TTS’ Kara Bilotta Named Chair of NERCOMP's Annual Conference
Kara Bilotta, Service Measurement and Analysis Team Lead, was named last year as the chairperson of the 2013 NERCOMP (Northeast Regional Computing Program) Conference, which will be held March 11 – 13 in Providence, RI. Once the conference ends, Kara will join the NERCOMP Board, which helps shape the direction and activities of the organization.
Throughout her career, NERCOMP has been an important part of her work life and professional development. Her involvement with the organization began when she attended several 1-day professional development events and the annual conferences. Kara then began to lead professional development events of her own and presented at the annual conference. For the last four years, Kara has served as the Tufts Institutional Representative to NERCOMP and as a member of the annual conference program committee. Kara was the 2012 Annual Conference vice-chair, which led to her appointment as conference chair for this year. In this position, she also served on the NERCOMP Board and was subsequently elected to an additional three-year term. Kara explains, “NERCOMP has helped me to develop as a professional, and I think it’s important to give back to organizations that help you.”
As the chairperson of this year’s conference, Kara helped select the theme “Improvising the Future.” She is enthusiastic about the theme because “everything is so fluid now in the IT world that it’s hard to know where your organization is going to be in 5-10 years. It’s important to be able to improvise, collaborate, and be flexible. This year’s conference will focus on these themes and give people tools to work in this sort of environment.” Kara is also excited about two partnerships that have developed for the conference. EDUCAUSE, an organization which seeks to transform higher education through the use of information technology, is a longtime NERCOMP partner. They assist with logistical details, such as finding venues for the conference and marketing and advertising the conference to their membership. The second partnership with SitWithMe.org has developed this year. Sit With Me seeks to open the IT field to people from diverse backgrounds, with a specific focus on increasing gender diversity. There will be a red chair at the conference to highlight the group’s “sit down to stand up for diversity” campaign.
Throughout the year Kara has helped to oversee the intake, review, ranking, and selection of panel proposals for the conference. Kara’s job includes high level decisions like these as well as detail-oriented tasks like soliciting t-shirt designs and ensuring that there are volunteers to fill every role at the conference. Over the next three years, Kara hopes to get involved in board tasks such as negotiating licensing and purchasing agreements with software companies to get member institutions the best rates possible.
Kara encourages members of the higher-ed IT community to attend both the annual conference and other NERCOMP professional development events. She is consistently impressed by NERCOMP’s “low cost, high quality professional development by higher education institutions for higher education institutions” and is excited to continue representing Tufts and supporting NERCOMP during her tenure on the board over the next three years.