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There is No Place Like Home... and Dorothy's Ruby Slippers | APPAM Leadership Blog Series

March 12, 2018 02:45 PM

Welcome to the APPAM Leadership Blog Series! Each month you will hear from our Executive Director, President or President-Elect, providing APPAM membership a behind-the-scenes look at how APPAM operates and how you can be more involved. Our authors will introduce new initiatives, discuss current policy topics and share resources they value. 

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Stagner,_160x160by Matt Stagner, APPAM President-Elect

Spring is upon us and that means many things: melting snow, spring training baseball, emerging tulips, and, most importantly, preparing submissions for the APPAM Fall Research Conference! APPAM leadership is busy putting together the conference and making changes that we hope will improve the experience for everyone.

This will be APPAM’s 40th research conference—our ruby anniversary. You will notice both the gem graphic and ruby-inspired colors for this milestone conference.

If you, like me, have attended more than 30 of the past conferences, or if you are new to our organization, we look forward to gathering in Washington, DC, in November to share research findings, discuss emerging and longstanding policy issues, and learn new methods for making our research more rigorous and more relevant to policy and practice.

I want to call your attention to a couple of things that are new for 2018 and have me excited about the conference.

Super Sessions

First, we are introducing a set of “super sessions” that will take place during each time slot throughout the conference, featuring cross-cutting and topic-specific sessions we believe will be of interest to many participants. The super sessions will be opportunities to gather with a large number of attendees from focused policy areas. They will be held in our largest hall, and will include emerging topics of interest, in-depth discussions with policy makers, or other features that may have been reserved for plenaries in the past. We look forward to seeing submissions for these super sessions. Or, contact me directly if you have ideas.

40 for 40 Fellowship

Second, I want to introduce you to the 40 for 40 Fellowship, a program that will provide funding for 40 outstanding young research professions to attend the Fall Research Conference.

We need you to make 40 for 40 a success.

40-40_logoPlease consider nominating your current colleagues or past graduates who have shown promise with innovative research contributions. This award will go to those dedicated to improving programs and policies by generating and engaging with evidence. We will recognize those early career individuals who have already made a lasting impact on policy and practice in APPAM’s focal areas. The honorees do not need to be current APPAM members, so be sure to consider colleagues who may not be part of the APPAM family.

For example, I have a young colleague working on one of the most pressing policy issues of our time: the opioid epidemic. She is working to understand and apply processes for testing wastewater to understand where the epidemic is growing. She coming from a public health background and may not think of APPAM as her first professional home, but she would be a great addition to the conversations on this frightening policy issue. The 40 for 40 Fellowship could help to bring her to DC in the fall.

Early in our careers, we have all tried out various networks to see where we fit. This fellowship will allow us to expose more early career professionals to the lively exchange at our conference, enriching both their careers and ours.

We also ask you to consider supporting the work of these scholars through a donation to the Ruby Fund. The 40 for 40 Fellowship is entirely donor-funded; help ensure that we're able to name all 40 fellows by including your donation. You can find all the 40 for 40 information here. This is a great chance to “pay it forward," lay the groundwork for APPAM’s future, and commemorate our 40th anniversary. 

I attended my first APPAM conference in 1985 and it was truly a life-changing event. It connected me to scholars and policy makers who were engaged in work that matters, and it convinced me to continue my education in pursuit of a career in policy research.  

Never has rigorous policy evidence been more important. We need to continue to attract and support young professionals to grow and improve our field. The 40 for 40 Fellowship is one small way to support their work and connect them to the learning network that APPAM provides.

Having spent my childhood in Kansas, I’m all about Dorothy’s ruby slippers. There is in fact no place like home, and I’m proud to call APPAM my professional home for the past three plus decades. Let’s make sure our ruby conference continues to build our membership and puts APPAM at the forefront of connecting research and policy.  

Let me know if you have other ideas to help make this the best APPAM conference ever.


Matt Stagner, APPAM President-Elect

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