Post Cards from Congress – Day 4

Michael Johnny, RIR – York

ResearchImpact is ubiquitous.

This is my 8th Congress, working the ResearchImpact/ReseauImpactRecherche (RIR) booth. I am confident that our national network is beginning to be seen as national leaders in knowledge mobilization. The last year has been a very positive one for our network, but an important part of emerging leadership is being visible, being ubiquitous.

The first time this term was by the CEO of the United Way York Region. I had shown up for two consecutive evening community consultation meetings UWYR had hosted, the second night with colleagues. The comment went something like this, when we walked in that evening: “My God, you guys are ubiquitous”. Of course, I had heard of the word but did not fully understand the meaning. It was stated in a sincere and appreciative tone.

Dictionary.com provides this definition for ubiquitous: “existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresent”. It’s an appropriate word for ResearchImpact. We seek to engage ourselves in places which can help educate and inform, connect and collaborate, and engage. Congress is an ideal location for our network to exhibit. We have helped promote examples – across the country – of how knowledge mobilization at universities in Canada can provide effective service support for faculty, graduate students and non-academic leaders in community, industry, government and the public. As a network of 10 universities, we are providing comprehensive services in the context of our institutions and surrounding communities.

I’m not sure if I will be at Congress for eight more years, but I am confident RIR will. While I have no plans to leave, I am seeing a growing core of skilled professional knowledge brokers who can capably provide this service (but I do hope I can attend for 8 more years, I love it!!).Image

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Post Cards from Congress – Day 3

Michael Johnny, RIR – York

Connections. They are always central to effective KMb, but I noticed today especially how important connections are – to build, maintain and support. Let’s examine some highlights of my day:

– A friend and former colleague of mine from my years working in Aboriginal literacy showed up, and in addition to the personal and professional gossip and catch up, we talked business. Her work as a Publishing Manager for a provincial Aboriginal literacy organization has created a new opportunity to leverage York KMb capacity to support a business venture.

– Our booth is conveniently close to Mitacs. This proximity is helping build relationships with key staff, but more importantly, to explore and expand thinking around a proposed collaboration…stay tuned for details later this summer!

– New this year at the RIR booth is a daily project poster display. Utilizing projects across the RIR network, today’s poster focused on a collaborative project on improving math for young children. The project was between Laurier researchers, Ontario Early Years Centres and Libraries of Wellington County. The impact story resonated with a parent, coincidentally from that part of Ontario, and she will be seeking a connection with Laurier’s broker to follow up and learn more.

– Lastly, I took some time to meet with a faculty member at U Manitoba who was signing new copies of her recent book. We attended the same graduate program at Trent. There’s no deep message here; just that you should always make the time to maintain connections that matter.

Of course, the day brought its usual inquiries – 38 visits to the RIR booth, representing 15 unique institutions and, again, a few non-academic organizations. One simply never knows whether any of these 38 visits will result in something. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but a connection made provides an incredible opportunity. I would not have guessed a connection I made in 1994 would play so prominently in my current work in 2014!