SOT 2019–2023 Strategic Plan: Year One Objectives

Communique 2019 Issue 3 Masthead

Guided by the Society’s mission and purpose, the recently developed 2019–2023 Strategic Plan is in full effect, with action underway toward achieving the plan’s Central Challenge: to strengthen SOT’s impact on science and public/environmental health.

Three individuals sit on one side of a large round table covered with a black table cloth. The three individuals are looking at each other and are engaged in a conversation. In the background, you can see another round table containing people engaged in discussions.Council identified six Strategic Objectives as areas of focus for the first year of the plan’s implementation. These first-year objectives are:

  • A2: implement forward-looking strategy for meetings and continuing education
  • A3: implement forward-looking strategy for publications and issue statements
  • B3: develop leadership and communication skills among members
  • B4: facilitate career development using mentoring and other approaches
  • C1: develop and implement strategy for communication and engagement
  • D2: optimize organizational efficiency

Many of these objectives are already experiencing progress, with plans for continued headway in the coming months.

Strategic Objective A2: Implement Forward-Looking Strategy for Meetings and Continuing Education

Excerpt from the Strategic Plan: Strategic Objective A2 stresses developing and implementing proactive strategies and innovative approaches to enhance meeting experience and value. Meetings include the annual meeting, SOT-sponsored meetings outside of the annual meeting, all forms of continuing education, and meetings held in collaboration with other scientific organizations.Improving meeting experiences and value is a major component of this objective, and to that end, Council has updated the 2020 SOT Annual Meeting Policies to provide support to parents and guardians registered to participate in the meeting. This change allows the registrant to bring children—under full control—into Scientific Sessions and the ToxExpo Exhibit Hall.

A Presentation Theater featuring short talks and discussions will debut in Anaheim in the ToxExpo Exhibit Hall. The Scientific Program Committee is developing the parameters and procedures for use of this venue.

These are just first steps, as a task force also is looking at ways to further enhance the Annual Meeting and other SOT meetings and events.

Strategic Objective A3: Implement Forward-Looking Strategy for Publications and Issue Statements

Excerpt from the Strategic Plan: Strategic Objective A3 focuses on using innovative approaches to position SOT publications. It includes determining whether new publication(s) should be developed and launched, as well as developing mechanisms to increase the impact and expand the reach of ToxSci. It also recognizes that strengthening SOT’s impact requires improving issues-based communication. With a new Editor-in-Chief, Jeffrey M. Peters, PhD, at the helm, Toxicological Sciences has implemented changes to the journal design, structure, and content to continue to build the strength of ToxSci and seek ways to improve the editorial experience. Beyond the new look and feel of the journal, including a redesigned cover, Dr. Peters has modified the journal’s mission statement slightly to “the mission of Toxicological Sciences is to publish a broad spectrum of impactful research in the field of toxicology.” Additional plans are in development for the journal’s continued evolution.

Meanwhile, SOT Council formed a task force to examine other publication or communication opportunities and possibilities for enhancement.

Strategic Objective B3: Develop Leadership and Communications Skills among Members

Excerpt from the Strategic Plan: Strategic Objective B3 recognizes that strengthening the Society’s impact requires helping SOT members develop and utilize skills in leadership and in communicating science to key audiences.The strength of the Society is deeply embedded within the membership. SOT is committed to providing learning opportunities to help members enhance their ability to communicate science to decision-makers and other key audiences. SOT continues to provide many leadership opportunities at every career level through Committees, Component Groups, and other SOT activities. Look for communication skills training to be included in the Presentation Theater in Anaheim.

In January, a recently formed task force will deliver to the SOT Council two sets of three to four tactics, along with an implementation strategy, to support this objective.

Strategic Objective B4: Facilitate Career Development Using Mentoring and Other Approaches

Excerpt from the Strategic Plan: Strategic Objective B4 builds on existing efforts to develop a comprehensive approach to mentoring. It also stresses enhancing efforts to foster the career development of SOT members by combining both cutting-edge and traditional approaches.Many groups within SOT provide successful mentoring and career development opportunities during and separate from SOT annual meetings. With the implementation of Strategic Objective D1—develop and implement process to set long-term strategic direction—earlier this year, the Education and Career Development Committee (ECDC), along with the Mentoring Task Force, have begun to explore approaches to further enhance mentoring and career development opportunities provided to SOT members. The Mentoring Task Force is finalizing their analysis of the Society’s current mentoring activities and is developing recommendations for the ECDC on initiatives and programs to implement in the coming years.

