End of an Era: Cynthia Robinson Takes on a New Challenge

On January 1, former Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) Director Cynthia Robinson transitioned into a new role as Senior Policy Advisor in the AAAS Center for Science, Policy and Society Programs (CSPSP or the Center) – the parent body of STPF. This position, most recently held by Steve Nelson (also a former STPF director), includes cultivating international science-policy connection activities and assisting to develop state-level fellowship opportunities, supporting the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPP), facilitating programming for the Forum on S&T Policy, and helping pursue new opportunities for the Center.

“The size and responsibilities of the Center have grown considerably over the past five years, and I am delighted that Cynthia will apply her abilities, her experience, her passion and her dedication to our mission to keep us moving forward,” said Ed Derrick, Chief Program Director, CSPSP.

Cynthia Robinson gives remarks at the STPF 40th anniversary celebration (2013).

Over her 12 years as director, the program has expanded into all three branches of government and nearly doubled the size of the annual fellowship classes: the 2016-17 class numbers about 260 fellows. Robinson guided introduction of new program areas and new partnerships resulting in a 60 percent increase in the number of placement opportunities, including international development fellowships for alumni. She also initiated the launch of yearlong professional development programming and Affinity Groups. STPF has long  served as the inspiration and model for other science policy fellowships. As STPF Director, Robinson contributed to the development of new fellowships in California, the ASEAN region of Asia, Canada and Israel.

Robinson is widely known as a leader of consummate integrity, diplomacy, knowledge and grace. What many may not know is that last November she became kinship foster aunt for two great nieces and a great nephew. “We counsel our fellows that moving outside their comfort zone is 'where the magic happens.' So, I’ve taken our advice and embraced this unexpected new role," said Robinson.

"It has been an honor to serve as STPF director and to work with such talented, engaged, dedicated colleagues," she continued. "It’s extremely gratifying to make this shift secure in the knowledge that STPF is stronger and more vibrant. I’m proud of our accomplishments. Due to the contributions, energy and effort of coworkers, the partner societies, fellows, host agencies and offices, the Advisory Committee and other collaborators, the program has expanded and been enhanced to pursue our critical vision and mission – a mission that has become more important than ever.”

STPF Associate Director Rick Kempinski has been appointed interim director. Until the new director is on board, he will coordinate a transition plan with Derrick. A national search for a director is currently underway: click here to view the position description and to apply.

“As the S&T Policy Fellowships program approaches its 45th anniversary, it is an exciting time for new leadership. It would be wonderful for the new director to be an STPF alum!” said Robinson.