Cultivating Inclusive Leadership in Professional Societies
Ian Wallace, Crispin Taylor, Gustavo MacIntosh, Mary Williams, Leeann Thornton
The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) is largely led by a group of volunteers who
rotate through short-term leadership positions. The goal of this project is to provide all who hold
such positions of power with the awareness and tools they will need to be inclusive leaders,
committed to prioritizing the needs of marginalized folks and dismantling inequitable barriers,
starting with a collection of resources aimed to develop an awareness of barriers to inclusion in
our society, followed by a workshop that will incorporate inclusive practices to ASPB activities
carried out by individual committees, sections, and leadership groups.
There are four components to our project. The first is a curated set of materials that are
intended to support self-directed learning and reflection. The modules include “Feeling the
Problem”, “Start with Yourself”, and “Interpersonal Work”. The second component of our project
will unfold at the first Council meeting of each governance year. That entire meeting will be
devoted to individual and collective discussion of inclusive leadership and how to implement
recommendations from the NASEM report on Advancing Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity, and
Inclusion in STEMM Organizations. The third component is the expectation that all Council
members will propagate inclusive leadership in their work as committee chairs and section
leaders, and the fourth component will take place at the summer in-person Council meeting,
during which Council members will share how, through their work with committees and sections, they deployed what they learned through this program.
Altogether, the project should provide our leaders with resources and facilitate working together
to hold each other accountable in seeing useful ideas come to fruition. We plan to continue the
work in the following year with improvements based on feedback from the participants.