This article is published in the March 2024 issue.

CRA Update: Highlights from the February Board Meeting

By Matt Hazenbush, Director of Communications

On February 22-23, the Computing Research Association (CRA) hosted its annual February Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, DC. 

To keep you in the know, below is a summary of the many discussions that took place amongst the CRA Board members, CRA staff, society leaders, and distinguished guests who attended in person and via Zoom. 

Many thanks to Board Secretary, Katie Siek, for capturing the notes that helped provide this summary to the community. Community members can also review the Board Meeting agenda and programmatic committee update executive summaries on the CRA Committees page

The next CRA Board of Directors Meeting will be July 22-23, 2024, in Snowbird, Utah, just before the 2024 CRA Conference. Do you have suggestions for agenda topics? We want to hear them! Please share your thoughts via this form

The View from NSF 

Following the conclusion of a successful CRA Leadership Summit and the usual call to order by CRA Board Chair Nancy Amato, the Board Meeting began with an NSF update from distinguished guest Dilma Da Silva, the acting Associate Director of the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). 

Her wide ranging presentation reviewed how NSF is building on previous initiatives, including funding for AI institutes. Additional initiatives discussed covered the topics of smart sensing, semiconductor fabrication, and programs to diversify investigators, particularly from EPSCoR jurisdictions and minority serving institutions (MSIs). She also discussed funding to nonprofits, increased REU stipends, and the challenge of rising costs without matching grant sizes.

Chair’s Remarks and CEO Update

After a networking session and dinner, CRA Board Chair Amato introduced new Board member Jeanette Wing of Columbia University, who joined the Board as an ACM representative effective January 1. In her Chair’s Remarks, Amato emphasized the widespread demand for all things AI and the need for CRA to consider what role it should take with respect to the varying support of higher education and DEI across the country.

CRA Executive Director and CEO, Tracy Camp, then delivered the CEO Update, which highlighted CRA programmatic committee activities and preparations for the 2024 CRA Conference, among other topics. 

She also highlighted key findings from the Member Outreach Project, in which 17 board members connected with nearly 50 CRA member primary contacts to get a sense of the things CRA does well, the things CRA should do better, and areas in which they feel CRA should focus its resources. Among the top mentioned CRA strengths were data for the community via the annual CRA Taulbee Survey, the bi-annual CRA Conference, CRA Career Mentoring Workshops, and CRA’s Job Board. Among the opportunity areas was improving faculty awareness of CRA opportunities, increasing advocacy activities, and additional programing for mid-career researchers.  

Government Affairs Update 

Brian Mosley, CRA Associate Director of Government Affairs, concluded the first evening of the Board meeting with the Government Affairs Update. 

His informative and engaging presentation covered a variety of timely topics, including the Biden Administration’s October AI Executive Order, recent actions by the House Judiciary Committee on misinformation, the challenging budget situation in Congress, and updates on various AI-related initiatives. Also discussed was the House Judiciary Committee’s report on the “Weaponization of the NSF,” which was highlighted as a point of concern. 

He concluded by sharing highlights from last fall’s CRA Congressional Visit Day and a successful Leadership in Science Policy Institute (LiSPI), which was attended by 40 members of the community to very positive reviews. 

CRA Goals and Discussion Breakouts 

Friday morning began with Camp reviewing CRA’s quarterly goals, which for the first time follow the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework. Three specific KRs for the Board were highlighted, including getting feedback from CRA members, launching documents related to computing research, and ensuring board participation in activities.

Helen Wright, CRA’s Manager for CRA-Industry, discussed with Ben Zorn, CRA-I Co-Chair, how CRA-I is expanding its council, and how they are helping to expand the number of CRA members from industry via a new CRA membership program. They also highlighted the need to identify industry people within the community so we can better connect them to CRA resources and demonstrate the value of industry membership. 

Next, Board members took part in a rotation of breakout discussions, covering the topics of Communications, AI Education, and CRA FY25 Goals. 

When Should CRA Respond? Discussion 

After the breakout discussions, Alex Aiken and Stephanie Forrest of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) led a discussion of the decision-making process for making statements for the community where the GAC considers CRA/GAC mission alignment, consensus, impact, and risk. 

Prior to the session, Board members were encouraged to read an article from Harvard Business Review, When Should Your Company Speak Up About a Social Issue?, which provided a framework that helped focus the conversation. The article highlights three questions recommended to guide the approach on when to engage: Does the issue align with the organization’s strategy?; can you meaningfully influence the issue?; and will your constituencies agree with speaking out?

CRA Awards 

Following the Treasurer’s Report from James Allan and the adoption of the FY25 budget, visitors, staff, and CRA board members self selected into working lunch discussions, covering the topics of AI Governance, New Chairs Workshop, CSGrad4US, CV Database, UR2PhD/DREU, and 2024 CRA Conference. 

After lunch, Diana Franklin, Chair of the CRA Committee on Awards – Selection, recommended recipients for the CRA A. Nico Haberman and CRA Distinguished Service Award winners. Mary Ann Leung, Founder and President of the Sustainable Horizons Institute, was approved by the Board as the recipient of the 2024 CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, in recognition of her work developing and leading programs to increase the numbers and successes of computing researchers from groups minoritized in computing. Manish Parashar, Director of the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute, Chair in Computational Science and Engineering, and Presidential Professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah, was approved by the Board as the recipient of the 2024 CRA Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his multi-faceted and highly impactful service to the computing research community. 

Board of Directors Election Results

CRA Board Chair Amato then announced that CRA members elected four new individuals to its Board of Directors: David Bader (New Jersey Institute of Technology), Bruce Hendrickson (Lawrence Livermore National Lab), Fatma Ozcan (Google), and Manuel Pérez-Quiñones (University of North Carolina at Charlotte). 

In addition, five current Board members won reelection: James Allan (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Ran Libeskind-Hadas (Claremont McKenna College), Rachel Pottinger (University of British Columbia), Eve Schooler (Intel, retired and University of Oxford), and Katie Siek (Indiana University Bloomington). Those newly elected and reelected community member will serve on the CRA Board from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2027. 

In addition, it was shared that four elected Board members’ terms of service will end June 30, 2024: Stephanie Forrest (Arizona State University), Diana Franklin (University of Chicago), Chris Ramming (VMWare by Broadcom), and Jing Xiao (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). Board members thanked them for their contributions during their time with the Board.

In their parting notes, retiring Board member Forrest underscored to the Board that the computing community is interested in deeper policy conversations, and Ramming encouraged the group not to forget the strategic plan to make CRA a leader in socially responsible computing.

We Want Your Input!

Do you have suggestions for agenda topics for our next Board Meeting? We want to hear them! Please share your thoughts via the Google Form here