A Member of the Discipline
A proud sociologist and member of the ASA for more than 20 years, Nancy received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and her PhD from Stanford. Her doctoral dissertation, chaired by David Grusky, and her subsequent publications examined immigrant employment, labor market incorporation, and occupational mobility in the context of mass migration. Roberto Fernandez, a mentor with whom Nancy jointly authored a paper in ASR on labor sorting and hiring in organizations, recalls her “remarkably mature and focused approach to scholarship.” While in graduate school (which is where I met her), Nancy earned a number of distinctions for research and teaching, including the Sociology Department’s Cilker Award for graduate teaching excellence and the best graduate student paper award from the International Migration Section of the ASA. Meanwhile, her friends and peers in the graduate program very much appreciated the fact that, as Olav Sorenson notes, she, “more than anyone else in our cohort, kept graduate studies in perspective,” reminding us to go to the gym and to have a social life outside the department. Cohort-mates were commonly invited (dragged) to join her regular salsa dancing excursions.
An Advancer of Research, Policy and Management
Nancy’s first gig out of graduate school was as a program officer at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York. There she identified promising research areas and managed a multi-million dollar portfolio of social science grants, including programs on “Census 2000: Making the Results Accessible,” “The Future of Work,” and “Trust in Society.” In addition to the research, Nancy advanced my personal life at this time by introducing me to my spouse, who had just finished a yearlong fellowship at the Foundation.
Nancy then left the Northeast to join the South Florida Workforce Board, building and leading the public policy department that served as the research arm of the organization. This position provided her with an opportunity to practice applied sociology in her specialties of immigration, labor, and organizations, but also required her to attain additional skills in program evaluation and public policy.
Leading a scholarly association requires many qualities including intelligence, energy, diligence, and dedication. Nancy has these in abundance.”
— Steven Wheatley, Vice President of the American Council of Learned Societies
After Florida, Nancy returned halfway back to New York, to Washington, DC, where she initially developed the strategic management division of a consultancy for federal government agencies and then ran a unit of a membership organization that provides research on human resource strategy to senior corporate executives. These positions provided her opportunities to continue to put her sociological background in labor and organizations into practice. For her future career as the ASA Executive Officer, they also importantly allowed Nancy to refine her expertise in strategic management and planning for both public and private organizations. At the same time, DC represented a period of important personal advancement for Nancy when she met her husband, and together they started a family.
An Advancer of the Scholarly Enterprise
In 2008, Nancy returned to advancing the scholarly enterprise, first as Associate Director for Research Initiatives for the National Communication Association (NCA), then, since 2009, as its Executive Director. She is credited with helping the discipline of communication achieve greater prominence within and outside academia and with establishing a variety of programs to support NCA members’ teaching, research, and career development.
Colleagues and associates at the NCA give us a preview of what ASA members can expect of Nancy as the ASA Executive Officer. Dawn O. Braithwaite, a past President of NCA, describes Nancy as someone who “thinks big and creatively” and “constantly looks to take meaningful action.” Carole Blair, another past President of NCA, “applauds the ASA’s wonderful sense to ‘steal’ her from us” and comments on Nancy’s ability to “rise above conflict and chaos in the most professional, gracious, and competent of ways.” Trevor Parry-Giles, NCA’s current Interim Executive Director, fondly appreciates Nancy’s ability to “create an atmosphere of goodwill and frankness,” and Wendy Fernando, NCA’s Director of External Affairs and Publications, observes how Nancy was “kind, empathetic, and committed to both her colleagues and the members of the organization.”
Peers from other professional associations similarly point to Nancy’s leadership and collegial qualities. Steven Wheatley, Vice President of the American Council of Learned Societies, notes that “leading a scholarly association requires many qualities including intelligence, energy, diligence, and dedication. Nancy has these in abundance.” James Grossman, Executive Director of the American Historical Association, reflects on how much he has turned to Nancy for advice and benefitted from her “good judgement, integrity, and thorough professionalism.”
The New Executive Officer of ASA
Now Nancy has returned to sociology. Her path has not been a straight line connecting two dots, but rather a circuitous route enriched by diverse academic and work experiences uniquely suited to her new role at ASA, which inevitably led her back to her home discipline. We are fortunate to have someone with such a deep understanding of, appreciation for, and experience advancing all facets of the sociological enterprise—research, teaching, public and applied scholarship, and advocacy for the social sciences. Our professional association is in good hands.