *here*? In a dream career role, surrounded by loving and supportive professional colleagues like every single one of you, with a seat at the table and an audience who listens to and values my opinion, even if it often centers around my Wordle obsession and the color hot pink.

Most of my time in scholarly publishing, though, I was on my own. My luck changed in 2018, when I began working at American Society of Plant Biologists under the mentorship of Nancy Winchester. One of the first things she had me do was sign up for SSP, the Council of Science Editors, and the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors. She also made sure I subscribed to The Scholarly Kitchen immediately and told me that it would be the most important thing I didn’t have time to read that I would need to make time to read each and every day. And with those memberships and my free TSK subscription, I was off and running. To think that I only joined this group in 2018 is a testament to what SSP does for all of us.

IT’S MY TURN NOW. How am I going to pay it forward?

  1. I am going to say “YES” to what I can do well and say “NO” to what I can’t. My dear SSP friend Paige Wooden taught me that my “no” is someone else’s “yes”. I will say “NO” but instead of feeling regret, I will be ready with names of folks who can say “YES” and have the chance to make a difference. I want to see new names and new faces join our body of experience in the evolution of the SSP story.
  2. I was telling another cherished SSP friend, Alexa Colella, that this award makes me feel the responsibility to fix what is broken in our world. She challenged me by saying, “I think you should empower people to see things as possible to fix. There’s so much talent out here, but no one is taught that they can lead.” I can help by encouraging people to lead.
  3. Yet another SSP colleague, SSP President-elect Randy Townsend, once encouraged me to think beyond those we know in our world right now. How can we reach past those familiar faces to find the people who don’t know they need us? And how can we include them at our table? I will endeavor to find these people.
  4. I will contribute to our Generations Fund. I can contribute not just financially but by spreading the message of why this fund is important to our future.
  5. I will continue to do what I do best: mentor, cheerlead, and make everyone feel welcome. Please, please, we want you to sit with us at the table!

What else can YOU do? Think about how you can make SSP a better place and how you can embody our core values while providing an inviting space to grow our individual careers and the values of our community.

A reminder of my personal motto: It’s free to be nice and to comb your hair. I hope you’ll join me in my call to action. Let’s all get to work!

 

Jennifer Regala

Jennifer Regala

Jennifer Regala is the Director of Publications/Executive Editor at the American Urological Association, where she oversees the scholarly publications program, which includes two peer-reviewed journals, The Journal of Urology® and Urology Practice®; the organization’s newsletter/membership digital ecosystem; annual meeting-related publications; and a CME product. Currently, Jennifer is managing the launch of JU Open Plus, a new Gold Open Access journal that will begin publication in January 2023. Jennifer is also overseeing the implementation of open peer review for The Journal of Urology®, the AUA’s flagship journal. Jennifer is the Co-Chair of SSP’s Marketing and Communications Committee and the SSP-DC Regional Subcommittee. Jennifer has worked in scholarly publication for more than 20 years at Cadmus, Sheridan, and the American Society of Plant Biologists. Jennifer’s personal motto is: “It’s free to be nice and to comb your hair.”

Discussion

10 Thoughts on "Guest Post — Paying It Forward: A Call to Action"

Jennifer…I am not surprised to be reading this from you! Your energy is contagious. I will join you in pledging to share, to continue to learn, and to contribute to our community’s growth. Thanks for your offering today. This truly is EDI in practice.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, Josephine Sciortino, my dear friend! 🙂 Thank you for joining me in doing our best to include all who want to be included. I so value your kindness, brilliance, and dedication to community!

What a lovely post, Jennifer. I could not agree more. SSP is an amazing organization populated by even more amazing human beings. I’m also in!

Thank you, Byron 🙂 We are so privileged to be a part of this community, and I am so glad you stand by me in wanting as many individuals as possible to experience what we do! Have a great week.

Patricia Shaffer said, in 2006, “you need to join SSP”. I have not looked back since because SSP has always kept me facing forward. Thank you Jennifer for your energy and beautiful charge!

Love all of this energy — and sense of lightheartedness! And so true — my “no” is someone else’s enthusiastic “yes!”.

I agree, Ashley! This one is really hard for me because I really want to help. But I’m not helping by overcommitting myself. Even worse is keeping someone else from an opportunity. I’m trying! 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment.

Really nice piece (and congratulations on your award). Volunteering has given me a lot – whether it’s meeting great people (like you!) or learning new skills. It’s made my career and professional experience so much richer, and also means I get to help other people (and be helped in return!) along the way.

Simon, you’re so amazing and have taught me so much about what it means to be a good volunteer. I really value the experiences we’ve had collaborating on various projects and look forward to many more in the future.

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