For this year, the two groups recognize that much of the Society’s mentoring work has been focused on trainees and, therefore, will work to ensure that the current mentoring activities will keep other career stages in mind as they are planned and implemented. In addition, the ECDC and Mentoring Task Force are discussing improvements to the SOT Mentoring Breakfast to take place during the 2020 Annual Meeting.

Strategic Objective C1: Develop and Implement Strategy for Communication and Engagement

Excerpt from the Strategic Plan: Strategic Objective C1 focuses on developing a comprehensive strategy for the Society’s scientific communication that includes bidirectional engagement with key partners.  It emphasizes SOT’s character as a trusted scientific organization and focuses its communication efforts on key influencers rather than the general public.SOT also has made strides toward increasing the Society’s influence through science communication. Specifically, SOT has entered into a partnership with WebsEdge to enhance the visibility and influence of the Annual Meeting through the launch of SOT TV. With the first broadcasts to take place at the SOT 59th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo in Anaheim, SOT TV will consist of daily episodes of 40 minutes to one hour each that will be streamed throughout the Anaheim Convention Center, online, and in selected guest hotel rooms. Each episode will feature news from the meeting, as well as interviews and prerecorded case studies from toxicological stakeholders.

After the Annual Meeting, the Society will continue to leverage the content created for SOT TV throughout the year, featuring toxicological research and information on the SOT website and on SOT social media accounts. This will further bolster Strategic Objective C1 by providing a medium for sharing evergreen toxicological science with those who would like continued access to the information shared on SOT TV during the meeting—ultimately fostering conversation among the membership and enhancing membership engagement year-round.

A working group is busy examining other initiatives and ways for SOT to pursue additional communication and engagement activities, and this is an area of focus for Council this year.

Strategic Objective D2: Optimize Organizational Efficiency

Excerpt from Strategic Plan: Strategic Objective D2 focuses on the organizational challenges SOT faces as a large, multidisciplinary society serving a global membership. It stresses identifying  and prioritizing ways to improve the Society’s organizational efficiency, particularly through streamlining organizational structure and oversight. It includes evaluating the structure of SOT committees and the role of the Council.SOT has recently undergone organizational restructuring in an effort to optimize organizational efficiency. In June, Council approved the merger of the Comparative and Veterinary Specialty Section (CVSS) and Toxicologic and Exploratory Pathology Specialty Section (TEPSS). The newly formed Comparative Toxicology, Pathology, and Veterinary Specialty Section (CTPVSS) was created to streamline the work that the CVSS and TEPSS were accomplishing concurrently, allowing for increased efficiency. The focus of CTPVSS will preserve the missions of CVSS and TEPSS—including promoting the diverse application of in vivo animal models in toxicologic research, comparative and clinical toxicology, and experimental toxicologic pathology—but will further Strategic Objective D1 by optimizing the strengths of the previous Specialty Sections via a combined structure.

Similarly, after examining the Education Committee and the Career Resource and Development Committee (CRAD), Council identified similarities in the activities of these Committees and saw an opportunity to enhance efficiency. The ECDC, a merger of the Education Committee and CRAD, was formed to centralize the related goals of the previous Committees. One of the early actions of the ECDC is evaluating and acting upon recommendations provided by the SOT Mentoring Task Force.

Finally, the creation of Faculty United for Toxicology Undergraduate Recruitment and Education, or FUTURE, further exemplifies the Society’s commitment to Strategic Objective D2 by streamlining the past efforts of the Education Committee and Undergraduate Education Subcommittee to engage undergraduates in pursuing careers in toxicology.

The 2019–2023 Strategic Plan was developed to ensure the Society’s continued progress, and much work is already underway toward this end. As the plan continues to unfold in year one and beyond, SOT leadership anticipates stable advancement for the Society, ultimately enabling the membership to better fulfill the SOT mission.

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