Thanking Liz Neeley: Champion For Scientists And #SciComm

I still remember the first day I met Liz Neeley, a little over seven years ago. We met in a hip coffee shop in Seattle. She had recently relocated there from Washington DC, where she was working for SeaWeb (first as an intern, then as project manager) to continue discussions about potential employment with COMPASS. She stood up from behind her Mac and shook my hand. The first words out of her mouth were how excited she was about this opportunity with COMPASS, followed by “I have so many ideas.” She was buzzing with enthusiasm and innovations. She turned her computer around, and her screen was filled with mock-ups and visuals of ways we could evolve how we help scientists – and ourselves – communicate. Because that’s what Liz does: she imagines, and she produces. Over the last seven years, Liz has tirelessly channeled this energy into COMPASS’ mission to support scientists to engage in the public discourse about the environment, while also working to move the larger field of science communication forward.

Today we are celebrating Liz, as we say farewell to her time with COMPASS. Listing all she has done would be impossible; the legacy and impact she leaves at COMPASS is strong. Liz has contributed to so many dimensions of COMPASS’ work to realize the change we want to see in the world, while also pushing us in new directions, particularly in the areas of social media and the science of science communication.

Liz Neeley, doing what she does so well -- bringing communications trainings to new levels with style and insight. Image by David Kline.

Liz Neeley, doing what she does so well — bringing communications trainings to new levels with style and insight. Image by David Kline.

Liz is a passionate trainer, collaborating with the COMPASS team to implement our efforts to train scientists to be better communicators and connect scientists to the public discourse about the environment, and influencing hundreds of scientists in over 60 workshops in her time with us. In addition to delivering COMPASS’ work and approach, she also pioneered the social media dimensions of our trainings, helping scientists see the potential of social media and avoid the common pitfalls. Without Liz’s efforts and leadership, we would not have been able to support as many scientists to understand and engage in the online world, nor would we have been as successful in evolving our own approaches to connect in that world. She assisted media outreach efforts on topics ranging from catch shares to marine debris, bringing her creative touch and eye for design to visuals and videos for these multifaceted projects. She helped implement innovative ways of connecting scientist and journalists, like our fellowships to bring journalists to scientific conferences. She’s brought so much to the team to make our ideas a reality.

Liz has been a tireless leader and champion of the entire field of science communication, even beyond COMPASS’ niche. Many of you know Liz from her active Twitter presence, sharing #scicomm nuggets and inspiration with the broader field, or her participation at Science Online as she helped cultivate and grow that network, or her work to better connect the science of science communication to the practice of science communication, or her leadership in COMPASS’ #gradscicomm effort to find ways to scale up communication capacity in graduate education. Liz has both helped the larger field, and helped COMPASS stay on the forefront – to incorporate more science of science communication in our trainings and engagement, to share our lessons as leading science communication practitioners with the world, and to ensure we listen to and learn from other practitioners in this space.

No one produces like Liz does.

No one produces like Liz does.

Now Liz’s passion for science writ large and her love of production and design lead her in a wonderful new direction. As the Executive Director of The Story Collider, Liz will be exploring new territory in science communication and the art and science of storytelling. I am sure she is brimming with ideas to take this great initiative to the next level.

As Liz has said “We are stronger, wiser, and more creative as a community (….) It’s only by supporting each other that we’ll endure in this and in challenging each other that we’ll improve.”

Thank you, Liz, for all you’ve done to support and challenge us during your time here. We look forward to continuing to support and challenge each other from our different posts in the science communications realm – we will miss you!

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About Brooke Smith

Brooke Smith is the former Executive Director of COMPASS. She spends a lot of time thinking about the friction - yet incredible need - for science to be closer to society. She is in awe, and appreciative, of the scientists that are paving the way by getting out there and sharing their science, knowledge and insights with the wider world. It motivates her to ensure COMPASS continues to thrive, to support scientists to find their voice, and to join the most relevant conversations.

Comments

  1. A great tribute to a great colleague from whom we’ve all learned so much!

  2. Jennifer Cherrier says:

    Congratulations Liz! You definitely made an impression and impact on me via our LLP COMPASS training. I know you’ll be a great success wherever you career path leads. Best of luck and I hope our paths cross again soon.

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